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Fleetwood, champion of the North, decorated in his pink colors, descended the pavilion steps and walked into the arena.
It was a serious question with these experts whether Fleetwood was not "a little too fine." Superbly trained, it was admitted--but, possibly, a little over-trained for a four-mile race.
The women who had been charmed with the easy gait and confident smile of Fleetwood, were all more or less painfully impressed by the sullen strength of the southern man, as he passed before them slowly, with his head down and his brows knit, deaf to the applause showered on him, reckless of the eyes that looked at him; speaking to nobody; concentrated in himself; biding his time.
"Fleetwood for shorter distances, if you like; but Delamayn for a four-mile race."
Fleetwood at once took the lead, Delamayn following, at from two to three yards behind him.
The first burst of applause (led by the south) rang out, as the big man beat Fleetwood at his own tactics, and headed him at the critical moment when the race was nearly half run.
"Fleetwood has got directions to let him pass--Fleetwood is waiting to see what he can do."
At the end of the seventh round, Fleetwood proved the doctor to be right.
At that point, Fleetwood flung up one hand in the air with a gesture of triumph; and bounded past Delamayn with a shout of "Hooray for the North!" The shout was echoed by the spectators.
At the twelfth round, Fleetwood was leading by six yards.
Before six yards more had been covered, Fleetwood betrayed the purpose of his running in the previous round, and electrified the whole assembly, by dashing past his antagonist--for the first time in the race at the top of his speed.
The cries of alarm in some places, mingling with the shouts of triumph from the backers of Fleetwood in others--as their man ran lightly on to win the now uncontested race.