“You’re wondering just why I’m so curious about the country up here, I can see, fellows,” Hugh was saying about the time we meet them; “and, as we all belong to the same school, and our dearest wish is to see Scranton High win the prize that is offered by the committee in the Marathon, I don’t mind letting you in. I know something about this country up here, and have traced on a surveyor’s chart the ordinary course a fellow would be apt to take in passing from the second tally post, that old tavern back of us, along this road to the canal, and from there across the old logging road to Hobson’s Pond, where there’s going to be the last registering place before the dash for home. Well, I’ve figured it out that a fellow would save considerable ground if he left this same road half a mile below, and cut across by way of the Juniper Swamp trail, striking in again along about the Halpin Farm.”
His remarks created no end of interest, for there were several others among the bunch who had also entered for that long-distance race; and, naturally, they began to figure on how they might take advantage of Hugh’s discovery. It was all for the honor and credit of good old Scranton High; so that it really mattered little just which fellow crossed the line first, so long as he “saved the bacon.”
“It sounds pretty fine to me, Hugh,” said Julius, “only I don’t like one thing.”
“What’s that, Julius?” demanded the Juggins boy.
“By following that Juniper Swamp trail and the old road Hugh mentions, we’d have to pass close to that deserted stone quarry; and say, the farmers all vow it’s sure haunted.”
ON THE OLD QUARRY ROAD
When Julius made this assertion, the other fellows looked at each other in what might be said to be a queer way. In fact, they had all heard certain absurd stories told in connection with the old quarry that had not been worked for so many years that the road leading to it across country had grown up in grass and weeds. Some adventurous boys who went out there once declared it was a most gruesome place, with pools of water covered with green scum lying around, and all sorts of holes looking like the cave Robinson Crusoe found on his island home to be seen where granite building rocks had been excavated from the towering cliffs.
It was K. K. who laughed first, actually laughed scornfully, though Julius took it all so seriously. Thad Stevens followed with a chuckle, after his peculiar fashion.
“You give me a pain, Julius, you certainly do,” ventured K. K.
“To think,” added Thad, assuming a lofty air of superior knowledge, “of a fellow attending Scranton High believing the ridiculous yarns these uneducated tillers of the soil and their hired help pass around, about there being some sort of a genuine ghost haunting the old quarry—why, it’s positively silly of you, Julius, and I don’t mind telling you so to your face.”