Larry Glass discovered his protege on the rear porch engrossed with Miss Blake, and signalled him from afar; but the young man ignored the signal, and the trainer strolled up to the steps.

"Hello, Larry! What's on your mind?" inquired Speed.

"I'd like to see you." Glass, clad in his sportiest garments, seemed utterly lacking in the proper appreciation of a valet's position. He treated his employer with a tolerant good-nature.

Miss Blake excused herself and went into the house, whereupon her companion showed his irritation. "See here, Larry, don't you know better than to interrupt me in the midst of a hammock talk?"

"Oh, that's all right," wheezed the trainer. "As long as you didn't spill her out, she'll be back."

"Well, what is it?"

"I had a stomach-laugh slipped to me just now." He began to shake.

"So you broke up my tete-a-tete to tell me a funny story?"

"Listen here. These cowboys have got you touted for a foot- runner." This time Glass laughed aloud, hoarsely. "They have framed a race with a ginny down the block."

"All right, I'll run."

Mr. Glass's face abruptly fell into solemn lines. "Quit your kiddin', Wally; you couldn't run a hundred yards in twenty minutes. These guys are on the level. They've sent General Garcia over to cook it."

"Yes. The race comes off in ten days."

Glass allowed his mouth to drop open and his little eyes to peer forth in startled amazement.

"Then it's true? I guess this climate is too much for you," he said. "When did you feel this comin' on?"

Speed laughed. "I know what I'm doing." With an effort at restraint, the trainer inquired:

"What's the idea?"

"I'll tell you how it came up, Larry. I—I'm very fond of Miss Blake. That's why I broke the record getting out here as soon as I was invited. Well, she believes, from something I said—one of those odd moments, you know—that I'm a great athlete, and she told those cowboys that I'd gladly put on my spiked shoes and carry their colors to victory. You've heard about the phonograph?"

Glass smiled wearily. "I can't hear nothing else. The gang is daffy on grand opera."

"When I was accused of being an athlete I couldn't deny it, could

"I see. You was stringin' the gal, and she called you, eh?"

"I wouldn't express it in quite those terms. I may have exaggerated my abilities slightly." Glass laughed. "She is such a great admirer of athletics, it was quite natural. Any man would have done the same. She got me committed in front of the cowboys, and I had to accept—or be a quitter."

Glass nodded appreciatively. "All the same," said he, "you've got more nerve than a burglar. How you goin' to side-step?"

"I made the match for an 'unknown.'" Speed winked. "Covington will be here in a day or two. I'll wire him to hurry up. Fortunately I brought a lot of athletic clothes with me, so I'll go into training under your direction. When Covington gets here I'll let him run."

The fat man sighed with relief. "Now I'm hep. I was afraid you'd try to go through with it."

"Hardly. I'll sprain an ankle, or something. She'll be there with the sympathy. See? Covington will run the race; the cowboys will get their phonograph; and I'll get—well, if I can beat out this Native Son tenor singer, I'll invite you to the wedding. There wasn't any other way out."

Glass mopped his brow. "You had me wingin' for a while, but I plugged your game with the cowboys. Pawnee Bill and his Congress of Rough Riders think you're a cyclone."

"It's the first chance I ever had to wear that silk running-suit.
Who knows, maybe I can run!"

"Nix, now! Don't kid yourself too far. This thing is funny enough as it stands."

"Oh, I dare say it looks like a joke to you, but it doesn't to me, Larry. If I don't marry that girl, I—I'll go off my balance, that's all, and I'm not going to overlook any advantage whatever. Fresno sings love-songs, and he's got a mint of money. Well, I'm going to work this athletic pose to death. I'm going into training, I'm going to talk, eat, sleep, live athletics for a week, and when I'm unexpectedly crippled on the eve of the race, it is going to break my heart. Understand! I am going to be so desperately disappointed that I'll have to choose between suicide and marriage. The way I feel now, I think I'll choose marriage. But you must help."

"Leave it to me, Bo!"

"In the first place, I want some training-quarters."

"That's right, don't be a piker."

"And I want you to boost."

"I'm there! When do we begin?"

"Right away. Unpack my running-suit and rub some dirt on it—it's too new. I think I'll limber up, and let her get a look at the clothes."

"It's a bright idea; but don't let these animal-trainers see you run, or the stuff will be cold in a minute."

"Fine! We'll have secret practice! That suits me perfectly."
Speed laughed with joy.

From inside the house came the strains of Dearie, sung in a sympathetic tenor, and upon the conclusion Berkeley Fresno's voice inquiring:

"Miss Blake, did I ever tell you about the time I sang Dearie to the mayor's daughter in Walla Walla?"

Miss Blake appeared on the gallery with her musical admirer at her elbow.

"Yes," said she, sweetly. "You told me all about the mayor's daughter a week ago." Then spying Speed and his companion, she exclaimed: "Mr. Fresno has a fine voice, hasn't he? He sings with the Stanford Glee Club."


"Sure!" The Native Son of the Golden West shook up a hammock- cushion for the girl. "Tenor!" said he, sententiously.

"Say no more," Speed remarked; "it's all right with us!"

Fresno looked up.

"What's wrong with my singing?"

"Oh, I've just told the girls that you're going to run that foot- race," Helen interposed, hurriedly, at which Fresno exploded.

"What's wrong with my running?" inquired Speed.

"I can beat you!"

Larry Glass nudged his employer openly, and seemed on the verge of hysteria. "Let him go," said he. "Let him go; he's funny."

Speed addressed Helen, with a magnanimous smile:

"Suppose we allow Frez to sing this foot-race? We'll pull it off in the treble cleff."

"Oh, I mean it!" maintained the tenor, stubbornly. "I don't want to run Skinner, the cook, but I'll run you to see who does meet him."

Speed shrugged his shoulders indulgently.

"I'm afraid you're a little overweight."

"I'll train down."

"Perhaps if you wait until I beat this cook, I'll take you on."

Glass broke out, in husky indignation: "Sure! Get a rep, Cull, get a rep!" Then to his employer: "Come on, Wally, you've got to warm up." He mounted the steps heavily with his protege.

When they had gone, Miss Blake clapped her hands.

"I'm so excited!" she exclaimed. "You see, it's all my doings!
Oh, how I adore athletes!"

"Most young girls do," Fresno smiled, sourly. "My taste runs more to music." After a moment's meditation, he observed: "Speed doesn't look like a sprinter to me. I—I'll wager he can't do a hundred yards in fifteen-two."

"'Fifteen-two' is cribbage," said Miss Blake.

"Fifteen and two-fifths seconds is what I mean."

"Is that fast?"

Fresno smiled, indulgently this time. "Jean's friend Covington can go the distance in nine and four-fifths seconds. He's a real sprinter. I think this fellow is a joke."

"Indeed he is not! If Mr. Covington can run as fast as that, Mr. Speed can run faster. He told me so."

"Oh!" Fresno looked at her curiously. "The world's record is nine and three-fifths; that's the limit of human endurance."

"I hope he doesn't injure himself," breathed the girl, and the tenor wandered away, disgusted beyond measure. When he was out of hearing, he remarked, aloud:

"I'll bet he runs so slow we'll have to wind a stop-watch on him.
Anyhow, I think I'll find out something more about this race."

Once in his room, Mr. J. Wallingford Speed made a search for writing materials, while Larry Glass overhauled a trunk filled with athletic clothing of various descriptions. There were running-suits, rowing-suits, baseball and football suits, sweaters, jerseys, and bath robes—all of which were new and unstained. At the bottom Glass discovered a box full of bronze and near-gold emblems.

"Here's your medals," said he.

"Good! I'll wear them."

"Nix! You can't do that. Those gals will get wise." He selected one, and read on the reverse side. "Clerk of the course"; another was engraved "Starter." All were official badges of some sort or other. "You always were strong on the 'Reception Committee' stuff. There's six of them," said he.

Speed pointed to the bureau. "Try a nail-file. See if you can't scratch off the lettering. How's this?" He read what he had written for the wire. "'Culver Covington, and so forth. Come quick. First train. Native Son making love to Jean.—Wally.' Ten words, and it tells the whole story. I can hardly explain why I want him, can I? He expects to stop off in Omaha for a day or two, but he'll be under way in an hour after he gets this. I hate to spoil his little visit, but he can take that in on his way home. Now I'll ring for somebody, and have this taken over to the station by the first wagon."

"Say, you better scratch this Fresno," said Larry.


"He's hep to you."


Glass looked up at a sound, to discover Mariedetta, the Mexican maid, who had come in answer to Speed's call.

"In the doorway'" the trainer said, under his breath. "Pipe the
Cuban Queen!"

"You call?" inquired Mariedetta of the younger man.

"Yes, I want this telegram to go to the depot as soon as possible."

Mariedetta took the message and turned silently, but as she went she flashed a look at Glass which caused that short-waisted gentleman to wink at his companion.

"Some frill! Eh? I'm for her! She's strong for me, too."

"How do you know?"

"We talked it over. I gave her a little kiss to keep for me."

"Careful, Larry! She may have a cowboy sweetheart."

Glass grunted, disparagingly.

"Them ginnys is jokes to me."

As Speed talked he clad himself in his silken uniform, donned his spiked shoes, and pinned the medals upon his chest.

"How do I look?" he queried.

"Immense! If she likes athletes, it's a walk-away for you."

"Then give me the baby-blue bath robe with the monogram. We'll go out and trot around a little."

But his complacency received a shock as he stepped out upon the veranda. Not only Helen Blake awaited him, but the other girls as well, while out in front were a dozen or more cowboys whom Fresno had rallied. "Goin' to take a little run, eh?" inquired Stover. "We allowed we'd lay off a few minutes and watch you."


"Yes," Fresno spoke up. "I told the boys we'd better hold a stop- watch on you and see what shape you're in."

"A stop-watch?" said Glass, sharply.

"Yes. I have one."

"Not to-day," said Speed's trainer. "No!" he admonished, as his protege turned upon him. "Some other time, mebbe. You're just off a long trip, and I can't risk gettin' you stove up."

"To-morrow, perhaps," urged Fresno.

"I wouldn't promise."

"Then the next day. I've timed lots of men. The watch is correct."

"Let's see it." Glass held out his hand.

"Oh, it's a good watch. It cost me one hundred and twenty-five dollars."

As Glass reached for the timepiece an unfortunate accident occurred. Speed struck his elbow, and the watch fell. Fresno dove for it, then held it to his ear and shook it.

"You've broken it!" he cried, accusingly.

"Oh, I'm sorry! My fault," Speed apologized.

"If it was your fault, maybe you'll fix it," suggested the tenor.

"Gladly!" Speed turned to his trainer. "Buy a new alarm-clock for our little friend." He stripped off his bath robe, and handed it to his trainer. "Is she looking at me?" he whispered.

"Both eyes, big as saucers."

Speed settled his spikes into the dirt as he had seen other sprinters do, set himself for an instant, then loped easily around the house and out of sight.

To the cowboys this athletic panoply was vastly impressive. With huge satisfaction they noticed the sleeveless shirt, the loose running-trunks, and, above all, the generous display of medals. With a wild yell of delight they broke out upon the trail of their champion, only to have Glass thrust his corpulent body in their path. With an upflung arm he stemmed the tide.

"It's no use, boys," he cried, "he's a mile away!"


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