Read CHAPTER I of Fred Fearnot's New Ranch and How He and Terry Managed It , free online book, by Hal Standish, on ReadCentral.com.

Fearnot and Olcott at Freedonia.

Fearnot and Olcott remained in Wall Street after the great excitement occasioned, by Fred’s sudden change of front, when he turned from a bull to a bear in the market, quietly waiting for another chance to make a deal.

All the brokers in the Street had nothing else to talk about for the time being but that singular event, and it became well known that the brokers who had been attempting to crush him the second time narrowly escaped being themselves completely ruined.

Although Fred and Terry didn’t reap the benefit of the change as much as they expected, they made a neat little sum, and Broker Bellamy, who had been Fred’s most persistent enemy, was so badly crippled that many brokers thought he was completely ruined.

His two nephews, thinking that Fred had been too harsh with their uncle, hired a couple of thugs to give him a good beating, but the news of their intention having reached Fred’s ears, Terry kept inside the typewriter’s room an hour after the close of business for some time.

One afternoon the thugs entered the room and the leader fell into Fred’s terrible grip, and he squeezed his ribs so fiercely that several of them were broken. The wounded slugger’s pal was roundly thrashed, too, by Terry, who couldn’t resist the temptation to take a hand in it, but he was permitted to take his friend out to the hospital.

The building was so nearly deserted at the time that the news did not get out.

The two young nephews of Broker Bellamy on learning of the failure of their hired assassins, immediately sailed from New York for parts unknown, and all Wall Street became interested in the question of what had become of them, where they had gone and why they had left the city between sunset and sunrise.

Fred and Terry believed that they knew just why they had gone away, but, of course, had no idea where they had gone.

Broker Bellamy, who was very fond of his two stalwart nephews, intimated that he believed that Fred and Terry knew what had become of them, and, from that, the gossips began saying that the old broker had charged Fred and Terry with making way with his two nephews. At first Fred and Terry laughed at it, and so did all Wall Street. Nobody believed it except their enemies, who were willing to believe anything to their discredit.

Terry finally called up Broker Bellamy and took him to task for starting such a report that they had had some hand in making way with his nephews, but the old man, of course, denied the charge, whereupon Terry told him of the hired sluggers who had attacked Fred in his office, and how their attack had proved an absolute failure.

One of the sluggers had died from being shot by a crook after making confession to one of the surgeons that he had been hired by the two Bellamy boys, and that therefore he ought to understand why his nephews had absconded from the city.

The old fellow was dumfounded, and it was probably true when he denied that he knew anything about the attack on Fearnot, and so he refused to make any retraction whatever.

Then Terry wrote an account of the whole incident and had it published in one of the big dailies. This was a shock to the entire city.

Terry obtained an affidavit from one of the surgeons who had treated the wounded man in the hospital and one also from the other thug who had witnessed and taken part in the attack corroborating the charge that Terry had made.

It came very near ruining the old broker, who already had many enemies in the Street, and it gradually forced him to retire.

After that Fred and Terry took part in several more little deals, some of which panned out pretty well, while others profited them little or nothing; but in the aggregate they had gathered in a pretty good sum during the season, and they decided that they were pretty well paid for their return to Wall Street; so they finally decided to go back down into Texas to look after their new ranch and try to add another thousand head of cattle to their herd.

They wrote Jack that they were going to return south, and as soon as Jack received their letter he promptly wired back to them to stay there until he joined them, as he intended to come up after his mother and to marry Katy Malone, who was still working in the office with Louise Crane.

“Great Scott, Terry!” said Fred. “Jack has finished his house by this time, and now he is in a hurry to get his mother and sweetheart down there with him.”

“Well, I don’t blame him, Fred. Katy is a sweet girl and dead in love with him, while his mother wants her along as a companion.”

“Very true; but, Terry, I fear that he is making a mistake.”

“Don’t say anything about that, Fred,” advised Terry, “for it would hurt both his and her feelings, and probably his mother’s. I don’t see how it is possible that his house can be finished ready for occupancy in such a short time.”

“Neither do I, and I’m going to wire to him and ask him if the house is finished, and if it isn’t I’ll just advise him to postpone his trip North until it is.” So he wired to Crabtree, and the dispatch was sent down the road by the operator to him.

Jack promptly answered the question by saying that the house was not yet finished, and would not be for several months yet, but that his mother and Katy could find comfortable quarters in one of the other houses.

Fred immediately wired back:

“Take my advice, Jack, and wait until the house is finished and furnished.”

The next morning he received a reply from Jack, saying:

“All right, sir, I’ll wait.”

“Terry, that boy is no fool,” Fred remarked, as he showed him the dispatch.

“Now, Terry,” said Fred, “let’s see if we can’t persuade Evelyn and Mary to go back with us down there. We can keep them at the hotel in Crabtree, supply them with a carriage and a pair of horses, and you know it is not absolutely necessary for us to live out on the ranch entirely yet. Then, too, we are well enough supplied with money now to entertain them in good style, as well as to add another thousand head of cattle to our herd.”

“Fred, that would suit you all right, for I have no doubt but that Evelyn would be glad to go, but I am afraid that Mrs. Hamilton will refuse to give her consent to Mary’s going out there, and I am sure, too, that she will never consent to our marriage if I intend to bring her down here to live. She seems to have a holy horror of Texas; for that state has the name, you know, all over this part of the country as being a place for which all law-breakers leave when the sheriff gets after them. We had that idea, too, until we stayed down there among them for a few months; but there are no better people in the world, on an average, than we have found the citizens of Texas to be.”

“Well, Terry, let’s take a run up to Fredonia and have a talk with the girls and their mothers. We may be able to persuade Mrs. Hamilton to our way of thinking.” So a few days later they took the train up to Fredonia, without having notified the girls of their intention of doing so.

It so happened that on that very day Evelyn and Mary took a ride over on Main street, and when they had finished their little shopping Evelyn suggested that they drive up to the depot and see the train pass.

They did so, and were never more surprised in their lives than when they saw Fred and Terry emerge from the cars.

“Oh, Mary!” exclaimed Evelyn, “there are Fred and brother!”

“Where? Where?” Mary questioned.

“Why, don’t you see them coming there with their valises in their hands?” and the two girls threw their arms around each other’s necks and kissed each other in their great joy at seeing their sweethearts.

Fred and Terry saw the carriage and at once left the station platform and started toward it.

Evelyn sprang out of the carriage, ran to Terry, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him only as a loving sister can.

Fred dropped his valise, and, catching her in his arms, kissed her on both cheeks, while probably a score of spectators stood looking on; but then neither of them cared for that, for every man, woman and child in Fredonia knew of their engagement.

“Dear,” said Fred, “how did you know that we were coming up?”

“Fred, I really can’t say. Mary and I were down on Main street shopping. Suddenly the thought of you and brother came into my head and my heart suggested that we come up here, although both of us were ignorant that you boys were coming up on that train.”

“Well, bless that dear heart,” said Fred, as he assisted her into the carriage.

Of course, the Olcott and Hamilton families were greatly surprised.

Fred explained to Evelyn that he and Terry had succeeded in their deals down in Wall Street and had almost recovered from their losses caused by failure of the Texas bank, and that they were thinking of going back down to Texas to look after their new ranch and to try to add another thousand head of cattle to their herd.

“And you came up to tell us good-by, eh?”

“Well, we came up to see you girls, but about that I’ll tell you later.”

Neither of the boys went over into town during that day. They were satisfied to remain with their sweethearts, and their sweethearts were more than pleased to have them do so. Both the girls were highly pleased with the report they made as to their financial success in Wall Street.

“Fred,” said Evelyn, “why not defer your return to Texas until cold weather, when I would be glad to go down with you and brother and spend the winter there, for I enjoyed myself splendidly last winter. The people were kind and sociable.”

“Yes, indeed, we have found them so. When we left there, as I told you when we first came up, we were loaded down with loving messages for you from the best society people there at Crabtree, but I never saw Wall Street so dull in my life. I’ve had my revenge over the worst enemy I ever had there; but you know all about that, for you were down at the office at the time I changed front and got the best of Broker Bellamy and his syndicate.”

“Yes, and I actually felt sorry for the old rascal. I don’t enjoy other people’s distress, Fred.”

“No I know that; but I tell you that sometimes revenge is sweet. We didn’t make as much out of that deal as we expected to, but still we have no right to complain. We have not only saved ourselves from financial embarrassment, but have money enough left to add another thousand head of cattle to the ranch and to build any kind of a house that would suit you.”

“Suit me!” said she. “Are you expecting to make that your future home, Fred?”

“I’ll leave that with you, dear. If you insist upon it we can live elsewhere and do as we did on the Colorado ranch, leaving faithful men to manage it for us.”

“Fred, I could live contentedly anywhere in the world where you are satisfied and can make money.

“Mrs. Hamilton, however,” she continued, “is horrified at the idea of Mary living so far from her. She has a great fear of the climate of Texas, and she thinks the people, too, down there are nearly half savages.”

“Well, can’t you tell her better than that?”

“I have told her all about how I found the people down there at Crabtree, but she says I was there at a hotel where only people of refinement live, and that I know nothing about the people out in the country. I laughed at her and asked her if she knew anything about them herself, and she retorted that everybody who read newspapers knew what sort of people lived down there.”

“Well, dear, Terry and I have come up to see if we could persuade you and Mary to go down there with us and spend the fall and winter.”

“Fred, I am perfectly willing to go anywhere that brother goes along with us, and I will do my best to get Mrs. Hamilton’s consent for Mary to go, for she has never been down in that section of the country.”

“Well, you go, anyhow,” suggested Fred. “I want you to see the new ranch. I wouldn’t think of making a home at the ranch we looked at when we went down to Crabtree. The one that we afterwards bought as an investment is the one I mean. I believe that we can, eventually, build up a little place of resort about that big, bold mineral spring just a mile from the railroad track, and I intend to have the water analyzed. The physicians claim down there that it has been partially analyzed and is said to be the finest water in the South, but I am going to send a bottle of the water to a chemist in New York or Philadelphia who has an established reputation and have him analyze it.

“I do hope, though,” he added, “that you will plead with Mrs. Hamilton for her consent to let Mary go down and see the country.”

That evening the two boys spent with their sweethearts at their respective homes.

Terry then told Mary what he wanted her to do, saying that Evelyn was going down with him and Fred to see their Texas ranch, and he wanted her to go, too.

“Mary,” said he, “it is the richest ranch I ever saw in my life. We thought the one in Colorado was a grand one, and so it was, but the grass there was never so abundant or so nutritious as at our new ranch. It grows much taller, keeps fresh and green longer, and the soil itself is several degrees richer than the Colorado ranch. You never so many quail in your life as you can see there every day in the week all the year round. There are prairie chickens, and there are ten jack-rabbits there to one in Colorado.”

“But, Terry, last winter you wrote me about some bad Mexican and American cowboys who had made trouble for you.”

“Yes, but didn’t we have the same trouble out in Colorado? Didn’t I point out to you several times in Colorado the graves of horse thieves and cattle thieves whom our cowboys had shot to prevent them from plundering our ranch? Are not murders committed right here in New York City often, and don’t you read of them in the papers? Why, there is no place in the country where bad men don’t live, and bad women, too, for that matter; and by this time those cowboys have found out that Fred and I, as well as Jack, are deadshots and not afraid to pull a trigger on a bad character, so you can’t say anything against that locality any more than you can any other in the West.”

“Terry, is Evelyn going back with you?” she asked.

“Yes she has said that she would, but she wants you to go, too.”

“Terry, I’m afraid that mother will never consent.”

“By George, Mary, she must consent,” said Terry. “I’m not going to let her destroy my happiness.”

“Well, Terry, you will have to talk with her yourself.”

“That’s just what Fred and I came up to do, dear. Of course, we couldn’t take you against her consent until after you and I are married, and if she won’t consent to your accompanying Evelyn down there, why I’ll hurry back as soon as I can get the home ready for you, marry you and away we’ll go to just where we darn please!”

The next day Fred and Terry made a combined attack on Mrs. Hamilton trying to gain her consent for Mary to go down and spend the fall and winter in Texas with Evelyn, but she was firm in her refusal, saying that Mary had spent “nearly half her time for several years away from home, and that she was opposed to her going so far south, anyway.”

Both Fred and Terry had to finally give it up in despair. Evelyn said that she would go down with them, as she had never enjoyed herself more, even up at New Era, than she had at Crabtree.

She said, too, that she had never met up with more refined people than she had there. Mary, of course, cried herself sick and begged piteously for permission to accompany Evelyn. Mrs. Hamilton, though, put up all sorts of excuses. When she mentioned the matter of expense Evelyn said that Mary could go as her guest, and that she need not spend one nickel for anything.

“Besides, mother,” pleaded Mary, “I have money of my own, you know, and surely, as I am of age, I should be permitted to spend some of it just as I please.”