The shadow of the termination now descended in sable thunder-clouds upon our devoted nobs. As Albert’s uncle said, “School now gaped for its prey.” In a very short space of time we should be wending our way back to Blackheath, and all the variegated delightfulness of the country would soon be only preserved in memory’s faded flowers. (I don’t care for that way of writing very much. It would be an awful swat to keep it up–looking out the words and all that.)
To speak in the language of every-day life, our holiday was jolly nearly up. We had had a ripping time, but it was all but over. We really did feel sorry–though, of course, it was rather decent to think of getting back to father and being able to tell the other chaps about our raft, and the dam, and the Tower of Mystery, and things like that.
When but a brief time was left to us, Oswald and Dicky met by chance in an apple-tree. (That sounds like “consequences,” but it is mere truthfulness.) Dicky said:
“Only four more days.” Oswald said, “Yes.”
“There’s one thing,” Dicky said, “that beastly society. We don’t want that swarming all over everything when we get home. We ought to dissolve it before we leave here.”
The following dialogue now took place:
Oswald –“Right you are. I always said it was piffling rot.”
Dicky –“So did I.”
Oswald –“Let’s call a council. But don’t forget we’ve jolly well got to put our foot down.”
Dicky assented, and the dialogue concluded with apples.
The council, when called, was in but low spirits. This made Oswald’s and Dicky’s task easier. When people are sunk in gloomy despair about one thing, they will agree to almost anything about something else. (Remarks like this are called philosophic generalizations, Albert’s uncle says.) Oswald began by saying:
“We’ve tried the society for being good in, and perhaps it’s done us good. But now the time has come for each of us to be good or bad on his own, without hanging on to the others.”
“The race is run by one and one,
But never by two and two,”
the Dentist said. The others said nothing. Oswald went on: “I move that we chuck–I mean dissolve–the Wouldbegoods Society; its appointed task is done. If it’s not well done, that’s its fault and not ours.” Dicky said, “Hear! hear! I second this prop.”
The unexpected Dentist said, “I third it. At first I thought it would help, but afterwards I saw it only made you want to be naughty, just because you were a Wouldbegood.”
Oswald owns he was surprised. We put it to the vote at once, so as not to let Denny cool. H. O. and Noel and Alice voted with us, so Daisy and Dora were what is called a hopeless minority. We tried to cheer their hopelessness by letting them read the things out of the Golden Deed book aloud. Noel hid his face in the straw so that we should not see the faces he made while he made poetry instead of listening, and when the Wouldbegoods was by vote dissolved forever he sat up, with straws in his hair, and said:
“The Wouldbegoods are dead and gone,
But not the golden deeds they have done.
These will remain upon Glory’s page
To be an example to every age,
And by this we have got to know
How to be good upon our ow–N.
N is for Noel, that makes the rhyme and the sense both right. O.W.N., own; do you see?”
We saw it, and said so, and the gentle poet was satisfied. And the council broke up. Oswald felt that a weight had been lifted from his expanding chest, and it is curious that he never felt so inclined to be good and a model youth as he did then.