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HOME > Classical Novels > Boys of the Central > CHAPTER XII. WHO SHALL BE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY C?
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 In October, there came a sudden stir of interest and excitement of a different sort, namely, the appointment of Henderson’s successor in the battalion.  
Gordon was now major, and Hamlin had taken his place as captain of Company C.
The appointments had heretofore been made by Prof. Keene, and the liveliest interest was awakened when he announced that, this time, the captain was to be elected by vote of the officers of the battalion and all the members of Company C.
No one was eligible for the captaincy except those members of the senior class whose average during the previous years had been ninety or more, and of these there were but eight, and of these, two—one of whom was Clark—had not been in the battalion at all, and so of course could not be candidates. The names of the remaining six were put on the bulletin board, and Prof. Keene announced that the vote would be taken after school on Friday of that week.
Graham and Raleigh stood highest on the list, each having averaged ninety-four for the previous years. Then came Griffin, the first lieutenant of Company C, with an average of ninety-two; then Fry, Cole and Edson, with averages of ninety-one and ninety. The last three belonged to another section.
Prof. Keene had supposed that the choice would lie between Graham and Raleigh, and as he was perfectly willing that either should hold the position, he had decided that the one that the boys preferred should be captain. He had not imagined that any one of the other four would be considered at all, and was wholly unprepared for the strong feeling and sharp rivalry that was soon developed. Neither was he fully aware of the character of some of the boys in Company C. There were a few fine fellows in the company, but there were more who were idle and indifferent to everything but “fun,” and a few who were really bad, and who would not hesitate to sacrifice the best interests of the school to carry out their own schemes. Some of these last had been friends of Henderson, and these had by no means forgotten the occurrences at the competitive drill. They resented Henderson’s enforced departure, and the disgrace that had fallen upon the company rankled in their minds. To these, the idea of having Graham or Raleigh for a captain was most distasteful.
Coyle was second lieutenant of Company C, and he and Barber, who belonged to another company, quickly made up their minds that, if possible, these two should be defeated on Friday.
Monday was “drill day,” and when the drill was over, Coyle privately asked all of Company C except the first lieutenant, who was a particular friend of Graham’s, to stop and talk the matter over. The discussion was held with closed doors, and a lively one it was.
Coyle was the first speaker.
“I say, fellows,” he began, eagerly, “we’ve got a chance now to choose our captain, and I move that we boom Griffin. I, for one, don’t want any such prig as Graham or Raleigh put over us. Griffin here is worth a dozen such chaps.”
All eyes were turned on Griffin as Coyle sat down, and somebody called, “Speech, speech.”
“I’m not much of a speechifier,” said Griffin, rising, “but I appreciate the honor you have done me, and if I’m elected, I’ll do my best to help you win the red ribbons next June.”
Then Barber sprang up.
“Griffin hasn’t got quite such high marks as those other fellows,” he said, “but he’s no end better up in tactics, and I’d rather have him for captain if he wasn’t.”
Coyle started vigorous applause at this, but now another spoke up.
“I haven’t a thing to say against Griffin,” he began. “He’s well up in the drill, and understands the duties of a captain; but the same is true of Graham, and I’m sure that most of the officers will vote for him. I don’t believe we could elect Griffin.”
“Oh, shucks! We can elect him if we all hang together,” cried Coyle, springing to his feet again. “Now see here—there are twenty-two officers, and in Company C there are forty men. Now if the company will go solid for Griffin, even without a vote from a single officer, we shall elect him by a big majority.”
Carr, a boy with a quiet, resolute face, now rose and said quietly, “I shall vote for Graham, because I believe that he can do more for Company C than any other on the list.”
Barber hissed then; whereupon another boy sprang up and cried, “I move that any fellow that hisses be put out. If we can’t discuss this matter like gentlemen, we’d better adjourn right now. Every fellow here has a right to his own opinion, I take it—and I’ve just as much right to vote for Graham as Barber has to vote for Griffin, and I intend to do it.”
Barber, seeing that the tide of feeling was with the last speaker, jumped up, and, with a good-natured laugh, exclaimed, “Don’t lay that little hiss up against me, boys. It was only a whistle that slipped up on my front teeth.”
The laugh that followed scored one for Barber and the candidate that he favored.
But Coyle’s quick eyes had been watching the faces of the boys, and now he sprang up again.
“It’s getting late,” he said, “and I move that we adjourn, and meet again Wednesday after drill. That will give us all time to think the matter over, and make up our minds whom we’ll vote for. But see here,” as a general movement expressed the approval of the motion to adjourn, “don’t forget that Griffin stands A No. 1 in tactics, and we all want to win the gold medal and red ribbons next June.”
“Three cheers for Coyle and Griffin,” shouted somebody, and in two minutes the room was empty; but as the boys hurried homeward, the talk was all about the election.
Coyle and Barber were the last to leave the room.
“I’d like to punch the heads of some of those fellows,” growled Coyle. “If the company would only go solid for Griffin, it wouldn’t matter how the officers voted.”
“No, we’d have nearly two-thirds majority,” answered Barber, “and I’d give something to see Graham and Raleigh defeated. I believe I care more for that than to put Griffin in. They’re all so mighty high and tony in section D this year, a fellow can’t have a bit of fun. Might as well be in a reform school, and done with it.”
“Right you are,” responded Coyle. “Gordon and Hamlin have managed somehow to get hold of about all the section except you and me, and they’ve set ’em all to digging. Not much like last year, is it? Who’d ever have believed that Crawford would go over to the L. A. O.! He’s as meek as Moses now-a-days.”
“So he is,” echoed Barber, “an’ if we have Graham or Raleigh for captain, the drill will be as bad as the school-room. They’ll make the fellows toe the mark and be down on ’em like sixty for the least thing wrong.”
“We just won’t have Graham or Raleigh,” cried Coyle, positively. “You and I must see the fellows we’re sure of before to-morrow night, and find some way of putting Griffin in.”
“I don’t see how we’re going to do it, if some of the company vote for Graham, and you see they will, from what they said to-day,” replied Barber.
“I see that they mean to now,” said Coyle, “but it does not follow that they will be of the same mind next Friday. It’s our business to make ’em change their minds. Now go home and think hard, Barber, and I’ll set my wits to work, and see if we can’t fix up some plan that will win the day for ‘we, us and Company’ C,” said Coyle, as he stopped at his own home.
Usually Coyle was asleep two minutes after his[162] head touched his pillow, but that night he lay awake more than an hour or two, his thoughts busy with plots and plans to accomplish his purpose.
He was at Barber’s door soon after eight o’clock next morning, and that young gentleman, swallowing the last of his breakfast with most unhealthy rapidity, joined him in response to his impatient whistle.
“I’ve thought of a way to spike Graham’s guns,” Coyle began, and while his companion listened with eager interest, he proceeded to unfold his scheme.
“That’s fine,” Barber exclaimed, slapping Coyle on the shoulder, as the latter ceased speaking. “I’m sure our crowd will catch on to that little game, and I believe we can rope in most of the Grahamites without much trouble.”
Coyle looked pleased at the other&r............
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