SAVING ONE'S ENEMY
 IN a small town in Kentucky there lived two men who were
bitter enemies. One of them, whose name was Rufus
Combs, was a blacksmith. The other was a prominent
lawyer named Richard Godson. Both were politicians;
they had been rivals in many a hard contest, and they
hated each other most intensely. They would not speak
to each other on the street; they would not both enter
or remain in the same room; each went armed to defend
himself from the other. Nobody knew the first cause of
their unfriendliness; and no one remembered when it had
Mr. Godson had, somewhere on his premises, a vault in
which was a gas-making machine. He suspected that
there was a leak in the machine, and one day he entered
the vault in order to find it. There was indeed a
leak, and the vault itself was filled with the escaping
gas. Before Mr. Godson could climb out into the open
air he was overcome, and fell back senseless upon the
floor of the vault.
He lay there for some time before he was discovered.
Then an alarm was given, and a number of the villagers
hurried to the place. The entrance to
 the vault was by a small hole cut in the roof; and Mr.
Godson's friends, looking down, could see him lying
helpless upon the floor.
They knew that the vault was full of gas, and that no
one could enter it except at the risk of his life. So
they hesitated, and began to talk of plans to reach Mr.
Godson without taking any risks upon themselves. One
suggested one think, one another; but nothing was done,
and the man below was growing weaker every moment.
The blacksmith, Mr. Combs, was at home. He had lately
met with an accident and was scarcely able to leave the
house. He heard the confusion on the street. He saw
men running towards Mr. Godson's; he saw the anxiety in
"What is the matter?" he asked of one who was passing.
The man told him briefly.
"Give me my hat," he said. "I must go over to Dick
As he went along the street, men nudged each other, and
one said, "I reckon he doesn't care much what happens
He pushed his way through the crowd that was
 gathered about the vault and looked down the narrow
opening at the prostrate form of his enemy. He did not
hesitate a moment. He lowered himself through the
opening and seized the unconscious man around the
waist. Three times he lifted him up until the hands of
the friends outside could almost reach him. Twice his
strength failed him, and Mr. Godson fell back upon the
floor. But the third time the helpers above were more
prompt. They grasped the collar of the stricken man
and held on; they drew him up into the open air; they
gave him restoratives, and soon saw that he was
beginning to recover.
Then some one remembered that Mr. Combs was still in
the vault. He was so nearly overcome by the gas that
he could not climb out unaided. Helping hands were
reached down, and he was drawn out, as limp and
unconscious as his enemy, whom he had saved.
When at length he recovered from his swoon, he looked
around anxiously and asked, "How's Dick Godson?"
They told him that Godson was alive and doing well.
"Then, thank Heaven," was his response.
 A few days afterward, some curious neighbor said to
him, "Mr. combs, why was it that you risked your life
to save your bitterest enemy?"
"Well, it was this way," he answered. "Dick Godson is
a good hater and a strong man, and I couldn't bear to
see him die like a rat in a hole. And I reckon, now,
that he and I will be as good friends hereafter as we
have been bitter enemies heretofore."
The commissioners of the Hero Fund adjudged this to be
an extraordinary example of unselfish heroism, and they
awarded to Mr. Combs not only a silver medal, but
fifteen hundred dollars in cash.