Chapter 42 Summary

The Election

One afternoon Polly comes to the yard and tells her husband that someone was here today asking about his vote and wanting to hire his cab for the election. He will call again for Jerry’s answer, but Jerry already knows what he will say. He tells Polly to tell the man that his cab will be “otherwise engaged” on election day. He has no interest in having his cab plastered with large advertisements and driving to inns to pick up half-drunk voters. Such behavior is an insult to his horses, and Jerry refuses to do it.

Polly asks if her husband will vote for the man, for they share some of the same politics. He will not, Jerry tells her, for the man’s trade is repugnant to him and he cannot in good conscience help get him elected to make laws which will affect working men. The man may be angered by this, but Jerry believes each man must do what he thinks is best for his country.

The morning before the election, Jerry is putting Jack into the shafts of the cab when Dolly comes into the yard crying. Her pretty blue dress and white pinafore are splattered with mud. Her father asks what happened, and she explains some boys called her a “ragamuffin” and threw mud at her. Harry comes running in behind her; he is angry and explains that he gave the boys in orange who were tormenting his sister a good thrashing.

Jerry kisses his daughter and tells her to go see her mother, giving her permission to stay home from school today. Then he turns to Harry and thanks him for defending his sister. That is what an older brother is to do; however, Jerry warns his son not to make judgments about people based on their politics. There as many scoundrels wearing blue, white, purple, or any other color, and he does not want his family to get involved in such foolishness. Women and children are too often ready to quarrel based solely on color, and it is likely they do not even understand the politics their colors represent.

Harry thinks blue is the party of liberty, but his father tells him liberty does not come from colors; colors only designate parties, and there is “liberty” to do awful things in every political party. He is ashamed at such behavior, for an election is quite a serious thing—or at least it ought to be—and every man should be allowed to vote his conscience without interference from anyone else.