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PAGE 2

The Best Man Wins!
by [?]

Anderson Crow lay awake nights trying to evolve a plan by which Henry Wimpelmeyer’s astonishing methods could be overcome. That frank and unchallenged promise to cancel all debts was absolutely certain to defeat Ezra. So far as the marshal knew, no one owed Henry more than five dollars–in most cases it was even less–but when you sat down and figured up just how much Henry would ever realize in hard cash on these accounts, even if he waited a hundred years, it was easy to see that the election wasn’t going to cost him a dollar.

For example, Alf Reesling had owed him a dollar and thirty-five cents for nearly seven years. Alf admitted that the obligation worried him a great deal, and it was pretty nearly certain that he would jump at the chance to be relieved. Other items: Henry Plumb, two dollars and a quarter; Harvey Shortfork, ninety cents; Ben Pickett, a dollar-seventy-five; Rush Applegate, three-twenty; Lum Gillespie, one-fifteen,–and so on, including Ezra Pounder himself, who owed the staggering sum of eleven dollars and eighty-two cents. There was, after all, some consolation in the thought that Ezra would be benefited to that extent by his own defeat.

Naturally, Mr. Crow gave no thought to his own candidacy. No one was running against him, and apparently no one ever would. Therefore, Mr. Crow was in a position to devote his apprehensions exclusively to the rest of the ticket, and to Ezra Pounder in particular.

He could think of but one way to forestall Mr. Wimpelmeyer, and that was by digging down into his own pocket and paying in cash every single cent that the electorate of Tinkletown owed “the dad-burned Shylark!” He even went so far as to ascertain–almost to a dollar–just how much it would take to save the honour of Tinkletown, finding, after an investigation, that $276.82 would square up everything, and leave Henry high and dry with nothing but the German vote to depend upon. There were exactly twenty-two eligible voters in town with German names, and seven of them professed to be Swiss the instant the United States went into the war.

Mr. Crow was making profound calculation on the back of an envelope when Alf Reesling, the town drunkard, came scuttling excitedly around the corner from the Banner office.

“Gee whiz!” gasped Alf, “I been lookin’ all over fer you, Anderson.”

“Say, can’t you see I’m busy? Now, I got to begin all over ag’in. Move on, now–“

“Have you heard the latest?” gulped Alf, grabbing him by the arm.

“What ails you, Alf? Wait a minute! No, by gosh, it’s more like onions. For a second I thought you’d–“

“I’m as sober as ever,” interrupted Alf hotly.

“That’s what you been sayin’ fer twenty years,” said Anderson.

“Well, ain’t I?”

“I don’t know what you do when I’m not watchin’ you.”

“Well, all I got to say is I never felt more like takin’ a drink. An’ you’ll feel like it, too, when you hear the latest. Maybe you’ll drop dead er somethin’. Serve you right, too, by jiminy, the way you keep insinyating about–“

“Go on an’ tell me. Don’t talk all day. Just tell me. That’s all you’re called on to do.”

“Well,” sputtered Alf. “Some one’s come out ag’in you fer marshal. I seen the item they’re printin’ over at the Banner office. Seen the name an’ everything.”

Anderson blinked two or three times, reached for his whiskers and missed them, and then roared:

“You must be crazy, Alf! By thunder, I hate to do it, but I’ll have to put you in a safe–“

“You just wait an’ see if I’m–“

“–safe place where you can’t harm nobody. You oughtn’t to be runnin’ round at large like this. Here! Leggo my arm! What the dickens are you tryin’ to–“

“Come on! I’ll show you!” exclaimed Alf. “I’ll take you right around to the Banner office an’–say, didn’t you know the People’s Party nominated a full ticket las’ night over at Odd Fellers’ Hall?”