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PATRICK MCCORMICK'S HOLIDAY
 HE was as quiet a man as ever rode on a fire engine. He never
had a thought of being a hero, and nobody would have picked
him out as such. He had served in the fire department of Chicago
for twenty years and was always the same good-natured, steady-going
One Friday afternoon, a short time ago, it was his turn to take a
half day off. He had finished his work and started homeward in
a happy mood; for he had promised his children to take them for
a pleasant stroll in the park. He was scarcely half a block from
the engine house when he heard the sound of an alarm. He
paused to listen, and the next moment an engine dashed out.
As it rushed down the street, one of the men saw McCormick
and called out,—
"You've missed it, Pat!"
Patrick made no answer, but his mind was full of confusion. He
had his own ideas about a fireman's
 duty. In his twenty years of service he had never failed to be on
duty at the right time.
"Think of me walking in the park while all the boys are fighting
that fire! It's not Pat McCormick that'll do such a thing," he said
By this time the engine was halfway down the street, and there
was no use trying to overtake it. Yet he had made up his mind to
be at the fire, no matter where it was. An express wagon was
going that way, and he leaped into it.
"Quick, man!" he cried. "Follow that engine. I must see what kind
of fire it is."
The driver obeyed. The fire was soon reached. Flames were
already bursting from the roof. Lives were in danger. There was
need for quick and earnest work.
Patrick jumped from the express wagon. He took his place among
the firemen and was ready for instant duty. What was the half
holiday to him when such work as this was to be done?
The fire burned fiercely but was at last brought under control. The
building was ruined, the walls were crumbling and ready to fall.
There was a dangerous point past which it was necessary to
 carry the nozzle of the hose. Just beyond it the flames were still
raging. Women and children were there, hemmed in by fire and
The other man at the hose hesitated. He was faint from the heat,
and his heart misgave him.
"I'll take it!" cried McCormick, and he rushed forward, pulling the
heavy hose after him.
Suddenly there was a cry of alarm. From the tottering wall a great
quantity of loosened bricks and mortar came crashing down.
Before Patrick could escape he was caught beneath the falling
mass and his life was crushed out.
As soon as it was possible to do so, the firemen began to search
for his body. They found it beneath a great heap of ruins, the
breath quite gone from it, but his face unscarred and still bearing
that quiet look which spoke the unselfishness of his heart.
"And to think that this was his holiday!" said the chief.