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CHAPTER XXVI THE HOME COMING
It was the last day of the session, and everyone at the Capitol was laboring under a great strain. The national legislators, with characteristic unwisdom, were trying to crowd the work of three or four weeks into three or four hours.

Several important bills remained to be acted upon. One of these was the General Appropriation bill, which included among its numerous items, a provision to pay for the erection of the Naval Repair Station at Cleverly.

As John Carlton was going into the Capitol with Barry Wynn by his side, Felix Conway greeted the man and the boy:

"How are you feeling after the battle?" he cried.

"Fine," was the genial response of the Congressman.

[Pg 341]

"Do you think your bill will go through all right this morning?"

"Sure! It becomes a part of what we call the omnibus bill, and as that measure provides for a dozen different objects, I think there will be a general disposition to let it go through without any further change."

Conway shook his head.

"That sounds all right, but if I were you I'd keep my eye on Hudson."

"Oh, Hudson's all right," declared Carlton, "he assured me a little while ago that he would vote for the bill."

Conway looked puzzled.

"Well, that's funny," he said, finally.

"Nothing funny about it. Why, at the session only last night I voted for a bill that he was interested in."

The journalist seemed petrified with astonishment. When he was able to voice his feeling he emitted two startled words:

"You did!"

"Certainly, I did. It was a proper bill and[Pg 342] one that should have been passed. I harbor no resentment against Hudson. He is human, that's all; only he was a little more human than most people. He thought I had done him a wrong and he tried to get even with me. I must admit that I do not particularly admire his methods, but I can assure you that I cherish no resentment whatever against him."

Conway whistled—his favorite way of expressing unusual emotion.

"What did Hudson say when you voted with him?"

Carlton laughed.

"He came over and thanked me. He did more than that. He said he was sorry that he had struck below the belt and promised me he would never do it again."

Conway looked at his friend with undisguised admiration.

"Well," he said, "it's no wonder that you are successful. A man who is as charitable as you are doesn't deserve to have any enemies."

[Pg 343]

The trio laughingly separated, and Carlton hurried into the House, followed by his young friend. He busied himself at his desk for a few minutes and then said:

"Barry, that omnibus bill will go through in a few minutes and after it has been signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, I want you to take it in to a gentleman sitting at a desk in that room yonder."

He pointed to a little doorway leading to an apartment finished in marble. Barry was about to ask who the gentleman was when his attention was distracted by a Congressman calling to him.

The greatest commotion prevailed in the House. Everyone seemed to be doing a different thing at the same time. The Speaker pounded his desk; the clerk called the roll; members indulged in short, snappy debates, while the page boys rushed in every direction, tripping over each other's heels and otherwise adding to the general din and confusion. But in spite of the appearance of chaos, the [Pg 344]members had settled down to business and were engaged in steadily passing upon bills that yet remained to be considered. Minor legislation, of course, was out of the question. Only three or four of the big bills, like the General Appropriation bill, the Naval programme, the Public Buildings bill, and the Rivers and Harbors bill, were given a place on the calendar.

The House had been in session about an hour when the Speaker summoned Barry Wynn to his side. He had a document before him and had just finished appending his signature to it.

"Barry," he said, in a kindly tone, "take this bill over to the presiding officer of the Senate and have him place his autograph directly below my own."

The page boy did as he was told and returned in a few minutes. The Clerk of the House, who seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, beckoned to him as soon as he reached the desk.

"Go right into that room," he said, "and get the final signature to this piece of legislation."

[Pg 345]

Barry wonderingly followed instructions. He opened the door leading into the marble room and was greeted by a clerk, who motioned him toward a pleasant looking gentleman, who sat at a big table, signing bills as fast as they were handed to him. He told Barry to take a seat and glanced over the bill hastily. After that he accepted a pen which was handed to him by one of the bystanders and placed his autograph at the bottom of the bill. It only needed a glance to tell Barry that he was once again in the presence of the President of the United States. He beckoned to Barry. The boy went to his side, and the Chief Magistrate handed him the pen with which he had signed the bill.

"My son," he said, "take this home with you as a souvenir. I understand that you have been very much interested in this legislation, and I think you deserve this little token as a reminder of the success of John Carlton and yourself."

Barry, beaming with delight, hurried to his[Pg 346] patron and friend and told him what had taken place. The Congressman smiled indulgently.

"He told me he would do it," he said, in a musing tone, "and I never yet knew him to forget a promise."

Congress sat in session until very late that night, but at the suggestion of Congressman Carlton, Barry made arrangements to return home on the first train the following day. Mrs. Johnson helped him to pack his trunk and he left her home-like boarding house with a feeling of genuine regret. But when he went to the train he did not go alone. He took with him his good friend and confidant, Joe Hart, who, after much urging, had consented to spend a fortnight at the Wynn home in Cleverly. To the delight of the two boys, John Carlton was on the same train and with him was his enthusiastic admirer, Felix Conway.

All four were destined to be treated to a surprise when they reached the little railroad station at Cleverly. The train had scarcely slowed up when the blare of a brass band was[Pg 347] heard, and looking out, the embarrassed Congressman discovered that almost the entire population of the city had come to the station to welcome him home and to celebrate his success in winning the new Naval Repair Station for his native place.

Barry's mother was on the platform, in the forefront of the crowd, and he leaped from the train and was soon locked in her arms. In the meantime the procession was forming; an open barouche, drawn by two black horses, had been provided for John Carlton, and Felix Conway, because of his loyalty and devotion to Carlton, was given a seat beside the Congressman. Daniel Smithers, school teacher and philosopher, was chief marshal of the procession, an honor that he carried blushingly and with all due modesty. His assistants were Postmaster Ford and Hiram Blake.

Chief Marshal Smithers, as if by inspiration, insisted that Barry Wynn and Joe Hart, should Occupy the other seat in the carriage with Congressman Carlton and Felix Conway. They[Pg 348] climbed in amidst the applause of the crowd, and in a few minutes the procession had started on its way, while the band played in quick succession, "Hail to the Chief," "The Star Spangled Banner," and "There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight."

Up one street and down another it proceeded, the enthusiasm growing more intense with each passing minute. Presently they passed the home of Barry Wynn, and at that point the crowd, as if in sympathy with the significance of the occasion, redoubled its cheers and applause. As the barouche, containing the four chief persons in the parade, passed on its way, Barry instinctively turned his head, and the last thing he saw with his tear-dimmed eyes, was the figure of his dear mother standing on the edge of the porch, frantically waving a tiny lace handkerchief.

The End


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