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F were full of smoke, and the children so feet to keep from slipping off. They beat dead asleep that we could n't rouse them out the sparks with wet blankets, and to a walking state.
chopped, and squirted that tankful of waMany times during the next hour did ter, and behaved like heroes. I thank Providence-and Percy Wither- The doctor meanwhile took charge of spoon— for those vociferous fire-drills we the children. Our first thought was to have suffered weekly. The twenty-four get them away to a place of safety, for if oldest boys, under his direction, never the whole building should go, we could lost their heads for a second. They di- n't march them out of doors into that vided into four tribes, and sprang to their awful wind, with only their night-clothes posts like little soldiers. Two tribes and blankets for protection. By this time helped in the work of clearing the dormi- several more automobiles full of men had tories and keeping the terrified children
come, and we requisitioned the cars. in order. One tribe worked the hose
Knowltop had providentially been from the cupola tank until the firemen opened for the week-end in order to encame, and the rest devoted themselves to
tertain a house-party in honor of the old salvage. They spread sheets on the floor, gentleman's sixty-seventh birthday. He dumped the contents of lockers and bu- was one of the first to arrive, and he put reau drawers into them, and bundled his entire place at our disposal. It was them down the stairs. All of the extra the nearest refuge, and we accepted it inclothes were saved except those the chil- stantaneously. We bundled our twenty dren had actually been wearing the day littlest tots into cars, and ran them down before, and most of the staff's things. to the house. The guests, who were exBut clothes, bedding-everything belong- . citedly dressing in order to come to the ing to G and F went. The rooms were fire, received the chicks and tucked them too full of smoke to make it safe to enter away into their own beds. This pretty after we had got out the last child.
well filled up all the available house room, By the time the doctor arrived with but Mr. Reimer (Mr. Knowltop's famLuellen and two neighbors he had picked ily name) has just built a big new stucco up, we were marching the last dormitory barn, with a garage hitched to it, all down to the kitchen, the most remote cor- nicely heated, and ready for us. ner from the fire. The poor chicks were After the babies were disposed of in mainly barefooted and wrapped in blan- the house, those helpful guests got to kets; we told them to bring their clothes work and fixed the barn to receive the when we wakened them, but in their next older kiddies. They covered the fright they thought only of getting out. floor with hay, and spread blankets and
By this time the halls were so full of carriage robes over it, and bedded down smoke we could scarcely breathe. It thirty of the children in rows like little looked as though the whole building calves. Miss Matthews and a nurse went would go, though the wind was blowing with them, administered hot milk all away from my west wing.
around, and within half an hour the tots Another automobile full of retainers were sleeping as peacefully as in their from Knowltop came up almost imme- little cribs. diately, and they all fell to fighting the But meanwhile we at the house were fire. The regular fire department did n't having sensations. The doctor's first come for ten minutes after that. You question upon arrival had been: see, they have only horses, and we are "You ’ve counted the children? You three miles out, and the roads pretty bad. know they 're all here?" It was a dreadful night, cold and sleety, "We 've made certain that every dorand such a wind blowing that you could mitory was empty before we left it," I scarcely stand up. The men climbed out replied. on the roof, and worked in their stocking- You see, they could n't be counted in
that confusion; twenty or so of the boys but they finally did, and two men went were still in the dormitories, working un- up. The opening of the window had der Percy Witherspoon to save clothing created a draft, and they were almost and furniture, and the older girls were overpowered by the volume of smoke sorting over bushels of shoes and trying to that burst out at the top. After an eterfit them to the little ones, who were run- nity the doctor appeared again with a ning about underfoot and wailing dis- white bundle in his arms. He passed it mally.
out to the men, and then he staggered Well, after we had loaded and de- back and dropped out of sight! spatched about seven car-loads of chil- I don't know what happened for the dren, the doctor suddenly called out: next few minutes; I turned away and "Where 's Allegra ?"
shut my eyes. Somehow or other they got There was a horrified silence. No one him out and half-way down the ladder, had her. And then Miss Snaith and then they let him slip. You see, he stood up and shrieked. Betsy took her was unconscious from all the smoke he'd by the shoulders, and shook her into co- swallowed, and the ladder was slippery herence.
with ice and terribly wobbly. Anyway, It seems that she had thought Allegra when I looked again he was lying in a was coming down with a cough, and in heap on the ground, with the crowd all order to get her out of the cold, had running, and somebody yelling to give moved her crib from the fresh-air nursery him air. They thought at first he was into the store-room--and then forgotten dead. But Dr. Metcalf from the village it.
examined him, and said liis leg was Well, my dear, you know where the broken, and two ribs, and that aside from store-room is! We simply stared at one that he seemed whole. He was still unanother with white faces. By this time conscious when they put him on two of the whole east wing was gutted and the the baby mattresses that had been thrown third-floor stairs in flames. There did n't out of the windows and laid him in the seem a chance that the child was still wagon that brought the ladders and alive. The doctor was the first to move. started him home. He snatched up a wet blanket that was And the rest of us, left behind, kept lying in a soppy pile on the floor of the right on with the work as though nothing hall and sprang for the stairs. We yelled had happened. The queer thing about a to him to come back. It simply looked calamity like this is that there is so much like suicide; but he kept on, and disap- to be done on every side that you
don't peared into the smoke. I dashed outside have a moment to think, and you don't and shouted to the firemen on the roof. get any of your values straightened out The store-room window was too little for until afterward. The doctor, without a a man to go through, and they had n't moment's hesitation, had risked his life to opened it for fear of creating a draft. save Allegra. It was the bravest thing I
I can't describe what happened in the ever saw, and yet the whole business occunext agonizing ten minutes. The third- pied only fifteen minutes out of that floor stairs fell in with a crash and a dreadful night. At the time it was just burst of fame about five seconds after the an incident. doctor passed over them. We had given And he saved Allegra. She came out him up for lost when a shout went up
of that blanket with rumpled hair and a from the crowd on the lawn, and he
look of pleased surprise at the new game peared for an instant at one of those dor- of peek-a-boo. She was smiling! The mer-windows in the attic, and called for child's escape was little short of a miracle. the firemen to put up a ladder. Then he The fire had started within three feet of disappeared, and it seemed to us that her wall, but owing to the direction of they'd never get that ladder in place; the wind, it had worked away from her.
If Miss Snaith had believed a little more a blackened, roofless shell. Your hated in fresh air and had left the window open, Ward F, dear Judy, is gone forever. I the fire would have eaten back; but for- wish that you could obliterate it from tunately Miss Snaith does not believe in your mind as absolutely as it is obliterated fresh air, and no such thing happened. If from the earth. Both in substance and Allegra had gone, I never should have in spirit the old John Grier is done for. forgiven myself for not letting the Bret- I must tell you something funny; I lands take her, and I know that Sandy never saw so many funny things in my would n't.
life as happened through that night. Despite all the loss, I can't be anything When everybody there was in extreme but happy when I think of the two hor- negligée, most of the men in pajamas and rible tragedies that have been averted; ulsters, and all of them without collars, for seven minutes, while the doctor was the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff put in a tardy penned in that blazing third floor, I lived
appearance, arrayed as for an afternoon through the agony of believing them both tea. He wore a pearl scarf-pin and white gone, and I start awake in the night trem- spats! But he really was extremely helpbling with horror.
ful. He put his entire house at our disBut I 'll try to tell you the rest. The posal, and I turned over to him Miss firemen and the volunteers, particularly Snaith in a state of hysterics, and her the chauffeur and stablemen from
nerves so fully occupied him that he did "Knowltop"-worked all night in an n't get
in our way
the whole night absolute frenzy. Our newest negro cook, through. who is a heroine in her own right, went I can't write any more details now; out and started the laundry fire and made I 've never been so rushed in the whole up a boilerful of coffee. It was her own of my life.
I'll just assure you that idea. The non-combatants served it to there is no slightest reason for you to cut the firemen when they relieved one an- your trip short. Five trustees were on other for a short rest, and it helped. the spot early Saturday morning, and we
We got the remainder of the children are all working like mad to get affairs off to various hospitable houses, except the into some semblance of order. Our asyolder boys, who worked all night as well lum at the present moment is scattered as any one. It was absolutely inspiring over the entire township; but don't be to see the
way this entire township turned unduly anxious. We know where all the out and helped. People who have n't
None of them is permaappeared to know that the asylum existed nently mislaid. I did n't know that percame in the middle of the night and put fect strangers could be so kind. My opintheir whole houses at our disposal. They ion of the human race has gone up. took the children in, gave them hot baths I have n't seen the doctor. They teleand hot soup, and tucked them into bed. graphed to New York for a surgeon, who And so far as I can make out, not one of set his leg. The break was pretty bad, my one hundred and seven chicks is any and will take time; they don't think there the worse for hopping about on drenched are any internal injuries, though he is floors in their bare feet, not even the awfully battered up. As soon as we are whooping-cough cases.
allowed to see him I will send more deIt was broad daylight before the fire tailed particulars. I really must stop if was sufficiently under control to let us I am to catch to-morrow's steamer. know just what we had saved. I will Good-by. Don't worry. There are a report that my wing is entirely intact, dozen silver linings to this cloud that I 'll though a little smoky, and the main cor- write about to-morrow.
Sallie. ridor is pretty nearly all right up to the center staircase; after that everything is Good heavens! here comes an autocharred and drenched. The east wing is mobile with J. F. Bretland in it!