American Book of Golden Deeds - James Baldwin

The Youngest of the Heroes

Willie Stillwell is only thirteen years old, and he lives in Bellaire, Michigan. One day he was playing with other children on the banks of the little river which flows by his home.

Suddenly there was a cry of alarm. Ruth Schoolcraft, who was a head taller than Willie, had become too venturesome, and had fallen into the water. The strong current bore her quickly from the shore; but Willie Stillwell, without stopping to think, leaped bravely to the rescue. Many of the boys were stronger swimmers than he, but there were few who equaled him in courage and determination. He knew that unless he was very careful the struggling girl would carry him down with her. So he approached her warily, and seizing her by the hair, held her face above the water. Then, with his other hand, he swam safely to the shore bringing the half-drowned girl with him.

When the commissioners heard of Willie Stillwell's brave deed, they sent him a bronze medal. They also set aside two thousand dollars to provide for giving him a course in electric engineering at college.