Fred Fearnot's Revenge, or Defeating a Congressman


After leaving the office of his lawyer. Fred called on the Honorable Henry Carter, member of the Legislature from that county, at his office, further down the street. He found him in, and a couple of his political friends with him. The legislator recognized him as soon as he entered the office, rose to his feet and advanced to meet him with a bland smile and extended hand.

"How do you do, Fearnot?" he exclaimed. "I'm really glad to see you."

"Thank you," said Fred, grasping his hand and shaking it. "I was really apprehensive that on seeing me you would be so ashamed that you'd jump out of the window and break a limb. Hence I came in easy like, so as not to surprise you."

"Oh, that's all right," laughed Carter. "Take a seat. I'm really glad to see you."

"Thank you again. I haven't time to sit down. I dropped in to put a question to you, and that is this: If you owned Dedham Lake out there, would you have introduced a bill that would take away from you the right to control it?"

"Well, if I owned it such a bill wouldn't be necessary, for I certainly wouldn't deny any one the privilege of fishing in it."

"Well, I've never denied any one that right myself," said Fred.

"They told me you did," returned Carter.

"Then they lied to you, Sir," and Carter shrugged his shoulders.

"A shrug of the shoulders is no answer, Mr. Carter," said Fred. "I will make you a present of the entire property if you can bring me face to face with the man who can prove that I ever denied the privilege of fishing there to any man."

"Well, dozens of them came to me and said that you had, and it was at their solicitation that I introduced the bill."

"Very well, then," said Fred. "We won't discuss that part of it, but I repeat that they lied to you. My lawyer and Mr. Dedham can show written instructions from me to permit any one to fish in the lake who wants to do so. These instructions were dated and left in their hands when I went away last season. But that isn't the question at all. You are a lawyer and know full well that the bill is not only unconstitutional, but is a direct and outrageous assault upon the rights of private property."

"That is a question for the courts to decide," replied Carter.

"Yes, if it becomes a law, it will be a question for the courts to decide. But I'd like to have you answer the question, as a lawyer, whether or not it is unconstitutional and an outrageous assault upon private right."

"I don't care to give an opinion," was, the reply.

"Oh, I'm willing to pay for your legal opinion," said Fred, pulling, a roll of bills from his pocket. "I'll give you fifty dollars for your opinion as a lawyer, not as a politician."

Carter turned white in the face and his eyes gleamed, for the question put him in an extremely uncomfortable position for if he decided as a lawyer, it would he damaging to him, as a politician, and if his opinion was against the constitutionality of it, it would hurt him with his constituents.

"I'll be your client for just five minutes," said Fred, "and I'm willing to pay cash on the spot for your opinion as a lawyer."

"I understand that Mr. Watson is your lawyer," was the evasive reply.

"Oh, yes, I have his opinion and have paid for it, but I've read somewhere in the Good Book, I believe, that there's wisdom in the counsels of many. I think you will find it in the Proverbs of Solomon."

Carter's two politicial friends were standing by and listening, and they, too, recognized the position the young man had placed him in. If he should admit that he had deliberately introduced a bill that he believed to be unconstitutional and was in assault upon the rights of private property, he would practically ruin himself as a politician.

"I'm ready for your opinion, sir," said Fred, extending a little roll of bills, amounting to fifty dollars, toward him.

"Get out of my office, sir!" exclaimed Carter, giving way to his anger. "I don't wish to have anything to do with yon, sir."

"Surely you don't mean that," said Fred.

"Yes, I do. You have come up here and made no end of trouble among quiet, peaceable people by threatening to deprive them of the privilege they have enjoyed all their lives."

"I deny that I've ever made any such threats," said Fred, and I'd like to employ you as counsel to prosecute any man for defamation of character, who has made any such charge against me."

"I don't wish to have you for a client," said the lawyer. "I don't want your money, but do want you to leave my office and never enter it again."

"Very well, Mr. Carter, I've never made any threats against anybody in this county, but I'm going to make one to you."

"Oh, I care nothing for your threats. Get out!"

"Wait till you hear me,' said Fred. "I'm going to camp on your trail, and before I get through with you, you'll do as Captain Scott's coon did, and say that if I won't shoot you'll come down."

"What!" exclaimed Carter, "do you threaten to shoot me?"

"Oh, no," laughed Fred. "Perhaps I'd better tell you the little story. I see you don't understand me. Captain Scott was a famous hunter in Kentucky, years ago, before you and I were born. And such was his reputation as a marksman that even the game in the woods heard of it, and one day his dog had treed a coon who took refuge in one of the highest trees in the forest. The coon kept his eye on him, as he saw him peering around to get a glimpse of him. When the captain had located him in the branches and was about to fire, the coon sang out to him: 'Is that you, Captain Scott?' 'Yes,' said the captain. 'Well, don't shoot. I'll come down.'"

The two men in the office laughed heartily at the story, but Carter looked grim and determined.

"Well, what do you mean by that." the latter asked.

"I mean that I'm going to follow you up and have my revenge for this cowardly assault upon my private rights, which also is an attack upon the rights of every property holder in the State of New York, and if you are ever up again for office in this county, or any part of this State, I'll wear the bark off of every stump in the district showing you up to the people."

"Oh, that's all right," said Carter, waving his hand contemptuously toward him. "If that's all you have to say, get out now."

"All right, Sir. I'll get out. Good-day," and with that Fred turned and left the office, going back to his hotel.

There he found Lawyer Watson waiting for him, anxious to hear the result of his interview with the member of the Legislature. Fred told him just what passed between himself and Carter.

"I expected it," said Watson, "but you shoved him into a pretty tight corner when you offered to pay for his opinion as a lawyer, for that's where you had him."

"Yes, that's what I knew," said Fred, "but I'm going to keep my eye on him. I'm something of a politician myself, though I never meddle with politics. He belongs to the political party to which my party is opposed, but all the same, if he comes up for office again, in this county, where I am a taxpayer, I'm going to do just as I threatened,, to camp on his trail. If you'll ask my friend, Olcott, about it, he'll tell you that I'm a fighter from the headwaters of Wildcat Creek."

"I don't need to ask him," laughed Watson, "for your fight with the farmers out there at the lake last season is proof enough, and I think you will have an opportunity, to open your batteries on him sooner than you expect."

"How so?" Fred asked.

"Why, he's the candidate for nomination for Congress from this district, and has already secured the support of delegates of half the counties that make up this district, and the probabilities are that he'll got the nomination."

"Great Scott! I'd give several hundred dollars to bring about his nomination."

"Oh. well. If he gets it, he'll be elected," said Watson. "because his party has a large majority in the district-nearly two thousand."

"It makes no difference," said Fred. "I'll built around for some good man inside of his own party to run independently against him, and then take the stump for him."

"The deuce! Can you make a speech?"

"Well, I don't know whether I can or not. I've been accused several times of making speeches. I have talked to large audiences several times, and I know that I'm not afraid to face them. But if he gets that nomination you'll see the fur fly all over this district, and if I don't beat him I'll worry him some as the boy said when another asked him if he expected to catch that jaybird by climbing the tree after him, and he remarked that if he didn't catch him he'd worry him some, anyway. When does the convention meet?"

"Why, it's to meet next week."

"All right; I'm just in time then. I'll have some fun with Mr. Carter, and don't you forget it. I've been very fortunate in speculations lately, and while I haven't got a barrel to tap, I can foot a good many bills without their making me tired."

"Well, let me tell you, my dear boy," said Watson, "if you down Carter it will be a mighty big thing, for you.."

"Well, don't say a word about it to any one until after the nomination," said Fred. "I'm not after anything for myself, except revenge. One of Shakespeare's characters said that revenge was sweet. I'm not vindictive at all, but when, I come across a cold-blooded, white-livered sort of a chap like Carter, who would deliberately seek to trample upon the rights of private property solely to gain votes among a certain class of ignorant people, I confess to a considerable feeling of vindictiveness. He presumed on my youth and ordered me out of his office two or three times this morning, in a very insolent manner. There were two friends of his present, and I presume it will become the common town talk."

"Yes," said Watson, "it will be a sweet morsel. Everybody will be talking about it, and the farmers out beyond the lake will chuckle gleefully."

"Let them chuckle," said Fred. "They'll have something to chuckle about before the millennium comes."

He spent considerable time with Watson, talking over the legal business connected with the sale of the building lot out at the lake and when the lawyer left, there were quite a number of villagers at the hotel, who called to make inquiry about the story they had heard, that Carter had ordered Fearnot out of his office.

"Say, Fred," Terry asked, as soon as Watson had left, "they say you had a ruction with Carter in his office, and that he fired you out."

"No, he didn't fire me out, but he ordered me to leave."

"Well, did you do it."

"Of course I did. You don't suppose I'd stay in a man's office, which is his own private property, against his wishes do you?"

"Well, didn't you smash him before you left?"

"No, I told him I'd see him later and now you just wait, old man. They say he's going to get the nomination for Congress next week, and if he does, you'll find me on the stump whooping it up till the very stones scattered around on the ground jump and join in the racket, for the full that is in it."

"Good, good." said Terry. "I know what you can do in that line, old man. I'll get up torchlight processions, while you do the spouting, and we'll have more fun than we have yet stirred up anywhere on the face of the earth."

"Well, let's go out to file take," said Fred. "Where are Joe and Dick?"

"Well, you couldn't guess," answered Terry.

"Yes, I can, but I don't know whether I'd hit it right or not. Where are they?"

"They've been in the parlor talking to those girls ever since they left the breakfast table, and I'm blessed if I don't believe are both stuck. I've tried to call them out several times but they won't come, and the girls try to draw me in. You see the native youths around here don't have any standing with the girls from the cities, and when a good-looking fellow comes along, they fairly freeze to him."

"Look here, Fearnot," said Mr. Welborn, rushing up to where Fred and Terry were standing, "they tell me you've had a row with Lawyer Carter. What was it about?"

"Oh, we had some words about that bill that he introduced into the Legislature to deprive me of the control of my property out at the lake."

"O, I heard about that," said the old gentleman. "It was an outrage, but such a bill can never become a law in this State."

"Well, I don't believe it can either, but that doesn't relieve him of his rascally intention. I gave him some pretty plain talk, and he ordered me out of his office, but that doesn't end it, for I intend to even up things with him before I stop."

"Well, he seems to be a pretty popular fellow here," remarked Welborn.

"Yes, people seem to be afraid of him, but that doesn't apply to me. When I get through with him he'll look like thirty cents."

A team was ordered from the hotel stable, and the four boys. with Black Mose prepared to drive out to the lake. But a stream of villagers kept coming along. inquiring about the difficulty between the young New Yorker and the Asemblyman and several times Fred spoke of him in such uncomplimentary terms that some of the busybodies hastened to acquaint the Assemblyman with what he had said.

"Oh, he's nothing but a boy," laughed Carter. "This is a free country. Let him talk as much as he wants to. It doesn't hurt anybody; but if he becomes too impudent I'll give him a thrashing."

"You can't do it," said a bystander, who belonged to another party. "He can lick you with one hand in his pocket."

"Oh, I guess not."

"I guess so," said the other. "You seem to forget that he's licked a half-dozen farmers, and that all by himself, and an Assemblyman, like you, wouldn't be more than a bedbug for him."

The bystanders laughed, and Carter remarked that he didn't pretend to be a fighter and didn't expect to have any fights.

"Well, then," retorted the other, "don't threaten to thrash him, for he might come around to see you, to give you a chance to do it. He's a mighty bad boy."

The boys drove out to the lake, where they took Farmer Dedham and his family somewhat by surprise. They found the two log cabins, however, fit perfect order ready for their occupation. The farmer's wife and two daughters had taken admirable care of them. The girls hastened to put on their best dresses when they heard that four young men had come out to spend some time, and a half-hour later, when they appeared, they were two as fine-looking, buxom lasses as could be found in the county. Fred and Terry gave them a hearty greeting and introduced Dick and Joe.

"Now, look here, girls," said Terry. " These two friends of ours are susceptible young cusses, both heart-whole and fancy free. Their mothers have entrusted them to our care and if you go to letting them fall in love with you, it will make trouble for us.

"Say!" exclaimed Dick, "you're making touble for yourself, now, for if you don't let up on that sort of' talk, I'll throw you into the water out there, for I won't let anybody but the girl I fall in love with have anything to do with my love affairs."

The girls laughed heartily at Terry's speech, and the elder one remarked that she thought Mr. Duncan was right.

"Of course I am," said Dick. "That rascal, Terry, is engaged to a girl down in Fredonia, so that shuts him out."

"Well, I thought as much." said the younger of the two sisters. "and I guess I know who it is. It's the young lady who was up here last season."

"Yes, that's the one," said Dick.

"You don't kow anything about it," put in Terry.

"Well, let up on that." said Fred. "If you and Joe want to fall in love with these girls, it's you affair and not Terry's or mine. The girls are all right, and I know that you two fellows are; and if Terry says anything to the contrary, we can very soon put him in a strait- jacket. How have you all been since we left here, Mrs. Dedham?"

"We've all been well," said the mother, "but we were not expecting you all here before next spring."

"No," said Fred, "I didn't expect to come up, but I found myself with plenty of leisure time, so we agreed to come in for a few weeks' hunting and fishing and enjoy the fine climate."

"Oh, you're. going to stay several weeks, then."

"Yes, unless you get tired of us and tell us to leave. Hello! here comes Billy and the old man," and he shook hands, with the father and son as they came up.

"Billy, my boy." Fred continued. "if you can scare up any bait around the place, we'll have some fish for dinner."

"All right," replied the youth. "I'll have the bait ready by the time you get your tackle up."

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