HOW THE MARCHING CLUB WAS ORGANIZED

“Something’s got to be done,” said Don Daring, with emphasis, as he
addressed a circle of eager listeners.

The children had assembled on the upper floor of the Randolph barn, a
big, roomy place intended for the storage of hay, when it was built,
but now a bare room because the automobile, which had replaced the
carriage horses, did not eat hay. The Randolphs lived directly across
the road from the Darings, in a handsome, modern structure of brick
and stone that had cost a lot of money to build. This family was
reputed the wealthiest in Riverdale, for Mr. Randolph was a clever
financier who spent most of his time in far-away Boston, where his
business interests were, and only came South to see his family on rare
occasions and for brief visits. Mrs. Randolph was a semi-invalid whose
health obliged her to live in a warmer clime than that of Boston. She
was rather selfish and worldly-minded, although professing to be much
interested in foreign missions, and it was said she occupied most of
her time in writing articles for religious papers and magazines. There
were three Randolph children: Marion, about Phoebe’s age, who attended
a college near Washington and was only home for vacations; Doris, a
demure little girl of an age to associate with Becky, and Allerton, a
boy a trifle younger than Don.

Allerton, whose mother indulged his every whim, rather than be annoyed
by his pleading, had just received from the city an amateur printing
press and outfit and had set it up in the barn. Don and Becky had been
invited to come over and see the first “job” of printing executed,
but interest in the new and expensive plaything was divided by the
news of Toby Clark’s misfortunes. They were all four earnest friends
and admirers of Toby and having canvassed the subject in all its
phases, with growing indignation and excitement, Don wound up with the
statement:

“Something’s got to be done!”

“What?” asked Becky curiously.

“Something to show we believe in Toby an’ know he’s innocent.”

“That don’t answer my question,” insisted his sister. “Something don’t
mean anything, unless you say what the something is.”

“He means,” announced Doris, in her prim way, “that we must undertake
to do something, to be decided later, that will show to the world that
we believe in the honesty of Toby Clark.”

“That’s it!” cried Don approvingly; “an’ Beck ought to know it without
so much argument.”

“All right; I’m game,” said Becky, complacently. “You can count on me
in anything that’ll help Toby.”

“I’m afraid we four can’t do much,” remarked Allerton. “The law has
Toby in its clutches and I suppose it will hang him.”

“Hang nothing!” retorted Don, scornfully. “They don’t hang folks for
stealing, Al; it’s only for murder.”

“But Toby didn’t steal Mrs. Ritchie’s box,” suggested Doris.

“No; of course not. But he’s been arrested for it and is in jail, and
nobody seems to be doing anything to help him. That’s why I think we
ought to do something. If I was in his fix I’d like my friends to fight
for me.”

“Tell us what to do, then, and we’ll do it,” said Becky. “We’ll all
join hands, eyes right an’ chins up, an’ march on to victory!”

“Eh?” said Don, staring at her thoughtfully; “that isn’t a bad idea,
Becky.”

“What idea?”

“The marching. When there’s an election the men all get together and
form a company and parade the streets with banners and a band–and
their man gets elected.”

“It is a way to win popular favor,” said Doris. “The marching and
bands and fireworks arouse excitement.”

“Well, that’s what we ought to do,” declared Don. “Those fool people in
the town are all shaking their heads like billygoats and saying Toby
must be guilty, just ’cause they found the empty box in his back yard.
Anyone could put the box there; it’s no proof Toby did it. Let’s get up
a Toby Clark Marching Club, to defend Toby and bring folks to the right
way of thinking. That’ll help him more than anything else.”

“It would make ’em laugh,” said Beck, “to see two boys and two girls
marching with a banner and a band. And where in thunder will you get
that band, Don?”

“You shut up. We’ll enlist every kid in town in our marching club.
It’ll be no end of fun–besides helping Toby.”

“That sounds good,” said Allerton. “I’ll be the captain.”

“I’m captain myself,” retorted Don. “It’s my idea.”

“It was Becky’s.”

“Nothing of the sort. What she said gave me the idea; and it’s a good
one.”

“If you’re going to hog everything, you can get up your own marching
club, and I’ll stay out of it,” said Allerton sullenly.

Don had a hot reply on his tongue’s end, but hesitated. He really
wanted to help Toby Clark.

“Tell you what we’ll do, Al,” he said generously; “we’ll get up the
club together and then let all the members vote which one of us shall
be captain. Then the other can be first lieutenant.”

“All right,” agreed Al.

“Why don’t you both be generals?” asked Becky. “Then it would leave
some offices for us girls.”

“Why, we can’t be expected to march in a parade, Becky,” said Doris
chidingly. “It wouldn’t be ladylike.”

“I’m no lady, an’ I’m goin’ to march,” replied Becky, with decision.
“This isn’t politics; it’s a boom for Toby Clark, the Unjustly Accused,
and I’m in the game first, last an’ all the time.”

“That’s the proper spirit,” said Don.

“Tell you what,” remarked Allerton; “we’ll print a lot of cards,
inviting all the boys and girls in Riverdale to join the Toby Clark
Marching Club, and we’ll distribute them at school and call the first
meeting in our barn on Saturday forenoon.”

“Great idea, Al! Let’s print the cards right away,” cried Don with
enthusiasm.

They first wrote the announcement on a piece of paper, Becky doing the
writing in her scrawly hand and Doris correcting the spelling, which
was something startling as Becky employed it. Then they set the type,
the girls eagerly helping to do that, and after locking it up in the
chase they ran off the first impression. It was somewhat blurred, there
being too much ink on the roller, but Becky proudly read it aloud, as
follows:

TAKE NOTICE!

You are respectfully invited to become a Member of

THE TOBY CLARK MARCHING CLUB!

Organized for the Defense of our Unjustly Accused Fellow Citizen,
Toby Clark! And to Bring About his Release from Jail and to Clear
his Good Name from the Taint of Cowardly Slander! There will be

UNIFORMS! BANDS! RED FIRE! and BANNERS!

All in Favor of this will Meet at Randolph’s Barn (upstairs) on
Saturday Morning at 9 o’clock Sharp.

ALL BOYS AND GIRLS WELCOME TO JOIN!

Don Daring,
Al Randolph,
Doris Randolph,
Becky Daring,
Organizing Committee.

(Al Randolph, Printer)




“The composition doesn’t seem to be quite clear,” observed Doris, when
the applause had subsided. “It reads as if all in favor of the red fire
and banners were invited to join.”

“Well, so they are,” maintained Don. “The red fire an’ banners mean the
Marching Club, ’cause they’re a part of it.”

“Better leave the band out,” advised Becky. “It’s a swindle, and we
want this thing on the square.”

“There’s going to be a band–if we have to blow on combs covered with
paper,” retorted her brother. “But this is going to be an awful big
thing, girls, and we may hire the Riverdale Cornet Band.”

“That’d cost twenty dollars.”

“If they’re friends of Toby Clark they’ll play for nothing. Don’t
borrow trouble. Buckle to, and make the thing a success.”

They printed off a hundred cards and laid them upon a board to dry
overnight. Next morning Allerton brought them to the Darings and each
of the Organizing Committee took twenty-five to distribute at school.
The boys and girls of Riverdale read the announcement and became
excited over the novelty of the undertaking. Therefore the Randolph
barn was crowded on Saturday morning at 9 o’clock, when Allerton called
the meeting to order–a necessary call–and announced that Donald
Daring would explain the object of the proposed organization.

Don had carefully prepared his speech in advance and had even committed
it to memory. Right after breakfast he had recited it to Becky without
a skip, and his usually critical sister had declared it was “simply
grand.” But Don had an attack of what is called “stage fright” and as
he faced the throng of eager listeners promptly forgot the beginning
of his address–and nearly all the rest of it. But he knew what he
wanted to talk about and after stammering through the first sentence,
progressed very well, his earnestness inspiring him to oratory.

“Friends and fellow citizens,” he began; “you all know what a measly
shame the arrestin’ of Toby Clark was, which he’s innocent as I am
or as any of you are. You know Toby, and he’s a good fellow, and
no sneak-thief, and you can bet your oatmeal on that ev’ry time!
(Applause.) Toby’s always been a friend an’ stood by us, so now’s the
time for us to stand by him. The truth is, somebody’s tryin’ to make a
goat of Toby, and hopes to put him in jail so he’ll escape himself.”

A Voice: “So who’ll escape? Which one of ’em, Don?”

“So the thief that stole the box will escape, of course. That’s why
the thief put the empty box in Toby’s yard, an’ stuffed the papers
in his shanty. He hoped Toby would be arrested an’ proved guilty, so
he–the fellow that stole the box–wouldn’t be suspected.”

Another Voice: “Who stole the box, if Toby didn’t?”

“We don’t know who stole it. I wish we did. But we’re sure it wasn’t
Toby and so we’re going to stick up for him and force Sam Parsons an’
the law-bugs over at Bayport to set him free. That’s what this Club’s
going to be organized for,” here Don suddenly remembered part of his
speech: “to mold public opinion into the right channels and champion
the cause of our down-trodden comrade.”

“Hooray!” yelled Becky, and great applause followed.

“I heard Lawyer Holbrook was stickin’ up for Toby,” said a boy.

“Holbrook’s a stick, but he ain’t stickin’ up much,” replied Don. “He
isn’t posted on things, ’cause he’s just come to town and don’t know
the run of things. If Toby’s goin’ to be saved, this Marching Club,
organized for his benefit, is goin’ to save him, and it’ll be stacks of
fun besides. We’ll parade all through the town, with flags an’ banners
flying, an’ we’ll have a banquet, an’ perhaps a brass band, an’ so
help to set Toby Clark free.”

“What’ll we eat at the banquet?” asked a solemn-eyed girl.

“Food, of course,” answered Becky. “You’d better join an’ get a square
meal, for once in your life, Susan Doozen.”

“I guess our grocery bill is as big as yours is!” cried the girl
angrily.

“It’s bigger,” replied Becky composedly, “for we pay ours.”

“Here, cut that out!” commanded the speaker. “We’re not here to
squabble, but to fight for Toby Clark, and we’re going to put up the
biggest fight Riverdale has ever seen. The Toby Clark Marching Club
will become famous, an’ go down in the annals of history as a–as–as–”

“As a Marching Club,” said Allerton, helping him out.

“With a record we’ll all be proud of,” added Don. “I can tell you
kids one thing, and that is that every boy an’ girl who don’t belong
to our marching club will be looked down on as nobodies, an’ they’ll
deserve it. This is goin’ to be the biggest thing that ever happened
in Riverdale and when Toby Clark is free and cleared of this wicked
slander I’m going to petition Congress to give every one of us a gold
medal. Now, then, the register is on that box beside the chairman, who
is Al Randolph. You’ll form in line and all walk up and sign it. It’s a
pledge to become a member of this Marching Club and to allow no one to
say Toby Clark is guilty without denying it. Also to obey the rules of
the Club and mind its officers.”

“Who’s them?” asked a small boy.

“We’re going to elect the officers after you’ve all signed,” replied
Don.

It was evident that the arguments advanced had been effective. Every
boy and girl present signed the roll. When Doris had counted the
names she announced that the Toby Clark Marching Club now numbered
sixty-seven members.

“We’ll make it an even hundred in a few days,” declared Don exultantly.
“And now we’ll have the election of officers. All in favor of me for
captain say ‘aye.’”

“Hold on!” cried Al, jumping up. “That isn’t fair. You promised they
should vote whether you or I should be captain.”

“That’s all right,” said Don. “If they don’t elect me they can vote for
you.”

“Can’t anyone else be it?” asked a big boy anxiously.

“No,” replied Don. “It was my idea, and Al printed the invitations on
his press. One of us has got to be captain and the other lieutenant.
But there’ll be lots of other officers.”

“Listen to me,” said Becky. “I know how to run an election. I’ll give
each one a piece of paper, and each one must write ‘Al’ or ‘Don’ on
it, whichever they want for captain. Then Doris and I will collect the
papers and count ’em, and whoever has the most will be elected.”

There being no objection to this plan it was carried out. When the
papers were counted Al had twenty-six votes and Don forty-one.

“Are you sure you counted right?” asked Al in a disappointed tone.

“Count ’em yourself, if you want to,” replied Becky.

“Friends and fellow citizens,” said Don, bowing to the members of the
Marching Club, “I thank you for this evidence of your good judgment.
I’m now the captain and I’ll drill you like a regiment of soldiers,
only better. Al is first lieutenant, and I appoint Becky secretary and
Doris the treasurer.”

“When do we get the gold medals?” asked a girl.

Don glared at her.

“The gold medals don’t come till after Toby is cleared. Then I said I’d
ask Congress for ’em.”

“Who’s Congress?” inquired the girl.

There was a laugh, at this, and then Don said they’d elect two
standard-bearers, to carry the banners, and four corporals. He didn’t
much care who filled these offices, and so allowed the members to
vote for whom they pleased. By the time the election was over Doris
and Becky brought up two great trays of cakes, while their brothers
provided a pail of lemonade, with which the entire club was served by
having recourse to constant dilutions.

Providing these refreshments had been thought by the organizers to be
good policy and calculated to arouse enthusiasm in the Marching Club;
and so it did. After being served they all trooped out upon the lawn,
where Don and Al matched the children into pairs and arranged the order
in which they should parade. The boys and girls wanted to march through
the town at once, but their captain told them they were not ready for
a parade yet. They must be drilled, and the banners must be made and
painted. Each member was instructed to get a white sash and wear it
whenever the club met.

They drilled until noon, growing more and more animated and
enthusiastic, and then separated to meet again after supper on the
grounds of the Daring residence.