Join date: Jun 19, 2022


He grabbed hold of a man s arm. Are they out?

Who, mate?

Me . . . me brother. He was looking wildly around him. And . . . and Janie.

There s nobody in there, man. Anyway, look at it, nothin could live long in that, they d be choked with the smoke afore now

Jimmy! Jimmy!

He was hanging over the rail yelling down into the wherries when a woman appeared. She swung round the end post from the passage and he stared into her face, made pink now by the reflection from the fire. Janie! He gripped her arms. Where s . . . where s Jimmy?

Jimmy? I . . . I left him. I left him here, I ve been up home.

Oh my God!

He turned now towards the house and gazed upwards. It looked like a huge torch. Flames were coming out of the two bottom windows but only smoke out of the upper one. As he stared there came the sound of breaking glass. It could have been caused by the heat but instinctively he swung round to Janie, and there flashed between them a knowing glance. Then she put her hand over her mouth as she cried, God Almighty, Jimmy!

He raced towards the steps, but as he attempted to mount them the heat beat him back. To the side of him two men were playing a hose that spurted intermittent water into one of the bottom windows. His hand was gripping the stanchion of the balus­trade over which a sack was lying; it was the hessian hood that Jimmy wore when working in the rain. Tearing it from the railing he dashed towards the men and pulling the hose downwards he saturated the sack; then, throwing it over his head, he went up the steps again, and into the house.

Everything that was wood inside was alight. The floor felt like slippery wet mush beneath his feet. Blindly he flew over it and to the ladder. One side of it was already burning but he was up it in a second and had thrust the trap-door open.

The room was full of smoke, but through it he saw the glow of the burning bookcase at the far end. Coughing and choking he dropped flat on the floor and pulled himself towards the window, and there his groping hands touched the limp body, and it wasn t until he went to drag it towards the trap door that he realized that both Jimmy s hands and feet were bound. There was no time to unloosen them. So gripping him under the armpits, he pulled him backwards towards the trap-door, but there he had to pause and stuff the wet hessian into his mouth and squeeze the water down his throat to stop himself from choking.


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