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Chapter Four

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From the Superintendent of the House of Transformation to the High Master of the Second Landstead:


Following are some of the urgent needs of the Institution, which are necessary in order to facilitate its management and enable us to do the best work possible:

1st—The construction of improved sanitary arrangements for the Administration Building, and the six family cottages, with proper sewerage for the same.

2nd—The extension of the water main, with fire-plugs at each building, to insure us against loss by fire.

3rd—The installation of a new steam boiler, and extension of the steam-heating apparatus to all of the family cottages, to replace the old and dangerous coal stoves now in use.

4th—The construction of proper bathing facilities, such as are used in modern institutions, capable of bathing fifty boys per hour, to replace the present unsanitary arrangements.

o—o—o

"Say, we can see a road from here!" cried Frank.

They were crammed up next to one another on one of the beds by the windows, standing on tiptoe to see as far as possible. They'd tried to open the sash window so they could stick their heads out – the windows in this room had no bars – but had found that all the windows here were nailed shut.

"So that we can die right quick in a fire," announced Joe with a grin, which had caused Frank to snatch the matchbox from where Joe had hidden it, in his lower drawers. Laughing, Joe had snatched the matches back.

"Which road do you suppose it is?" asked Mordecai, whom Bat was holding up as best he could, so that the younger boy could see at least a bit.

"Some country road." Joe dismissed it that way with a city boy's air. "Is that a spire?"

Bat squinted. Through the trees that lined the road, he could just see the spire of a chapel of rebirth.

"Can't see no town," commented Bat.

"Just houses," Frank agreed. "Do you suppose we're off in some unexplored part of the world? Where they only got missionaries?"

They all envisioned that possibility with quickening interest till Slow said, "There's farms here."

"How d'you know?" asked Joe quickly.

Slow looked surprised. "Heard the cattle and chickens and horses just before we got here. And smelled them."

The rest of them sighed. Living amidst farms seemed so much more prosaic than living in the wilderness.

Evidently feeling the need for a change of topic, Frank laid his arms across the rail of the window, saying, "So what do we think of Trusty?"

"Can't trust him," said Joe quickly. "You can tell it from his name, can't you? He's a snitch."

"He's a mystery, certain," said Bat slowly.

"I like him."

They all looked at Slow. Then Joe laughed. Thumping Slow on the back in a friendly manner, he said, "You like everyone, you big oaf."

Slow grinned. Frank added, "Trusty don't make sense. He talks like a servant, but he's got keys to the cell, and he's sleeping in the Teacher's room. Can't understand—"

"Get your dirty feet off those clean sheets."

The sharp remark caused them all to tumble off the bed, as quickly as they could. With his heart still pounding, Bat felt his anger grow as he saw who had spoken.

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