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   Chapter 5 THE BOAT RACE.

Andy Grant's Pluck By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8866

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

As Andy rowed only in the evening, and Conrad practiced in the afternoon, it chanced that the coming rivals never met; nor was Conrad aware that Andy proposed to dispute the prize with him.

Even at first Valentine was surprised and pleased to observe how Andy handled the oars. Before the evening was over he demonstrated the fact that he was a first-class oarsman, much to the satisfaction of his friend.

"You must have had a good deal of practice at the gymnasium," said


"Yes; the director of the gymnasium, who is an all-around athlete, gave the boys special instruction, by which we all profited. He was a graduate of Harvard, and an old member of the University crew."

"That accounts for it. Your rowing has a style to it that Conrad cannot show."

"Probably he has never had any instructions."

"Whatever he has accomplished has come by practice. He pulls a strong oar, but there is a roughness and lack of smoothness about his work. Still, he gets over the water pretty fast."

"And that counts. How does his speed compare with mine?"

"As you rowed to-night, I think the race would be a close one. But this is only the first evening. Keep on practicing daily, and I will bet on you every time."

Andy looked pleased.

"I am glad to hear you say this," he said. "I shall not row for glory, but for the ten dollars, which I shall find very useful. You have a fine boat, Val. How does Conrad's compare with yours?"

"I should hardly know how to choose between them. His boat is a fine one, but mine is quite as good."

"And I suppose there is no other on the pond as fine."

"No; Serwin's boats are old style, and have been in use for years. If you rowed in one of those against Conrad you would be sure to be beaten."

"Then if I win I shall be indebted to you for the victory."

Valentine smiled.

"I should be glad to think I had anything to do with gaining the prize for you, even indirectly; but it will be due in a large measure to your own good rowing. Only, keep up your practicing."

"I will do so."

"I want you to win; and, besides, I want Conrad to lose. I hope he won't hear anything of your entering the race."

Two days before the picnic Valentine happened to meet Conrad at his father's store.

"Are you going to enter the boat race at the picnic?" asked the latter.

"I am not certain."

"You have the only boat that can compare with mine. Have you been practicing any?"

"I have been rowing a little."

"I shall have to look out," said Conrad, but his manner did not indicate apprehension. "Probably the prize will go either to you or me."

"Thank you for the compliment."

"Suppose we have a little trial by ourselves? It may do us both good."

"I don't mind. When shall it be?"

"Say to-morrow afternoon."

"Very well. I will be at the pond at four o'clock."

"All right."

The two boys met according to agreement, and the race took place.

Conrad beat easily by eight lengths, although Valentine exerted himself to the best of his ability.

"That settles it," said Conrad, triumphantly. "You can't row against me."

"I am afraid you are right," returned Valentine, with an air of chagrin.

"You will need more practice, though you row fairly well. I think you pull the best oar next to me," said Conrad, in a patronizing tone.

"Yes, I see that I must practice more."

"There will be no need for me to practice," said Conrad to himself.

"I've got a dead sure thing."

It might have been supposed that Conrad would be indifferent to the money value of the prize offered, but he had extravagant tastes, and found his allowance from his father, though a liberal one, insufficient for his needs. He began to consider in what way he would spend the money, which he considered as good as won.

At length the day for the picnic dawned. The day previous had been unpleasant, and there had been considerable anxiety lest the weather should prove unpleasant. But greatly to the general satisfaction it was bright with sunshine, and the temperature was delightful.

The young people of both societies turned out en masse and looked forward to a good time.

The race had been fixed for half-past three o'clock. At that hour the superintendent of the Sunday school came forward and said:

"Owing to the liberality of Mr. Gale, of New York, a boarder at the hotel, a prize of ten dollars has been offered to the best

oarsman who may compete for it. Boats will start from the pier, and the course will be to the opposite bank of the pond and back. I am sure that this will prove a very attractive feature of our picnic. Boys who intend to compete will now present themselves."

The first to come forward was Conrad Carter. He was dressed in a handsome boating costume, and his manner indicated great confidence. He looked around for Valentine, but the latter made no motion toward the shore, though his boat was in the pond drawn up with the rest.

"Aren't you going to row, Valentine?" asked Conrad, in surprise.

"No; I have lent my boat to Andy Grant."

At the same time Andy, in his ordinary attire, came forward, and stepped into Valentine's boat.

Conrad arched his brows in surprise. He had been disappointed to find that Valentine would not row, but he was quite as well pleased at the prospect of beating Andy.

He was rather surprised, however, as he had never heard that Andy could row.

"He must be a fool to think of rowing against me," he said to himself.

Next came Jimmy Morris, who took his place in one of Serwin's boats.

Two other boys also appeared in hired boats, one of them being Dennis

Carlyle, a friend of John Larkin.

When the boats were in line, a superintendent gave the signal.

Conrad got the first start. The others kept together, a length or two behind Conrad. Andy did not appear to be exerting himself, but his strokes showed a smoothness that was lacking in any of the rest.

Mr. Gale, the donor of the prize, who was himself a good rower, took notice of him.

"Who is that boy?" he asked, pointing to Andy. "I don't think I have seen him before."

"It is Andy Grant, the son of Farmer Grant."

"Why haven't I seen him before?"

"He has been absent at school-at Penhurst Academy."

"He knows how to row. See how he handles his oars."

"I didn't know he was a rower."

"He is, and a good one. I shouldn't be surprised if he wins the race."

"What, against Conrad Carter?" asked the superintendent, incredulously.

"Yes. It is easy to see that he has been trained, while Conrad, though he pulls a strong oar, rows like a country amateur."

Conrad was so intent upon his own work that he had not had an opportunity of watching his competitors. When he had nearly reached the point selected on the other bank, he turned about and saw Andy close behind him.

Andy was not apparently exerting himself, but pulled a strong, steady stroke, and seemed quite free from excitement. For the first time Conrad saw that he was a competitor not to be despised.

After the turn Conrad and Andy led the procession. Next came Jimmy

Morris, and last of all Dennis Carlyle.

The latter managed to catch a crab, and in his attempt to right himself tumbled into the water.

"Don't mind me!" he called out humorously. "I am only taking a bath."

So the other contestants kept on, in the same order.

But this was not to continue. Suddenly Andy made a spurt and forged ahead of Conrad. The young aristocrat could hardly believe his eyes when he saw Valentine's boat, impelled by a competitor whom he had despised, take the leading place.

He flushed with vexation and made a desperate effort to regain his lost position. But he was excited, and did not use his strength to the best advantage.

To his great annoyance he saw that Andy was continuing to gain upon him, and that without any great effort. His smooth, steady stroke was most effective. Even the unpracticed eye could see his superiority to any of his competitors.

When the goal was reached he was five lengths ahead of Conrad, and twelve lengths ahead of Jimmy Morris.

It was a genuine surprise to the spectators, and a great shout went up.

"Three cheers for Andy Grant!"

Andy smiled, and he raised his hat in acknowledgment of the compliment.

Mr. Gale pressed forward and greeted the young victor.

"You have done yourself credit," he said. "You know how to row. Where did you learn?"

"At Penhurst Academy; I was trained by a Harvard oarsman."

"He understood his business, and so do you. I have great pleasure in presenting you with the prize."

With a sullen look Conrad listened to those words. Without a word he sprang on shore, and, as soon as he could, turned his back upon the picnic.

"Conrad is terribly disappointed!" said Valentine. "You have made yourself famous, Andy."

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