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CHAPTER VIII AN UNEXPECTED MOVE
Mr. Carlton now had his Naval Repair Station measure in good shape and he considered the time ripe for its introduction in the House of Representatives. One morning, when the Speaker called for new bills, he handed in the typewritten document on which all of his ambitions and his hopes were pinned.

"The bill presented by the Gentleman from Maine is referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs," announced the Speaker.

Barry, who had carried the precious draft from the Congressman's desk to the Speaker's platform, could not resist the opportunity of whispering a word of exaltation to his patron.

"She's in at last, Mr. Carlton," he said, "and you ought to feel proud and happy."

[Pg 101]

The Congressman sighed.

"She's in, Barry, but that's only the first step in the battle."

"But it's a good bill," insisted the boy, earnestly, "and it has been approved by the Navy Department."

"Not yet, but I hope it will be soon," corrected Mr. Carlton.

"Then it will pass, sure."

The statesman smiled at the boy's enthusiasm.

"I'm not so positive of that," he said. "I've known many a good measure to go to a Committee and after that never see the light of day again."

Nevertheless John Carlton felt very optimistic over the Naval Repair Station bill. But he had been in Congress too long to permit himself to become affected with the political disease known as "over-confidence." He had prepared the draft of the law with great care. He knew of cases where the omission of a word, or the dropping of a[Pg 102] comma, had destroyed the effect of important legislation.

Also, he had sounded a number of members of the Committee on Naval Affairs and found that they were well disposed toward the bill. He intended to push the legislation solely on its merits, but he knew that in Congress, as elsewhere, the intelligent and industrious representative is apt to outstrip the man who does not possess these homely but essential qualities.

Felix Conway was in the House when the bill was offered and he immediately began the preparation of a dispatch to the two evening newspapers that he represented. Both were in the district affected by the location of the Naval Repair Station in Cleverly, and both were enthusiastically in favor of the proposition. It was at the suggestion of Mr. Conway that these newspapers had avoided any premature announcement of the project. He feared that such advance publicity might produce a host of rival cities, all claiming to have available[Pg 103] sites, for the proposed station. Now that the bill had actually been offered, it was featured in both of Mr. Conway's newspapers with big headlines and diagrams of the intended improvement. That night he wired it to the big New York newspaper which he also represented at Washington.

This was the beginning. Both the Congressman and his friend realized the importance of developing a public sentiment in favor of the bill. They knew that the site was an ideal one. It remained for them to impress that fact upon the members who would be called on to pass upon the bill. The mere introduction of the bill was a big piece of news, and it was printed broadcast in all of the newspapers of the country. But the greatest interest, of course, was displayed by the Eastern press.

Mr. Carlton made sure to attend the first meeting of the Committee on Naval Affairs after the introduction of the measure into Congress. After brief debate the bill was [Pg 104]referred to the Secretary of the Navy for his consideration. He in turn passed it over to a Committee of experts, with a request for an early report. In the meantime day after day passed and Mr. Carlton watched anxiously to see if the people of any other locality would come forth with a site. But time went by and none appeared and he felt greatly relieved.

In the meantime events were moving rapidly. The Board of Experts visited Cleverly and made a careful inspection of the site of the proposed station. Mr. Smithers, the President of the Board of Trade, offered his services to the visitors and answered questions with such confidence and pointed out the advantages of the place so convincingly that the Board of Experts unanimously favored the bill. The Naval men realized that the Government had an opportunity that should not be neglected. They returned to Washington well pleased with their trip and in a few days sent a glowing report to the Secretary of the Navy, who,[Pg 105] in his turn, forwarded it to the Committee on Naval Affairs.

John Carlton was delighted. Things were progressing better than he had expected. Felix Conway wrote a series of letters for his morning newspaper, showing that the location of the station at Cleverly would not only be good for the Government, but would also give permanent employment to five or six hundred men. He was enthusiastic and he elaborated on his theme. He even went so far as to declare that it meant a new era of prosperity and that not only the city and State, but the nation would share in the good times. This brought sharp retorts from newspapers out of the Cleverly zone and one or two of them hinted that Cleverly was not the hub of the universe in spite of the eloquent outbursts of Felix Conway.

Barry was now in the thick of events. Mr. Carlton had made an arrangement with him by which the boy was to give all of his time to him when he was not engaged in his duties[Pg 106] as page. Barry was surprised at the number of things he was able to do. First he went through the newspapers and clipped out all editorials and news articles bearing upon the proposed Naval Repair Station. There were many hundreds of these, and the young page arranged them in large envelopes according to the views expressed therein. Those that favored Cleverly were placed in one package; those that opposed it, in another. He planned to keep the indifferent comments by themselves. Strange to say, none of the newspapers were indifferent. A few were unfriendly to the suggested site, but the great majority of the articles and the editorials agreed that Cleverly was the natural and desirable spot for the Naval Repair Station.

Resolutions, petitions, memorials, letters and telegrams came pouring in on Congressman Carlton commending him for presenting the bill, and urging him to carry his work to a successful conclusion. He felt well pleased with the situation. The new Naval Repair[Pg 107] Station promised to make him popular as well as important. One of the members of the House congratulated him on his prominence in the public eye:

"It's very nice," he admitted, "but I'm not letting it take me off my feet. You know a political leader who receives bouquets today may get brick-bats tomorrow."

Finally the House fixed a date after which it was decided that no new bills could be introduced. Mr. Carlton put in some anxious hours. He wondered if something might not occur at the last moment to upset his plans. But the day arrived and passed and no new Naval Repair Station bill had been presented. Mr. Carlton was overjoyed. It seemed almost certain that his measure was to have smooth sailing.

The following day a meeting of the Committee on Naval Affairs was called for the purpose of transacting general business. Among other things the Clerk of the Committee read the report made by the Board of[Pg 108] Naval Experts on the proposed Repair Station at Cleverly. It was clear and it was convincing. The words were music to the ears of John Carlton. But, as the clerk finished, Mr. Collins, one of the members of the Committee, arose and said:

"Mr. Chairman, I now request that the clerk read the bill making an appropriation for the construction of the Naval Repair Station."

Congressman Carlton was on his feet instantly.

"What is the purpose of having it read now?"

"I wish to offer a little amendment to the bill," was the reply.

"All right," said the unsuspecting member.

The bill was read, and as the clerk concluded, Mr. Collins rose and said:

"I move to strike out the portion of the bill fixing the location of the station at Cleverly, and to insert the words, 'Green Island.'"

Half a dozen members were on their feet[Pg 109] at the same time, all claiming recognition at once. The Chairman nodded to Mr. Carlton and the others sat down.

"Mr. Chairman," cried the Congressman, "this is a most astounding amendment. It changes the whole purpose of the bill. It is not fair to do this at the last moment without giving the members a chance to consider what it means."

Mr. Collins flushed.

"The gentleman has no right to say that. It is a reflection on me."

"I have no desire to reflect on the member," said Mr. Carlton, "but I'd like to know the meaning of the amendment."

"I'm not prepared to discuss it now," confessed Mr. Collins. "In fact I presented the amendment by request."

"Then you're willing to postpone consideration for the present?"

"Yes."

"For how long?"

"Well, say two weeks."

[Pg 110]

And so it was agreed.

After the meeting Mr. Carlton went to his fellow member:

"See here, Collins; who are you representing in this matter?"

"My constituents, of course."

"No; but you said that you presented the amendment by request."

"That's true."

"By request of whom?"

The member smiled. He did not relish the aggressive manner of the gentleman from Maine. He answered rather ironically:

"I'm not prepared to give you that information—at least not for the present."

John Carlton was greatly chagrined at the turn of affairs. He was prepared for open opposition, but how could he fight a foe who remained in the dark? Green Island was not in Collins' district. So it was plain that the amendment was inspired by someone else. Carlton tried to find out who this one was and failed. Felix Conway was called into[Pg 111] consultation and the two men went to the Congressman's office, where they discussed the question for more than an hour. But when they finished they were no nearer a solution than in the beginning. Just as they arose the door opened and Barry Wynn came into the room. He was breathless.

"Mr. Carlton!" he cried. "Mr. Carlton!"

"Well, what is it?"

"I've found out who got Mr. Collins to offer that amendment."

Both men were on their feet. They spoke simultaneously.

"Who was it?"

"It was Congressman Hudson," replied the boy.


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