All right

General Chick did not wait long at the armory after his verbal
encounter with Sergeant Barriscale. He knew that he could accomplish
nothing by remaining there, and he had a feeling that if he could only
see McCormack and talk the situation over with him some plan might be
evolved by which threatened defeat would be averted.

He shuffled across the armory floor and out through the big front door
under the tower into the street.

He wondered whether Ben Barriscale really knew what he was talking
about when he claimed to have a majority of seven votes, or whether
his declaration was simply a bluff made for the effect it might have
on his listeners. But he had seemed so confident; his campaign had
been so thorough and systematic, that now, at the close of it, he was
more than likely to be correct in his estimate of the result. It was a
disheartening conclusion to reach, but it was a conclusion that could
not well be avoided. At any rate there was but one thing to do now, and
that was to see Sergeant McCormack, tell him of his rival’s boast, and
consider what, if anything, could be done.

He knew where McCormack lived, and he knew what route to take to get
there. It was already after nine o’clock, and there was no time to
lose. It was a splendid, moonlight August night and there were many
people in the streets. On the bridge that crossed the river a dozen
loiterers stood, singly and in pairs, watching the shimmer of moonlight
on the passing waters. One of them spoke to Chick as he hurried by,
but the boy did not stop to respond; he gave a quick word of greeting
and moved rapidly on. With every step that he took he grew more
and more impressed with the importance of his errand, and with the
necessity of haste in delivering it. He felt that the sooner he could
reach McCormack the greater would be the possibility of averting the
threatened disaster.

In front of the Fairweather Club a man stood in evening clothes,
anxiously scanning the faces of those who passed by. When he saw Chick
coming a look of relief spread over his countenance.

“Chick!” he called, “you’re just the man I’m looking for. I want you to
take a letter to Mayor Toplady for me. It’s got to be delivered before
ten o’clock.”

Chick paused long enough to reply.

“Can’t do it,” he said. “Ain’t got time.”

“There’s a dollar in it for you. You can take the next car that comes
along. You’ll get there in twenty minutes.”

Chick opened his eyes wide. There were not many days in the year in
which he earned a whole dollar. But to-night the offer did not tempt

“I’d like to ’commodate you,” he said; “but it’s jest as I told you; I
ain’t got time. I’m in too much of a hurry.”

“I’ll give you two dollars, Chick. It isn’t every man that comes along
that I can trust. And this is important.”

But the boy was still obdurate.

“I tell you I can’t do it!” he exclaimed. “If they was fifty dollars in
it for me I couldn’t do it. I’ve got an important errant myself.”

And, for the purpose of shutting off further argument and entreaty, he
hurried on.

At the next corner he could take a street-car that would carry him to
within three blocks of McCormack’s home. He thrust his hand into his
pocket for the necessary nickel and found, to his dismay, that he was
penniless. So there was nothing for him to do but to walk the mile up
the hill, unless he could quickly find some one who would lend him
the required car fare. At that moment, as good luck would have it, he
discovered Corporal Manning, of Company E, just entering Wolf’s drug
store. He knew that Manning would lend him the money, for Manning was a
friend of his and had already done him more than one favor. Moreover,
he believed that the corporal was friendly to McCormack and would favor
his candidacy.

As Chick entered the drug store Manning was just seating himself on one
of the revolving stools at the soda-fountain counter. He saw the boy
and called to him.

“Just in time, Chick!” he exclaimed. “Come and have a soda on me.”

Now the love of soda-water was Chick’s besetting sin. He himself
acknowledged that far too many of his hard-earned nickels went to
appease his desire for his favorite drink. But to-night, even though a
sudden thirst overwhelmed him, he put the temptation resolutely aside.

“No,” he said, “I’m jest as much obleeged to you, but I ain’t got time.
I’ve got use for the nickel, though,” he added, shuffling up to the
counter, “if you’d lend me one till to-morrow.”

“Sure!” replied Manning, cheerfully. “Make it a dime.” He produced the
coin and handed it to the boy. “But what’s the great hurry?”

Chick looked cautiously over the near-by patrons of the place before
answering. No one was within hearing. Perhaps he might get a valuable

“Well,” he whispered, “I’m goin’ up to see Sergeant ’Cormack.
Somethin’s got to be done right off.”

“Why? What’s the matter?”

“I jest heard Sergeant Barry say he’s goin’ to beat my candidate by
seven votes. He told the bunch up to the armory. I can’t stan’ that.
We’ve got to do somethin’ quick.”

Manning set his glass back deliberately on the counter.

“I don’t believe it!” he said. “He’s just throwing a bluff. Charlie
Moore and I went over the whole situation not more than half an hour
ago; and the way we figure it Hal will come under the wire with three
votes to spare.”

“You countin’ on Stone an’ Hooper?”

“Sure, we’re counting on them.”

“That’s where you’re way off. They’re for Barry.”

“It can’t be. They’re as good as promised for Hal.”

“Well, I heard Stone say, myself, that him and Hooper was for Barry
because they had to be.”

Corporal Manning sat for a moment in grim silence. “Then I don’t know,”
he said finally, “who you can depend on. Maybe Barriscale will get away
with it after all. He’s a crack-a-jack at wire-pulling. Did you say
there’s a bunch of the boys up at the armory?”

“Yes; dozens of ’em.”

“I guess I’ll go up there myself and see how the land lies.”

“I wisht you would. An’ I’ll go on up to ’Cormack’s an’ see what can be

Chick shuffled hastily out, but Manning rose from his seat, went to the
door, and called after him.

“You tell Hal,” he said, when the boy came back to the step, “that he
can depend absolutely on Charlie Moore and me. I don’t know whether
he’s counting on us. I haven’t promised him anything; but he ought to
know now on whom he can rely.”

“That’s good!” replied Chick; “I’ll tell him.” And he turned again and
hurried away.

Manning stood for a minute in the store door gazing at the crowds in
the street, and then, without going back to finish his soda, he started
toward the armory.

Twenty minutes later Chick rang the door-bell at the McCormack house.
Hal, himself, came to the door, and, when he saw who was there, he drew
the boy into the hall, and then into the library.

“I know it’s perty late for me to be comin’,” began Chick apologetically;
“but I got somethin’ to tell you, an’ it wouldn’t keep over night.”

“About the election, I suppose?” inquired Hal.

“Yes. Sergeant Barry says he’s goin’ to win out to-morrow with seven
votes to spare. He told that to the bunch up to the armory to-night.”

“He must be mistaken, Chick. I’ve figured it out, and according to my
figures I’ll have a majority of three.”

“You countin’ on Stone an’ Hooper?”

“Yes; they’re friends of mine.”

“Well, they’re no good. They’re for Barry. I heard Fred Stone say so

“If that’s so I’ll get left. But I’ve done everything that it’s
possible for any decent fellow to do to get elected, and I’ll have no
regrets on that score.”

It was at this juncture that Miss Sarah Halpert entered into the
conversation. She had been sitting with other members of the family
in an adjoining room, the connecting door of which was wide open, and
evidently she had heard Hal’s remark, for now she came bustling into
the library and stood facing the two boys.

“That’s not so, Hal McCormack!” she declared, “and you know it. You’ve
done precious little to get elected. Why, instead of sitting here at
home to-night calmly reading Karl Marx’s silly book on ‘Kapital,’ you
ought to be out with your coat off and your sleeves rolled up, hustling
for votes, as I’ll warrant you Ben Barriscale is.”

Hal smiled. He seldom took his Aunt Sarah’s scolding seriously. But
to-night she seemed to be more in earnest than usual.

“Why,” she went on, “Chick is worth a dozen of you as a vote-getter.
Here he’s been running his legs off for you for days while you’ve been
dawdling around the house. What is the outlook anyway, Chick?”

“Perty poor, Mrs. Halpert,” was the reply.

Chick always called her “Mrs.” She said she didn’t know why on earth he
did so unless it was because he felt that even if she wasn’t married
she ought to be, so that she would have some one to be continually

“Well, where’s your list, Hal?” she asked. “Let’s look it over again.
We’ll separate the sheep from the goats and put bells on them. Then
we’ll know where they are.”

She crossed over and seated herself in a chair by the table, and
beckoned to the boys to join her there. They did so. And when Hal
produced his list, already checked and rechecked, of the names of the
enlisted men in his company, she went over it with them, name by name,
and from the reports which they gave, and from her own knowledge and
opinions, she drew her conclusions and made her division.

“’Fore I forget it,” said Chick, “Co’poral Manning sent word to tell
you that him an’ Charlie Moore is for you. He thought you might not be
sure of ’em.”

“I wasn’t sure of them,” replied Hal. “It was rather a delicate matter
to approach them, and I didn’t do it.”

“Of course you didn’t!” sputtered Miss Halpert. “And there are
several dozen more whom your extraordinary delicacy and modesty have
prevented you from interviewing. Oh, you’ve made a fine campaign–for
self-effacement!” She turned abruptly to Chick. “Chick,” she asked,
“who are the doubtful ones in this whole list? Just give me their names
and I’ll take them down.”

“What for, Aunt Sarah?” Hal scented trouble.

“I’m going to see every mother’s son of ’em to-morrow morning, and find
out what’s what.”

“But, Aunt Sarah, you promised me—-”

She turned on him sharply.

“My promise was on condition that you should do something for yourself.
And as near as I can make out you haven’t done a blessed thing. Chick,
give me those names.”

Hal groaned in dismay. He knew, from long experience, the utter
uselessness of making further protest.

“Well,” replied Chick, “there’s Maury an’ Steinman an’ Jarvis an’
O’Donnell, an’–an’—-”

“How about Tom Hooper?” inquired Miss Halpert.

“Him an’ Jim Stone’s ag’inst us,” answered Chick.

“What for?”

“No reason ’t I know of, ’cept they’re fixed.”

“Well, they’re not fixed until after I’ve seen them.”

“But,” protested Hal, “you don’t know those fellows, Aunt Sarah.”

“Then,” she replied quickly, “I’ll make their acquaintance. Besides, I
know their mothers, and I guess their mothers will have the last say.
I’ll try it on anyway.”

“Oh, Aunt Sarah! this is not a contest between the mothers of the boys.”

“All right! Make it a contest between their aunts if you like. But the
time has come when I’m going to interfere. Chick, give me the rest of
those names.”

When her request had been complied with, Miss Halpert went over again
with the two boys the entire list and checked up those who were surely
for and those who were surely against the second sergeant, and divided
the doubtful ones according to the probabilities; and Hal was still one
vote short. Then Chick had an idea.

“Where you got Fred Lewis?” he asked.

“He’s against me,” replied Hal. “He works at the Barriscale, and he’s
one of Ben’s right-hand men.”

Chick sat for a moment in contemplative silence.

“I shouldn’t wonder ’at I’ve got a pull with him,” he said finally.

“You’ll have to have a pretty big pull to get him away from Ben,”
replied Hal incredulously. “What do you mean pull, anyway?”

“Oh, I can’t tell you that. It’s somethin’ that him an’ me knows about.
It’s a secret. I’m goin’ to see him anyway.”

He rose from his chair, cap in hand, and faced toward the door.

“Why, Chick!” exclaimed Hal, “you can’t see him to-night. It’s after
half-past ten. He’ll be in bed.”

“Let the boy alone!” broke in Miss Halpert, sharply. “He knows what
he’s about, and you don’t. It’s never too late to get a vote.”

So Chick went out into the night and bent his steps toward the home of
Alfred Lewis, admirer of a girl by the name of Rachael. He, himself,
had no clear idea of what he was going to do or how he was going to do
it. He simply felt that he must find his man if possible, and settle
the question of his vote. Doubtless it was too late in the evening to
see him, as Sergeant McCormack had said; but at least it would do no
harm to try. His way lay across the city, there was no street-car line
reaching in that direction, and it was necessary for him to walk.

When he had accomplished half the distance he found himself out of
breath, and sat down for a little while on the carriage block in front
of a private residence to rest. When he started on again he walked more
slowly. The clock in the tower of the City Hall, a mile away, tolled
out the hour of eleven. He heard it and walked faster. And when he
finally reached the Lewis home he found the house dark, and no one in
the neighborhood. He leaned against the gate where he had left young
Lewis the night he had given him the letter, and wondered what he
should do. Plainly there was but one thing for him to do, and that was
to go home. It would be absurd and unpardonable to rouse the members of
the Lewis household for the purpose of his errand. He faced back toward
the way by which he had come, but before he had moved from his place
he heard the echo of footsteps on the pavement, and discovered a dim
form approaching him. It was a man, and, as he drew near, Chick heard
him whistle softly to himself. He decided to wait till the man should
go by. But the man didn’t go by. He stopped at the gate and looked
inquiringly at the figure standing there.


“Corp’al Lewis!”

The recognition was mutual and simultaneous.

“Chick, are you waiting to see me?”

“Yes, they’s somethin’ I kind o’ want to ast you.”

“All right! Go ahead and ask it. You’ll never find me in a more genial
frame of mind.”

“Well, do you ’member ’bout that letter I found, to a girl name o’

“Do I remember about it! Chick, the finding of that letter has made me
the happiest man on earth.”

“That so?” Chick seemed to be a little incredulous at first, but when
he looked into the beaming face of the young man, as the light from the
incandescent lamp at the corner fell on it, he no longer doubted his

“Yes, let me tell you.” Young Lewis came closer and lowered his voice,
although the street was quiet as an African desert, and every house in
the block was closed and locked for the night. “You see, I took that
letter with me when I went there this evening, and I told her about how
you had found it and given it back to me; and, naturally, she wanted
to see it; so, after a while, I let her read it. And that sort o’
broke the ice, and–well, Chick, that girl by the name of Rachael has
promised to be my wife.”

He straightened up, threw back his head and shoulders, and assumed a
wholly monarchical air.

“That’s fine an’ dandy,” said Chick, not knowing what else to say.

“Yes; and let me tell you what she said, Chick. She said that if any
one else had found the letter, and had shown it, and it had become
public property, as it were, and people had identified me as the writer
and her as the proposed recipient, she wouldn’t have married me in
a thousand years; just to punish me in the first place for my crass
negligence, and in the second place to spite the gossips.”

Chick laughed a little. “She’s got some spunk, ain’t she?” he said.

“You bet she has. So you see where you come in, Chick. She’s under
everlasting obligations to you, and so am I.”

The boy shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and reached out
a caressing hand to the gate-post.

“You ’member,” he asked, “what you promised me the night I give you
back the letter?”

“Sure I do. I promised you I’d do you any favor in my power, any time.”

“Well, you can do it now.”


“Vote for Sergeant ’Cormack to-morrow.”

Fred Lewis looked questioningly into the eyes of his visitor and for a
moment he did not speak. Finally he said:

“Chick, that’s a poser. You know I work in the Barriscale, don’t you?”

“I know it.”

“And I’m looking for promotion there.”

“I s’pose so.”

“And Ben is counting on my vote.”

“Most likely.”

“Then, what can you expect?”

Chick did not answer the question, but he asked another.

“Ain’t promised him nothin’, have you?”

“No, he hasn’t asked me. He’s taken it all for granted.”

“Well, nobody’ll know how anybody votes.”

“That’s true.”

“And you ain’t got nothin’ ag’inst Sergeant ’Cormack?”

“No; he’s a fine fellow, and he’ll make a splendid officer.”

“Then vote for him. I ask you.”

Again young Lewis was silent. Evidently he was weighing the matter in
his mind.

“Chick,” he said at last, “can you keep a secret?”

“I didn’t say nothin’ ’bout the letter, did I?”

“No, that’s right. Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I won’t promise
you a single thing. Mind you, not a single thing. But, Chick, Halpert
McCormack is going to get one vote to-morrow that he’s not expecting.
Do you get me?”

“I got you.”

“All right! Here’s my hand on it. And, Chick, it’s _our_ secret.”

“Criss-cross my heart,” replied Chick.

There was a long hand-clasp, a cheery good-night, and the boy turned
his face toward home. As he went down the hill, and struck into the
deserted Main Street, the clock in the City Hall tower tolled the hour
of twelve.

On Tuesday, the fifth day of October, 1915, Major Mowbray Huntington
came to Fairweather, in pursuance of the order issued to him, to hold
an election for the office of first lieutenant of Company E. The
election was to be held at eight o’clock in the evening of that day, in
the company room at the armory. But, long before the hour for balloting
had arrived, members of the company came strolling in by ones and
twos and began to gather in little groups on the drill floor of the
armory. There was no acrimonious debate, nor was there any exhibition
of violent partisanship. The time for argument and for proselyting had
gone by. But there was intense interest. It was now a question of which
of the two candidates had secured the most prospective votes. Every one
agreed that the contest was fairly close, but Barriscale’s adherents
were confident in their prediction that he would win out by a safe
majority. Nor had Hal’s friends given up hope. They felt that it was
still among the possibilities that he should be elected. At any rate,
he had made a clean, aggressive, splendid fight, and they were proud of
him. He had never been half-hearted in the matter; not from the moment
of his decision to enter the contest. At first he had been contented
simply to announce his candidacy without entering into any active
campaign. But when he learned what a strenuous fight his opponent
was putting up, how he was leaving no stone unturned, no influence
unsolicited, no argument, fair or unfair, unused; he threw himself more
keenly into the contest, enlisted the active support of his friends in
the company, and carried on a vigorous fight up to the very close of
the campaign. And now the final chapter had been reached.

At eight o’clock the assembly was sounded, the men fell in in full
uniform with side-arms, according to military law, the roll was called,
the command turned over to Captain Murray, and the company marched to
the large room on the second floor, where seats had been arranged in
rows for purposes of the election.

At the table at one end of the room sat Major Huntington, flanked on
his right by Captain Murray, and on his left by Second Lieutenant
Brownell, while Corporal Manning, the company clerk, occupied a seat at
one end of the table.

When the clerk had read to the company the order for the election,
Major Huntington arose and said:

“In compliance with the order just read we will now proceed to the
election of a first lieutenant for Company E. It has been certified
to me that your company carries sixty-seven regularly enlisted men on
its roll, all of whom are present in uniform. You therefore have nine
more members than the minimum number required for holding an election.
A candidate must receive at least thirty-four votes in order to be
elected. I understand that there are but two known candidates for the
office, and that printed ballots have been distributed containing their
names. However, lest any man should be without, or should not care to
use, a printed ballot, the clerk will now distribute blank slips to
you, on which a candidate’s name may be written. Five minutes after
this distribution has been made, I shall have the company roll called,
and each man, as his name is spoken, will come forward and deposit his
ballot in the box on the table. I have appointed Captain Murray and
Lieutenant Brownell to be inspectors of the election. After the votes
have been cast they will be counted by us, and the result will be
immediately announced.”

There was some whispering among the men, and a few of them began to
write the name of their candidate on the blank slips which had now
been distributed to them. For the most part, however, the electors sat
quietly with their printed ballots in their hands, awaiting the calling
of the roll.

It was during this lull that Private Stone arose in his place. Stone
was a clerk in the employ of the Barriscale Manufacturing Company, and
a violent partisan of the first sergeant.

“May I ask for information?” he inquired.

“You may,” replied the presiding officer.

“I want to know if, under military law, a man is eligible to election
as first lieutenant over the head of a man who is now his superior
officer, and who is also a candidate?”

“I know of no rule of military law,” replied the chairman, “that denies
his eligibility.”

Friends of McCormack, who had looked up apprehensively when the
question was put, breathed freely again.

“Then I want to know,” continued Stone, “if it is according to military
custom for an under officer to be promoted like that?”

“As a general thing,” replied Major Huntington, “officers go up in
accordance with their existing rank. But it is not contrary to military
ethics to jump grades. The members of a company have a perfect right,
if they choose to do so, to elevate a private to the captaincy over the
heads of all intervening officers.”

But Stone was persistent.

“Do you think,” he asked, “that things like that are for ‘the good of
the service’? Isn’t it better for military discipline that men should
work their way up in regular order?”

“That,” replied the major, “is a matter that I cannot discuss with you
at this time. You must settle that for yourselves, by your ballots.”

Stone resumed his seat, somewhat crestfallen, amid the smiles of those
who were not in sympathy with him. But no sooner was he seated than
Hooper, another ardent Barriscale supporter, sprang to his feet. It was
evident that Hooper was laboring under considerable excitement.

“One of the candidates here,” he declared, “is known to be a socialist
and a companion of radicals who are opposed to all government. He
doesn’t believe in the use of the military to suppress riot and
disorder, nor in the punishment of any one who deliberately insults our
flag. He is unpatriotic and un-American, and unsafe to be entrusted
with the command of troops. Have we any right, legal or moral, to elect
such a person as our first lieutenant?”

Before the last word was out of Hooper’s mouth, and before the chairman
could make any response, Private Moore, a warm friend of McCormack’s,
was on his feet.

“That’s slander!” he shouted, “and Hooper knows it. There’s no better
soldier in the Guard, nor any more loyal citizen in this country than
Sergeant Halpert McCormack; and it’s contemptible of you”–turning
toward Hooper with red face and eyes blazing with indignation–“I say
it’s contemptible of you even to intimate to the contrary.”

Under Moore’s fierce gaze and emphatic language Hooper wilted and
resumed his seat.

Then Barriscale, himself, sprang into the breach. It was apparent that
his lieutenants were not standing to their guns with the force and
pertinacity that he had expected of them, and that he, himself, must
leap in and push the argument home. Major Huntington, the chairman, had
already raised his gavel, as if to shut off further discussion, but,
apparently, having permitted Moore to be heard, he thought it was not
wise to silence Barriscale. So the gavel did not fall.

“It’s no slander!” declared Barriscale, dramatically. “What Hooper
says is all true, and he hasn’t begun to tell it all either. I’ve
investigated. I know this man’s record. And I tell you that he comes
little short of being a full-fledged anarchist. He would put the red
flag, to-day, above the Stars and Stripes. I give notice, now, that
when this thing is over, either he will be dismissed from the Guard or
I will. I shall refuse to serve in the same company—-”

He got no further. The buzz which had begun at the end of his first
half dozen words had risen to a prolonged hiss, and it now deepened
into a perfect roar of disapproval. Men on both sides sprang to their
feet clamoring to be heard.

It was then, for the first time, that the chairman’s gavel fell; and it
fell with a crash that evidenced his state of mind.

“Order!” he shouted. “I shall discipline the first man who remains on
his feet or who says another word!”

Trained to obey commands, the men resumed their seats and were silent.
But, on every face was a flush of excitement, apprehension or anger.

“I am astonished,” continued the chairman, “that members of this
company should have been guilty of such a breach of military etiquette
as this, or should have indulged in such an unsoldierly demonstration.
I am here to conduct your election, not to settle your quarrels. I
will say, however, that if the person who receives a majority of your
votes is not approved by my superior officers, he will be denied a
commission. Of that you may rest assured. The clerk will now call the
roll, and you will come forward and deposit your ballots as your names
are spoken.”

There was no more quarreling; there were no more charges or
counter-charges. The time for action had come.

The clerk began calling the roll, and, as he called the several names,
the men responded, advanced to the table, put their ballots into the
box and resumed their seats.

When the voting had been completed the counting began. One by one the
ballots were removed from the box by Lieutenant Brownell, exhibited
in turn to Major Huntington and Captain Murray, and the name on them
announced to Corporal Manning, the clerk, in a voice loud and distinct
enough to be heard by every person present.

But the clerk was not the only one in the room who was keeping tally as
the votes were counted. Fully half of the men there, with pencils and
paper, were keeping their own record as the count progressed, and the
other half were looking over their shoulders.

It was an absorbing occupation for all of them. The two candidates
were running almost neck and neck. Now Barriscale was ahead, and now
McCormack. After a few minutes the first sergeant began to forge a
little farther to the front. When the fortieth ballot had been removed
from the box and counted, his vote stood twenty-three to McCormack’s

Surrounded by his friends, at the right of the first row of seats,
Barriscale watched with intense interest the tally as Stone carried
it along in blocks of five. He had never doubted his ultimate success
in the election; now, with the vote standing as it did, he was more
confident than ever. He did not see how it was possible, with the lead
he had, for McCormack to overtake him. Already a smile of triumph began
to overspread his face.

But the next two votes went to McCormack, and the lead was reduced
to four. However, Barriscale got numbers forty-three, forty-five and
forty-eight, thus holding his lead of four.

But forty-nine and fifty went to McCormack, leaving Barriscale a
majority on the fiftieth count of only two.

Things began to look serious for the first sergeant.

Stone and Hooper were keeping tally with trembling fingers.

Barriscale, himself, was still optimistic concerning his success, and
when the next three votes were recorded for him, carrying his lead up
to five, the confident smile reasserted itself in his face, and he
foresaw an easy victory.

There were only fourteen more ballots to be counted, and it was hardly
within the range of possibility that he could now be defeated.

Then, alas for human probabilities! five votes in succession were
announced for McCormack, so that, with the counting of the fifty-eighth
ballot, the two candidates were for the first time tied.

Number fifty-nine was for Barriscale; but numbers sixty, sixty-one and
sixty-two were all for McCormack, giving him a lead of two votes.

For the first time in all the strenuous campaign, the glimmer of hope
in Hal’s breast, alternately fading and reappearing, brightened into a
steady flame. There were but five more votes to be counted. Surely he
might reasonably hope to get two of them.

As for Sergeant Barriscale, there was no smile on his lips now. He
stared at the tally sheet with incredulous eyes. The votes that he had
confidently counted on had not been forthcoming. It was evident that
some one, more than one indeed, had played traitor to him. Already
the fires of anger were beginning to blaze up in his breast. Had he
harbored resentment too soon? It might be; for the next three ballots
were for him. On the sixty-fifth count he was one ahead. There were but
two more ballots to be counted. Surely he had a right to expect one of
these. He grasped at the proverbial straw with the clutch of a drowning

The excitement in the room was intense but suppressed. Save for the
voice of the chairman announcing the names on the ballots, and the
voice of the clerk repeating them, there was absolute stillness. No one
else spoke, or even whispered. Men scarcely breathed for the suspense
that was on them.

Ballot number sixty-six was removed from the box, read and recorded. It
was for McCormack.

The two contestants were again tied.

There was but one more ballot to be counted. That ballot would break
the tie and decide the election.

Men put aside their tally sheets, or crumpled them in their hands, and
leaned forward in their chairs, their eyes fixed on the lips of the
presiding officer, in breathless anticipation.

Brownell reached into the box, drew out the last ballot, glanced at it,
and handed it to Major Huntington.

The major looked at it in his turn, showed it to Captain Murray, and
then announced the name written on it.

“Halpert McCormack.”

For the fraction of a minute there was dead silence. Then, like a
clap of thunder, there came a swift outburst of applause. Hands,
feet, throats united to acclaim the young officer-elect. Spontaneous,
irrepressible, enthusiastic, the chorus of rejoicing rolled out
from the company room, down the broad stairway, and across the wide
drill-hall to its remotest corner. People waiting there in scores to
hear the outcome of the election caught up the waves of sound and sent
them echoing back to the room on the upper floor, though not one of
them knew as yet whose victory it was.

Then, for the second time that evening, the chairman’s gavel crashed
down on the table before him, but on his face there was no sign of
annoyance or of disapproval as he announced the result of the balloting.

“Sixty-seven votes have been cast. Of these Sergeant Barriscale
receives thirty-three, and Sergeant McCormack receives thirty-four.
Second Sergeant Halpert McCormack has therefore been elected to the
office of First Lieutenant of Company E. He will report to me for
instructions immediately after the breaking of ranks. Captain Murray,
you will now dismiss your company.”

Of course Hal was the hero of the hour. Of course people congratulated
him right and left. If his head had been easily turned he would have
faced backward forever after. Brownell was jubilant. Major-General
Chick was delirious with joy. Aunt Sarah, waiting with her ear at the
telephone receiver for word from the armory, could hardly contain
herself when the victory was announced to her. When Hal went to see
her the next day she saw him coming, met him on the porch, and kissed
him on both cheeks in full view of the passers-by, greatly to his

But he partly consoled himself by saying to her:

“The men whom you especially interviewed in my behalf all voted against
me. The next time I run for anything I’m going to lock you into the
house and throw the key down the well. It’s not safe to have you at
large on such an occasion.”

“You behave yourself!” she retorted, “and stop making fun of a
defenseless old maid. Do you know what I’m going to do to punish you?
I’m going to make you a gift of your officer’s uniform, and sword, and
shoulder-straps, and the whole equipment, and—-”

“Aunt Sarah, you mustn’t think—-”

“You–keep–your mouth–closed. I—-”

“But, Aunt Sarah!”

“I say shut up! The thing’s settled. How’s your mother to-day?”

If McCormack’s friends were jubilant over his election, he, himself,
did not appear to be unduly elated. He did not seem to feel that his
victory was a thing of which he should be especially proud. He had been
elected by a bare majority of the votes of all the electors of the
company, and he had won out over his opponent by only a single vote.

Nor had he been greatly ambitious to obtain the promotion. Indeed, had
it not been for Barriscale’s surly conduct and attempted bribe, he
would have persisted in refusing to be a candidate. But, now that he
had been elected, he determined that he would fulfil the duties of his
new position faithfully, to the best of his judgment and ability.

He was not objectionable to the bulk of the minority voters of the
company. If he did not know that at the time of the election he learned
it soon afterward. One by one, as opportunity offered, they came to
him, congratulated him, and gave him sincere assurances of their
entire loyalty. His opponent had, indeed, been their choice, either
for reasons of preference or policy, but McCormack was in no sense
displeasing to them. This, much to his satisfaction, they made him

So, in due course, the return of the election was forwarded through
regimental headquarters to the Adjutant-General, the several
headquarters through which it passed endorsing thereon their approval.
It was as follows:

“_To the Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania_:


“At an election held on the fifth day of October, A. D. 1915,
for First Lieutenant of Company E, —-th Infantry, N. G. P.,
the following named person was duly elected, to wit: HALPERT
MCCORMACK of Benson County; and I hereby certify that the
company now bears upon its rolls the names of sixty-seven
bona-fide enlisted men, that at this election sixty-seven men
were paraded in State uniform, that the candidate elected
received thirty-four votes, and that he has been duly notified
by me of his election. Witness my hand this seventh day of
October, A. D. 1915.

_Conducting Election_.”

_Clerk of Election_.”

This return was accompanied by McCormack’s acceptance as follows:

“_To the Adjutant-General_,
_State of Pennsylvania_:
_Through Intermediate Headquarters_.


“I have the honor to advise you that I hereby accept the
election to the office of First Lieutenant of Company E,
—-th Regiment Infantry, N. G. P.

“Very respectfully,
_Second Sergeant Company E_,
Fairweather, Pa.”

But there was no positive assurance that Hal would receive his
commission. He still had Ben Barriscale to deal with, and Barriscale
had threatened to force him out of the Guard. The first step in such
a movement would of course be to attempt to block the confirmation of
McCormack’s election before the military board authorized by law to
deny a commission to elected but unapproved officers.

That the defeated candidate would not hesitate to take action of this
kind, if he could be assured of any fair prospect of success, every one

He was disappointed, angry, and bitter beyond belief over his defeat.
He felt that he had been betrayed by some of those whose support he had
a right to receive; that, as he said, they had given him “the double
cross,” and that it was their defection that had led to his defeat. He
did not know, or perhaps could not have understood if he had known,
that it was his own injudicious and threatening outburst on the day of
election that caused the changing of enough ballots to precipitate the
disaster to his cause.

And he did not know, and was destined never to know, about the
midnight visit of Chick Dalloway with Fred Lewis, nor why it was that
McCormack carried the election by a majority of just one vote.

Of course much of his anger and resentment were directed toward his
late opponent. His threat on the night of the election had been no
idle one, and Hal and his friends knew it. They waited, therefore,
not without some apprehension, to see what steps he might now take to
prevent the first lieutenant-elect from ever having the benefit of his