Helga Ruppe, B.A., M.A., Author, Historian, Linguist, Bookkeeper, Artist

London, Ontario History "London Free Press, May 26th, 1879.

A False Alarm.

About twelve o’clock on Saturday night, a large number of citizens, especially those living in the western portion of the city, were alarmed by the protracted blowing of a steam whistle. It was accepted as an alarm of fire, and many citizens sallied forth into the street, not withstanding the falling rain, and ran in the direction of the sound.

They finally met at the foot of Dundas street, all anxious to ascertain the cause of the steady, shrill, monotonous blast. Beyond the jail everything was inky blackness. One of the crowd was even heard to compare it to the darkness of Egypt, and as no one present seemed to have any particular knowledge of that Eastern land, his statement was taken for granted.

Still the whistle whistled, and at last it was ascertained to proceed from the steamer “Enterprise,” anchored at her dock in Kensington. This information, however, only increased the anxiety of the crowd, as the idea of a drowning accident flashed over their minds, and was communicated in husky whispers from one to another. A volunteer party was at last formed, consisting of a fireman, a constable, and several others, who were to investigate the cause of the alarm, and communicate with the main body.

They set out, and after a protracted and tedious absence, returned with the doleful intelligence that consequent upon the rain the string attached to the steam whistle on the boat had shrunk so as to open the valve and produce the noise. Then the crowd filed slowly homeward, some quietly, others – well, it might be just as well to refrain from reporting their remarks at any serious length. Suffice it to say that the they were mad – very mad."

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