WHO WAS SMOKING?
MR. BOBBSEY laughed, though he was worried about the fire. It seemed so
odd for Freddie to want to go out in the cold, dark night.
"Not this time, my Fat Fireman!" said Freddie's papa. "It
may be only a
pile of rubbish on fire. I'll tell you about it when I come back."
"Where does it seem to be?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Down near the lake," answered her husband. "I'm afraid,
he added in a
lower voice, "that it may be our boathouse. It seems to be about
"Oh, I hope not!" she exclaimed. "Still, better that than
"If it's near the lake, papa," said Flossie who heard part of
father said, "it will be easy to put it out, for there is plenty of
"Pooh! engines have their own water!" exclaimed Freddie, who had
hazy notions as to how fire engines work. He was getting over his
disappointment about not being allowed to go with his father, and had
again cuddled down in his warm crib.
Another engine dashed by the Bobbsey house, and the ringing of the alarm
bell increased. The voices and footsteps of many persons, as they
rushed on to the blaze, could also be heard, and there resounded the cry
"Fire! Fire! Fire!"
Bert, who had been aroused with the others of the household, was
dressing in his room. He felt that his father would let him go to the
fire. At any rate he intended to be all ready when he made his request,
so as not to cause delay.
"Are you going, Bert?" asked Nan, as from her room, next to that
brother, she heard him moving around.
"I am, if father will take me," he said.
"It's too cold for me!" Nan exclaimed with a shiver, as she went
bed again. She had gotten up to peer from the window at the red glare
in the sky.
From the third floor, where Dinah slept, the colored cook now called
"Am anybody sick, Mrs. Bobbsey? What am de mattah down dere?"
"It's a fire, Dinah!" answered her mistress.
"Oh good land a'massy! Don't tell me dat!" she cried. "Sam
! Sam! Wake
up. De house is on fire an' you'se got t' sabe me!"
"No, no, Dinah!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, to calm the cook. "It
house. It's down by the lake. If you look out of your window you can
Dinah hurried across to her window, and evidently saw the reflection of
the blaze, for she exclaimed:
"Thank goodness it ain't yeah! Mah goodness, but I suah was skarit
By this time Mr. Bobbsey had dressed, and had started downstairs. Bert
came out of his room, also ready for the street.
"May I come, father?" he asked.
"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey, in surprise. "So
dressed too, did you?"
"Yes, sir. May I come?"
Mr. Bobbsey hesitated a moment, and then, with a smile, said:
"Well, I suppose so, since you are all ready. I'm taking Bert,"
called to his wife. "Freddie, you'll have to be the Fat Fireman while
I'm gone, and look after the house."
"That's what I will," said Freddie, "and if any sparks fly
I'll throw the bath room sponge on 'em!"
"Good!" cried Mr. Bobbsey, and then, he and Bert hurried out.
The fire was now larger, as they could see when they got out in the
street. There was no wind and the flames went straight up in the air.
There were not many buildings down by the lake, only some boat shelters
and places like that. The Bobbsey's boathouse was a fine large one,
having recently been made bigger as Mr. Bobbsey was thinking of buying a
new motor boat.
Mr. Bobbsey and his son hurried on, following the crowd that filled the
street leading to the lake. Several gentlemen knew the lumber merchant,
and called to him.
"I guess you're glad this isn't your lumber yard," said one.
"Yes, indeed," was the answer. "I had a little fire there
once, and I
don't want another. But I'm afraid this is some of my property just the
"Is that so?"
"Yes, it looks to be my boathouse."
"So it does!" cried another man.
"Oh, father!" cried Bert. "Our nice boathouse!"
"Well, the firemen may save it," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We will
anyhow," he added.
They had not gone on much farther before Mr. Bobbsey and Bert could see
that it was indeed their boathouse on fire. One side was all ablaze,
and the flames were slowly, but surely, eating their way over the whole
place. But two engines were now pumping streams of water on the fire,
and they might put it out before too much damage was done.
Mr. Bobbsey rushed forward, and, as the policemen and firemen knew him,
they let him get close to the boathouse.
"You stay here, Bert," said Mr. Bobbsey to his son.
"Where are you going?" Bert wanted to know.
"I'm going to see if we can save any of the boats."
There was a sailing craft, a number of rowboats, and a small gasoline
launch in the boathouse. They had been stored away for the winter.
"Come on, men!" cried Mr. Bobbsey, as he saw some of his workmen
crowd. "Help me save the boats!"
All rushed forward willingly, and, as there was part of the place where
the flames had not yet reached, they could make their way into the
house. They began lowering the boats into the icy water, while the
firemen played the several lines of hose on the flames.
The third engine was now working, and so much water was pumped that even
a larger fire could not have stood it for very long. The blaze began to
die down, and when Mr. Bobbsey and his men were about to lower the
gasoline launch into the icy water the chief ran up, saying:
"You don't need to do that! We've got the fire under control now. It
will soon be out."
"Are you sure?" asked the lumber merchant.
"Yes. You can see for yourself. Leave the boat there. It will be all
Mr. Bobbsey looked, and was satisfied that the larger part of the
boathouse would be saved. So he and his men stopped their work; and
went outside to cool off.
A little later the fire was practically out, but one engine continued to
throw water on the smouldering sparks. The crowd began to leave now,
for there was nothing more to see, and it was cold.
"My!" exclaimed Bert as his father came back to where he had left
son, "it didn't take long to settle that fire."
"No, we have a good fire department," replied Mr. Bobbsey.
The fire chief came up to Mr Bobbsey, who expressed his thanks for the
quick work of the firemen.
"Have you any idea what started the fire, Mr. Bobbsey?" asked
"Was the boathouse in use?"
"No," was the answer. "It had been closed for the winter
some time ago
- in fact as soon as the carpenters finished making the changes. No one
was in it as far as I know."
"Then how do you account for this?" asked the chief, as he held
box partly filled with cigarettes. "I picked these up in the living
room," he went on, for the boathouse had one room carpeted, and fitted
with chairs and tables, and electric lights where the family often spent
evenings during Summer.
"You found those cigarettes in the living room of the boathouse?"
"I did; and the question is who was smoking?" went on the chief.
opinion the end of a cigarette thrown aside, or perhaps a lighted match
dropped in some corner, started this fire. Who was smoking?"
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