The ones of us who had started the Society of the Wouldbegoods began, at about this time, to bother.
They said we had not done anything really noble–not worth speaking of, that is–for over a week, and that it was high time to begin again–“with earnest endeavor,” Daisy said. So then Oswald said:
“All right; but there ought to be an end to everything. Let’s each of us think of one really noble and unselfish act, and the others shall help to work it out, like we did when we were Treasure Seekers. Then when everybody’s had their go-in we’ll write every single thing down in the Golden Deed book, and we’ll draw two lines in red ink at the bottom, like father does at the end of an account. And after that, if any one wants to be good they can jolly well be good on our own, if at all.”
The ones who had made the Society did not welcome this wise idea, but Dicky and Oswald were firm.
So they had to agree. When Oswald is really firm, opposingness and obstinacy have to give way.
Dora said, “It would be a noble action to have all the school-children from the village and give them tea and games in the paddock. They would think it so nice and good of us.”
But Dicky showed her that this would not be our good act, but father’s, because he would have to pay for the tea, and he had already stood us the keepsakes for the soldiers, as well as having to stump up heavily over the coal barge. And it is in vain being noble and generous when some one else is paying for it all the time, even if it happens to be your father. Then three others had ideas at the same time and began to explain what they were.
We were all in the dining-room, and perhaps we were making a bit of a row. Anyhow, Oswald, for one, does not blame Albert’s uncle for opening his door and saying:
“I suppose I must not ask for complete silence. That were too much. But if you could whistle, or stamp with your feet, or shriek or howl–anything to vary the monotony of your well-sustained conversation.”
Oswald said, kindly, “We’re awfully sorry. Are you busy?”
“Busy?” said Albert’s uncle. “My heroine is now hesitating on the verge of an act which, for good or ill, must influence her whole subsequent career. You wouldn’t like her to decide in the middle of such a row that she can’t hear herself think?”
We said, “No, we wouldn’t.”
Then he said, “If any outdoor amusement should commend itself to you this bright midsummer day–“
So we all went out.
Then Daisy whispered to Dora–they always hang together. Daisy is not nearly so white-micey as she was at first, but she still seems to fear the deadly ordeal of public speaking. Dora said:
“Daisy’s idea is a game that’ll take us all day. She thinks keeping out of the way when he’s making his heroine decide right would be a noble act, and fit to write in the Golden Book; and we might as well be playing something at the same time.”
We all said “Yes, but what?”
There was a silent interval.
“Speak up, Daisy, my child,” Oswald said; “fear not to lay bare the utmost thoughts of that faithful heart.”
Daisy giggled. Our own girls never giggle; they laugh right out or hold their tongues. Their kind brothers have taught them this. Then Daisy said:
“If we could have a sort of play to keep us out of the way. I once read a story about an animal race. Everybody had an animal, and they had to go how they liked, and the one that got in first got the prize. There was a tortoise in it, and a rabbit, and a peacock, and sheep, and dogs, and a kitten.”