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


When the boys were through with the porter and janitor, some of the senior class sang out:

"Come down to the bicycle clubhouse, boys!"

"All right," chorused nearly half of the crowd, and a rush was made down toward the clubhouse, which stood about halfway between the academy and the river in a beautiful grove. As they started off Fred noticed that Teachers Brown and Tracy remained standing on the piazza.

"Hold up, boys," he sang out, "we are leaving two dear old friends behind."

"Who are they? Bring them along," called out a score of voices.

"Browny and Mr. Tracy."

"Bring 'em along! Bring 'em along!" and they made a rush for the two teachers, raised them on their shoulders and marched down to the clubhouse with them.

Mr. Tracy was a small, thin man, wearing eyeglasses, and always carried himself with as much dignity as Professor Lambert. The students always stood in awe of him, but now that they were no longer students, they remembered him only as a kind teacher, and were anxious to show their appreciation of him. On the other hand, he appreciated their motive and submitted to them with a graciousness that greatly pleased them.

Teacher Brown, on the other hand, had always been much nearer to the boys, for, like the Advocate, he had many a time stood between them and the stern old professor when trouble was brewing. The boys really loved him. They marched with him at the head of the procession, bearing him on their shoulders, singing at the top of their voices, "Oh, he's a jolly good fellow," They remembered that he had contributed five hundred dollars to the bicycle club fund for the building of the clubhouse.

The crowd nearly filled the upper hall of the clubroom, and there again they sang songs with a vociferousness that nearly raised the roof, after which the elder graduates, who had been away from the academy some six or seven years, called on Teacher Tracy for a speech. They placed him on the platform, where, after several ineffectual attempts to escape, he made a neat little speech, congratulating them on the fact that only two of the graduates had died since the first years of the existence of the Institution, and that so far as the faculty could learn, they were nearly all prosperous and happy. He concluded by declaring that it was his ambition to remain at the institution all the rest of his life, sending out annually young men fitted from an educational standpoint to maintain themselves in the great struggle for a place in the world of letters and business," And, he added, "the greatest wish of my life is to have every alumnus remember me throughout his career as the friend of his youth, and one who had striven hard to perform his whole duty in fitting him for the great battle of life."

"That's just what you are, professor," sang out Fred, "and if it's any satisfaction to you to know it, I can tell you in the presence of the Alumni of dear old Avon Academy, that we are your friends, and will be as long as reason holds sway."

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" came from the boys in a great roar.

Tracy's eyes filled with tears, for he was deeply touched. He again thanked the boys, who at once set up a yell for "Browny" who was a bashful sort of fellow in his way, and for a time he looked like one cornered or at bay; but he felt in every fiber of his frame that the boys loved him, and he knew that he loved them. Two of them seized him by the arms, hustled him up the little platform, while a third got behind him, pushed his head forward so as to make a bow, lost control of himself and burst into a laugh. That braced up Brown, who made a very fitting little speech that touched some of the boys, and almost brought tears from their eyes.

"As long as I live, boys, you will have a place in my memory collectively and individually. I've not only worked hard to inject some sense into some of you, but often toiled to get you out of trouble into which your natural propensities for mischief had gotten you."

"Whoop! Whoop!" came from scores of the boys. "That is so, and heaven bless you, old Browny."

"You hit us just right," exclaimed Joe Jencks. "Let us have another right on the solar plexus."

"That's where I am just trying to land, my boy," he replied. "I am aiming, and always have aimed straight for your heart, for notwithstanding your many slips and violations of discipline, your hearts were always in the right place. I have never forgotten that I was a boy once myself, and many a time raided watermelon patches and fruit orchards."

"Whoop! Whoop!" yelled the boys. "Just listen to that! Browny's one of us yet!"

"Yes," exclaimed Dick Duncan. "I never knew till now what a mistake we made when I was a student at the academy, in not inviting him to raid watermelon patches with us!"

That broke up Teacher Tracy, and he roared with laughter at Brown's expense.

"Oh, that wouldn't do," said Brown, laughing. "I would have declined all such invitations, but I know all the time that brother Tracy and myself, to say nothing of the head of the faculty, were receiving stolen goods nearly every time we accepted invitations to eat watermelons with you. I don't know whether Mr. Tracy thought of that or not, but I did, for I was satisfied that boy nature is just the same as it was when I was a boy."

That was a slap at Tracy for laughing at him, and for a time the latter didn't know just exactly how to take it, but the boys laughed so uproariously he finally joined in and nodded his head approvingly.

"Now, boys," continued Brown. "I wish every one of you long life, prosperity and happiness, and that as the years roll by and time sits heavily upon your shoulders, that the days you spent at Avon Academy shall be remembered as the happiest ones of your lives. Time brings responsibilities, and they are more easily borne when one understands how to meet them. Knowledge is power, and he who starts out on his career well educated, and who has been taught to reason well and logically, has a better chance to rise in the world than he who struggles with nothing but brute strength. The great fortunes of the world have been won by brain power rather than by physical labor. Here at the academy the faculty have striven to lay a firm foundation for you by bestowing an education that is thorough rather than one simply artificial. Again I thank you for your manifestation of friendship for myself individually, and I assure you that whatever fortune may befall you, my heart is ever with you, even to the end."

It was not only a neat little speech, but a sensible one, and it struck home to many of the boys, who applauded it with the greatest enthusiasm.

"By George, Terry," said Fred to his chum as they were standing side by side listening. "I didn't know that Browny could talk that way. He's a deeper man than I thought."

"Yes, and he is a good fellow, too," assented Terry.

Just then some of the boys started up a cry for "Osgood! Osgood!" who was a member of the first graduating class of the academy some seven or eight years back. He was a lawyer who had made quite a reputation as a member of the State Senate and as an orator. He was a fine-looking man, about twenty-eight years of age. He ascended the little platform and made an eloquent speech of some ten or fifteen minutes length, which aroused the highest enthusiasm of the and boys. Several others were called out, and then some one started a cry for "Fearnot! Fearnot!" and of course whoever was called for was forced to speak whether he wanted to or not. He began in a happy vein, and said that he had been looking forward for several months to the day he would have the pleasure of meeting the Alumni of the dear old academy at this the annual reunion.

"I have enjoyed the speeches," continued he, "that we have heard here in this clubroom this afternoon, but none has touched me so deeply as that made by our beloved Brown. The frank admission of his guilt in receiving stolen goods from the hands of his pupils was so entirely unexpected that for a few minutes I was quite upset. I never knew til to- day that he suspected us of borrowing these watermelons when the farmers who raised them were not present. I didn't know that he was on to us until this moment. Often we sent fine melons to the professor, his wife and the beloved Advocate, and now I'm wondering if they dropped on to us also. I remember hearing a parent say, when speaking of his hopeful son, that he wondered if his parent tumbled to him as he tumbled to his boy. Just think of it, boys, how we used to chuckle and nudge each other as we saw the faculty stuffing themselves with the delicious watermelons we presented to them, and the good advice they gave us at the same time. How they smacked their lips over the stolen sweets. I tell you, boys, there is no use in trying to fool the old boys who have passed along the highway ahead of us. They are on to us every time."

The boys screamed with laughter, while the tears actually ran down the faces of Tracy and Brown when Fred was speaking. They both laughed until they were nearly hysterical. When he ended, Brown turned to Tracy and remarked:

"I would have given a month's salary if Professor Lambert could have heard that speech."

"Yes," returned the other teacher. "I don't know but what I would too: but on my word, I never once thought that we were eating stolen watermelons when the boys were so liberal at time in supplying us with them. I remember on several occasions when they bought and paid for watermelons out of farm wagons that were driven up to the gate."

"What sort of youthful days did you have?" Brown asked.

"Not a very pleasant one," was the reply. "I didn't have the opportunity to indulge in such sport, for I was born and reared in a city miles away from where melons and other fruit were raised."

"Well, then, let me tell you that you I missed a lot of fun, for when I was a youth, it was never considered dishonest for a boy to jump over a fence, fill his pockets with apples or peaches or yank a big ripe melon off the vine."

"That's a slang expression, Mr. Brown," said Tracy, straightening himself up with no little dignity.

"Yes, it was once upon a time, but it's in the dictionary now. The English language has grown by the accumulation of words that started as slang expressions."

"Yes, it was once upon a time, but it's in the dictionary now. The English language has grown by the accumulation of words that started as slang expressions."

"You surprise me, Mr. Brown. I don't think I've ever seen the word in my dictionary."

"Well, it isn't in the dictionary in your library, but the later editions have it."

It was a happy informal union of the Alumni, and when it was over the boys gathered about in groups talking and laughing, comparing notes and telling stories.

From the bicycle clubhouse they adjourned to the boathouse on the river bank, where Terry told the story of how Fred did up the crowd of seven of them right there in a corner of the boathouse, when they made an attempt to haze him, and his recital of the incident set them all in a roar. Teacher Tracy, on leaving the clubhouse, returned to the academy while Brown remained with the boys. He told the professor and his wife what had taken place, and of the fun the boys had in laughing at him and Teacher Brown about their eating stolen watermelons. The dignified professor laughed till the tears ran down his face.

"It has been the case since boys first appeared on the face of the earth," laughed the old professor, "and it's best always not to attempt to change a boy's nature while trying to perfect him in his studies. Every boy has his good points, and as they are enlarged and cultivated the bad traits weaken in proportion. I have found that some are much harder to manage than others, particularly the obstinate, sullen ones, but those who remain to receive their parchment go away a hundred per cent, better mentally, morally and physically than when they arrive."

"I quite agree with you, sir," said Tracy, "but I really envied Brown at the way the boys treated him. He is right in the hearts of all of them, and upon my word he astonished me by the little speech he made. It was sound, sensible and philosophical."

"Oh, Brown is a pretty deep man, Mr. Tracy. I think he passes a happy boyhood, for he always had charity for their faults and shortcomings."

It was nearly sunset when the crowd march up from the river bank to the academy. They came singing the old academy songs, and Eunice and her mother ran out on the porch of the cottage to listen and wave their handkerchief in appreciation of the great humor that prevailed.

Terry managed to get away from the crowd, ran over to the cottage, and told the Advocate and her mother of the fun they had with Brown and Tracy down at the clubhouse.

"Oh, he made a grand speech, and surprise us by saying he was onto us in our rackets all the time, that he knew nearly every time he ate watermelons with us that he was filing himself with stolen goods."

"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Lambert, "did he really charge you boys with stealing watermelons? I wouldn't have thought he would do such a thing."

"Oh, look here now! You have never been a boy, and there are some things you can't understand," laughed Terry. "It isn't stealing to take watermelons out of a patch, or fruit out of an orchard, any more than it is to pick up an umbrella when you are compelled to go out in the Iran. If we went into a farmer's stable and took his horse or cow, it would be stealing, but to slip into his orchard an fill one's pocket with apples has never been considered stealing, though it might be wrong."

The Advocate laughed heartily, and admitted that several times he thought that she had eaten watermelon that hadn't been paid for.

"Of course you did," laughed Terry. "There are some boys who claim that a watermelon that is paid for in cold cash isn't as sweet as one which had been tossed over the fence to another boy, when the farmer wasn't around. I don't know whether the Advocate here will subscribe to the idea that a stolen kiss is sweeter than one given with a cold, formal smack, but it is."

"Well," laughed Eunice, "it depends altogether upon who it is that steals it."

"That's it," laughed Terry. "One fellow would get a slap in return for his impudence, while another would get another kiss sweeter than the one he stole. Such things go by favor, you know."

"Ah, Terry, I guess you are an expert in such matters," said the Advocate.

"I can't say that I am, but I do claim to know a good thing when I get it. If a thing is sweet, I know it when I taste it, and if it isn't, just one is enough."

"Terry, are you boys going back over to town to-night?" Eunice asked, when her mother returned inside the cottage.

"Why, yes. Evelyn and Mary and the two other young ladies are over there, and of course we must go over and sit up with them."

"I'm so sorry we didn't have room over here for them, but there are so many of the graduates present, that we have had to crowd as many as three in a room."

"Well, what's the matter with you going over with us? The girls expect us to bring you over."

"Oh, I can't think that they do, for each of you has a girl to look after."

"You can bet your life, Advocate, that none of us will neglect you, for we are not ungrateful for past favors."

"Oh, I don't wish to be looked after through a sense of gratitude."

"Oh, come, now! Don't you know what the poet says about gratitude? that it is akin to love?"

"Yes, I've read all about that, but you and Fred and the other boys have your girls to look after and I would be an extra number."

"Well, you are about the only girl I know who is generally considered extra. We look upon you as triple extra quality."

"Stay right there, Terry," she laughed. "that's the way Fred talks. I'll go over with you, but I really don't believe the first care to have me go there."

"So much the better for you if they don't. Just pitch in and cut them all out."

After a little more banter with her, Terry joined Fred up in the dormitory, where they were all making ready to go down into the large dining-room and gather around the long table as soon as the evening meal should be announced.

A few minutes later the bell was heard and the entire party, nearly a hundred in number, filed into the dining-room, where they found the professor at the head of the table of is table on his right and the Advocate seated at his left.

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