get the engine to put it out. Of course
this could not be done when the ground was dry or when
there was a strong wind.
We never played with fire anywhere else, except symbolically,
having learned great respect for it. Whenever my father was
home and the fire alarm rang, he would hurry off with several children
in tow. If it were a brush fire we would help beat it out with
brooms or evergreen boughs — if a building, we just stood by helplessly,
watching it burn. The horror of these sights made me quite sensitive to
the smell of smoke.
One summer when we were living on the Cape, I returned to spend a
night or two in Weston and as I entered the house I smelled something
burning. On investigating I found a cardboard box on the back porch that
was filled with hot ashes. I poured water onto it, and none too soon as
the ashes had burned through the bottom of the box and into the table it
was resting on. Then I found our
housekeeper and told her that she ought to know better than to put
hot ashes in a cardboard box.
"I don't see how it could have happened," she replied seriously.
"Why, before I put those ashes into the box I lined it with three layers
I could hardly believe my ears !