Fred Fearnot's Day, or The Great Reunion at Avon

CHAPTER VIII.
FRED AND TERRY ACCUSED.

As soon as he could get out of the crowd, Fred went in search of Evelyn and Margie. He found them surrounded by nearly two score of the Alumni who were congratulating his sister on his account. Eunice was surrounded by a party of high school girls and another crowd of young men.

"Oh, brother," exclaimed Marguerite, as Fred elbowed his way to her side, "what a splendid speech you made!" and she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. The boys cheered, and he turned to Evelyn with the query:

"Can't you congratulate me, too, little girl?"

"Yes, with all my heart," she exclaimed, extending her hand. He grasped it, shook it warmly, and asked:

"Isn't that rather a cold congratulation?"

"Oh, I'm no sister to you," she laughed.

"Thank heaven for that," he exclaimed, raising her hand to his lips, while the boys smiled. She blushed in spite of herself, and some one of the boys remarked:

"That's a pretty broad hint, Miss Olcott."

"Oh, he can throw hints around like a farmer sowing wheat, but really I did enjoy the speech, Fred."

"Thank you, dear," and he made a very profound bow.

"Oh, we all enjoyed it," exclaimed Marguerite. "I couldn't help crying myself when I saw the tears coursing down the Professor's face."

"I felt like it myself," he remarked, "but I knew it wouldn't do, so I shut the tears off."

"Fred, I'm trying to persuade Evelyn to dine with us over here to-day, but she won't do it."

"Well, I don't think you are the one to extend the invitation to her. I'm going to see her home myself. Where's Mary and the Misses Wellborn?"

"Oh, the boys have got them somewhere," laughed Marguerite. "If you find Terry you'll find Mary."

The boys laughed heartily at that, and began a hunt for Terry, and, sure enough, they did find him with Mary. Both the Wellborn girls had groups of admirers around them nearby. Fred got them all together; but as the young men insisted on escorting the girls over to Avon, the carriage had to return empty, as they preferred to walk. A number of young men surrounded Marguerite and prevented her from accompanying them. Fred, of course, had Evelyn leaning on his arm, and they were permitted to go along quietly without any one intruding upon them.

"Fred, how in, the world is it that none of the speakers mention the Advocate?" she asked.

"Hanged if I know. I omitted to do so myself simply because those who preceded me did; but I think she will catch it to-night at the banquet."

"Are you going to say anything about her?"

"Well, I will if the others do. I think, though, it would be rather embarrassing for her."

"Well, I am quite sure there will be considerable disappointment if none of the speakers mentions her. She is justly entitled to it, and I think you should pay her a glowing tribute."

"Well, I will if I can."

"You can well enough if you try. I never heard you speak so well before as you did to-day, and the ladies around me where I sat thought it was the finest speech they had ever listened to. I am so glad your mother was here to hear you. I watched her while you were speaking, and I'm sure she was not only proud, but happy as a mother could be. Did you have all that written?"

"No, not the half of it. The first thing I knew I found myself being swept along by a sudden inspiration, and I spoke just as my feelings urged me. Now, tell me, are you enjoying this visit?"

"Yes, indeed; but aside from your speech to-day, I enjoyed the games on the athletic grounds most yesterday. I don't know how I came to have such a fondness for athletic sport."

"Well, do you know you captured the whole crowd of the Alumni? Your name is on the lips of every one of them, and the married ones of the older graduates are as enthusiastic admirers as the unmarried ones."

"Well, I never thought of that," she laughed, "but really I do enjoy having so many friends."

"Of course, that's natural, and I'll wager something that before you leave Avon, you'll have at least a dozen application for correspondence."

"Oh, nearly a dozen have already asked Margie to correspond with them, and several have asked me, and there's one young man that's nearly gone crazy about Mary. Both the Wellborn sisters have promised nearly a dozen young men to correspond with them, and two happier girls I never met."

"Great Scott, is that so? These reunions are great things, ain't they?"

"Yes. Both of them say they are coming back again next year."

When they reached the Hawthorne residence, Terry, who had just preceded them, called to Fred and stated that Mrs. Hawthorne had just informed him that there were two seats at the table for them.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" Fred asked.

"Let's dine here," said Terry.

"There'll be a kick over at the academy."

"Let 'em kick. I prefer my girl to the whole gang of them over there."

"So do I," laughed Fred. "Shake, old man," and the two chums shook hands in a jolly way.

"Now, boys, you'll get into trouble at the academy," laughed Evelyn. "It may hurt the professor's feelings if you don't show up there for dinner."

"Oh, they won't miss us in the great crowd they've got there now, and, even if they do, we'll have a good excuse."

"Why, what excuse can you put up?"

"Why, Adam's excuse about eating the apple with Eve; that the woman tempted me, and I did eat."

"Oh, you'll lay it on us, eh? That's just like old Adam."

The two boys remained for dinner at the Hawthorne residence and then went into the parlor and sang with the girls when a batch of about a dozen of the Alumni put In an appearance.

"Here they are!" they cried, when they saw Fred and Terry.

"What's the matter? Are you looking for us?" Terry asked.

"No, we were looking for the girls, for we knew if we found them, you two wouldn't be far away."

"Wise men," laughed Fred.

It turned out that the visitors had really called to see the girls, and, of course, they were made welcome. They hired carriages at the livery stables, and a crowd of them went out for a drive, spending the entire afternoon that way.

Fred, Terry, Mary and Evelyn occupied one carriage.

"Now, Fred," Evelyn asked, "I want to beg you not to play any tricks on me at the banquet. I'm not connected with the academy like the Advocate is. Say what you please about her, but leave me out"

"I don't know how it's possible," he laughed. "I'm thinking of paying a little compliment to Mary, too."

"Then I won't go," said Mary. "I couldn't stand that."

"Well, then, I'll leave that to Terry."

"Oh, I can trust him," laughed Mary. "He won't say a word about me."

"No," put in Terry, "but you can bet your life I'll be thinking about you all the time."

"Hold up, now," put in Fred, "no spooning. You and I will have a fight on hand when we show up at the academy again, slipping away to dine over in town, and spending the afternoon with these girls."

"Well, I guess I can stand it," laughed Terry. "I don't see why they should single us out for any fault finding. We all came up to enjoy ourselves just as we please."

It was near sunset when the boys returned from the ride, and then they hastened over to the academy to prepare for the great banquet in the evening. Of course, every alumnus had his dress suit with him; but before they could reach their room in the dormitory, Fred and Terry was intercepted by Teacher Brown and Marguerite.

"You two boys have gotten yourselves into trouble," said the teacher.

"Indeed you have," laughed Marguerite. "Where in the world have you been? Even mother has been inquiring after you."

"Didn't you tell her where we were?" Fred asked.

"No, how should I know where you were?"

"Oh, you little know-nothing! You know very well that we were with Evelyn and Mary, and mother knew it, too."

"Why, you never said anything to us about it?"

"No, it wasn't necessary."

Brown laughed heartily, and remarked that the inquiry had gone all around for them during the afternoon.

"Well, Terry and I have to speak to-night, and we've been in search of inspiration."

"That'll do," said Brown, "I see the point. I don't think you will be able to persuade the Advocate to rescue you from punishment."

"Why, is she angry?"

"Really, I don't know. Haven't heard her say a word, but it's my opinion that she thinks you both have been very remiss in absenting yourselves from the academy grounds so long I want to thank you, my boy, for the kind things you said about me to-day," and Teacher Brown grasped Fred's hand, shook it warmly, and added:

"I can't say to you how much I thank you, but I felt it deeply, and shall feel grateful to you as long as I live."

"Ah, my dear friend! You will live in the hearts of all the boys who attended the academy while you were a teacher. You are one of the few teachers who remember that they have been boys themselves, and it is something that the boys appreciate. You can rest assured that none of us will ever forget you. Now, if you will excuse us, we'll go up to our rooms and don our dress suits for the evening, and, Marguerite, I hope, you have not missed me, for when I left the grounds you were surrounded by admirers, and I knew you would not lack for entertainment."

"Oh, I haven't been at all lonesome," she laughed. "Mr. Brown here has been a most devoted companion, and I have enjoyed his company ever so much."

"Good! Good! Set your cap for him. He's the best catch on the grounds to-day," and with that Fred and Terry dashed up the stairs to their room in the dormitory, and a half hour later came downstairs in evening dress.

Marguerite and the Advocate were in the cottage where they spent at least a couple of hours at their toilets, and when they appeared they were pictures of loveliness.

Fred and Terry made profound bows toward them at long range. Marguerite saw them and laughed, but not a smile appeared on the Advocate's face,

She looked at them for several minutes, and then Fred stepped behind Terry, pushed him forward, looking over his shoulder at her, until they were within a few paces of her, Marguerite laughed in spite of herself, and at last the Advocate had to smile.

"There, Terry, look at her smile! She isn't angry," and Fred advanced toward her, saying:

"I never saw you looking so beautiful, Advocate."

"Fred, what in the world has come over you?" Eunice asked. "You went away and dined elsewhere without saying a word to any of us about it. Was that right?"

"Now, Advocate, I know of nearly a score of the boys who accepted invitations to dine with friends over in the town, and yet I've heard of no fault being found with them. Has it come to pass that I am to suffer, while others go free?"

"Let each one suffer for his own sins," returned the Advocate. "Why did you leave us?"

"To escort Evelyn and Mary over to town, which it was our duty to do, and Mrs. Hawthorne and the others insisted on our dining there, as the dinner was then waiting. It was no sin. It was not wrong, and I'm ready to discuss the constitutionality of it with the entire faculty, including yourself."

"Oh, we won't discuss it, but I do blame you for not notifying us of it before you left."

"Bless your dear heart, neither of us dreamed of dining over there. We expected to come back here; but we are going to dine here to- night, be as happy as we can, and pay our tribute to the youth and beauty of the assembly."

Just then they were joined by Mrs. Fearnot and Eunice's mother. Neither one of them said anything to Fred and Terry about their prolonged absence for they had other and weightier matters on their minds.

"Fred, what time will the girls be over?" Mrs. Fearnot asked.

"Indeed I don't know, mother; but they told us they would be over early. Dick and Joe will look after them, thus saving us the trouble of making the trip ourselves."

"Oh, that would be a lot of trouble to you, would it?" laughed Margie.

"Yes, dear, a deal of trouble. There's a lot of trouble on hand now about going over with them after the convention."

"Oh, the troubles you boys have don't amount to much," said Mrs. Fearnot.

"Look out, mother That's a reflection on the girls," returned Fred. "They are about the only troubles we have."

"Very few boys have any troubles until they begin to mingle with the girls."

"Oh, you are wrong there, Fred," laughed Terry. "I have a very lively remembrance of trouble with a slipper long before I had any inclination to chase the girls."

"Well, it was a woman's slipper, wasn't it, and In the hands of a woman, too?"

"Oh, just listen to them, now," laughed Margie "They agreed to discuss that matter before us just to escape the scolding they deserve."

"All right, have it your way," retorted Fred, "but just wait until we get you two girls into the banquet room to-night where we will have the advantage. We've got it in for the Advocate, and if we don't get even, it will be because we have forgotten how."

"Fred, what do you mean?" Eunice asked, with an expression of alarm on her face.

"Just what I say. You roasted me this morning, and now you are frowning, pursing your lips up at me and accusing me of about all the crimes in the catalogue. I'll have my revenge to-night. Even the worm will turn, you know, when stepped upon."

"Fred, if you say anything about me to-night in your speech to make me feel uncomfortable, I'll never forgive you."

"That's all right, Advocate, I won't sue for forgiveness, because revenge is sweet enough for me. You've spoiled a good deal of pleasure that I expected to get out of this reunion, and I intend to see if I can't pay you back in kind."

"Oh, don't you be frightened, Eunice," laughed Marguerite, "Fred wouldn't say an unkind thing of you for anything in the world, nor do I believe a single alumnus of the academy would permit him or any one else to do so."

"Oh, he won't say anything unkind, I know, but he'll make me appear and feel ridiculous, for he has an enormous capacity for such mischief."

"No I won't say an unkind word about you, Advocate, but at the time I'll get even with you."

The invited guests who were to be at the banquet now began arriving, and the ladies were dressed as if for the opera. As they entered the great hall of the academy, they were pictures of loveliness. Many of the Alumni were at the gate and about the main entrance of the hall to see and greet the ladies of their acquaintance.

By and by some one told Terry that his sister had arrived, and he and Fred hastened to meet her at the gate. Dick and Joe were assisting them out of the carriage when they reached there. They were dressed beautifully, and certainly two more beautiful girls than Evelyn and Mary would have beep hard to find anywhere that evening. The two boys took charge of them, while Dick and Joe looked after the Wellborn sisters, and escorted them into the great hall where the guests were gathering waiting for the time to enter the banquet room.

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