The runners said that they did.
“Very well then. Get ready. Go!”
Away piled the boys in a line that did not break for several yards. Then Sam Rover shot ahead, followed by Flapp and two cadets named Pigley and Franell.
“There they go!” was the shout.
“Leg it, Sam!” yelled Tom. “Leg it, old man!”
“Go it, Flapp! Don’t let them win this race!”
“It’s yours if you want it, Franell!”
“Remember how you won the race at Ithaca, Pigley!”
So the cries went on, while the outsiders cheered for nobody in particular.
“Oh, I hope that Rover boy wins,” said Alice Staton to her sister.
“So do I,” answered Helen.
“By Jove, but I think I’ll rest a bit!” panted William Philander Tubbs, after running a couple of hundred yards, and he sat down on the grass, while the crowd laughed at him.
Sam was keeping the lead in good shape, although hard pressed by Flapp, Pigley, and Franell. His wind was good and he was running with a grace which brought forth much favorable comment.
“Whether he wins or not, he is the most graceful runner in the school,” whispered George Strong to Captain Putnam. “I never saw his equal.”
“You are right, Strong,” answered the captain. “I’ll tell you what,” he added. “They are a great trio, those Rover boys. One cannot help but love them, in spite of their tricks and occasional wrong-doings.”
“I agree, Captain Putnam. And I must say I do not find their wrong-doings so very great either,” concluded George Strong.
The rock that was the turning point in the race was now almost gained. Sam still led, but Flapp was right at one shoulder, with Pigley at the other. Franell, at a look from Flapp, had dropped behind.
On the rock stood the lieutenant George Strong had mentioned. He was friendly to Lew Flapp and as Sam swept around the rock, he leaned forward, making the youngest Rover run about a yard further than was necessary. Then he allowed Flapp to cut the rock closely.
But Sam was on his mettle and now bounded ahead faster than ever, leaving Flapp and Pigley several yards in the rear.
“Confound him,” thought Lew Flapp. “He’ll win sure, unless Franell does as he agreed—good!”
Flapp almost shouted the word, as he saw Sam run into Franell with a crash and go down. The other boy had crossed the running path and gotten directly into Sam’s way.
“I see you are out of it!” cried Flapp gleefully, as he shot by the prostrate figure.
“It was a trick!” muttered Sam to himself, and tried to rise to his feet. But the wind was knocked completely out of him and before he could recover the race was over, and Lew Flapp had come in ahead.
SAM SHOWS WHAT HE CAN DO
“It was another trick. He knocked me down on purpose.”