"Not in the race! Why not, indeed!" And immediately Peter's thoughts swept on a full tide of suspicion toward Carl Schummel.
"Because I cannot, mynheer," answered Hans as he bent to slip his feet into his big shoes.
Something in the boy's manner warned Peter that it would be no kindness to press the matter further. He bade Hans good-bye, and stood thoughtfully watching him as he walked away.
In a minute Peter called out, "Hans Brinker!"
"I'll take back all I said about Dr. Boekman."
Both were laughing. But Peter's smile changed to a look of puzzled surprise when he saw Hans kneel down by the canal and put on the wooden skates.
"Very queer," muttered Peter, shaking his head as he turned to go into the house. "Why in the world doesn't the boy wear his new ones?"
/spell/ The sun had gone down quite out of sight when our hero--with a happy heart but with something like a sneer on his countenance as he jerked off the wooden "runners"--trudged hopefully toward the tiny hutlike building, known of old as the "idiot's cottage."