Strange to Say

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Once a certain group of young boys went out into the forest to play with matches. They had been warned against this, and all of them had been told at one time or another by their mothers how dangerous this was. But they were of that peculiar age which thinks that because they were mature enough to comprehend the warnings, that this must mean that the warnings did not really apply to them.

And so they went out, and the worst that you might expect actually happened. The summer had been very dry that year and a great conflagration occurred, covering many thousands of acres. Numerous homes were destroyed, and the livelihood of many loggers was completely undone.

Many firefighters from surrounding regions, and even other states, were summoned to fight this fire. They fought the fire bravely, and often worked around the clock, to the point of exhaustion. Due to the circumstances, they sometimes made mistakes, but they still fought courageously and well. After about three weeks, the fire was contained, and a week after that, the fire was finally put out.

One of the captains of the firefighters had been badly burned in the course of fighting the fire, and he was many weeks recuperating in the hospital. One day, after he had recovered consciousness, he was surprised to receive a visit from the boys who had started the fire. They sat around his bed for a short time without speaking, until finally the ringleader of the boys cleared his throat and spoke. And what he said will probably surprise you as much as it surprised the captain of the fire-fighters. They did not come to seek forgiveness, but rather to criticize a few trivial tactical mistakes the fire-fighters had made during the course of the forest fire. They were particularly critical of certain decisions the captain had made, decisions they had read about in the newspaper.

Without responding to them, he had the nurse show them out. When she came back, she smiled and said to him, “Strange to say, they still love matches.”

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