"Do you know, Larry, I'm beginning to like these warm showers; they rest me." As he spoke, Wally took his place beneath the barrel and pulled the cord that connected with the nozzle. The next instant he uttered a piercing shriek and leaped from beneath the apparatus, upsetting Glass, who rose in time to fling his charge back into the deluge.

"Let me out!" yelled the athlete, and made another dash, at which his guardian bellowed:

"Stand still, or I'll wallop you! What's got into you, anyhow?"

The heads of Stover and Willie, thrust through the door, nodded with gratification.

"It's got him livened up considerable," quoth the former. "Listen to that!" It seemed that a battle must be in progress behind the screen, for, mingled with the gasping screams of the athlete and the hoarse commands of the trainer, came sounds of physical contact. The barrel rocked upon its scaffold, the curtains swayed and flapped violently.

"Stand still!"

"It's—it's as c-c-cold as ice!"

"Nix! You're overheated, that's all."

"Ow-w-w! Ooo-h-h! I'm dying!"

"It'll do you good."

"He's certainly trainin' him some," said Stover.

"Larry, I've got a cramp!"

"It did harden him," acknowledged Willie.

"What's wrong with you, anyhow?" demanded Glass.

"It's not me, it's the w-w-water!"

Evidently Speed made a frantic lunge here and escaped, for the flow of water ceased.

"It froze d-d-during the night. Oh-h! I'm cold!"

"Cold, eh? Get onto that rubbing-board; I'll warm you."

An instant later the cow-men heard the sounds of a violent slapping mingled with groans.

"Go easy, I say! I'll be black and blue all—LOOK OUT!—not so much in one spot! Ow!"

"Turn over!"

"He's spankin' him," said Stover admiringly.

Again the spatting arose, this time like the sound of a musketry fusilade, during which Berkeley Fresno entered by the other door.

"Don't be so brutal!" wailed the patient to his masseur.

"I'm pretty near through. There! Now get up and dress," ordered the trainer, who, pushing his way out through the blankets, halted at sight of the onlookers.

"How is he?" demanded Stover.

"He—he's trained to the minute. I'm doin' my share, gents."

"Sounds that way," acknowledged Stover's companion. "Say, does it look like we'd win?"

"Well, he just breezed a mile in forty, with his mouth open."

"A mile?" Fresno queried.

"Yes, a regular mile—seven thousand five hundred and thirty feet."

"Is 'forty' good?" queried Willie.

"Good? Why, Salvator never worked no faster. Here he is now—look for yourselves."

Speed appeared, partly clad, and glowing with a rich salmon pink.

"Good-morning," said Fresno politely. "I came in to see how you liked the cold water."

"So that was one of your California jokes, eh? Well, I'll—"

Speed moved ominously in the direction of the tenor, but Willie checked him.

"We put the ice in that bar'l, Mr. Speed."


Willie and Stover nodded.

"Then let me tell you I expect to have pneumonia from that bath." The young man coughed hollowly. "That's the way I caught it once before, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if I'd be too sick to run by Saturday."

"Oh no; you don't get pneumony but once."

"And, besides," Fresno added, "it wouldn't have time to show up by Saturday."

"Get that ice-chest out of my room, that's all; it makes the air damp."

"No indeed!" said Still Bill. "We're goin' to see that you use it reg'lar." Then of Glass he inquired: "What do you do to him next?"

"I give him a nerve treatment. A jack-rabbit jumped at him this morning and he bolted to the outside fence." Larry forced his employer to a seat, then, securing a firm hold of the flesh, began to discourse learnedly upon anatomy and hygiene, the while his victim writhed. It was evident that the cattle-men were intensely interested. "Well, sir, when I first got him his sploven was in terrible shape," said Larry. "In fact, I never saw such a—"

"What was in terrible shape?" ventured the tenor. "His sploven."

"Sploven! Is that a locality or a beverage?"

Glass glowered at the cause of the interruption. "It's a nerve- centre, of course!" Then to the others, he ran on, glibly: "The treatment was simple, but it took time. You see, I had to first trace his bedildo to its source, like this." He thrust a finger into Wally's back and ploughed a furrow upward. "You see?" He paused, triumphantly. "A fore-shortened bedildo! It ain't well yet."

"Can a man run fast with one of them?" inquired Willie.

"Certainly, cer-tain-ly—provided, of course, that the percentage of spelldiffer in the blood offsets it."

Both cowboys came closer now, and hung eagerly upon every word.

"And does it do—that?" they questioned, while Fresno suggested that it was not easy to tell without bleeding the patient.

"No, no! You can hear the spelldiffers." Glass motioned to

"Put your ear to his chest. Hear anything?"

"Hearts poundin' like a calf's at a brandin'."

"Which proves it!" proudly asserted the trainer. "Barrin' accidents, Mr. Speed will be in the pink of condition by Saturday."

The cow-men beamed benignantly.

"That's fine!"

"We are sure pleased, and we've got something for you, Mr. Speed.
Come on, Mr. Fresno, and give us a hand. We'll bring it in."

"It's a present!" exclaimed the athlete, brightly, when the three had gone out. "They seem more friendly this morning."

"Yes!" Glass laughed, mirthlessly. "They think you're going to win."

"Well, how do you know I can't win? You never saw this cook run."

"I don't have to; I've seen you."

"Just the same, I'm in pretty good shape. Maybe I could run if I really tried."

"Send yourself along, Kid. It won't harm you none." The speaker fanned himself, and took a seat in the cosey-corner.

"Ah! Here they come, bearing gifts." Speed rose in pleased expectancy. "I wonder what it can be?"

The three who had just left re-entered the room, carrying a tray- load of thick railroad crockery.

"We've brought your breakfast to you," explained Stover. "We'd like you to eat alone till after the race." Still Bill began to whittle what appeared to be a blood-rare piece of flesh, while Willie awkwardly arranged the dishes.

"You want me to eat as well as sleep here?"


"Oh, I can't do that! I'm sorry, but—"

"Don't make us insist." Willie looked up from his tray, and Glass raised a moist hand and said:

"Don't make 'em insist."

With fascinated stare Speed drew nearer to Stover and examined the meat bone.

"Why—why, that's raw!" he exclaimed.

"Does look rar'," agreed the foreman.

"Then take it out and build a fire under it. I'll consent to eat here, but I won't turn cannibal, even to please you."

"I'm sorry." Stover did not interrupt his carving.

"Your diet ain't been right," explained Willie. "You ain't wild enough to suit us."

Speed searched one serious face, then another. Fresno was nodding approval, his countenance impassive.

"Is this a joke?"

"We ain't never joked with you yit, have we?"

"No. But—"

"This breakfast goes as she lays!"

Glass broke abruptly into smothered merriment. "When I laugh nowadays it's a funny joke," he giggled.

That grown men could be so stupid was unbelievable, and Wally, seeing himself the object of a senseless prank, was roused to anger.

"Lawrence, get my coat," said he. "I've been bullied enough; I'm going up to the house." When Stover only continued whittling methodically, he burst out: "Stop honing that shin-bone! If you like it you can eat it! I'm going now to swallow a stack of hot cakes with maple syrup!"

"Mr. Speed," Willie impaled him with a steady glare, "you'll eat what we tell you to, and nothin' else! If we say 'grass,' grass it'll be. You're goin' to beat one Skinner if it takes a human life. And if that life happens to be yours, you got nobody but yourself to blame."


"You heard me! I've been set to ride herd on you daytimes, the other boys'll guard you nights. We been double-crossed once—it won't happen again."

"Then it amounts to this, does it: I'm your prisoner?"

"More of a prized possession," offered Stover. "If you ain't got the loy'lty to stand by us, we got to make you! This diet is part of the programme. Now if you think beef is too hearty for this time of day, tear into them eggs."

"You intend to make me eat this disgusting stuff, whether I want to or not?" Even yet the youth could not convince himself that this was other than a joke.

"No." Willie shook his head. "We just aim to make you want to eat it."

Then Larry Glass made his fatal mistake.

"Say, why don't you let Mr. Speed buy you a new phonograph, and call the race off?" he inquired.

Stover, stricken dumb, paused, knife in hand; Willie stared as if bereft of motion. Then the former spoke slowly. "Looks like we'd ought to smoke up this fat party, Will."

Willie nodded, and Glass realized that the little man's steel- blue eyes were riveted balefully upon him.

"I've had a hunch it would come to that," the near-sighted one replied. "Every time I look at him I see a bleedin' bullet-hole in his abominable regions, about here." He laid a finger upon his stomach, and Glass felt a darting pain at precisely the same spot. It was as agonizing as if Willie's spectacles were huge burning-glasses focussing the rays of a tropic sun upon his bare flesh. He folded protecting hands over the threatened region and backed toward the prayer-rug, mumbling "Allah! Allah!" No matter whither he shifted, the eyes bored into him.

"That's where you hit the gambler at Ogden," he heard Stover say —it might have been from a great distance—"but I aim for the bridge of the nose."

"The belly ain't so sudden as the eye-socket, but it's more lingerin', and a heap painfuller," explained the gun man, and Speed was moved to sympathy.

"Larry only wanted to please you—eh, Larry?" he said, nervously, but Glass made no reply. His distended orbs were frozen upon Willie. It was doubtful if he even heard.

"Our honor ain't for sale," Still Bill declared.

Here Berkeley Fresno spoke. "Of course not. And you mustn't think that Speed is trying to get out of the race. He wants to run! And if anything happened to prevent his running he'd be broken-hearted, I know he would!"

Willie's hypnotic eye left the trainer's abdomen and travelled slowly to Speed.

"What could happen?" questioned he.

"N-nothing that I know of."

"You don't aim to leave?"

"Certainly not."

"Oh, you fellows take it too seriously," Fresno offered carelessly. "He might have to."

Willie's upper lip drew back, showing his yellow teeth.

"They don't sell no railroad tickets before Saturday, and the walkin' is bad. There's your breakfast, Mr. Speed. When you've et your fill, you better rest. And don't talk to them ladies, neither; it spoils your train of thought!"


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