Harper wanted to win, but not at any cost.
“I just can’t do it,” Harper whispered across the aisle to Scarlett.
“C’mon, Harper!” Scarlett whispered back, stooping to pick up a paper she had dropped so she could lean closer to her friend. “It’s absolutely your best chance for winning.”
Miss Carson’s warning glance brought the girls’ conversation to a halt, but they quickly resumed the discussion as soon as the lunch bell rang.
“You’ve got to do it,” Scarlett urged, as they walked together to the lunchroom. “How do you expect to make class president unless you do?”
“But it’s just not right, “ Harper said again. “Nora is a nice girl, even if she is running against me. I don’t have anything against her. Why should I put her down?”
Scarlett gave her an exasperated look. “Believe me, Harper, everybody does it when they’re running for office! Candidates always split their time between talking about how good they are and how bad their opponents are. Besides, it’s not like you’d be spreading lies about Nora. She did flunk fifth grade, and her grades weren’t tops last year either.”
Harper opened her lunch sack and bowed her head to say grace while Scarlett waited impatiently. As soon as she opened her eyes, Scarlett had another argument ready. “Listen, Harper. Nora is going to be a tough opponent. She’s pretty, and most everyone likes her. Besides, she knows way more kids than you do since you’ve only been at our school for a year.”
Harper stared meditatively at her cheese sandwich. “I know you’re right. Nora really is popular, and winning this election isn’t going to be easy . . .”
Scarlett nodded, sensing Harper was weakening. After a moment, she pressed on. “I’ve got it all figured out. We’ll wait until two days before the election. That way Nora won’t have time to come up with anything about you in return. I know just the kids to tell. If we say something to a couple of them, you can be sure it will spread!
Harper could hardly keep her mind on her classes the rest of the afternoon. Her heart felt heavy whenever she thought about the lunchtime conversation. It’s not really wrong, she told herself. After all, what Scarlett said is true. And the kids should know about Nora’s grades if they’re going to vote for her. But her feeling of uneasiness persisted.
The evening seemed to drag by for Harper. After dinner she went to her room and flopped on her bed to review a chapter of algebra, but her mind kept drifting to the conversation with Scarlett. Harper wanted to win that election. School government interested her, and she knew she would find the experience challenging. Besides, it would be kind of embarrassing to run and not win.
Finally, she shut her algebra book with a thud and stared at the ceiling while her thoughts raced this way and that. Is trying to give Nora a bad name really the only way to win? And is winning the election worth it?
Glancing at the clock on her night stand, she reached for her Bible and the Sunday school book beneath it. Maybe she’d read part of her lesson tonight. They had been studying Christian growth for the past few Sundays, and Harper had really enjoyed the lessons. She knew she had some growing to do in her spiritual life, and little by little God had been showing her ways she could measure up.
As she opened the Bible, her eyes fell on the verse in Deuteronomy 6:18. She read, “And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee . . .” She started to read on, but what she had just read caught her attention. She went back and read again, “. . . right and good in the sight of the Lord . . .” Suddenly the words seemed to be a yardstick held up next to her conversation with Scarlett. How would Scarlett’s suggestion look in the sight of God?
Harper thought about the uneasy feeling that had troubled her ever since lunch. Could that have been God trying to point out that Scarlett’s idea wasn’t the right way for a Christian to act? What would the outcome be if she went ahead with Scarlett’s plan? Even if she won the election, would she feel good about it?
Harper knew the answer. And all at once the decision was made. She’d talk to Scarlett tomorrow. Whether she won or not, she knew that down in her heart she wanted to do what was right and good in God’s sight.