An Amateur Fireman

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Excerpt THE AMATEUR. "I ain't sayin' as how I could run a whole fire, same as some of the chiefs do; but when it comes to drivin' an engine, Dan Roberts, an' doin' it in time to get the first water, or layin' hose, I wouldn't knuckle down to the biggest man in the Department." "Now see here, Seth Bartlett, what's the sense of talkin' that way? It would be a good deal better, an' I ain't the only one who says it, if you'd stick right to shinin', an' stop playin' fireman, for that's 'bout the biggest part of the work you do." "Do you s'pose I count on shinin' boots for a livin' all my life?" "You've got to make a better fist at it than you have done for a year or more, else you'll never get into anythin' else. I tell you what it is, Seth Bartlett, when a man wants to hire a boy, he ain't pickin' out the feller that's failed up two or three times over; but he generally looks for the one what's makin' a go of it, whether it's shinin' or sellin' papers." "I ain't sayin' but you're right, Dan, an' I s'pose it's a good thing for you to keep right on rememberin'; but it's different with me. I don't count on any one man hirin' me when I strike out for somethin' better'n shinin'." "Oh, you don't, eh? What little game have you got? Goin' to run a bank, or keep a hotel, or do somethin' like that?" "You think you're funny, but you ain't. I'm goin' into the Fire Department when the right time comes, an' don't you make any mistake about it." Dan laughed loud and long at this announcement, and Seth gazed at him in grim silence until the explosion of mirth was somewhat subsided, when he said sharply: "I guess trade must have been pretty good with you to-day, else you wouldn't be feelin' so terrible funny." "Well, it hasn't. I got stuck on four Heralds this mornin', an' five Expresses to-night. That comes pretty near cleanin' off all the profits, 'cause it's awful dull nowadays in my business, Seth." "Then I can't guess why you got so dreadful silly when I said I was goin' into the Department some day." "It would make anybody laugh, Seth, to hear a feller no bigger'n you talk of such things. You must be a man to get that kind of a job." "Well, shan't I be in time—and not such a terrible long while either? I'm fourteen now, leastways, that's the way I figger it out, an' if I could get one of them early spring moustaches like Sim Jepson is raisin', folks would think I was a man when I wasn't only eighteen. Don't you reckon all the firemen were boys once?" "Yes," Dan replied doubtfully, "I s'pose they was," and he added quickly as a sudden thought occurred to him, "but they had to know a good deal about the business before they could get a job." "Course they did, an' it was a case of learnin'. That's jest what I'm doin' when I tend out on fires. I'm gettin' posted, an' by an' by when I'm old enough you'll see me in the Department, that's all there is about it." Seth Bartlett and Dan Roberts were old friends, having made each other's acquaintance no less than three months previous, when the former, who had disagreed with Jip Collins on a matter regarding household affairs, was in search of a new roommate....
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