Irving followed Barclay round and tried to grasp the significance of his comments. Dennison came by at a trot.
“Longer stride, Dennison! Your running’s choppy! Lengthen out, lengthen out! That’s better.—I have it!”
Barclay turned suddenly to Irving.
“The thing for you to do. We’ll make you an official at the track games next week. That will give you a standing at once—show everybody that you are really a keen follower of sport—or want to be.”
“But what can I do? I suppose an official has to do something.”
“You can be starter. That will put you right in touch with the fellows that are entered.”
“Would I have a revolver? I’ve never fired a gun off in my life.”
“Then it’s time you did. Of course you’ll have a revolver. And you’ll be the noisiest, most important man on the field. That’s what you need to make yourself; wake the fellows up to what you really are!—Now I must be off to my football men; you’d better hang round here and pick up what you can about running. And remember—you’re to act as starter.”
“If you’ll see me through.”
“I’ll see you through.”
Barclay waved his hand and swung off across the field.
THE PENALTY FOR A FOUL
How it was managed Irving did not know, but on the morning of the day when the fall handicap track games were held Scarborough lingered after the Sixth Form Geometry class. Scarborough was president of the Athletic Association.
“We want somebody to act as starter for the races this afternoon, Mr. Upton,” said Scarborough. “I wondered if you would help us out.”
“I should be delighted,” said Irving. “I’ve not had much experience—”
“Oh, it’s easy enough; Mr. Barclay, I guess, can tell you all that has to be done. Thank you very much.”
It was quite as if Irving was the one who was conferring the favor; he liked Scarborough for the way in which the boy had made the suggestion. He always had liked him, for Scarborough had never given any trouble; he seemed more mature than most of the boys, more mature even than Louis Collingwood. He was not so popular, because he maintained a certain dignity and reserve; even Westby seemed to stand somewhat in awe of Scarborough. He was, as Irving understood, the best oarsman in the school, captain of the school crew, besides being the crack shot-putter and hammer-thrower; if he and Collingwood had together chosen to throw their influence against a new master, life would indeed have been hard. But Scarborough’s attitude had been one of entire indifference; he would stand by and smile sometimes when Westby was engaged in chaffing Irving, and then, as if tired of it, he would turn his back and walk away.
Irving visited Barclay at his house during the noon recess, borrowed his revolver, and received the last simple instructions.