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CHAPTER II THE NAVAL REPAIR STATION
Mr. Carlton had only gone a few yards when Barry suddenly remembered the bulky manilla envelope that had been entrusted to his care as the train was leaving Cleverly. He ran after the Congressman and handed him the package. Mr. Carlton opened it in the boy's presence and his eyes lighted with pleasure.

"It's just what I've been waiting for, Conway," he said to his newspaper friend.

"Good; then you can present the whole business to the Secretary today."

"Precisely; that's what I intend to do."

"Suppose you take Barry along with you," suggested the correspondent.

"A good idea. I might want to send for some papers."

"Would he know where to go?" asked[Pg 14] Conway, laughingly. "You know he's a stranger in a strange land."

"That's easily fixed," smiled the Congressman.

"How?"

"We'll take Joe along as a guide for Barry."

The two men and boys boarded a Pennsylvania Avenue trolley and were soon proceeding to the other end of the thoroughfare.

"My boy," said Mr. Carlton to Barry, "I think we might as well take you into our confidence."

"Yes, sir."

"Years ago, when your father and I were young men we conceived the idea that the Government should build a great naval supply station at Cleverly. He even went so far as to draw up rough plans. But the time was not ripe for it and the notion was abandoned. Since your good father's death there have been spasmodic attempts to revive the plan, but they never amounted to anything. Now, however,[Pg 15] the conditions are all favorable, and I believe that with a little strategy and a great deal of industry, I can win the fight and make Cleverly a household name in the United States instead of a mere speck on the map."

"That would be splendid," cried Barry, his eyes glowing with pleasure.

"The big secret," continued the Congressman, "is the fact that the Government is now ready to act."

"Do you mean that they're going to build a station at Cleverly?" asked Barry, excitedly.

Mr. Carlton laughed.

"No; hardly that. I mean that the officials of the Government who have charge of our Navy have decided that we need a new Naval Repair Station. It remains for Congress to say where the station shall be located and to appropriate the money to pay for it. Now, I think, and Mr. Conway thinks, too, that the City of Cleverly can furnish the ideal site for this station."

"I don't suppose," chimed in the journalist,[Pg 16] "that Barry can have much interest in the subject."

"Yes, I have," exclaimed the boy; "I think it's real exciting."

Both men laughed at the boy's enthusiasm.

"The excitement," observed the journalist, "will come when it becomes known that the Government intends to build the new station."

"When will it become known?"

"Very soon, I think. Mr. Carlton is going to have an interview with the Secretary of the Navy this afternoon. A great deal depends on the result of that talk."

Little Joe Hart had been listening to the conversation with great intentness. He looked up now with a comical twist of the mouth.

"Mr. Conway," he exclaimed, with mock seriousness, "you can depend on my support."

They all laughed heartily at this sally. Mr. Carlton turned to the newspaper man:

"You see," he said, "we have two young gentlemen with us already."

[Pg 17]

"Yes," was the retort, "but, unfortunately, they have no votes."

"They will have some day," commented the Congressman soberly, "and I hope they will exercise that power for the good of the country."

By this time the car had reached the Treasury Department and was going around the massive pile of granite which houses the officials and the employees who look after the finances of the nation. Mr. Carlton and his friends alighted at the next corner and walked the remainder of the distance to their destination. They passed the White House, the modest looking dwelling which is the home of the President of the United States. Barry looked at it curiously.

"What do you think of it?" asked Mr. Conway.

Barry hesitated.

"Come out with it," insisted the journalist.

"Well," said the boy reluctantly, "it doesn't look much."

[Pg 18]

Mr. Conway laughed.

"That's the opinion of most strangers. But as you grow older you will realize that it typifies the strength and simplicity of the people. We have wealth enough to give the President a palace that would rival the homes of the sovereigns of Europe, but, thank goodness, we haven't the desire."

The large stone building, which is the headquarters of the State, War and Navy Departments, was now in sight. As they walked up the high steps of the main entrance, Barry and the journalist found themselves temporarily separated from Mr. Carlton and Joe Hart. It gave Mr. Conway an opportunity of speaking of the Congressman.

"He's one of nature's noblemen," he said, fervently. "I've been here many years," he added, "and I've seen public men come and go, but I never met a cleaner, abler man than John Carlton. Only his modesty has prevented him from being the leader of Congress. He's as clean as a hound's tooth, but he would no[Pg 19] more boast of his integrity, than he would brag of saying his prayers. He takes it as a matter of course. He despises grafters, but he also detests self-sufficient reformers who are forever flaunting their virtues in the face of the public. But," with a laugh, "I'm afraid I'm talking over your head, Barry."

"Not at all," retorted the boy. "I know just what you mean; and, besides, I love to hear anyone talk about Mr. Carlton. He was my father's best friend. That's why he had me appointed a page boy. He says it will give me a chance to see life and mix with big people and that it may lead to something better."

"That's true, and I think that even in your modest position you may be very useful to him."

"I hope so. He seems very much interested in the Naval Repair Station."

"It's the biggest thing he has ever attempted. If he succeeds the people of Cleverly will never forget him. It will mean that he[Pg 20] will not have to fight for re-election at the end of every two years. In short it will be a monument to him."

At the head of the steps the two were joined by Mr. Carlton and Joe Hart. They proceeded along the corridor and then up another flight of stairs and presently were ushered into the office of the Secretary of the Navy. The two boys seated themselves on a leather covered sofa near the door, while the Congressman and Mr. Conway walked up to a desk where a young man was writing. He greeted them pleasantly, took their cards and disappeared into a smaller apartment in the rear of the large room. He returned in a few moments followed by an older man. The newcomer hurried over to where the Congressman was standing.

"Hello, Carlton," he cried, cheerily, "I'm glad to see you."

"The pleasure is mutual, Mr. Secretary," smiled the statesman.

"And you too, Conway," exclaimed the[Pg 21] cabinet officer, extending his hand to the newspaper man.

The three of them took chairs. The Secretary looked at his visitors inquiringly.

"What's in the wind?" he asked, in his affable way. "It must be important when a Congressman and a journalist call together."

"It is," said Mr. Carlton, soberly. "It's about the proposed new Naval Repair Station."

"So that's got out, has it?" he remarked, musingly.

"Well, it's not exactly public property, but we've learned enough to know that Congress will take up the matter at this session."

"Really, it's no secret," admitted the Secretary, "and I'm frank enough to say that we need it very badly at this time. What's the use of spending millions of dollars in creating a first-class Navy unless we keep the battleships in first-class condition. We have a number of good navy yards, but we could use an additional Naval Repair Station to great advantage."

[Pg 22]

"I know that, and I'm going to offer a bill in Congress at an early day."

"You are?"

"I am, and I would naturally like to have the support of the Department."

"Of course," said the Secretary, hesitatingly, "it would be impossible to pledge myself in advance."

"I understand that perfectly," was the prompt reply. "I have been on the Naval Committee of the House long enough to know that these things must come up in an orderly manner and go through the regular channels."

"Certainly, certainly," echoed the cabinet officer, relieved to know that he was not going to be asked to depart from the usual method of procedure.

"I came today," continued the Congressman, "to show you a set of plans that have been prepared for a Naval Repair Station at Cleverly. I don't want to go at this matter blindly. I want you to look at our papers. Of[Pg 23] course, later on they will be submitted to any Board of Experts that you may see fit to appoint."

"I'm sure that I would be delighted to look them over," was the quick response.

Thereupon Mr. Carlton drew forth the bulky envelope that had been entrusted to Barry on his departure from Cleverly. The Secretary became interested at once. In order to get a better view of the papers the three men walked over to a large flat-top table in the centre of the room. Here the blue prints were spread out and held down with paperweights in order that they might be intelligently studied. The Congressman, who knew his subject by heart, explained the advantages to be gained by locating the station at Cleverly. The Secretary asked many questions, which were answered promptly, satisfactorily and with confidence.

"How much of an appropriation did you think of asking for?"

"A million dollars," replied the Congressman.

[Pg 24]

"That would not pay the entire cost of the station," said the Secretary.

"No; but it would answer all present needs. Additions could be made from time to time."

Presently the Secretary pressed a button and a messenger appeared.

"Tell the Admiral I would like to see him at his convenience," he said.

In a few minutes an old gentleman, with snow white hair and moustache and ruddy cheeks, entered. He was faultlessly, almost nattily, dressed and he had an alertness about him which suggested that he might have discovered the fountain of eternal youth, whose source had been so vainly sought by the gallant Ponce de Leon.

"That's the Admiral," whispered Joe to Barry from his secluded corner of the leather sofa.

"What? The real Admiral?"

"Sure."

"Where's his cocked hat and his sword and his uniform?"

[Pg 25]

"Oh, say," cried Joe, disgusted at such evident lack of knowledge, "he doesn't wear them in his office."

"Where does he wear them?"

"When he's fighting—on the quarter deck of his flagship."

"He doesn't look like a fighter."

This was too much for Mr. Joseph Hart. He stuffed his handkerchief in his mouth to keep from screaming. He butted his head against the cushioned back of the sofa, and he performed various other silent, but none the less effective, gymnastic exercises. After he had exhausted his merriment, he turned to the Cleverly boy and said, reproachfully:

"Can he fight? Why that man sunk the entire navy of a great European nation in about twenty minutes."

"Twenty minutes?" gasped Barry, awe stricken.

"It was less than that," cried Joe, following up his advantage, "it happened this way.[Pg 26] The Admiral was taking breakfast in the cabin of his vessel with some friends. He took a sip of his coffee and then said, 'please excuse me.' He went up on deck, and in a few minutes he returned to finish his coffee, saying, 'ha, I'm glad that's done.'"

"What had he done?" asked Barry.

"Sunk the Spanish navy."

"He doesn't act like a ferocious man."

"Real fighters never do," said Joe.

In the meantime the newcomer had joined the Secretary of the Navy and had been presented to the Congressman and the journalist. He was asked to examine the plans. He did so, at first in a perfunctory manner. But presently he became interested, and went over the blue prints with greater care. Finally he began to ask questions.

"Where would you put the dry dock?" he queried.

"Right there," replied the Congressman, indicating the spot with the tip of his little finger.

[Pg 27]

"This looks as if it might be a fresh water basin," suggested the Admiral.

"It is."

"And yet you are near the ocean."

"Within two miles of it."

Presently the Admiral finished his inspection of the plans. He leaned back in his chair, with his eyes half closed. The other three men looked at him intently. His expert opinion was of the highest value.

"Well," said the Secretary, finally, "what do you think of it?"

"Splendid," was the reply. "It looks as if it had been carved by nature for our present needs."

Five minutes later the Congressman was on his way back to the Capitol. He was bubbling over with good humor. He put his hand on Barry Wynn's shoulder:

"We've got a bully start, Barry," he said. "I do believe you're going to be my mascot."


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