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A Poor Wise Man

Chapter 45
Election night found various groups in various places. In the back room of the
Eagle Pharmacy was gathered once again the neighborhood forum, a wildly
excited forum, which ever and anon pounded Mr. Hendricks on the back, and
drank round after round of soda water and pop. Doctor Smalley, coming in rather
late found them all there, calling Mr. Hendricks "Mr. Mayor" or "Your Honor,"
reciting election anecdotes, and prophesying the end of the Reds. Only Willy
Cameron, sitting on a table near the window, was silent.
Mr. Hendricks, called upon for a speech, rose with his soda water glass in his
hand.
"I've got a toast for you, boys," he said. "You've been talking all evening about
my winning this election. Well, I've been elected, but I didn't win it. It was the
plain people of this town who elected me, and they did it because my young
friend on the table yonder told them to." He raised his glass. "Cameron!" he said.
"Cameron! Cameron!" shouted the crowd. "Speech! Cameron!"
But Willy shook his head.
"I haven't any voice left," he said, "and you've heard me say all I know a dozen
times. The plain truth is that Mr. Hendricks got the election because he was the
best man, and enough people knew it. That's all."
To Mr. Hendricks the night was one of splendid solemnity. He felt at once very
strong and very weak, very proud and very humble. He would do his best, and if
honesty meant anything, the people would have it, but he knew that honesty was
not enough. The city needed a strong man; he hoped that the Good Man who
made cities as He made men, both evil and good, would lend him a hand with
things. As prayer in his mind was indissolubly connected with church, he made
up his mind to go to church the next Sunday and get matters straightened out.
At the same time another group was meeting at the Benedict.
Louis Akers had gone home early. By five o'clock he knew that the chances were
against him, but he felt a real lethargy as to the outcome. He had fought, and
fought hard, but it was only the surface mind of him that struggled. Only the
surface mind of him hated, and had ambitions, dreamed revenge. Underneath
that surface mind was a sore that ate like a cancer, and that sore was his
desertion by Lily Cardew. For once in his life he suffered, who had always
inflicted pain.
 
 
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