The Blue Birds' Winter Nest Part 8

"Think so! Then you get busy and gather the fathers together to-morrow night for a conference. We will see how many will agree to help along the work. I will donate all of my ideas acc.u.mulated during the past years."

"I'll telephone everyone I know the first thing in the morning. Where shall we meet--in the library?" asked Mr. Talmage.

"Yes, and if there are too many of us we will have to adjourn to a larger place," said Uncle Ben.

Before breakfast the next morning the Starrs' telephone rang, and Mr.

Starr was informed that he was wanted at a meeting to be held in Talmage's library that night. Meredith and Donald knew nothing of Uncle Ben's talk with Mr. Talmage, but they felt sure the meeting had something to do with their plans.

Mr. Wells and Mr. Stevens were the next ones to be invited to the meeting, and after that a score or more of fathers were invited.

Uncle Ben, who had hoped to take a few days' rest in his brother's quiet country home, found himself very busy in working out his idea so that it could be simply presented to the meeting of boys and men. He spent the entire morning in jotting down ideas as they came to him.

Luncheon over, Ned caught Uncle Ben's hand and said, "You haven't forgotten the date we made, have you?"

"You wouldn't think so if you had seen me working all morning,"

complained Uncle Ben.

"That's all right then; we boys will meet you in the big empty carriage house this afternoon at three-thirty," nodded Ned.

"I'll be there!" laughed Uncle Ben, as Ned ran off.

The big room in the carriage house had not been used since the garage had been built.

Ned and Ike found some chairs in the store-room, and Simon provided several empty boxes. Long planks were placed across the boxes, making very good benches for the boys to sit upon. A large packing case stood a few feet in front of the benches to be used as the speaker's stand.

At three-thirty every boy who had expressed a desire to join the Bobolinks was there with expectant looks. Uncle Ben soon arrived and took a seat by the large box. He spread his papers out in front of him in a very business-like way.

"Boys, I will go straight to the business under consideration this afternoon," said Uncle Ben, standing up the better to impress his audience.

"I think the first thing to do is to appoint a secretary."

Ned was selected, so he sat down behind the packing case to jot down his notes.

"Have you boys formed any kind of an organization?" asked Uncle Ben, turning to Ned.

"No, sir, not yet," replied Ned.

"Then let us attend to that now. You must have officers, and rules and by-laws for governing the boys and meetings. Now, I should suggest that we begin properly, and hold an election of officers."

Uncle Ben then told them the proper way to proceed, and the boys were greatly impressed with the importance of what they were doing. When the election was completed, Ned had been chosen President, Meredith Treasurer and Jinks Secretary.

"Now," said Uncle Ben, "with your permission I will preside at this meeting, instead of your new President. I will read to you what I have written on this paper:

"First: The undersigned have met together to form an organization to be known as Bobolink Boys.

"Second: The purpose of this organization is to provide a club for boys under twelve years of age, that will plan healthful sport, social meetings, and a.s.sist the Blue Birds in their work and play.

"Third: Meetings shall be arranged for by vote of members, and all other important matters shall be discussed and decided upon at these meetings.

"Fourth: An initiation fee of ten cents shall be charged each boy desiring to become a member of the Bobolinks, and dues of five cents a month shall be collected from every member. Should any member find it impossible to pay these costs he may be discharged from the obligation by filing an acceptable excuse with the treasurer.

"Fifth: A bank account shall be opened at the Oakdale National Bank and all funds deposited there. All bills must be paid by check signed by the treasurer and secretary.

"Sixth: Any member found deliberately breaking any of the rules and by-laws shall be expelled from the organization, after a meeting held to investigate the misdemeanor."

Uncle Ben looked up from the paper and said,

"Is that the plan of organization that you boys feel will cover what you want?"

"Oh, yes, that's fine!" cried several boys.

The others still felt too over-awed at the business-like terms just heard, to make any sign, favorable or otherwise.

"Well, if this paper is acceptable a motion to make it official will be received. I want to get to the thing for which we have gathered," said Uncle Ben.

"Now, I shall make some suggestions," continued Uncle Ben, after the outline had been accepted by a vote. "Are there any boys here who do not wish to become members?"

All of the twenty-three boys wished to become Bobolinks.

"Are there any boys present who cannot pay the initial fee and regular dues?" continued Uncle Ben.

None thought this impossible.

"After this you write down the names and addresses of every boy who applies for membership."

Ned made a note of it in his book.

"Now for a catechism: This is very important," said Uncle Ben, looking about at the boys. "And answer truthfully!"

"Ever smoke?"

"Ever drink?"

"Ever gamble?"

"Ever swear?"

"Ever steal?"

"Ever fight?"

"Ever play hookey?"

"Ever strike anyone weaker than yourself?"

"I noticed that most of the boys smiled when I said 'hookey,'" ventured Uncle Ben, critically. "But let me tell you! 'Hookey' is an innocent-looking vice that leads to great trouble. It is the seed of being unreliable. A man who is unreliable is a failure in the beginning.

So, boys, beware of 'hookey'!"

The boys felt the serious import of the words and each vowed to forego the delight in playing hookey when fishing was good, or when baseball was being played in town ten miles away.

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