HOW THE BAND PLAYED

Ed Collins, the leader of the Riverdale Cornet Band, was much amused
when the four children–two Darings and two Randolphs–came to him in
breathless excitement and wanted to hire his band to parade with the
Marching Club on Saturday afternoon. Ed kept a tailor shop and was a
good-natured, easy-going fellow who was fond of children and liked to
humor them, but this proposition seemed so absurd that he answered with
a smile:

“Bands cost money. The boys won’t tramp the streets for nothing, you
know.”

“We’ll pay,” said Don, offended that he was not taken seriously. “I
said we wanted to _hire_ your band. Their business is to play for
money, isn’t it?”

“Sometimes,” said Ed; “and sometimes they play for fun.”

“This’ll be fun,” suggested Becky.

“Not for the band, I guess. You’d want us to play every minute,” said
the tailor.

“Of course; that’s what bands are for. When they don’t play, nobody
pays any attention to them,” declared the girl.

“They have to get their breaths, once in awhile,” suggested Ed.

“Let ’em do it when they’re not parading, then. You can’t expect us to
pay ’em to breathe,” said Becky.

“We have money,” said Doris, with dignity, thinking it time to
interfere. “What is your lowest price?”

The leader looked at her in surprise.

“You’re in earnest?” he demanded.

“Of course!” they cried in a chorus.

“How many men do you want?”

“All you’ve got,” said Don; “and they must wear their new uniforms.”

“We’ve twelve men, altogether, and when we’re hired for an afternoon we
get three dollars apiece.”

“That is thirty-six dollars,” replied Doris. “Very well; do you wish
the money now?”

The tailor was amazed.

“What’s it all about, anyhow?” he inquired.

“We’ve organized the Toby Clark Marching Club–over a hundred boys
and girls–the best lot in the village,” explained Don. “We want to
show everybody in Riverdale that we don’t believe–not for a single
minute–that Toby ever stole Mrs. Ritchie’s box, and we’re going to
carry signs an’ banners an’ march through the streets with the band
playing.”

Collins stared a minute, and then he laughed.

“That’s great!” he exclaimed. “I’m with you in this deal, for it’s a
shame the way they’re treating Toby. Perhaps I can get the boys to play
for two dollars apiece, on this occasion.”

“We’ve got fifty dollars,” announced Doris, the treasurer. “It was
given us by some one anxious to befriend Toby Clark and we’re to spend
it just as we please.”

“Oh. Do you want fifty dollars’ worth of music, then?” asked the
tailor, with an eye to business.

“No,” said Don; “that is, not all at once. If your twelve men will
play for twenty-four dollars, we could hire them twice. If this first
parade’s a success, I want to take all the Club and the band over to
Bayport, and make a parade there.”

“Dear me!” said Becky, to whom this idea was new; “how’ll we ever get
such a mob over to Bayport?”

“It can’t be done,” declared Allerton.

“Yes, it can,” persisted Don. “If we wake up the folks in Riverdale
we must wake ’em up in Bayport. That’s the county seat and the trial
will be held there, so it’s a good point to show the Bayporters what we
think of Toby Clark.”

“How’ll you get us there–walking?” asked Becky.

“We’ll hire carryalls, an’ rigs of all sorts,” said Don.

“We can’t hire much if we spend all our money on bands,” Allerton
replied.

“We’ll get more money. P’raps the Unknown will fork over another wad
for the good of the cause.”

“Tell you what I’ll do,” said Collins, catching some of the children’s
enthusiasm, “I’ll play for nothing, myself, and perhaps some of the
other men will. Those that insist on money will get two dollars apiece.”

Becky took her badge from her pocket and pinned it on the tailor’s coat.

“You’re the right stuff, Ed,” she remarked. “But don’t show your badge
to anyone until Saturday; and don’t blab about the parade, either. We
want to surprise folks.”

The band appeared in force at one o’clock on Saturday afternoon,
meeting the Marching Club on the Daring grounds, as had been arranged.
The musicians wore their best uniforms and looked very impressive
with their glittering horns and their drums. Ed whispered to Don and
Allerton that seven of the twelve had agreed to donate their services,
so the total cost of the band would be but ten dollars.

This was good news, indeed. The youthful officers quickly formed their
ranks, for every boy and girl was excited over the important event and
very proud to be a member of the Marching Club.

Judith and Phoebe came out to see the parade start and they thought
these bright and eager young folks could not fail to impress their
belief in Toby Clark’s innocence on all who witnessed this day’s
demonstration.

The children had “chipped in” whatever money they could command to pay
the village sign painter for lettering in big black letters on white
cloth three huge banners, which had been framed and were to be carried
in the parade. The first, which the butcher’s big boy carried just in
front of the band, read:

“THE TOBY CLARK MARCHING CLUB.”




The second, which was borne in the center of the procession, said:

“WE KNOW THAT TOBY CLARK IS INNOCENT.”

The third sign, carried in the rear ranks, was as follows:

“JOIN US IN DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR TOBY.
YOU MIGHT BE FALSELY ACCUSED YOURSELF
SOME DAY.”

This last was so big that it required two to carry it, and four
guy-ropes, gayly decorated with colored ribbons, were held by four of
the girls to give it more steadiness. In addition to these, two big
American flags were carried in the line.

Don took his place at the head of the First Division, just behind the
band. Allerton commanded the Second Division. Doris and Becky walked
at either side, armed with bundles of handbills which Allerton had
printed, urging the public to defend Toby Clark in every possible way,
because he was helpless to defend himself.

Then the band struck up a spirited march tune and started down the
street with the Marching Club following in splendid order and keeping
fairly good step with the music. The white sashes and caps gave the
children an impressive appearance and their earnest faces were very
good to behold.

To most of the Riverdale people the parade was a real surprise and all
were astonished by the numbers and soldierly bearing of the youthful
participants. Many a cheer greeted them in the down-town districts,
where numerous farmers and their families, who had come to Riverdale
for their Saturday shopping, helped to swell the crowd of spectators.

“They ought to told us ’bout this,” said Tom Rathbun the grocer to the
group standing outside his store. “We’d ’a’ decorated the town, to
give the kids a send-off. I’ve got a sneakin’ notion, myself, as Toby
is guilty, but that don’t cut no ice if it amuses the kids to think as
he’s innercent.”

“Pah!” returned Griggs the carpenter, with scornful emphasis, “I’m
’shamed o’ you, Tom Rathbun. Can you look in the faces o’ them
children, who all know Toby better’n we grown-ups, an’ then say the
boy’s guilty?”

“They ain’t got no sense; they’re jest kids,” retorted the grocer.

“Sense? They’re full o’ sense, ’cause they ain’t prejudiced an’
stubborn, like us old ones,” claimed the carpenter. “Children has
intuitions; they’ve a way of tellin’ the true from the false in a
second, without any argyment. You might fool one youngster, p’raps,
but when you see a whole crowd like this declarin’ the innercence of
one who they knows through an’ through, you can bet your bottom dollar
they’re right!”

A good many thought and argued as old Griggs did; those who had
formerly condemned Toby became thoughtful and began to reconsider
their judgment; even the most rabid believers in the boy’s guilt were
silent in the face of this impressive demonstration and forbore any
remarks that might irritate the youthful champions.

The one exception was Dave Hunter, who had developed so strong an
antipathy toward Toby that nothing seemed to mollify it. The telegraph
office was at the railway station and as Dave stood outside with
Wakefield, the station agent, watching the parade pass, he said
sneeringly:

“The little fools! What good can they do? We’re not the judge and jury,
and if we were we wouldn’t be influenced by a lot of crazy little
beggars marching.”

“You’re ’way off, Dave,” replied Wakefield. “Nothing influences one
more than the pleading of children. We can’t tell yet who the jury will
be, but if any of them happen to see this parade to-day you can gamble
that the opinion of these marchers will have a lot of weight with them.”

“There’s nothing sound in their opinion; it’s mere sentiment,” growled
Dave.

“Sentiment? Well, that counts for a good deal in this world,” observed
Wakefield, an older and more experienced man. “These children are dear
to a lot of folks, who will side with them first and last; not through
cold reason, but through sentiment.”

Indeed, almost every parent in Riverdale had a boy or girl in the
parade and was proud to own it. Parents usually stand by their children
when they evince generosity and loyalty and it is certain that the
effect of this great parade helped the cause of Toby Clark more than
its organizers suspected.

Don and Becky Daring and the Randolphs believed firmly in Toby’s
innocence, but were animated as much by the novelty and excitement of
promoting the Marching Club as by the belief that they could assist
their friend by its means. Yet the fun of the undertaking did not lead
them to forget the original cause and when the parade reached Mr.
Spaythe’s house it halted and gave three rousing cheers for Toby Clark,
afterward standing at attention while the band played through an entire
tune. The crowd that had assembled called loudly for Toby, but the
poor boy was hidden behind the curtains of a window, trying to see his
loyal army through the blinding tears that streamed from his eyes. Toby
couldn’t have spoken a word had he appeared, there was such a hard lump
in his throat; but he kept repeating to himself, over and over again:

“It’s worth it all! It’s worth anything that can happen to know I am so
loved and respected by all the boys and girls. I don’t care, now. Let
’em do their worst. I’m happy!”

After more cheers the procession moved on and as the sound of the
music died away in the distance, Toby Clark, in the seclusion of his
room, fell on his knees and earnestly thanked God for giving him such
friends.