Fred Fearnot's Revenge, or Defeating a Congressman

CHAPTER III.
FRED BEGINS A FIGHT ON THE WOULD-BE CONGRESSMAN.

The boys went out on the lake in two boats, and Dick and Joe were astonished at the number and quality of the fish they caught. They both became wildly enthusiastic over the sport, as Well is the beautiful scenery that greeted them as far as they could see.

"By George, Fred!" exclaimed Dick. "I've got a pretty plump little bank account down home. I'm strongly tempted to buy a lot up here myself and build a log cabin on it, where I can come up and camp and enjoy the fishing."

"That's all right, old man," said Fred. "You'll find it a good investment, for in less than a year the value of these lots will be doubled; but whether you buy or not, you can come up here and take possession of my cabin any time you please, whether I am here or not. Terry has bought a lot; so has Evelyn, and nearly twenty have already been sold to wealthy families. It's going to be the prettiest summer resort in the whole State."

"Then I'll take one of them," said Dick.

"That's right," laughed Terry, "and if you should happen to fall in love with one of the girls back there in that old house, you'll find that a splendid investment, too."

"Why, has she got any money?" Dick asked.

"No, not much; if the old man should die there'd be only about a couple of thousand dollars apiece for them; but they're splendid housekeepers, healthy, good-natured and as strong as wood-choppers."

Just then Dick got a fish on his hook that required all of his, skill to land, and when he got the prize into the boat, Fred suggested that they go ashore and turn the catch over to Black Mose to prepare for dinner.

"Oh, thunder!" exclaimed Joe, "why do you want to quit fishing when they bite this way?"

"Why, they bite all the year round here," laughed Terry. "You can catch five hundred between this and sunset. But what's the use? What can you do with them? It's really a crime to catch them and throw them away. You can get used to it after a while. You can come out a little before sunset and catch enough for supper, get up a little before sunrise and catch enough for breakfast; and then at noon; three times a day, as long as you please."

"Thunder! don't you eat anything out here but fish?"

"Oh, yes, but I was just telling you how you could get as much as you wanted. We've got plenty of other provisions on hand, and there's game in the woods."

They spent the afternoon settling down in their quarters, talking over proposed improvements on the place, and the possibilities of the future. Fred and Terry had many stories to tell Dick and Joe of their adventures with a lot of ignorant settlers in the great woods back of the lake, and of the attempt that had been made to produce the impression that the place was haunted.

"Yes, I remember that." laughed Dick. "Terry told we about it, but you broke it up just in time."

"You bet we did," laughed Terry, "and they've given us no trouble since then."

The next day a couple of farmers driving by, stopped in their wagon to talk with the boys. They were a hard-headed pair of old fellows, and one of them asked Fred if he, had heard about the new law that was going to be passed to give everybody the right to fish in the lake that wanted to.

"Yes," said Fred, "I heard about it. It will never become a law."

"Oh, yes, it will," chuckled the old fellow. "Carter says it's sure to be a law."

"Well it might pass the Legislature," said Fred, "but the Legislature can't make a law that interferes with the right of private property, that will stand for a moment before the courts, if it were to pass a law giving everybody the right to go into your orchard and take fruit, without your consent, the courts would very quickly declare it unconstitutional. I haven't denied to any one the privilege of fishing here, except to those fellows who came here with clubs to run me off. They never shall fish in it again."

The two old farmers drove on to town, and in the afternoon, when they came back, they were chucklin over the news they had picked up to the effect that Assemblyman Carter had ordered Fearnot out of his office, and they couldn't resist the temptation to stop and speak to him about it.

"Oh, yes," said Fred, "he did and like a good, law-abiding citizen, I recognized his right to order me out. I have the right to order anybody off of this property, just as he had to order me out of his office; or you to order any one off of your farm. So you see I recognized the same right that I claimed for myself."

That put a different face on it. But one of the farmers asked what Carter had ordered him out of his office for.

"Oh, we were talking about that bill he has introduced in the Assembly and he got mad because I offered him fifty dollars for his opinion of it as a lawyer and not as a politician."

"Gosh! I didn't hear that," said the farmer.

"No, of course not. You probably heard only his side of it. He knew it was unconstitutional, and that it couldn't stand before the courts, and I pulled fifty dollars out of my pocket, shoved it at him and told him I would give it to him for his opinion as to the contitutionality of it."

"And he wouldn't take it?" the farmer asked.

"No, for it would ruin his reputation as a lawyer if he said it was constitutional, because every man with a thimbleful of brains knows that it isn't, and he dared not say that it was unconstitutional, for fear that he'd make you fellows around here angry with him. You see, my father down in New York City, is a very prominent lawyer himself, and he merely laughed when he read the bill that, Carter had introduced in the Assembly."

"He's a big lawyer, eh?" the farmer asked.

"Oh, yes, they call him a big lawyer. Any lawyer is a big one whose practise is worth fifty thousand dollars a year."

"Gosh!" exclaimed the farmer, "does he make fifty thousand dollars a year?"

"Yes," said Fred, "and there are lawyers there who make three times as much."

"Then what in the name of common sense are you buying up property way up here in the backwoods for, if you've got all that money?"

"Why, for the good air, the pure water and the fine fishing, and the sweet companionship of you farmers. You don't know how much in love with you fellows I am. If I hadn't been so much in love with all of you, I would have gone away last when those fellows tackled me with clubs."

"Well, I wouldn't stay with people who didn't want me?"

"Oh, you don't know what you'd do, if you fell in love with a whole crowd of people."

"Gosh! but you're a queer one," said the elder of the two farmers.

"No, not at all. I wanted to stay up here just because all you people are queer. We haven't any queer people down in New York City."

"Gosh! I hear you've got more rascals down there than in all the rest of the world," said another farmer. "They're up to all kinds of swindling schemes, and when they catch a fellow down there from the country, they rob him of every cent of money he has."

"Well is that any worse than you fellows tried to do with me last summer, when you came down here a dozen at once, with clubs in your hands. I suppose you didn't think about that at all? If I had pushed the law on you, there would have been fifteen to twenty people sent from this neighborhood to the State prison, and after you failed to run me out with clubs, you've got your rascally Assemblyman to try to pass a law to take away from me the control of the property that I paid in cold, hard cash for. I think our burglars and pickpockets are saints compared with such people."

Terry, Dick and Joe were chuckling at the rasping sermon Fred preached to the old farmers as they sat in the wagon, and the latter, unable to stand it any longer, drove off without good-by.

"You see how it is," laughed Fred, turning to Dick and Joe, as the farmers drove away, "People in different sections of the country have different ideas about the right or wrong of things. Those old fellows actually believed it was right to come down here with clubs and drive me away. Some three or four years ago they attacked an old gentleman who wanted to buy the property here, and gave him such a fright that he never showed up in the county again. But they struck a snag when they struck this boy."

"You bet they did," laughed Terry, "and they struck two snags when I came up to help him."

Several days passed, when a party of guests came out from the hotel to spend the day with the boys at the lake, and of course the latter entertained them royally. The Welborn family and two other young ladies from the hotel were among them.

"What's the matter with you all stopping out here for a week?" Fred asked. "Here's an extra cabin at your disposal, with two beds and a dining-room in it, and there are two extra rooms up at the farmhouse that you can have; an of course Mrs. Welborn can chaperon the young ladies while Mr. Welborn can stroll around, do a little fishing and gunning, smoking his pipe, taking his daily nap and enjoying himself just according to his own sweet will."

"I'm afraid it would be too much trouble for you," said Mrs. Welborn.

"On the contrary," said Fred. "it would be no trouble at all. We won't have to do a bit of extra work, and would have the pleasure of your company. The lake and the woods are full of fish and game, and in my estimation the water and air are the best to be had anywhere on the continent."

"Well, but we have our rooms at the hotel."

"Give them up," said Fred. "Let Mr. Welborn drive back, settle the bill, bring your trunks out, and camp here till you get ready to go home, and you won't have a cent to pay."

"Well, I'll leave it to the ladies." said Welborn, who was secretly eager to accept the invitation, as it made a difference of fifty or sixty dollars a week to him financially. Besides they were all tired of the fare at the hotel.

They finally agreed to it, and later in the afternoon Welborn returned alone to town, to come back the next day with the trunks of the party. The two Dedham girls were not pleased with the arrangement at all, as the presence of four pretty city girls greatly interfered with their enjoyment of the company of the four boys, but of course they could not say anything, as the family received rent for the two rooms that had been taken for the accommodation of the visitors.

Of course they had a jolly time. It was fishing and hunting every day, and dancing or singing to Black Mose's banjo or violin in the evening. Other visitors came out from town nearly every day, and it was a continuous picnic for the boys. At last the convention met in a neighboring county to make a nomination of the candidate for Congress, and as Fred had expected an hoped, Assemblyman Carter recieved the nomination.

"Oh, glory!" exclaimed Fred, "won't I have fun with that fellow now! I am going to make life a burden to him. His party has about two thousand majority in the district, and to that extent he has an advantage; but I've got points on him from which I can overwhelm him with ridicule, which is something but few men can stand. For the next four weeks I'll be the busiest boy in the whole State."

"Why, are you going to leave here?" Mr. Welborn asked. "I'll be away a good deal of my time, but the other fellows will be here, and I want you and the ladies to stay right here. Everything on the place is at your disposal, and if anything is wanted from town, Terry will order it. Of course I shall stop here just as much as I can, and it may be that part of the time I shall want Terry to go with me, but don't think of leaving until you are ready to return to your own home; and next season, while your own cottage is building, take possession of that one alongside of mine and spend the season here. But about that we can talk later. I'm going into Ashton tomorrow, and may be gone two or three days."

The next morning Fred went into town and had a long consultation with Lawyer Watson.

"Now, see here," said Fred, "you are pretty well acquainted throughout this district, and you belong to the same party that Carter does. Of course you don't care the snap of your finger about Carter, and you have no political aspirations yourself. I want you to give me the name of some bright young fellow in the district who can be persuaded to run as an independent candidate and divide Carter's vote."

"I don't know where I can find one," said Watson, "for he couldn't be elected and it would take a lot of money."

"I'll furnish every dollar of the money," said Fred. "It shan't cost the candidate a single penny, and I'll stump the district and bring in other speakers, too."

"Well, upon what sort of platform can an independent candidate run against him?"

"Why, I don't want anything better than that bill of his introduced in the Assembly. It's such an outrageous attack upon the rights of private property that, were it properly prsented, hundreds if not thousands of formers could be turned against him."

"Well, I know a struggling young lawyer over at Springdale, a little village in the next county, who is about twenty-five years of age, who studied law while he was teaching school, and supported at the same time a widowed mother and a sister. He's a bright fellow, and a really good speaker. But whether you could persuade him to make an independent fight against Carter is more than I can say."

"Does he belong to Carter's party?" Fred asked.

"Yes; but I don't think he's ever been much of a partisan."

"Has he got a clean record?"

"Yes; not a word can be said about his character."

"Are you well acquainted with him?"

"Yes, I've known him all his life. In fact, he's a distant relative of mine. I was the first one to suggest to him that he study law, for I know his ability."

"Very good. How far is it to Springdale?"

"Twenty-five miles from here," said Watson. "Drive over with me, then, at once," said Fred.

Watson hesitated for a few moments, and Fred added:

"I'll pay you well for your time. I'm in this thing now to fight it right up to the breastworks."

"All right, I'll go." said Watson, and they went around to the livery stable, procured a buckboard and a splendid horse, and half an hour later they were off for Springdale.

They reached there late In the afternoon, put up at a little hotel, the only one in the place, for the village numbered only about eight hundred in population. Watson at once sent for Chapman, the young lawyer, and he at once came to the hotel to see him. There he introduced him to Fred as a friend and client of his, who had invested a good deal of money in and around Dedham Lake.

Fred soon discovered, that young Chapman was a bright young fellow, with a great fund of good, common, horse sense, and he proceeded at once to explain to him the nature of his business with him, saying:

"I want you to announce yourself as an independent candidate for Congress in this district, against Carter, or anybody else."

"Why, my dear sir," said Chapman, "I'm not able to pay the expenses of a race for constable in this township."

"Don't worry about the expenses. I'm willing to put up every dollar of the money that's required forexpenses. It shall not cost you a cent, and, above all that, I 'll pay you fifty dollars a week to compensate you for the neglect of your business during the campaign. There are no politics in it whatever. It is simplya personal fight between Carter and myself. Were I old enough and a citizen of the district, I would make the race myself. he introduced a bill in the Legislature which is an outrageous assaut upon the right of private property, and every owner of an acre of land in the district will be interested in it."

So eloquently did Fred argue the matter with young Chapman and presented the ease to him so logically that he admitted he was strongly tempted to make the announcement of his candidacy.

"But I can see no chance of an election," he finally remarked.

"No," said Fred, "I don't expect to see you elected, but I do expect to see Carter beaten. But it will give you a reputation throughout the district that will make your future extremely bright. You want to make it solely upon one point, and that is the utter unfitness of any man to be a legislator or a lawmaker, who would introduce a bill into a legislative body that is so utterly outrageous and such a violent assault upon the natural and acquired rights of property owners. I'm a pretty good speaker myself, and I'll hire others to help you make the fight."

"I'll do it," said Chapman. "I've nothing to lose and everything to gain."

"That's the way to look at it," said Fred. "I'll sit down right here and help you compile the letter in which you announce your candidacy, and then you can call, upon your personnal friends and have them help you push it."

"Write the letter yourself," suggested Chapman. "for I think you are better posted on that particular question than I am."

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