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Philip Dru: Administrator

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<SPAN name="XXIV"></SPAN> <h1 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Chapter XXIV</h1> <h2 align="center" style="margin-top: 2em;font-variant: small-caps">Uncrowned Heroes</h2> <p>When Dru wakened in the morning after a long and refreshing sleep, his first thoughts were of Gloria Strawn. Before leaving his tent he wrote her an invitation to dine with him that evening in company with some of his generals and their wives. All through that busy day Dru found himself looking forward to the coming evening. When Gloria came Dru was standing at the door of his tent to meet her. As he helped her from the army conveyance she said:</p> <p>&#8220;Oh, Philip, how glad I am! How glad I am!&#8221;</p> <p>Dru knew that she had no reference to his brilliant victory, but that it was his personal welfare that she had in mind.</p> <p>During the dinner many stories of heroism were told, men who were least suspected of great personal bravery had surprised their comrades by deeds that would follow the coming centuries in both song and story. Dru, who had been a silent listener until now, said:</p> <p>&#8220;Whenever my brother soldier rises above self and gives or offers his life for that of his comrade, no one rejoices more than I. But, my friends, the highest courage is not displayed upon the battlefield. The soldier&#8217;s heroism is done under stress of great excitement, and his field of action is one that appeals to the imagination. It usually also touches our patriotism and self-esteem. The real heroes of the world are oftentimes never known. I once knew a man of culture and wealth who owned a plantation in some hot and inaccessible region. Smallpox in its most virulent form became prevalent among the negroes. Everyone fled the place save this man, and those that were stricken. Single-handed and alone, he nursed them while they lived and buried them when they died. And yet during all the years I knew him, never once did he refer to it. An old negro told me the story and others afterwards confirmed it. This same man jumped into a swollen river and rescued a poor old negro who could not swim. There was no one to applaud him as he battled with the deadly eddies and currents and brought to safety one of the least of God&#8217;s creatures. To my mind the flag of no nation ever waved above a braver, nobler heart.&#8221;</p> <p>There was a moment&#8217;s silence, and then Gloria said:</p> <p>&#8220;Philip, the man you mention is doubtless the most splendid product of our civilization, for he was perhaps as gentle as he was brave, but there is still another type of hero to whom I would call attention. I shall tell you of a man named Sutton, whom I came to know in my settlement work and who seemed to those who knew him wholly bad. He was cruel, selfish, and without any sense of honor, and even his personality was repulsive, and yet this is what he did.</p> <p>&#8220;One day, soon after dark, the ten story tenement building in which he lived caught fire. Smoke was pouring from the windows, at which many frightened faces were seen.</p> <p>&#8220;But what was holding the crowd&#8217;s breathless attention, was the daring attempt of a man on the eighth floor to save a child of some five or six years.</p> <p>&#8220;He had gotten from his room to a small iron balcony, and there he took his handkerchief and blindfolded the little boy. He lifted the child over the railing, and let him down to a stone ledge some twelve inches wide, and which seemed to be five or six feet below the balcony.</p> <p>&#8220;The man had evidently told the child to flatten himself against the wall, for the little fellow had spread out his arms and pressed his body close to it.</p> <p>&#8220;When the man reached him, he edged him along in front of him. It was a perilous journey, and to what end?</p> <p>&#8220;No one could see that he was bettering his condition by moving further along the building, though it was evident he had a well-defined purpose from the beginning.</p> <p>&#8220;When he reached the corner, he stopped in front of a large flagpole that projected out from the building some twenty or more feet.</p> <p>&#8220;He shouted to the firemen in the street below, but his voice was lost in the noise and distance. He then scribbled something on an envelope and after wrapping his knife inside, dropped it down. He lost no time by seeing whether he was understood, but he took the child and put his arms and legs about the pole in front of him and together they slid along to the golden ball at the end.</p> <p>&#8220;What splendid courage! What perfect self-possession! He then took the boy&#8217;s arm above the hand and swung him clear. He held him for a moment to see that all was ready below, and turned him loose.</p> <p>&#8220;The child dropped as straight as a plummet into the canvas net that was being held for him.</p> <p>&#8220;The excitement had been so tense up to now, that in all that vast crowd no one said a word or moved a muscle, but when they saw the little fellow unhurt, and perched high on the shoulders of a burly fireman, such cheers were given as were never before heard in that part of New York.</p> <p>&#8220;The man, it seemed, knew as well as those below, that his weight made impossible his escape in a like manner, for he had slid back to the building and was sitting upon the ledge smoking a cigarette.</p> <p>&#8220;At first it was the child in which the crowd was interested, but now it was the man. He must be saved; but could he be? The heat was evidently becoming unbearable and from time to time a smother of smoke hid him from view. Once when it cleared away he was no longer there, it had suffocated him and he had fallen, a mangled heap, into the street below.</p> <p>&#8220;That man was Sutton, and the child was not his own. He could have saved himself had he not stayed to break in a door behind which the screams of the child were heard.&#8221;</p> <p>There was a long silence when Gloria had ended her story, and then the conversation ran along more cheerful lines.</p>
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