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CHAPTER XI DISCORD AND DEFEAT
One morning, while Barry was on his way to the Capitol, he passed a popular second-class hotel, known as the Olympic. Quite a crowd had gathered around the entrance to the house and inside the parlor a band was playing the popular airs of the day. Barry hesitated for a moment. Then he turned and went in to satisfy his curiosity. Over the entrance to the double parlor of the hotel was a sign reading: "Headquarters of the Citizen's Committee of Green Island."

He realized that he was in the camp of the enemy. Also, it came to his mind that the backers of the Green Island scheme had resolved to stake the success of their enterprise upon a spectacular campaign. This method of procedure was not new to Barry. He had attended several political conventions and he[Pg 139] knew more than one candidate who had accomplished by brag and bluster what would have been impossible through the use of reason. The citizens of Green Island were numerous and noisy. Most of them were puffing away at big black cigars. Some of them, in the words of a witty Hibernian, "were at the bar of the House, pouring red liquor down their English, Irish and French channels." But about it all there was an air of aggressive excitement. "I'll tell you," cried one citizen, whose high silk hat looked like a misfit, "I tell you the people of Green Island do not ask for this Naval Repair Station. They demand it!" This outburst was greeted with loud and prolonged cheers.

When Barry reached the House he reported what he had seen to Congressman Carlton. That gentleman seemed greatly impressed:

"This means that we must be on guard day and night," he said. "Sometimes important legislation is put through with a rush."

For the first time since the project was[Pg 140] broached, Mr. Hartman, the Congressman whose district included Green Island, now came to the front in defense of the bill for a Naval Supply Station. Carlton met him in the lobby that day:

"Why, Frank," he said in an injured tone, "I never knew that you were going to father a Naval Repair Station bill at this session of Congress."

The legislator looked at him in silence for a moment and then burst into a laugh.

"To tell the truth, I didn't know it myself, John."

"Well, what does it all mean?"

"Blest if I know."

"But you're backing the bill?"

"Yes, of course, I am. But to be entirely frank with you, I didn't know a thing about it until it was introduced as an amendment to your bill in the Committee on Naval Affairs! It interested me then because it was in my district. It interested me still more because it had been presented by a member outside[Pg 141] of the district. I was passive. I didn't support or oppose the bill. I was like the man from Missouri. I wanted to be shown. But yesterday a delegation arrived from home. They included some of my constituents. They asked me to support the bill. I protested against the manner of its introduction, and they admitted that that was a mistake which they regretted. So there you are. On the face of it the proposition is all right. It is supported by men who have supported me. So I suppose I'll have to work and vote for the bill."

"You don't seem to be working very hard."

"No harder than is necessary," was the languid reply.

Carlton was pleased, but not entirely satisfied. The Green Island proposition was really stronger than it had been at any time since its presentation. Three Congressmen were openly committed to it, and a large and enthusiastic delegation of citizens was "boosting" it from early in the morning until late at night. [Pg 142]Carlton hoped that the Committee from Cleverly would reach Washington soon. He felt the need of a counter demonstration.

That afternoon he received notice that a meeting of the Committee on Naval Affairs would be held the following day for the purpose of acting on the Green Island amendment. This was short notice, but the Congressman started to work at once. He made a canvass of the Committee, and the result left the matter in doubt. Many of the members said that if the Cleverly proposition was the only one before the Committee, they would gladly promise to vote for it. The Green Island amendment, however, put a different aspect on the question. Most important of all the land at that place was offered to the Government for one hundred dollars per acre.

"What is the price of your site by the acre?" asked one of the members.

"About one hundred and twenty dollars," replied Carlton.

[Pg 143]

"You see it's higher than Green Island."

"But it's better," was the retort.

"That's to be proven. At any rate, why don't you reduce the price of yours?"

Carlton smiled and shook his head.

"That's impossible."

"Why?"

"Because it would be a confession that it had been made too high in the beginning. Besides the property owners have fixed the price at the assessed value of the land. Many of them could get more for their property. But they've been public spirited enough to shade down to the lowest point for the sake of having the station located at Cleverly."

"Then your people won't offer any other inducements?"

"I'm pretty sure they will not. We want the station very much, indeed, but we want it on its merits."

That night at the boarding house Joe Hart invited Barry to go out with him.

[Pg 144]

"Where?" asked the boy.

"I've promised to go over and see Danny Lewis."

"Sure," said Barry, "I'll be glad to go with you."

He remembered with pleasure Joe Hart's kindness to the Lewis family, and he wanted to meet Danny, the messenger boy, concerning whom he had heard so much from his fellow page. They found Danny at home, and they spent the evening with him in the cosy sitting room of the little house. Danny proved to be a bright, intelligent chap, with a sense of humor and Barry liked him very much. Presently he recounted some of the odd experiences he had undergone in the service of the telegraph company.

"I suppose they keep you very busy," suggested Barry.

"Rather," smiled Danny, "and lately it's getting so that we don't have a minute to spare."

"Why?"

[Pg 145]

"Well, for one thing, those Green Island boomers keep us on the jump."

Barry was interested at once.

"I suppose they have a great many telegrams," he said.

"Suppose is no word for it," replied the boy; "it's a stern reality."

"They're hustlers," conceded Barry.

"Yes, and they're fighters, too."

"Fighters?"

"Yes; fist fighters."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, when I was delivering a telegram this morning, the chairman of the delegation got into a dispute with one of the other men and it ended in a rough and tumble fight."

Barry was absorbed.

"What was it about?"

"Oh, this fellow accused the chairman of freezing him out; said his land was good as any other, and if they didn't take him in, he'd raise trouble—only he used a stronger word than trouble."

[Pg 146]

Barry was on his feet now and had his hand on Danny's shoulder.

"Did—did you hear the fellow's name?"

"Sure; his name was Gaskill—they called him Billy Gaskill."

"Boys," said Barry; "I hope you'll excuse me. I've got an important engagement."

Joe laughed.

"You're getting to be an important man."

Barry smiled back as he reached for his hat.

"If you knew what this meant, you wouldn't make fun of me, Joe," he said.

Joe waved his hand magnanimously.

"It's all right, Barry. You can do as you please, and no questions asked."

From the house of Danny Lewis the page boy hastened to John Carlton's hotel. It was late, and the Congressman was preparing to retire.

"Hello, Barry," he cried, "what in the world do you want at this hour of the night?"

The page boy, in a few quick, jerky sentences told him what he had heard from Danny[Pg 147] Lewis. Moreover, he said he had learned that Billy Gaskill was still at the Olympic, and most important of all that he continued in a bad humor.

Congressman Carlton went to the telephone and called up the office of Felix Conway.

"Can you come here?" he asked.

"If you need me."

"I've got some big news for you."

After that the legislator insisted that Barry should go home.

"You go and get your rest," he said. "There's nothing more that you can do for me tonight. See me the first thing in the morning."

The following morning each of the newspapers served by Felix Conway contained an article denouncing the Green Island bill for a Naval Repair Station as a sordid scheme, backed by a combination of unscrupulous land speculators. It did not mince words, and it caused a genuine sensation at the Capitol. Mr. Hartman, the Congressman from the Green[Pg 148] Island district, was amazed. He never had much faith in the bill, but he had supposed that it was legitimate at least. He hurried to the Olympic Hotel and presented himself to Dwight Whalley, the chairman of the Green Island boomers.

"See here, Whalley," cried the disturbed Congressman, "have you read these articles about the Green Island site?"

"Have I?" echoed the Chairman, "I should say so. We've all read them."

"Well, what have you got to say?"

"Say? Why that I'm as mad as a hatter; we're all mad as hatters."

Mr. Hartman waved his hand wearily.

"I don't care anything about feelings. I want to know whether the story is true."

"True?" he repeated. "Surely you don't intend to pay any attention to a sensational newspaper article."

"Don't you?"

"No; certainly not."

"Very well; now, I know what to do."

[Pg 149]

"Mr. Hartman; Mr. Hartman!" called the Chairman.

But the Congressman was already out of sight. Before noon that day a statement appeared, over the signature of Mr. Hartman, in which he disclaimed all further interest in the legislation affecting Green Island. This added fuel to the fire. Before the Committee met that afternoon nearly everyone in and around the Capitol appeared to be interested in the fight over the Naval Repair Station.

Carlton was on hand very early. Prior to the meeting he held several whispered conversations with Felix Conway. He was here, there and everywhere. There was an air of aggressiveness about him that boded no good for the opposition.

"He seems ready for the battle," suggested one of the Committeemen to another.

"Yes," was the reply. "He's ready to fight at the drop of the hat."

The Committee was called to order, and the clerk read the Green Island amendment as[Pg 150] offered by Congressman Collins. The moment he finished Jesse Hudson got the floor:

"I move that the amendment be adopted," he said.

Carlton was on his feet instantly.

"I think," he said, in purring tones, "that the gentleman has not had the opportunity of reading the articles that appeared in this morning's newspapers, otherwise I'm sure he would not favor this legislation."

"I've no time to read sensational newspapers," snapped Hudson.

"Then I'll have to enlighten the gentleman," said Carlton, still very polite.

"How?"

Instead of answering Hudson, the man from Maine looked about him inquiringly:

"Is Mr. William Douglass in the room?" he called.

In response a square-jawed man advanced to the desk of the Chairman.

"Gentlemen," said Carlton, looking about him smilingly, "Mr. Douglass lives on Green[Pg 151] Island, and with your permission I want to ask him one or two questions about the Green Island site."

"This seems irregular," protested Hudson.

"It may seem irregular," was the retort, "but you'll find it will be all right."

"What do you hope to demonstrate through Mr. Douglass?" asked the Chairman.

"That this whole Green Island proposition is a land speculation scheme," retorted the Congressman sternly.

The members all looked up at this grave statement. Everyone was paying the closest attention.

"Now, Mr. Douglass," said Carlton, "you're well acquainted with this property, are you not?"

"I know every inch of the ground."

"Do you know the owners of it?"

"I did know the old owners."

"What do you mean by the old owners?"

"I mean that the entire property has changed hands during the last few months."

[Pg 152]

"Since it first became known that the Government intended to build a Naval Repair Station?"

"Exactly."

"Now, Mr. Douglass, these new owners are offering this property to the Government for one hundred dollars an acre. What did they pay for the land?"

"Less than twenty-five dollars an acre."

"That's all," said Carlton, promptly.

There was a hum of excited voices. Hudson protested that the price of the land had nothing to do with the case, but his argument was lost in the din. A ballot was called for, and the Green Island amendment was overwhelmingly beaten, only two votes being recorded in its favor.


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