Fred Fearnot's Revenge, or Defeating a Congressman

CHAPTER I.
FRED FEARNOT, TERRY OLCOTT, DICK DUNCAN AND JOE JENCKS GO UP TO DEDHAM LAKE.

On returning from the West, where Fred Fearnot had rescued Terry Olcott from a party of cattlemen, who were about to lynch him through mistake, he found letters at home from the manager of his little investment up at Dedham Lake that gave him no little uneasiness. The reader will doubtless remember that on a visit in the upper part of the State he had discovered a beautiful lake, covering some three hundred acres, which, through beauty of scenery, purity of water, salubrity of climate and an inexhaustible supply of fish, had tempted him to purchase the property for the purpose of making it a summer resort. The farmers living around the vicinity of the lake had been drawing their supplies of fish from it all their lives. They got the idea into their heads that if it became the property of city people, and a summer resort, their fishing privileges would be cut off. Fred assured them that he had no such intention, but as he was a mere youth, they paid no attention to his statements and undertook to mob him and force him to leave.

Of all fellows in the world, Fred was the last one to submit to a thing of that kind, and the result was several serious fights in which the farmers got the worst of it, on account of Fred's splendid ability to take care of himself. Terry finally went to his assistance, thus enabling him to hold his own. The farmers finally decided to let him alone, and when he left the lake, which was but five miles away from the railroad station at the little country town called Ashton, he left his property in charge of a farmer named Dedham, from whom he had bought the first piece of property on the border of the lake, while a lawyer in Ashton looked after his legal interests. He had sold several lots to wealthy city people, and others were being placed on the market, with a fair prospect of all being sold during the next season.

The letter that gave him the most uneasiness was from his lawyer at Ashton. He stated that the member of the Legislature from that County, at the instance of about two score farmers, living within a radius of eight or ten miles of the lake, had introduced a hill in the Legislature to take from him the right to control the fishing in the lake, and it had come very near being passed, pretty nearly all the members from the rural districts being in favor of it. It had not yet become a law, because the Senate had not acted upon it.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed, on reading the letter, "is it possible a law can be passed in the State of New York taking from one the right to control his own property? I'll ask father about it and get his opinion." and he forthwith laid the letter before Judge Fearnot, who smiled broadly when he read it.

"What's funny about it." he asked.

"Oh, the wisdom of those rural solons," said the judge. "Nearly all the representatives who voted for that bill are either farmers who knew nothing about law whatever, or men who are afraid of the farmers' vote in the rural districts. It can't pass the Senate, because there are too many lawyers in it; and even if it should, the Governor, who is an able lawyer, would veto it."

"Well, I don't know about that, father," said Fred, who knew something about human nature as developed in politicians. "The Governor wants to be re-elected and will probably do anything to make votes."

"Well, if he should approve it," said the judge, "the courts would declare it unconstitutional, because it is glaringly so."

"Yes, but that would give me no end of trouble and put me to no end of expense. I'm going to go up there and have it out with Mr. Carter, the member of the Legislature from that county."

"Well, don't go to having any personal difficulties with him," advised his father.

"No, I don't intend to; but I'll give him some pretty plain talk. He's a very ambitious fellow. I met him up there last season."

"Well, be careful. Simply call his attention to a provision in the Constitution that protects a man's property rights. I'll look it up and mark the clause for you, so you can call his attention to it."

Fred decided that he would communicate with Terry and invite him to go up and spend the fall season with him, and he lost no time in doing so. To his very great delight, Terry Olcott promptly accepted the invitation, and suggested that as Dick Duncan and Joe Jencks were then at leisure, they might go along, too.

"Great Scott"' exclaimed Fred, as he read Terry's letter, "a dozen wouldn't be any more expense than just a pair of us. I'll write to Dick and Joe at once and tell them of the fine fishing and the splendid shooting we can have when the game season opens. If I could get Tom Travis and Phil Durham to join us, it would make a half dozen of the best all-round boys in the State." He at once wrote to the others, and forty-eight hours later received letters from Dick and Joe accepting his invitation. A day later one came from Tom Travis, down in Baltimore, saying that he would try to join him later on. Phil Durham was in business which he could not leave; hence he could not accept the invitation.

"Well, there'll be four if not five of us," said Fred, "and if I can get Black Mose to go up there again to cook for us, the good times we will have will be so high that others will have to use spy-glasses to see us."

He lost no time in hunting up Black Mose, who had accompanied him and Terry to the Klondike, and was with, them also one season up at Dedham Lake.

"Yes, boss," said Mose, with a broad grin on his ebony countenance,

"I'll go with you anywhere in the whole world, except to dat are Klondike. I don't want to go up dar no more, whar de winters hold on all the year round."

"All right, Mose. I'll leave in a day or two. Get ready."

"I'se ready any time, boss. Just blow your whistle and I'll be dar. Never had such an easy time in my life as when I was up dar last year with you. Is I got to do any butting up dar?" "Oh, I don't know, unless we get up a butting match- between you and some bull just to make fun for the crowd."

"Dat's all right, boss. Just throw his horns off and I'll butt with him," and the big black shook his bullet-head as though he was willing to butt anything that came along.

Fred immediately wired Terry, Dick and Joe, that he would leave Wednesday for Ashton, and that he would pass through Fredonia at 11 o'clock in the forenoon, and on the morning of that day, accompanied by Black Mose, he took the train, at the Grand Central station in New York. When he reached Fredonia he found Terry there ready to board the train. Evelyn was there also to drive the carriage back home. He sprang off the car, caught her hands in his, shook them warmly and half-whispered a few words that made her laugh, blush and look happy.

"Why in the world can't you stop over a day or two?" she asked.

"Business is urgent," he replied. "We are going to get things in shape to have all of you up there again next season, and I'm going to have the front part of your lot planted in flowers."

"Oh, I wish we could all go," she said.

"So do I, but they do say, you know, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Of course I'll write you two or three times a week and tell you all about how we are enjoying ourselves."

"All aboard!" shouted the conductor, and Fred shook her hands again and sprang upon the platform of the car just as it started off.

"What's going on up at the lake, Fred?" Terry asked, as soon as they were seated together.

Fred told him the story of the attempt that was being made to take away from him the right to control the fishing on the lake.

"Oh, thunder!" said Terry, "surely the Legislature wouldn't pass such a bill as that."

"Well, it has passed the House," said Fred, "and fully half of those that voted for it know that the courts will declare it unconstitutional. They don't care anything about that, but the vote makes them solid with the farmers. That's what they're after-playing politics all the time."

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" Terry asked. "I'm going to fight it, of course, and the first thing I'll do when reach Ashton, if Carter is there, will be to ridicule him as a lawyer and tell him what I think of him. I made his acquaintance last season up there. He's a tall, lank, slabsided lawyer and politician, who will shake hands with anybody in the world who has a vote. It's perfectly outrageous; the idea of taking away from a man the right to control his own property. I know they'll make the claim that I didn't put the fish in the lake, and that fishing is a natural right. They might just as well say that a man doesn't plant the trees that grow in the forest when he purchases land."

"Of course," said Terry. "I'm surprised that such a bill has passed the House."

"Oh, that doesn't surprise me in the least. These little one- horse politicians who voted for it really expect to have it declared unconstitutional, and, when the courts do so declare it, will say to the farmers: 'Well, we did the best we could for you.. It isn't our fault. We voted for it in your interest.' And then they'll proceed to claim the farmers' vote in return. Oh, I'm on to the whole gang of them."

At Utica they were joined by Dick Duncan arid Joe Jencks, each carrying a rifle and shotgun.

"Great Scott, boys!" exclaimed Fred, "why the deuce didn't you fetch a cannon along, too?"

"What do you want of the cannon?" Joe asked. "We won't have any Fourth of July again till next summer."

"Who said anything about the Fourth of July? I'm thinking about the elephants and rhinoceroses and the hippopotami we're going to shoot up on the lake."

"Thunder!" exclaimed Joe, "why didn't you tell us that you had such big game up there? I suppose you've got them all in toys and are going to distribute them around through the woods just to make good your claim."

"That's right," laughed Terry. "You dropped on to him the first time."

"Of course I did," said Joe. "I always drop on. If you'll just get a cargo of monkeys, now, and turn them loose in the woods up there, you'll make a big sensation."

"No need of that," retorted Fred. "You'll do for a monkey."

"All right, but don't you make the mistake and try to play any monkey games on us."

It was not a very long ride from Utica up to Ashton, and when the four boys and Black Mose alighted from the train the station agent and the omnibus driver were considerably surprised. They both knew Fred and Terry, but of course had never seen Dick or Joe before. It was a season when visitors were leaving, instead of arriving. except a commercial drummer now and then.

"How are you, Mr. Jones?" sang out Terry to the omnibus driver.

"Howdy do?" responded Jones. "Gwine up to the hotel."

"Yes, of course, if that old bag of bones can pull us up there."

"Well, don't worry about that old horse," retorted the omnibus driver. "He's got something else ill him besides bones. Most of those big lumps you see on him are muscle."

"Well, can he pull all five of us?"

"Of course he kin."

"All right, then; come ahead, boys," and they tossed in their grips and piled into the rickety old omnibus and were driven at once to the Ashton House, where the same landlord and clerk were still presiding.

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed the landlord, "glad to see you boys again!"

"Of course you are," laughed Fred. "Your heart goes pit-a-pat whenever any customer shows up," and he shook hands with the hotel man and introduced Dick and Joe as friends of his, who had come up to wrestle with his bedbugs for a while.

"Sorry," said the landlord, "we haven't got one in the house."

"Oh, that's all right," laughed Dick. "We brought a few up with us and will turn them loose in our beds just for the pleasure of having them wake us up early in the morning."

"No need of that," laughed the landlord, "we can call you up at any hour of the night or morning you please."

"Oh, we don't like to give you any trouble," laughed Dick, who was an incorrigible joker, even on short acquaintance. "We have our bedbugs trained.. They simply wake us up at the appointed time."

When the boys registered at the clerk's desk they ascertained from him that the Welburns were still stopping there and would not leave till the end of the mouth, and that there were several others who couldn't make up their minds to leave before cold weather.

"And, by the way, Fearnot," continued the clerk, "I understand that your lawyer here sold two lots for you to-day out on the lake."

"Glad to hear it," said Fred. "We're going to build up this little town and make a decent city of it. There's been over a dozen people up here from the city this past season, looking at the lots out on the lake, and every one of them stopped here. So you see we are entitled to some consideration. ratio We want good rooms and the very best fare that you can put up."

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed an elderly gentleman, coming up behind Fred and slapping him on. the shoulder. "Back again, eh?"

"Hello, Mr. Welborn!" and Fred wheeled and shook the elderly gentleman's hand. "Glad to see you. Hope Mrs. Welborn and the young ladies are well and happy."

"Thank you," was the reply. "They are all that," and shook hands with Terry.

Dick and Joe were then introduced.

While Mr. Welborn was talking with Terry and the other boys, Fred passed the door of the ladies' parlor and saw the two Welborn sisters in there, with two other young ladies whom he had never seen before. The elder Welborn girl, on seeing him, ran forward to meet him.

"Why, what a pleasure!" she exclaimed. "So glad to see you, Mr. Fearnot! It's been awfully dead here since you and Mr. Olcott went away."

"Thank you," he replied, shaking hands with her, while holding his hat in his left; "I'm really glad to find you ladies still here. Terry and I both were wondering if we would find you here, for it is rather late in the season, you know."

"Yes, so it is. But father is so much in love with the air and water way up here in this part of the State, that it is really a hard task to get him away."

"Well, don't try to get him away yet awhile, and try to make it pleasant for him."

"Oh, he's satisfied all the time," she laughed, "but I'm afraid that you and your friends will go out to the lake and leave us here to amuse ourselves, just as we've been doing for several weeks past.

"That's all right," said he. "It's only five miles out to the lake, and we can place one of the cabins at your disposal. I'm sure we had more fun out there last season that we did in town."

Miss Welborn then introduced him to the other two young ladies, each of whom expressed their gratification at meeting him, saying that the Misses Welborn had spoken often of him to them.

"I feel flattered." he said, "but I call say truthfully in return, that we have spoken often of Miss Welborn and her sister when we were a thousand miles away from here. There are four of us here now, all classmates, who would rather be together alive than buried in the same grave when dead."

"My!" laughed one of the young ladies, "what a queer expression!"

"Oh, we are a queer lot," said Fred.

"Well, you must bring them in after tea and introduce them to us," said Miss Welborn, and that evening, in the Parlor, Fred and the other boys had a Jolly time with the girls.

Of course they sang, played and danced until a late hour.

The next day Fred called on his lawyer, whom he found in his office, and had quite a long talk with him about the lake property.

"I drew up the papers for the sale of two lots yesterday," said the lawyer, "and the parties will begin building next season. One is a gentleman from Philadelphia, and another from New York City."

"Oh, that won't amount to anything. It can't pass the Senate, for its unconstitutionality is apparent to any one, and even if it should, the Governor will veto it."

"I'm not so sure of that," said Fred, "for I think he is willing to run the risk of its being declared unconstitutional by the courts, solely for the effect it will have on a certain class of voters in the backwoods. Is Carter here in Ashton?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm going to have a little seance with him."

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