Horatio and “Just” Smith were on deck, looking fit and eager. Then, too, there was Nick Lang, with a grin on his heavy face every time he glanced toward the other three fellows. It was getting on, and some of the earlier events had already been carried through, amidst great roars of applause as the different prizes went, this one to an Allandale fellow, another to a boy wearing the Belleville High colors; and three in succession to local lads.
“I don’t exactly like the way that Nick Lang keeps on laughing to himself every time he looks over in this direction,” Horatio was saying to the other two.
“I’ve noticed the same thing,” spoke up “Just” Smith; “and it makes me wonder if the tricky fellow hasn’t got some slick game up his sleeve, as usual, looking to giving the rest of us trouble. You notice, don’t you, boys, that, look as you will, you can’t see anything of either that Tip Slavin, or Leon Disney. Now, when fellows who are as fond of outdoor sports as those two have always been, keep shy when such a great event as this meet is being pulled off, there must be a pretty good reason.”
“They may be somewhere in the crowd,” Hugh went on to say, “because it’d be impossible for any single fellow to identify all that are in that solid heaving yelling mass of people. Nick believes he has a fair chance of leading the pack, and that makes him feel happy. I heard him say only yesterday that the one fellow he was afraid of in our whole bunch was K. K.; and now that accident has eliminated him, why, naturally, Nick feels more confidence. In imagination he’s already receiving the grand Marathon prize, and hearing the crowds yelling themselves hoarse.”
“Well,” snorted Horatio, gritting his teeth in a way he had when aroused, “if that’s what pleases Nick he’s got another guess coming; for three of us are also in the game; and he’s got to do some mighty tall sprinting in that last half-mile if he expects to win out. Then there are a lot of other fellows in the run who may give him a pain. But, according to the programme, our race comes next after this pole vaulting contest; so, boys, we’d better be moving around, and getting our place in line, according to our several numbers.”
THE GREAT MARATHON RACE
It was plainly noticeable how that vast crowd began to stir, and show signs of increased interest when the numerous trim runners entered for the big Marathon started to gather for the preliminary stage of the race.
Each of the many contestants had a large number fastened upon both the front and back of his thin upper garment. By these they might be recognized even at a distance; and many persons carried field or opera glasses of various types just on purpose to make out who each runner was when he came in sight around the bend half a mile away, to open on that last stretch that was likely to see the cruelest work of all, if the competition chanced to be keen.