“Order!” said Frank Sedley,
as he seated himself in the arm-chair, at the head
of the table in the club room.
At a meeting the preceding week, Frank
had again been chosen coxswain of the club for the
first official term. This had been done, not only
in compliment to the noble boy to whose father the
members were indebted for the privileges they enjoyed,
but in anticipation of an exciting time on the lake,
in a proposed race with the Butterfly. Frank was
acknowledged to be the most skilful boatman among them,
and under his direction they expected to accomplish
all that they and the Zephyr could possibly attain.
They had already learned that mere muscle was not all
that was required to insure their success. Skill,
forethought, and the ability to take advantage of
favoring circumstances, were discovered to be even
more desirable than great power.
“Order!” repeated Frank, rapping smartly
on the table.
The members suspended their conversation,
and all eyes were fixed upon the president. The
affairs of the club, in connection with the Butterfly,
had been freely discussed for several weeks, and everything
had been arranged for the opening of the “summer
campaign,” as Charles Hardy rather facetiously
“There are two questions to
be submitted for the action of the club at this meeting,”
continued Frank, with more than his usual gravity.
“They are questions of momentous consequence,
and I have felt the need of counsel from our director;
but my father declines giving me any advice, and says
he prefers that we should discuss the questions independently;
though, as you all know, if our final action is wrong,
he will-he will-”
“Veto it,” added Fred Harper.
“Yes, he will not permit us
to do a wrong, though he wants us to think for ourselves,
and do the best we can.”
“Precisely so; he wants-” Charles
“Order!” said Frank, with
gentle firmness. “The first question is
this: Tim Bunker, who has recently been discharged
from the house of correction, has applied to be admitted
as a member of the club, in place of Tony Weston,
resigned. Shall he be admitted?”
“Mr. President, I move that
he be not admitted,” said Charles.
“Is the motion seconded?”
There was no response. The members
all felt that it was a very delicate matter, and that
it required careful deliberation.
“The motion is not seconded,
and, of course, cannot be entertained,” continued
“I move that he be admitted,” said Fred
“Second the motion,” added William Bright.
Charles Hardy felt a little nettled,
and his first impulse was, to rise and express his
astonishment, as Squire Flutter had done in the “March
meeting,” at the motion of his friend on the
other side of the table: but the impulsive youth
had learned quite recently that a second thought is
oftentimes much better than a first, and he reserved
the expression of his surprise till a later stage
of the debate.
As no one seemed disposed to open
the discussion, Frank requested Fred Harper to take
the chair, while he temporarily assumed the position
of one of the disputants.
“Mr. Chairman,” said he,
“I rise to offer a few remarks in favor of the
motion which is now before the club. Perhaps I
cannot better introduce my own views upon the subject
than by relating the substance of the conversation
that occurred when Tim applied to me for admission
to the club. He said that he had had a hard time
of it in the house of correction; but he hoped his
long confinement had done him good. He had firmly
resolved to be a good boy. ‘But,’
said he, ’what can I do? If I go with the
fellows I used to associate with, how can I keep my
resolution? I know I have been a very bad boy,
and I want to do what is right.’ I told
him that our rules were very strict; that no fellow
was allowed to swear or to use bad language of any
kind and that every member was required to keep straight
himself, and help keep the others straight. He
would agree to all this, would sign the constitution,
and my father and the club would soon see that he
meant all he said. I confess that I felt for
him. What he said about keeping company with the
’Bunkers’-I suppose we must
drop that name now-was true. He could
not be a good fellow with such as they are. Now
it won’t do any harm to try him, and he may
be saved from the error of his ways. As it is,
he has got a hard name, and people will shun him:
and, being discouraged, he may plunge deeper into
vice than ever. This is about all I have to say.”
Frank resumed the chair, and several
of the members, perceiving the force of the president’s
reasoning, expressed themselves in favor of admitting
Tim; when Charles Hardy rose and “plumed himself
for a speech.”
“Mr. President: I confess
my surprise at the direction this debate has taken.
There’s a destiny that shapes our ends-”
“A what?” asked Fred Harper, with a roguish
“I beg the member on the other
side will not interrupt me,” replied Charles,
with offended dignity. “I quote the line
as John Adams used it, in his celebrated speech, ‘Sink
“I beg the member’s pardon,
but John Adams never made any such speech,”
answered Fred who, it must be confessed, was rather
too fond of tantalizing the ambitious youth.
“Really, Mr. President, I am
surprised that the member should deny what we all
know. Why, the piece is in our reading book.”
“Daniel Webster put the speech
into the mouth of Adams,” added Frank; “and
the patriot is only supposed to have made it.”
“It amounts to the same thing,”
continued Charles, with a slight blush.
“But your quotation was not correct,”
“Perhaps the member will give me the correct
reading of the passage.”
“With pleasure; the lines are from Shakspeare:-
’There’s a Divinity that shapes
as we will.’
I fancy the lines will not suit the
member now,” continued Fred, as he cast a mischievous
glance at the discomfited speech-maker.
“Go on, if you please,” said Frank to
“As I was saying, Mr. President,
’There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends’-”
“You were not saying so,” interposed Fred.
“Order!” said the chairman. “Proceed.”
But Charles Hardy could not proceed.
Undoubtedly, when he rose to speak, he had an idea
in his head; but it had fled, and he could not at once
recall it. In vain he scratched his head, in vain
he thrust his hands into his pockets, as if in search
of the lost idea; it would not come.
“You were speaking of Tim Bunker,” said
“I was; and I was about to say that-that-”
Some of the boys could no longer suppress
their mirth, and, in spite of the vigorous pounding
which the chairman bestowed upon the innocent table,
in his attempts to preserve order, they had their laugh
out. But the pleasantry of the members, and a
sense of the awkwardness of his position, roused Charles
to a more vigorous effort, and as he was about to
speak of another topic, the lost idea came like a flood
“‘There’s a Divinity
that shapes our ends.’ Tim Bunker has chosen
the path he will tread, and does anybody suppose he
will ever abandon it? He will certainly die in
the State Prison or on the gallows-my father
says so. We all know what his habits are, and
it is as easy for an Ethiopian to change his spots-”
“Skin,” said Fred.
“To change his skin, as for
such a fellow to be like us. He will lie, swear,-”
“The chair thinks the member’s
remarks are not strictly in order,” interposed
Frank, who was much pained to hear his friend use such
He saw that Charles was smarting under
the effects of the ridicule which his companions had
cast upon him, and that, in his struggle to make a
speech, and thus redeem himself from the obloquy of
a failure, he had permitted his impulses to override
“I forbear, then,” continued
the speaker. “But I beg the club to consider
the probable consequences of admitting such a fellow
into the association. We have thus far enjoyed
a good reputation, and we ought to be very careful
how we tamper with our respectability.”
“Ahem!” said Fred.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than-than
purple and fine linen.”
“Than what!” exclaimed Fred.
“Great riches,” added
Frank, with a smile, and even he was forced to admit
“that the member was singularly unfortunate in
“You have my opinion, gentlemen,”
said Charles, “and I don’t know that I
have any thing more to say at present;” and,
much disconcerted, he sat down.
But though cast down, he was not destroyed;
and in justice to his companions, it must be remarked
that he had frequently annoyed the club by his attempts
to make speeches more learned and ornate than his
capacity would allow. Frank had reasoned with
him on his propensity to “show off,” but
without effect, so that he did not feel so much sympathy
for him at the present time as he would have felt under
“The question is still open
for discussion,” said the chairman.
No one, however, seemed disposed to speak.
“Question!” called Fred Harper.
“Question!” repeated several others.
“Are you ready for the question?” continued
“All those in favor of admitting
Tim Bunker as a member of the club will signify it
in the usual way.”
Ten hands were raised.
Charles, feeling that he was on the
wrong side, did not vote against the measure, and
it was declared to be a unanimous vote.
“The other matter, requiring
the action of the club, relates to the proposed race
between the Butterfly and the Zephyr. Several
gentlemen of Rippleton feel a deep interest in the
two boat clubs, and have proposed to put up a prize
to be awarded to the successful club. I understand
that fifty dollars have been subscribed for this purpose.
The question is, Shall we pull for this prize?”
“When?” asked Fred.
“The clubs may choose their own time.”
“It wouldn’t be fair till
the Butterfly has had a chance to practise a while.”
“Of course not; the Butterfly
may accept the proposition or not, and the club can
select their own time.”
“I move you that the offer be
accepted,” said William Bright.
“Second the motion,” added James Vincent.
“I make the motion, Mr. President,
for the purpose of bringing the question properly
before the club. I have not thought enough about
the matter yet to decide whether I am in favor of
it or not,” continued William Bright.
“It is generally supposed that
the one who makes a motion is in favor of it; but
we won’t mind that now,” said Frank, with
“Mr. President, I must say,
I think the proposition looks a little like gambling,”
suggested Charles Hardy.
“So I was thinking,” added
a little fellow, near the foot of the table.
“Suppose we take an informal
vote,” proposed Charles, who was determined
to get on the right side this time, if possible.
So an informal vote was taken,
and every member voted against the proposition.
Frank Sedley was surprised at this
result. Probably he was the only one who had
given any earnest thought to the subject, though the
offer was known to all the boys.
Captain Sedley, who watched over the
welfare of the club with paternal interest, had endeavored,
during the winter that was now past, to render it
effectual in developing the moral and mental capacities
of the members. He had given such a direction
to the exercises in Zephyr Hall as he thought would
best attain this end. One of the greatest difficulties
with which he had been obliged to contend was the want
of individuality in the boys. Each was disposed
to “pin his faith” upon others. They
would not think for themselves, and exercise an independent
judgment. Like thousands in the great world, they
“went with the crowd;” thought, acted,
voted, with the majority.
Frank saw the operation of this motive
in the “informal vote” which had just
been taken; and he was tolerably certain that he could
bring them all over to the other side, by indicating
his own preference.
Calling Fred Harper to the chair again,
he opened the discussion by offering a simile, which,
being a parallel case, certainly gave the question
an entirely new aspect.
“At the Rippleton Academy three
gold medals and three silver medals are awarded, every
year, for the best scholarship and deportment.
Is that gambling?”
“No,” replied half a dozen voices.
“Well, we are to row, in like
manner for a prize. We don’t put up money
as a stake; the party that gets beaten does not lose
“That makes a difference,” added Charles.
“But the prizes in the Academy
are given to make the scholars get their lessons well-to
stimulate them in doing their duty,” said William
“Very true;” and Frank
saw, in the faces of the members, that the current
had again set in another direction. “But
we only want to prove that rowing for the prize is
“That’s all,” said Charles.
“The Agricultural Society offers
premiums for the best horses, cows, oxen.”
“That’s to improve stock,”
answered William. “Boat racing can only
be for amusement.”
“The Horticultural Society gives
premiums for the prettiest flowers,” added Frank;
“and my father got one of them last summer.”
The boys were staggered again.
“Flowers are cultivated for
amusement; at any rate, we don’t eat them, or
drink them, or sleep on them,” continued Frank.
“Your bed shall be roses, besprinkled
added Fred, who never missed his joke.
“Besides, we sleep on poppies. They are
a sleepy plant, you know.”
“But the real question,”
said Frank, “is, whether racing for a prize
will not excite hard and envious feelings in the members
of the two clubs. I hope we shall think well
of it before we vote; and for that purpose, Mr. Chairman,
I move a recess of half an hour.”
The motion was carried, and the boys
talked the matter over till the meeting was called
to order again.
“Question!” called several voices.
The vote was immediately taken, and
it stood nine in favor and two opposed to the proposition.
And so, on the part of the Zephyr, the offer was accepted.
The club then adjourned for an excursion on the lake.