“Oh! I’ve already as good as copped that Marathon prize,” Nick went on to say, at the same time thrusting out his chin in his customary aggressive and boastful fashion. “I calculate to give the folks some surprise by the ease with which I’ll come in away ahead of the next competitor. There’ll be a wheen of those who also ran, bringing up the tail of the procession. Long-distance is my best suit, and I’ve waited a while to show up certain chaps in this town who think they are just the thing. Don’t worry about me, Morgan; Nick Lang generally gets there when he throws his hat into the ring.”
At that the other two laughed uproariously, as though they thought the joke too good for anything. Possibly they took Nick’s reference to “those who also ran” to mean Hugh Morgan particularly; and in their minds they could see him desperately trying to break his bonds; or climb up out of the deep pit into which he had gone crashing when the covered mattress, formed of slender twigs and dead leaves, had given way under his weight.
Hugh and Thad walked on, the latter fairly boiling with illy-suppressed anger.
“That fellow always gives me a pain, Hugh,” he was saying, as they increased the distance separating them from the still merry trio in the rear. “He is really the meanest boy you could find in all the towns of this country. But fellows like him sometimes catch a Tartar; so, perhaps, it might happen in this case,” and Thad, who evidently had something on his mind, would not commit himself further, as they walked on in company.
There had been considerable of a change in connection with the big open field where the boys of Scranton were allowed by the town council and mayor to play baseball, and also football, since summer waned. Somehow the success that attended the work of Scranton High in the battles of the Three Town League, as narrated in an earlier volume of this series, seemed to have stirred up many of the leading citizens. Besides, Mr. Leonard, the efficient under-principal of the high school, with a genuine love and sympathy for all boys in his heart, had kept things at boiling pitch.
Consequently there was, first of all, a move made to lease that splendid field for a long term of years, from the owner, so that the young people of Scranton might have some central place to gather for all sorts of outdoor games and sports.
So subscriptions were started looking to collect a fund with which not only to erect some sort of decent grandstand, but a building that would contain a number of conveniences such as most athletic grounds and similar institutions can boast.
This building had now been completed, and the boys were in full possession. It contained, among other things, a score and more of lockers, where the one who paid a small fee could keep his “fighting togs,” as Thad Stevens was wont to term his baseball clothes, or it might be the scanty raiment he wore when exercising on the athletic field, running, or boxing, or wrestling.