It seemed almost too contemptible to be true, since Hugh could easily purchase other garments down at the sporting-goods store in Scranton. Still, some mean natures are small enough to love to give “stabs” that might annoy the recipient; and boys sometimes grow so accustomed to certain articles of wearing apparel that being compelled to “break in” a new pair of running shoes might lose Hugh the great race!
He gritted his teeth as a wave of indignation swept over him. Really it was high time this contemptible spirit of annoying those he chose to look upon in the light of enemies was crushed in Nick Lang. He had carried on with a “high horse” too long already, and, for one, Hugh felt as though combined action should be taken against him by the respectable fellows of Scranton High.
But it was far from Hugh’s intention to stand there and see his locker robbed by such an unprincipled fellow as Leon Disney, if, indeed, the skulker proved to be the party they suspected. Possibly Hugh moved too soon, for it would have been much wiser had he waited until the sneak thief actually had the locker open, and disclosed his full intention.
Urged on to action by his indignation, Hugh started forward. Thad, realizing that it was his chum’s intention to do something radical, skipped off a little to the right. He fancied that should the skulker take the alarm and try to flee, making for the open window in the rear, he was apt to turn aside and try to pass by; so his move was intended to block this little game.
It turned out to be needless, for so interested was the fellow with the flash-light in his work of inserting a key in the lock, and trying to turn it, that he did not appear to notice anything wrong until Hugh was close at his elbow. Then, as Thad slipped around to one side to cover all lines of retreat, Hugh reached out a hand and caught hold of the fellow by the shoulder. At the same time he exclaimed in a severe voice:
“Well, what are you doing here, I want to know, trying to break into my locker?”
The other gave a tremendous start, and a low, bubbling cry, half of fright, and also of disgust, came from his lips. The woollen muffler fell from about his face, and, although he snapped off the light just then by a movement of his thumb, the others had glimpsed his features.
Thad had evidently hit the target in the bull’s-eye when he mentioned his suspicions concerning the probable identity of the skulker. It was Leon Disney!
LEON PROMISES TO REFORM
The startled boy struggled to get free, but Hugh had taken a firmer grip upon his person, and saw to it that he could not squirm loose.
“Quit your kicking!” cried Thad, indignantly, when one of the fellow’s shoes came in rough contact with his own shins; “or we’ll start something along the same lines! We know you, Leon Disney, so there’s no use trying to hide your face.”