The Fireman's Brother

The Fireman's Brother

Dick Neely was smaller than anyone else in his class.

"Here, you Runt! Get going. We're going to play baseball. Go home and change your clothes and be in the park in half an hour." That was the way Hank Norris, the biggest fellow in the class, bossed Dick around.

Dick pushed open the door of the apartment house where he lived. His big brother Ed was standing there. He was six feet tall, with wide shoulders and strong legs. He was training at the New York City Fireman's School.

"Hi, Ed, how come you're home so early today?"

"Just to give you a workout," grinned Ed. "Shall we go to the park?"

Ed was a wonderful brother. He never talked about Dick's small size, and he taught him exercises to make his muscles hard and firm.

"I promised the kids I'd play baseball," said Dick, "but they can get along without me."

"No sir," answered Ed. "We Neelys have to keep our word. Think they'll let me in on the game?"

Of course it was wonderful having Ed play with the gang. He could pitch circles around the other fellows and even Hank Norris had to take second place. Dick was sure no one would ever call him Runt again. But the next day was just the same.

"Say, Runt, that's some brother you got. You'd never know you were in the same family," said Hank.

One day Ed took Dick to visit the fireman's school. He saw where they did their exercises and where they practiced climbing ladders. He saw the different-sized dummies the firemen carried. And Ed even taught him how to carry one with the fireman's carry.

That night Dick dreamed of fire engines and woke up to hear real sirens. He jumped out of bed, ran into his brother Ed's room. "Step on it if you want to come with me," said Ed, who was nearly dressed.

When they got to the fire, Ed hurried on to help the firemen, but Dick stayed with the other watchers. On the lawn, a man and woman and a little girl with coats over their pajamas were telling some grownups how they had escaped from the house just in time. There was a bunch of kids standing around, but the only one Dick knew was Hank Norris.

Suddenly the little girl screamed. "Daddy!! Butch is in the cellar."

The father put his arm around the little girl. "I know, honey, but we can't risk our lives to rescue a dog. Maybe he'll get out all right." "Hank," Dick gasped. "There's a live dog in that cellar."

Hank shrugged his shoulder. "Can I help it?"

Dick hesitated only a moment. Then he dashed across the lawn and pushed the cellar window open. He fastened it with its hook and jumped down into the cellar. He landed with a thud, and a sharp pain shot up his leg. He groped his way through the darkness until he found the limp little dog. Then he put him across his shoulders in a real fireman's carry, and crawled back to the window. Standing on a chair which he dragged to the window, he managed to shove Butch out onto the lawn. Then he managed to wriggle himself through the window. He lay on the cold ground, gasping for air.

Just then strong arms lifted him and a well-loved voice said, "Take it easy, fireman." Dick leaned against his brother's strong chest and knew nothing more until he was in his own bed.

It was two days before Dick could go back to school. His father drove him down because he could hardly walk with his sprained ankle. All the boys came running to meet him except Hank.

"How did you do it, Dick?"

"Weren't you scared?"

"How did you ever get out?"

Everyone was talking at once. No one called him Runt. Then someone said, "Why didn't anyone help you, Dick? Weren't any of the other kids there?"

Dick looked across at Hank who stood behind the others with his head bent low.
Then Hank replied for him: "Guess it was lucky Dick was there because none of the rest of us would have had the courage to do what Dick did."

Dick and Hank smiled at each other with perfect understanding.

Just then the school bell rang. No one ran up the steps of the school. The boys were walking slowly today for their new leader, Dick, limped along with a cane.—Adapted from a story by Catherine Marshall, in Juniors.

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