“For one,” said Julius, “I hope never to set eyes on the place again.”
“Oh! that’s silly talk, Julius,” commented K. K. “Here’s Hugh, who means to take a run out this way again as soon as he can, so as to time himself, and learn just what he can save by cutting across country in the big race. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he put ‘Just’ Smith up to the dodge, in addition to Horatio here and myself, all being entered as contestants in the big Marathon race.”
“I certainly feel that way, K. K.,” admitted Hugh firmly. “It strikes me this is going to be worth trying. If one of our crowd can save time by taking this route, while the other fellows go all the way around by road, that same thing may give Scranton High the clinching of the prize. It’s all fair and square, too, for the conditions only demand that the runners refuse all sorts of lifts while on the road, and register at each and every tally place designated. If they can cut a corner they are at liberty to do so.”
“Oh! well,” said Julius; “I’m not entered in the Marathon, luckily enough, so you see there’s no need of my prowling around this spooky place again. I haven’t lost any quarry, that I know of; and Scranton is a good enough place for me to do my athletic exercises in. But, Hugh, if you should happen to find out about the thing that emitted all those frightful squawks, I hope you’ll promise to let us know the particulars.”
“I can promise that easily enough, Julius,” the other told him; “though, just at present, my only concern is to gain time by this cut-off, and so win the big event for our school. Now suppose we drop this subject, and return to something pleasant.”
They continued to bump along the rocky road with its deep ruts. At times K. K. had to make little detours in order to navigate around some obstacle which could not be surmounted; for time had not dealt lightly with the quarry road, and the rains and wintry frosts had played havoc with its surface.
But, eventually, they sighted light ahead. Steve was the first to glimpse an opening, and announce that the main highway leading down to Scranton must be close at hand. His words turned out to be true, and soon afterwards they issued forth from the covert and found themselves upon the turnpike, headed for home.
Hugh turned around to mark the spot well in his mind, though he knew that it was to be the exit, and not the entrance, to the short-cut, in case he concluded to utilize the quarry road when the great race was on.
IN TRAINING FOR THE GREAT TOURNAMENT
It was an afternoon on the following week, after school hours, and the athletic field bordering the outskirts of the town of Scranton afforded a pretty lively spectacle. Indeed, it could be readily seen that the approaching tournament had taken a great hold upon the young people of the town.