The athletic instructor assured him he was keeping fully within the conditions of the race in so doing.
“It is any competitor’s privilege to go over the route as often as he pleases,” was the way Mr. Leonard put it; “and so long as he conforms to the rules, such as keeping on his own feet every yard of the way, accepting no lift from wagon or car, and registering faithfully at the several stations provided, he has done all that is expected of him. If by crossing a field he thinks he can cut off fifty feet or more he is at liberty to make the attempt, although it may cost him dear, through his meeting with some unexpected obstacle in his progress, which would not have occurred had he stayed by the road. Some fellows might believe they could do better than trying to cross by way of that overgrown quarry road. Yes, you are keeping well within the letter of the law in choosing your own way of going, Hugh. Have no fears on that score, my boy.”
Mr. Leonard liked Hugh Morgan exceedingly; though that was not to be wondered at, because Hugh was one of those boys who would never stoop to do a tricky thing, no matter what allurements it held out; he always “played square,” and even won the high regard of his rivals in many cases.
When the October sun had reached the horizon the multitude of contestants and spectators commenced to string back to town, for it would soon be getting near supper time; and no fellow likes to be late at the table, especially when he feels as hungry as a bear, after exercising so violently for hours.
Hugh was starting off alone, when Thad Stevens called out that he’d like the other to “hold up a minute,” until he could overtake him; because it happened he had something to communicate which he thought Hugh ought to know.
TREACHERY IN THE AIR
“Hugh, it looks to me like there’s a hen on,” was what Thad Stevens said, as he joined his chum.
“That’s a queer remark for you to make, Thad,” the other chuckled; “after seeing what’s been happening here on our athletic field this afternoon, I’d be likely to say there were a good many score of hens setting, each hoping to hatch out one of our dandy prizes next Saturday.”
“Oh! you understand that I mean something crooked going on, Hugh,” Thad hastened to add.
“That sounds serious enough. What do you know, Thad? The chances are ten to one if anything in the way of trickery is contemplated I can put my hand on the fellow who’s guilty of the same.”
“Sure thing, Hugh, and his name is Nicholas in the bargain. They call him Young Nick, to distinguish him from his father who’s dead and gone; but sometimes people say he’s a regular Old Nick when it comes to playing mean jokes, and getting into trouble of all kinds.”
“What’s Nick Lang been up to now, Thad?”
“Oh! just spying on you, for one thing!” exclaimed the other angrily.