THE FIREMAN’S DREAM.
BY ROSE CHESTER, of the Cedar Rapids, Ia., Republican.
IT was Chistmas Eve.—cold and clear without,—while ever and anon the sharp north wind, with a sound like the laugh of fiends, rattled the shutters or went moaning over the house-tops like a perturbed spirit.
I was comfortably enjoying the cushioned depths of a cardinal velvet easy chair, with a copy of the Cedar Rapids Republican in my hand, while the Burlington Plawkeye lay upon the carpet at my feet, with “Roaming Rob it’s ” last communication uppermost, my weary eyes now and then glancing out of the window at the moon-lit landscape as my restless head kept nodding from right to left, forward and back, like the figures in the Sængerbund favorite polka quadrille.
I could hear the dreamy music of the beautiful Cedar as its silvery waters rippled on pebbles of pearly hue, the perfect harmony broken only by the loud crashing and slashing of the water as it pouted in angry torrents over the dam, mingling its dismal discord with the music of the new hand and the wailing of the north wind
In the centre of the room in which l was sitting was a lady busily engaged in the genuine feminine occupation of embroidering delicate roses and dainty forgot-menot» upon a black velvet surface, she wore an evening costume of blue silk trimmed in rich lace ; her golden hair was arranged low upon her shapely head in classical perfection. That lady was my wife. Once or twice she glanced up from her ardent labors at me, a brief searching glance, but my head kept nod, nod, nodding until the silk roses, black velvet, blue dress and the golden-haired little lady ail seemed but fading shadows in the dim distance. Hark! the voice of a bell, clang, clang, clang, in clear tones loud and strong. Hark ! again it calls away. ’ Tis the fire bell from the tower, while the sound trembles and vibrates along tire electric wires of the fire alarm telegraph, the familiar ching, ching, ching at the Engine and Hose houses guide the boys to the sc-ne of conflagration. The gong at the Sixth Ward Engine house calls boom, boom, boom. The four superb horses arc Harnessed in their stalls, who, at the sound of the gong, rush out to the Engine. Then I heard a noise hke the rumlving ot thunder. I saw, too, a red light, the Engine with its burnjng coal. I likewise saw a black form suspended to the reins. It was the driver, with his cry, ” Ready.” Time—six-and a half seconds.
Away we go, out from our commodious Engine heuse, which is situated in the shadow of the marble front court house, which adorns Mansfield square. Away pell mell along Gm field avenue with such whirling telegraphic speed that the tires of the Engine wheels strike fire on the gravel-paved streets with such brilliancy that it is eclipsed only by the electric lighted streets throughout the entire city. Suddenly upon ach avenue I hear the sound of bells accompanied with frightful rumblings. Everywhere carriages range themselves quickly and stop as if struck upon the spot; pedestrians stand still upon the brick aid stone pavements, and the cry of ” fire, fire,” echoes a’ong (he line. On we go, guid-d by the flames as they leap higher and higher, whiie the dense black smoke rolls in volumes from the wind -ws of the gigan’ic woolen mill situated near the cotton factory just opposite Brown’s hotel building, not far from the brush manufactory. At full speed Engines arrive, thundering, whistling, puffing, vomiting steam, time four mlnutes^and a half; six powerful Engines harnessed, heated and ready to throw torrents of water on the burning building. Hark, the musical ring of a liorse’s shoes is heard on Iowa avenue. ’Tis he, our Chief, in all his blonde beauty, pushing on the ribbons of his brown stepper, while in tones clear and distinct his voice is heard above the hiss of the fire and roar of ihe Engines, “ let her fly, boys.” Then, as if by magic, six muzzles began to play upon the seemingly doomed factory. Stream after stream was poured in upon the lurid flames until the clear, pure water flowed along the gravel-paved street, because of a perfect sewerage system. The “ boys” bravely fought the fiery element; not a man quit his post, not a single section of hose bursted, everything worked in perfect order, and in just sixty minutes the out taps sounded and the boys returned to their respective stations, passing under an arch upon which was inscribed in letters of gold this oft-repeated phrase : “ The Chicago of Iowa.” Just at this point a gentle touch aroused me, my eyes began to unclose, and in the shadowy mists I could discern objects.
At my side was the blue dress, against one cheek rested the golden head, while against the other pressed a soft white hand, and a sweet voice said : “James, my dear, what were you dreaming about ?”
I clasped the blue dress where it displayed the shapely waist, pressed my lips to the golden hair and answ’ered : “Nothing that would interest you, my darling^ Women are not supposed to possess sufficient mental calibre to understand subjects that engross men’s minds by day and haunt iheir dreams at night.” I looked at the Republican in my hand, almost believing that I could see the report of the fire. I look* d down at the Haw key e. Oh! I have it now. “Roaming Robert,” how your quaint imaginings do have power over weak minds.
Knowing it all to be only a dream and knowing the cau=e, yet as long as I live, never, no never, shall I experience an emotion so grasping, so real, as thar which [ experienced that Christmas eve. Nor never again shall I suffer a disappointment so keen as when I awoke to find my glory and the city’s improvements all a dream.