Frank and Joe vote to solve the mystery of who sabotaged their friend’s election speech in this Hardy Boys Secret Files adventure.
The Bayport Elementary elections are coming up, and Chet Morton is running for class president against Cissy Cimero. Frank and Joe have done everything they can to help their friend. They’ve made posters, handed out buttons, and helped him write one of the best campaign speeches in Bayport history. When the day of the election finally comes, they know every vote will count.
But when Chet gets a rude surprise during his speech, everyone is shocked. Who would want to ruin Chet’s speech? And how did he or she manage to pull off the prank? Can Frank and Joe figure out what happened before the election is called in Cissy’s favor?
Race Is On 1 Bet on Chet! Chet Morton for class president!” Frank called out. He shoved buttons into Lizzy Kahn’s and Elisa Hernandez’s hands as they walked past. He and Joe had made a hundred of the buttons last week for their friend Chet Morton. Each one said BET ON CHET! in giant blue letters.
Joe stood beside Chet as he greeted all the Bayport Elementary students that came through the front doors of the school. It was just before the first bell. Everyone was in their fall clothes—brand-new jeans, and T-shirts from different places where they’d vacationed over the summer.
“I hope you’ll vote for me tomorrow,” Chet said to Matilda Goodwin, a girl from his class. She was wearing a Disneyland shirt. “Bayport Elementary is ready for a change!”
“Take a cookie,” Joe whispered to Matilda, pointing to the table in front of them. Mrs. Hardy had sent them to school with a batch of her famous double chocolate chip cookies. It helped bring people over to their side of the lobby.
“Do you really think I have a chance?” Chet whispered, glancing across the lobby. Cissy Zermeño was standing there with their other friend Phil Cohen. Behind them was a whole row of posters. TRUST IN CISSY, RE-ELECT CISSY ZERMEÑO, and YOU THINK SHE’S SO NICE, VOTE FOR HER TWICE! Cissy had been president for one year already, and most of the class really liked her. Frank, Joe, and Chet liked her too—she was one of their friends, and she played with them on their baseball team, the Bayport Bandits.
“Of course you have a chance,” Frank said. “We wouldn’t be your campaign managers if we didn’t think you had a chance.”
“Cissy’s great, but it’s time to give someone else a try. Our class needs a change,” Joe added. “Who’s better to do that than you?”
Chet greeted a few more students as they walked in the door, shaking hands with them like a real politician. He was wearing a collared shirt and khakis. He’d worn almost the same outfit every day for two weeks, since the campaign had started. “I guess I’m just nervous,” he said after a group from their gym class left.
“It’s normal to be nervous,” Joe said. He was eight years old and the younger of the two Hardy brothers, with blond hair and blue eyes. His older brother, nine-year-old Frank, had dark brown hair and brown eyes, and looked much more like their dad, Fenton. Fenton Hardy was a private investigator in Bayport. The boys had learned everything they knew about solving mysteries from him.
Frank grabbed a poster from beside the table, unrolled it, and taped it to the wall. It said CHANGE YOU CAN TRUST: CHET MORTON FOR CLASS PRESIDENT in bubble letters. “Maybe you should practice the speech again,” Frank said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Joe looked around the school lobby. Most of the kids had gone inside their classrooms already. Even Phil and Cissy were packing up their table. “Let’s just wait until they go . . . ,” Joe whispered. He wasn’t usually so suspicious of people, but everyone was saying it was going to be a close vote tomorrow. Many students had promised to vote for Chet, but promises didn’t mean they would actually do what they’d said. It was going to come down to the speeches. They couldn’t let Cissy know what he planned to say.
When Phil had put all the CISSY FOR PRES buttons and pens back in their shoebox, the two of them came over to Chet’s table. “Good luck tomorrow,” Cissy said, reaching out her hand. “May the best candidate win.”
Frank glanced sideways at his brother. Cissy was the pitcher for the Bandits, and it seemed like she was always winning at everything! But even though she’d won the talent show last year and the science fair the year before that, it was hard not to like her. She was always so nice and always did the right thing.
“You too,” Chet said, shaking Cissy’s hand. Phil stood beside her, and for the first time Frank noticed that the button he wore lit up. CISSY’S #1! it said, the number one glowing white. Frank could tell Phil had made it himself—he was always making little gadgets. He loved playing with robots or taking apart his parents’ old computers.
“We’ll see you tomorrow at the assembly,” Phil said, before the two of them turned to go.
When they had disappeared down the hall, Chet pulled the folded speech from his pocket. The paper was worn in places because he’d practiced the speech so much. “Ready?” he asked, looking from Frank to Joe.
“You bet,” Joe said.
Chet cleared his throat and began. “Good morning, students of Bayport Elementary. Most of you know me already, but my name is Chet Morton and I’m running for fourth-grade class president.” Chet looked up at his friends, trying to see if he’d read the first lines well enough. “What do you think? I want to sound friendly but not too friendly.”
“It’s perfect!” Frank encouraged. “Keep going!”
Chet grinned and continued. “We can all agree this is a great place to go to school, but I think some things around here can be better. If you elect me class president, the first thing I’ll do is talk to all of you and hear about what you want to change.”
A few girls came in from outside, talking about a school dance that was being held next week. Chet stopped until they’d passed. When he began again, he talked about all the things he wanted to do for their class. He would get them better lunch choices in the school cafeteria and get picnic benches so they could eat lunch outside if they wanted to. He had another idea called “New Voices.” He wanted to give different students a chance to read the morning announcements, instead of having the same people do it every time. Joe’s and Frank’s favorite idea was for a School Sports Night, where teachers and students would compete for prizes.
“If you give me a chance to be your president,” Chet continued, “I’ll do my best to listen to your ideas and make them happen. And more than anything, I want our class to be closer than ever. Together we can make a change.”
Chet looked up from his paper, waiting to see Frank’s and Joe’s reactions. Both of the boys cheered and clapped.
“Every word was perfect,” Frank said.
“Who wouldn’t vote for you?” Joe asked.
As the bell rang to start class, Frank and Joe collected the BET ON CHET! buttons and their chocolate chip cookies. They ate the last of them while they walked Chet to class.
“Now we just have to wait for tomorrow,” Chet said, folding the speech into his pocket. “I’ll try not to get too nervous. But every time I think of it, it’s hard. More than a hundred students, all in the gym . . .”
“You’re going to be great,” Frank said, giving Chet a high-five. “You have nothing to worry about.”
“You sure?” Chet asked. He pushed his hands deep into his pockets, the way he always did when he was nervous. “I don’t know anymore.”
Joe glanced at his brother, then back at their friend. He put another one of the BET ON CHET! buttons on the front of his shirt, where everyone could see. “I’m positive,” Joe said. “Tomorrow you’re going to rock!”
Scott Burroughs started his career at Disney and has illustrated everything from children’s books to advertisements and editorials. He is also the published author of several children’s books. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and sons.