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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.