But there was another weighty reason why the choice of the boys would never have fallen upon him. Apart from his unpopularity, he was incompetent for the posts to which he aspired. Probably there were not ten boys in the company who were not more proficient in drill than he. This was not owing to any want of natural capacity, but to a feeling that he did not require much instruction and a consequent lack of attention to the directions of Mr. Morton. He had frequently been corrected in mistakes, but always received the correction with sullenness and impatience. He felt in his own mind that he was much better fitted to govern than to obey, forgetting in his ambition that it is those only who have first learned to obey who are best qualified to rule others.
Desirious of ingratiating himself with the boys, and so securing their votes, he had been unusually amiable and generous during the past week. At the previous lesson he had brought half a bushel of apples, from which he had requested the boys to help themselves freely. By this means he hoped to attain the object of his ambition.
Squire Haynes, too, was interested in the success of his son.
"If they elect you captain, John," he promised, "I will furnish you money enough to buy a handsome sash and sword."
Besides John, there were several others who cherished secret hopes of success. Among these were Charles Reynolds and Wilbur Summerfield. As for Frank Frost, though he had thought little about it, he could not help feeling that he was among those best qualified for office, though he would have been quite content with either of the three highest offices, or even with the post of orderly sergeant.
Among those who had acquitted themselves with the greatest credit was our old friend Dick Bumstead, whom we remember last as concerned in rather a questionable adventure. Since that time his general behavior had very much changed for the better. Before, he had always shirked work when it was possible. Now he exhibited a steadiness and industry which surprised no less than it gratified his father.
This change was partly owing to his having given up some companions who had done him no good, and, instead, sought the society of Frank. The energy and manliness exhibited by his new friend, and the sensible views which he took of life and duty, had wrought quite a revolution in Dick's character. He began to see that if he ever meant to accomplish anything he must begin now. At Frank's instance he had given up smoking, and this cut off one of the temptations which had assailed him. Gradually the opinion entertained of Dick in the village as a ne'er-do-well was modified, and he had come to be called as one of the steady and reliable boys--a reputation not to, be lightly regarded.
In the present election Dick did not dream that he could have any interest. While he had been interested in the lessons, and done his best, he felt that his previous reputation would injure his chance, and he had made up his mind that he should have to serve in the ranks. This did not trouble him, for Dick, to his credit be it said, was very free from jealousy, and had not a particle of envy in his composition. He possessed so many good qualities that it would have been a thousand pities if he had kept on in his former course.