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The Brick Moon and Other Stories
Edward Everett Hale
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Thanksgiving At The Polls
A Thanksgiving Story
Frederick Dane was on his way towards what he called his home. His home, alas, was but
an indifferent attic in one of the southern suburbs of Boston. He had been walking; but he
was now standing still, at the well-known corner of Massachusetts and Columbus
As often happens, Frederick Dane had an opportunity to wait at this corner a quarter of an
hour. As he looked around him on the silent houses, he could not but observe the polling-
booth, which a watchful city government had placed in the street, a few days before, in
preparation for the election which was to take place three weeks afterward. Dane is of an
inquiring temper, and seeing that the polling-booth had a door and the door had a
keyhole, he tried in the keyhole a steel key which he had picked up in Dock Square the
day before. Almost to his surprise, the key governed the lock at once, and he found
himself able to walk in.
He left the door wide open, and the gaslight streaming in revealed to him the aspect of the
cells arranged for Australian voting. The rails were all in their places, and the election
might take place the very next day. It instantly occurred to Dane that he might save the
five cents which otherwise he would have given to his masters of the street railway, and
be the next morning three miles nearer his work, if he spent the night in the polling-cabin.
He looked around for a minute or two, and found some large rolls of street posters, which
had been left there by some disappointed canvasser the year before, and which had
accompanied one cell of the cabin in its travels. Dane is a prompt man, and, in a minute
more, he had locked the door behind him, had struck a wax taper which he had in his
cigar-box, had rolled the paper roll out on the floor, to serve as a pillow. In five minutes
more, covered with his heavy coat, he lay on the floor, sleeping as soundly as he had slept
the year before, when he found himself on the lee side of an iceberg under Peary's
This is perhaps unnecessary detail, by way of saying that this is the beginning of the
arrangement which a city, not very intelligent, will make in the next century for unsettled
people, whose own houses are not agreeable to them. There exist in Boston at this
moment three or four hundred of the polling-booths,--nice little houses, enough better
than most of the peasantry of most of Europe ever lived in. They are, alas, generally
packed up in lavender and laid away for ten months of the year. But in the twentieth
century we shall send them down to the shores of islands and other places where people
like to spend the summer, and we shall utilize them, not for the few hours of an election
only, but all the year round. This will not then be called "Nationalism," it will be called
"Democracy;" and that is a very good name when it is applied to a very good thing.