CHAPTER I THE CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNERS
"I see you're limping again, Fred."
"That's right, Bristles. I stubbed my toe at the very start of this cross-country run, and that lost me all chance of coming in ahead. That's why I fell back, and have been loafing for a stretch."
"And let me catch up with you; eh? Well, I reckon long-legged Colon will have a cinch in this race, Fred."
"Seems that way. He can get over ground for a certain time like a deer, you know."
"Huh! more like a kangaroo, I call it; because it always seems to me he takes big jumps every chance he gets."
Both boys laughed heartily at the picture drawn by Andy Carpenter, who was known all through the country around the town of Riverport as "Bristles," on account of the odd way in which his heavy hair stood up.
His companion, Fred Fenton, had assumed a leading place in school athletic sports since coming to the town on the Mohunk something like a year previous to the early Fall day when we meet them taking part in this cross-country run.
That Fred was a pretty fine fellow, as boys go, nearly everybody seemed agreed. He was modest, and yet could stand up for his rights when imposed upon; and at the same time he was always ready to lend a helping hand to a companion in trouble.
Fred had himself occasion to know what it meant to lie awake nights, and wonder if fortune would ever take a turn for the better. His father had been left a valuable property away up in Alaska, by a brother who had died; but there was a lot of red tape connected with the settlement; and a powerful syndicate of capitalists had an eye on the mine, which was really essential to their interests, as it rounded out property they already owned.
A certain man, Hiram Masterson by name, who had been in Alaska for years, and who had come back to the States to visit an uncle, Sparks Lemington, living in Riverport, had at first been inclined to side with the syndicate. Later on he changed his mind, and determined to give evidence for the Fentons which would, in all probability, cause the claim to be handed over to them.
How this change came about in the mind of Hiram Masterson, through an obligation which he found himself under to Fred Fenton, has already been told at length in the first volume of this series, called: "Fred Fenton, the Pitcher; Or, The Rivals of Riverport School."
Then it turned out that Hiram suddenly and mysteriously disappeared; and those who were so deeply interested in his remaining in Riverport learned that he had really been carried off by agents of the rich association of mine owners, of whom Sparks Lemington was one. How the search for the missing witness was carried on, as well as an account of interesting matters connected with the football struggles in the three towns bordering the Mohunk, will be found in the second book in the series, entitled "Fred Fenton in the Line; Or, The Football Boys of Riverport School."
Once again when hope ran high in the breasts of the Fentons they were doomed to disappointment, and long waiting....