That was a terrible hour for J. Wallingford Speed. As for Larry, once he had grasped the full significance of the telegram, he became a different person. Some fierce electric charge wrought a chemical alteration in his every fibre; he became a domineering, iron-willed autocrat, obsessed by the one idea of his own preservation, and not hesitating to use physical force when force became necessary to lessen his peril.

Repeatedly Speed folded his arms over his stomach, rocked in the throes of anguish, and wailed that he was perishing of cramps; the trainer only snorted with derision. When he refused to don the clothes selected for him, Glass fell upon him like a raging grizzly.

"You won't, eh? We'll see!" Then Speed took refuge in anger, but the other cried:

"Never mind the hysterics, Bo. You're going to run off some blubber to-day."

"But I have to go riding!"

"Not a chance!"

"I tell you I'll run when I come back," maintained the youth, almost tearfully beseeching. "They're waiting for me."

"Let 'em gallop—you can run alongside."

"With all these sweaters? I'd have a sunstroke."

"It's the best thing for you. I never thought of that."

As Glass forced his protege toward the house, the other young people appeared clad for their excursion; their horses were tethered to the porch. And it was an ideal day for a ride—warm, bright, and inviting. Over to the northward the hills, mysteriously purple, invited exploration; to the south and east the golden prairie undulated gently into a hazy realm of infinite possibilities; the animals themselves turned friendly eyes upon their riders, champing and whinnying as if eager to bear them out into the distances.

"We are ready!" called Jean gayly.

"What in the world—" Helen paused at sight of the swathed figure. "Are you cold, Mr. Speed?"

"Climb on your horses and get a start," panted the burly trainer; "he's goin' to race you ten miles."

"I'm going to do nothing of the sort. I'm going to—"

But Glass jerked him violently, crying:

"And no talkin' to gals, neither. You're trainin'. Now, get a move!"

Speed halted stubbornly.

"Hit her up, Wally! G'wan, now—faster! No loafing, Bo, or I'll wallop you!" Nor did he cease until they both paused from exhaustion. Even then he would not allow his charge to do more than regain his breath before urging him onward.

"See here," Wally stormed at last, "what's the use? I can't—"

"What's the use? That's the use!" Glass pointed to the north, where a lone horseman was watching them from a knoll. "D'you know who that is?"

The rider was small and stoop-shouldered.


"That's who."

"He's following us!"

With knees trembling beneath him Speed jogged feebly on down the road, Glass puffing at his heels.

When, after covering five miles, they finally returned to the Flying Heart, it was with difficulty that they could drag one foot after another. Wally Speed was drenched with perspiration, and Glass resembled nothing so much as a steaming pudding; rivulets of sweat ran down his neck, his face was purple, his lips swollen.

"Y-you'll have—to run alone—this afternoon," panted the tormentor.

"This afternoon? Haven't I run enough for—one day?" the victim pleaded. "Glass, old man, I—I'm all in, I tell you; I'm ready to die."

"Got to—fry off some more—leaf-lard," declared the trainer with vulgarity. He lumbered into the cook-house, radiating heat waves, puffing like a traction-engine, while his companion staggered to the gymnasium, and sank into a chair. A moment later he appeared with two bottles of beer, one glued to his lips. Both were evidently ice cold, judging from the fog that covered them.

Speed rose with a cry.

"Gee! That looks good!"

But the other, thrusting him aside without removing the neck of the bottle from his lips, gurgled:

"No booze, Wally! You're trainin'!"

"But I'm thirsty!" shouted the athlete, laying hands upon the full bottle, and trying to wrench it free.

"Have a little sense. If you're thirsty, hit the sink." Glass still maintained his hold, mumbling indistinctly: "Water's the worst thing in the world. Wait! I'll get you some."

He stepped into the bunk-room, to return an instant later with a cup half full. "Rinse out your mouth, and don't swallow it all."

"All! There isn't that much. Ugh! It's lukewarm. I want a bucket of ice-water—ice-water!"

"Nothing doing! I won't stand to have your epictetus chilled."

"My what?"

"Never mind now. Off with them clothes, and get under that shower. I guess it'll feel pretty good to-day."

Speed obeyed instructions sullenly, while his trainer, reclining in the cosey-corner, uncorked the second bottle. From behind the blanket curtains where the barrel stood, the former demanded:

"What did you mean by saying I'd have to run again this afternoon?"

"Starts!" said Glass, shortly.


"Fast work. We been loafing so far; you got to get some ginger."

"Rats! What's the use?"

"No use at all. You couldn't outrun a steam-roller, but if you won't duck out, I've got to do my best. I'd as lief die of a gunshot-wound as starve to death in the desert."

"Do you suppose we could run away?"

"Could we!" Glass propped himself eagerly upon one elbow. "Leave it to me."

"No!" Wally resumed rubbing himself down. "I can't leave without looking like a quitter. Fresno would get her sure."

"What's the difference if you're astraddle of a cloud with a gold guitar in your lap?"

"Oh, they won't kill us."

"I tell you these cow-persons is desp'rate. If you stay here and run that race next Saturday, she'll tiptoe up on Sunday and put a rose in your hand, sure. I can see her now, all in black. Take it from me, Wally, we ain't goin' to have no luck in this thing."

"My dear fellow, the simplest way out of the difficulty is for me to injure myself—"

"Here!" Glass hopped to his feet and dove through the blankets. "None of that! Have a little regard for me. If you go lame it's my curtain."

All that day the trainer stayed close to his charge, never allowing him out of his sight, and when, late in the afternoon, Speed rebelled at the espionage, Glass merely shrugged his fat shoulders. "But I want to be alone—with her. Can't you see?"

"I can, but I won't. Go as far as you like. I'll close my eyes."

"Or I'll close them for you!" The lad scowled; his companion laughed mirthlessly.

"Don't start nothin' like that—I'd ruin you. Gals is bad for a man in trainin' anyhow."

"I suppose I'm not to see her—"

"You can see her, but I want to hear what you say to her.
No emotion till after this race, Wally."

"You're an idiot! This whole affair is preposterous—ridiculous."

"And yet it don't make us laugh, does it?" Glass mocked.

"If these cowboys make me run that race, they'll be sorry—mark my words, they'll be sorry."

Speed lighted a cigarette and inhaled deeply, but only once. The other lunged at him with a cry and snatched it. "Give me that cigarette!"

"I've had enough of this foolishness," Wally stormed. "You are discharged!"

"I wish I was."

"You are!"


"I say you are fired!" Glass stared at him. "Oh, I mean it! I won't be bullied."

"Very well." Glass rose ponderously. "I'll wise up that queen of yours, Mr. Speed."

"You aren't going to talk to Miss Blake? Wait!" Speed wilted miserably. "She mustn't know. I—I hire you over again."

"Suit yourself."

"You see, don't you? My love for Helen is the only serious thing I ever experienced," said the boy. "I—can't lose her. You've got to help me out."

And so it was agreed.

That evening, when the clock struck nine, J. Wallingford Speed was ready and willing to drag himself off to bed, in spite of the knowledge that Fresno was waiting to take his place in the hammock. He was racked by a thousand pains, his muscles were sore, his back lame. He was consumed by a thirst which Glass stoutly refused to let him quench, and possessed by a fearful longing for a smoke. When he dozed off, regardless of the snores from the bunk-house adjoining, Berkeley Fresno's musical tenor was sounding in his ears. And Helen Blake was vaguely surprised. For the first time in their acquaintance Mr. Speed had yawned openly in her presence, and she wondered if he were tiring of her.

It seemed to Speed that he had barely closed his eyes when he felt a rough hand shaking him, and heard his trainer's voice calling, in a half-whisper: "Come on, Cull! Get up!"

When he turned over it was only to be shaken into complete wakefulness.

"Hurry up, it's daylight!"


"Come, now, you got to run five miles before breakfast!"

Speed sat up with a groan. "If I run five miles," he said, "I won't want any breakfast," and laid himself down again gratefully—he was very sore—whereat his companion fairly dragged him out of bed. As yet the room was black, although the windows were grayed by the first faint streaks of dawn. From the adjoining room came a chorus of distress: snores of every size, volume, and degree of intensity, from the last harrowing gasp of strangulation to the bold trumpetings of a bull moose. There were long drawn sighs, groans of torture, rumbling blasts. Speed shuddered.

"They sound like a troop of trained sea-lions," said he.

"Don't wake 'em up. Here!" Glass yawned widely, and tossed a bundle of sweaters at his companion.

"Ugh! These clothes are all wet and cold, and—it feels like blood!"

"Nothin' but the mornin' dew."

"It's perspiration."

"Well, a little sweat won't hurt you."

"Nasty word." Speed yawned in turn. "Perspiration! I can't wear wet clothes," and would have crept back into his bed.

This time Glass deposited him upon a stool beside the table, and then lighted a candle, by the sickly glare of which he selected a pair of running-shoes.

"Why didn't you leave me alone?" grumbled the younger man. "The only pleasure I get is in sleep—I forget things then."

"Yes," retorted the former, sarcastically, "and you also seem to forget that these are our last days among the living. Saturday the big thing comes off."

"Forget! I dreamed about it!" The boy sighed heavily. It was the hour in which hope reaches its lowest ebb and vitality is weakest. He was very cold and very miserable.

"You ain't got no edge on me," the other acknowledged, mournfully. "I'm too young to die, and that's a bet."

Suddenly the pandemonium in the bunk-house was pierced by the brazen jangle of an alarm-clock, whereat a sleepy voice cried:

"Cloudy, kill that damn clock!"

The Indian uttered some indistinguishable epithet, and the next instant there came a crash as the offending timepiece was hurled violently against the wall. In silence Glass shoved his unsteady victim ahead of him out into the dawn. In the east the sun was rising amid a riotous splendor. At any other time, under any other conditions, Speed could not have restrained his admiration, for the whole world was a glorious sparkling panoply of color. The tumbled masses of the hills were blazing at their crests, the valleys dark and cool. In the east the limb of the sun was just rearing itself, the air was heady with the scent of growing things, and so clear that the distances were magically shortened; a certain wild, intoxicating exuberance surcharged the out-of- doors. But to the stiff and wearied Eastern lad it was all cruelly mocking. When he halted listlessly to view its beauties he was goaded forward, ever forward, faster and faster, until finally, amid protests and sighs and complaining joints, he broke into a heavy, flat-footed jog-trot that jolted the artistic sense entirely out of him.


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