It was very rough on Dora having her foot bad, but we took it in turns to stay in with her, and she was very decent about it. Daisy was most with her. I do not dislike Daisy, but I wish she had been taught how to play. Because Dora is rather like that naturally, and sometimes I have thought that Daisy makes her worse.
I talked to Albert’s uncle about it one day when the others had gone to church, and I did not go because of earache, and he said it came from reading the wrong sort of books partly–she has read Ministering Children, and Anna Ross, or The Orphan of Waterloo, and Ready Work for Willing Hands, and Elsie, or Like a Little Candle, and even a horrid little blue book about the something or other of Little Sins. After this conversation Oswald took care she had plenty of the right sort of books to read, and he was surprised and pleased when she got up early one morning to finish Monte Cristo. Oswald felt that he was really being useful to a suffering fellow-creature when he gave Daisy books that were not all about being good.
A few days after Dora was laid up Alice called a council of the Wouldbegoods, and Oswald and Dicky attended with darkly clouded brows. Alice had the minute-book, which was an exercise-book that had not much written in it. She had begun at the other end. I hate doing that myself, because there is so little room at the top compared with right way up.
Dora and a sofa had been carried out on to the lawn, and we were on the grass. It was very hot and dry. We had sherbet. Alice read:
“‘Society of the Wouldbegoods.
“‘We have not done much. Dicky mended a window, and we got the milk-pan out of the moat that dropped through where he mended it. Dora, Oswald, Dicky and me got upset in the moat. This was not goodness. Dora’s foot was hurt. We hope to do better next time.'”
Then came Noel’s poem:
“‘We are the Wouldbegoods Society,
We are not good yet, but we mean to try.
And if we try, and if we don’t succeed,
It must mean we are very bad indeed.'”
This sounded so much righter than Noel’s poetry generally does, that Oswald said so, and Noel explained that Denny had helped him.
“He seems to know the right length for lines of poetry. I suppose it comes of learning so much at school,” Noel said.
Then Oswald proposed that anybody should be allowed to write in the book if they found out anything good that any one else had done, but not things that were public acts; and nobody was to write about themselves, or anything other people told them, only what they found out.
After a brief jaw the others agreed, and Oswald felt, not for the first time in his young life, that he would have made a good diplomatic hero to carry despatches and outwit the other side. For now he had put it out of the minute-book’s power to be the kind of thing readers of Ministering Children would have wished.
“And if any one tells other people any good thing he’s done he is to go to Coventry for the rest of the day.” And Denny remarked, “We shall do good by stealth and blush to find it shame.”
After that nothing was written in the book for some time. I looked about, and so did the others, but I never caught any one in the act of doing anything extra; though several of the others have told me since of things they did at this time, and really wondered nobody had noticed.