A MODEST LAD
 JOHN GREGG'S home was in Maryland. His
father and mother were dead,
and he lived on a farm with his married
One afternoon when he was about twelve
years old he was sent on an errand
to the nearest town. The day was quite
warm and he followed the shortest
path, which led him after a while to the
tracks of the railroad. A great rain
had fallen in the morning and every
brook and rivulet was full of muddy,
As John went merrily tripping along the
tracks he came suddenly upon that
which made him stop in surprise. At a
point where an angry brook went
tearing along by the side of the road
the embankment had given way. The
ties were out of place and one of the
rails seemed almost ready to fall into
"What if a train should come now?" was
the boy's first thought.
 As if in answer to his question the
whistle of an engine was faintly heard
far down the road. He knew that it was
just time for the Colonial express
to pass that place. He knew that it was
running at the rate of a mile a
minute and that scores of lives were in
danger. Without stopping to think,
he pulled off his coat and ran swiftly
along the tracks to meet the train.
He swung his coat wildly above his head
and shouted with all his might.
But who could hear his voice above the
rumble and roar of the great
The engineer saw the lad. He threw on
the emergency brakes. The train
stopped so quickly that the passengers
were thrown out of their seats.
"What's the matter, boy?" cried the
engineer, half angrily.
"Wash—out—down there. Track—caved
in—thought I'd tell you," gasped
the boy, all out of breath.
The engineer leaped from the cab, and
running forward a few paces was
horrified to see the danger his train
had escaped. He hurried back just
as the passengers came rushing from the
"A narrow escape," he said, pointing to
 washout. "If it hadn't been for this
boy, we'd have been dead men. But
where is the boy?"
"Yes, where is the boy?" echoed the
passengers. But no boy was to be
As soon as John Gregg had answered the
engineer's question, he had
dodged into the woods and was now
hurrying away on his errand.
"Where is the boy who saved the Colonial
express and the lives of
perhaps a hundred passengers?" was the
question which many people
asked during the next few days. The
officers of the railroad sent out a
man to find him.
"It must have been an angel," said some;
"for what mere boy would do
such a thing and not be running
everywhere and boasting about it?"
The engineer's description of the lad
was repeated to the farmers in the
"Why, that fits Johnnie Gregg better'n
any other boy I know," said one.
"Yes," said another, "and now that you
speak of it, I do remember seeing
Johnnie go past my house that very
afternoon. I rather reckon it must have
been Johnnie. He's a bashful lad, and
never puts himself forward."
 "Where does this Johnnie Gregg live?"
asked the railroad man.
"Oh, he lives with his married sister a
matter of three miles from here.
Follow the main road, and you can't help
but find the place. It's the
second white house after you pass the
The man, after getting some further
directions, drove on. He found the
house without trouble.
"I want to see the boy known as Johnnie
Gregg," he said.
Soon a bright-faced lad in
knickerbockers came into the room.
"Is your name John Gregg?"
"Are you the lad that saved the Colonial
express a few weeks ago?"
"I—I told the engineer about the
"Do you know that you saved the lives of
a number of passengers
besides a great deal of property for the
John blushed and twisted his legs
uneasily. "I only told the engineer
about it," he answered.
"Well, at any rate," said the man, "you
did a noble deed and the officers
of the railroad are very
 grateful to you. I am authorized to say
that your name will be placed on the
company's pay roll and that you can go
through any college you choose
at their expense. Don't you think you
would like to go to college, Johnnie?"
"I am sure I don't know," he answered.
He had never heard much about
colleges; he didn't exactly know what
they were like.
"If you would rather learn a trade,"
said the man, "the company will help you
to learn the very best and will pay all
the cost. Do you think of any trade
you would like?"
Johnnie blushed and fidgeted. He had
never given much thought to such
things, and the question was hard to
answer. At last he said, "I guess I'd
rather be a fireman than anything else."
"We'll not hurry you for a decision,"
said the man. "Your pay will begin with
the day you saved the train, and you may
have a year to make up your mind
as to what you would rather do.
Good-by, and God bless you!"