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   Chapter 10 THE ECHO CLUB.

Cricket at the Seashore By Elizabeth Weston Timlow Characters: 17573

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Eunice and Edna went sauntering along the beach, with arms around each other's waists. They were bending their steps towards one of their favourite retreats, under some big rocks. It was high tide, and the water lay dimpling and smiling in the sunlight. Down beside the dock, Will and Archie were giving their sailboat, the Gentle Jane, a thorough cleaning and overhauling. Cricket was-the girls didn't know exactly where.

"There she is now," said Eunice, as they came around the rocks. Cricket lay in her favourite attitude, full length on the sand, in which her elbows were buried, with a book under her nose. She sat up as the girls came nearer.

"I have an idea," she announced, beamingly.

"Very hot weather for ideas!" said Eunice, fanning herself with her broad-brimmed hat.

"Eunice, you're dreadfully brilliant, aren't you? Anyway, I have an idea, and I just got it from 'Little Women.'"

Edna threw herself on the sand. "Don't let's do it, if we have to do anything," she said, fanning likewise.

"Now, you're brilliant. But you're a lazybones, you know. Tell us your idea, Cricket."

"You know how Jo and the rest had a club and published a paper? Now, then, let us have a club and publish a paper ourselves. It would be lots of fun."

Eunice and Edna looked rather startled at Cricket's ambition.

"Who would write the pieces for it?" demanded Edna, instantly.

"We would, of course," answered Cricket, superbly. "I'd love to do it."

"Write stories, and poems, and everything," urged Edna, aghast.

"Of course," repeated Cricket, undauntedly. "It's as easy as rolling off a log. That isn't slang, Eunice, and you needn't look at me. Rolling off a log is really very easy indeed." For Eunice, though her own language was not always above reproach, was very apt to play censor to her younger sister. "We'd just make them up ourselves."

"Make them up!" Unimaginative Edna opened her mouth and eyes wider. "I couldn't, to save my life!"

"Oh, you could. I've made up billions of stories," answered Cricket, hugging her knees, and talking earnestly.

"But how?" persisted Edna. "Oh, I couldn't! I wouldn't try!"

"I don't know exactly how," returned Cricket, considering. "Just make them up, that's all. Things come into your head all by themselves, somehow."

"It would be fun, Cricket," put in Eunice, who had been thinking over the project. "We could print the paper all out on foolscap."

"Would we each write our own story out?"

"We could if we wanted to. I thought we might take turns being editor, and printing everything out like a real paper. We might have one every week, and get subscribers," added Cricket, ambitiously.

"Subscribers!" groaned Edna, "and print a copy out for each one? Not if I know myself. It's too warm weather."

"Well, then, we might hand the one around to the subscribers, and each one could pass it to the next, like a Magazine Club," said Edna.

"No," said Eunice. "Don't let us have subscribers, or anything like that. We'll just do it for fun. We'll write one number out for ourselves. I do think it will be fun. Shall we let the boys know?"

"No," said Edna, instantly. "They would tease and spoil things, just as they always do."

"They don't tease much," said Cricket, defensively. "They're a great deal nicer than they were last summer, I think, anyway. They did tease, last summer, dreadfully, and they never played with Eunice and me, but were always with Donald." For the summer before, Will and Archie had spent two months at Kayuna, as grandma had been ill, and was not able to have them at Marbury, as usual.

"This summer I think they're awfully nice. At least Will always is, and Archie is, sometimes. They let me be around with them all the time."

"But I think we'd better not let them into it," said Eunice, judicially. Eunice generally settled all questions. "They would not stick to it, and they would want us to do it some other way from what we wanted,"-speaking from long experience with boys,-"and they would want to have it their own way. Now what shall we call ourselves?"

"We ought to be the 'Echo Club,'" suggested Edna, who often had practical ideas. "We copy it from 'Little Women.'"

"Splendid!" cried Cricket, clapping her hands. "That's just the name, Edna. How clever of you! We'll be the Echo Club, and the paper shall be the 'Echo,' and we'll have badges with 'E. C.' on them, and we'll choose a certain colour ribbon to wear them on, always, and we'll have meetings, and oh, we'll have some by-laws!" her imagination instantly running away with her. "I always wanted to have a club, and have by-laws, and rules, all written out. Do let's begin, right away!"

"We can't very well begin a paper, till we have some stories written to print in it," said Eunice, laughing. "We'll have to get some ideas, first."

"You don't want ideas," answered Cricket, scornfully. "We want to write some stories and things."

"I never can!" sighed Edna, despairingly.

"But you can try," insisted Cricket. "It's so easy." And at last, Edna, with a groan, promised she would at least try.

For the next few days, the three girls were never seen without the accompaniment of blank books and pencils. The blank books were Cricket's idea. She said that they could carry around blank books with them, and write whenever they thought of anything to say. So they tied pencils around their necks, by long ribbons, and scribbled industriously in corners. Edna groaned, and protested, and chewed up her pencil, but Cricket was inexorable, and gave her no peace, till she made a beginning.

Suddenly Cricket discovered that they were not properly organized yet.

"Let's have a meeting at two o'clock this afternoon, and choose a president, and secretary, and treasurer, and an editor, to print the paper when it is done. We must make up our rules and by-laws, too. Oh, we must have a regular business meeting," with an air of much importance.

"Let's have it now, for we're all here," proposed Edna.

"No, indeed, that would not do at all," said Cricket, decidedly, quite disgusted with this suggestion. "We must call the meeting first, just as grown-up people do." For Cricket, with all her harum-scarum ways, had a strong liking for organization.

"You're a fuss," said Edna, laughing, but yielding the point.

So at two o'clock, the three girls duly and solemnly convened behind the rocks, where they were completely screened from observation, both from the house, and from any one passing along the beach. All felt the importance of the occasion, and had preternaturally grave faces.

"What do we do first?" asked Edna, uncertainly.

"I know," said Cricket, quickly. "We nominate some one for president, and somebody seconds the motive. Papa has often told us about it, and once I went with mamma to a club of hers. I'll nominate Eunice for president, and you must second the motive, Edna, and then we'll vote."

"There'll be nobody to vote, but me, then," objected Eunice. "Shall I vote for myself?"

"Might as well. You'll have to be president anyway, because you're the oldest, and it's more appropriate. Or let's do this: You say, 'All in favour say, aye. Contrary-minded, no,' and then we'll all vote. That's the way they did in mamma's meeting, only, of course, there were more to vote. Now, I nominate Eunice Ward as president of the Echo Club."

"I second the motive," said Edna, promptly, trying not to laugh.

"All in favour of my being president, say aye," said Eunice, in her turn.

A very vigorous aye from the two others followed.

"Contrary-minded, say no."

There being nobody to say no, it was considered a unanimous election, and Cricket so declared it, with a slight variation.

"Eunice is a unaminous president," she announced.

"What is a unaminous president," asked Edna.

"I don't know. It's something they always say. Now we must choose a secretary and treasurer."

"What do they do?"

"Why, the secretary writes things," said Cricket, vaguely.

"All the stories?" said Edna, brightening. "I nominate Cricket for secretary."

"Of course not. We each write our own stories. I mean letters and things. Don't you know, Eunice, that Marjorie was secretary to her club last winter, and what a lot of writing she had to do?"

"Who to?" persisted Edna. "What do they have to write letters for? We've nobody to write letters to but Aunt Margaret and the rest."

"Not to them, of course," returned Cricket, somewhat impatiently, as she did not at all know the duties of a secretary. "And the treasurer takes care of the money, of course," she went on, quickly shifting the subject to something she was sure of.

"How are we going to get any money, will you kindly tell me?" pursued Edna.

"Keepi

ng a peanut stand," suggested Eunice, slyly.

"No, don't let's," answered Cricket, seriously. "It isn't really much fun, and you don't make very much, anyway. First, let's take up a collection to buy the paper with, for we've got to have that. And, well, if we should have any money in any way, the treasurer would be all ready to take care of it. Don't you see?"

"Ye-es. I nominate Cricket for secretary and treasurer, then-"

"I'll second the motive-Cricket, that doesn't sound right."

"It is," said Cricket, positively. "When I went to that meeting with mamma, they kept saying that-'I'll second the motive.'"

"All right, then, I'll second the motive, but then Edna will have to be the editor."

"No, no," cried Edna, looking alarmed. "I'll nominate myself for secretary and treasurer, and we'll have Cricket for editor. There won't be any letters to write, and I'm sure there won't be much money to take care of."

"It will be lots of work to be editor," meditated Eunice. "Wouldn't this be better, girls? Let each be editor in turn."

"Yes, that will be best," said Cricket. "I'd just as lief be first editor, though, if Edna doesn't want to."

"And I'd lievser you would," said Edna. "Shall I be secretary and treasurer, then? All in favour say aye;" and Eunice and Cricket said aye, loudly.

"What do we do now the officers are all chosen?" asked Edna.

"Make rules and by-laws," answered Cricket, promptly.

"What are by-laws?" asked Edna, again.

"Why, they are-by-laws. I don't know just exactly what they are," broke off Cricket, honestly. "But I think they sound very interesting and grown-up-y. Do you know what they are, Eunice?"

"N-o, not exactly. Do you suppose they are the laws about buying things? or who must buy them, or anything like that?"

"Why, of course!" exclaimed Cricket, with an air of conviction. "You see then, we'll have to have by-laws to see about buying the paper, won't we?"

"And what sort of rules do we have?" went on Edna, in the pursuit of information.

"Oh, everything! Let's begin to make them now. You write them down, Edna, for your handwriting is so nice and neat. Take the last leaf of your blank book."

Edna obediently opened her book, and took up her pencil.

"Write 'Rules for the Echo Club' at the top of the page," directed Cricket. "Now, Rule One," when this was down in Edna's careful handwriting.

"How would this do for rule one? 'We make ourselves into a club called the Echo Club.'"

"That's good. Now for rule two.

"'Every two weeks we will print a paper called the Echo,'" said Cricket. "Edna, you make up rule three."

"'The secretary shall be excused from writing stories,'" laughed Edna.

"You lazy, lazy thing. That sha'n't be a rule at all," answered Eunice, laughing also.

"How would this do, then, for rule three? 'The Echo Club will not do anything in very hot weather, but sit under the trees and embroider and read, and none of the members shall be allowed to make the others go on long walks and things when it's so roasting hot that nobody wants to stir.' That's a beautiful rule," said Edna, mischievously. Whereupon Cricket flew at her, and rolled her over on the sand, till she cried for mercy.

"Will the meeting please come to order," announced the president. "Let's have the third rule about our ribbons. We'll choose one colour. I vote for pale-green."

"Blue," said Edna, and "Pink," said Cricket, in one breath. The children looked at each other and laughed.

"I'd just as soon have pale-green," said Edna, amiably.

"So would I," agreed Cricket. "Eunice is president, so let's vote for pale-green. How would this do? 'The club will have pale-green ribbon to tie its pencils round its necks.'"

"'Round its necks' sounds funny," commented Edna, writing.

"Round its neck, then. But that sounds as if we had only one neck."

"Say, the club will have pale-green ribbon to tie their pencils round their necks," amended Eunice.

"That will do. Now rule four," said Edna, waiting, with pencil raised.

"Shouldn't we have a by-law now?" asked Cricket. "For instance, By-law one: 'The club will buy foolscap paper to print on, and will take up a surscription of five cents to buy it with.'"

"Subscription," corrected Eunice. "I should think that would do."

So Edna wrote, neatly:

"Buy-law I. The club will take up a subscription of five cents each, and buy foolscap paper, as much as it needs."

"That's good. Do we need any more by-laws? What else have we to buy?"

"Ain't those enough rules?" asked Eunice. "I can't seem to think of any more rules we want to make."

"When will we have the paper?" asked Edna.

"Depends on when you send in your stories. This is Wednesday. Have you your stories nearly done, girls? I guess it will take some time to print them all out carefully."

"I can finish mine to-morrow," said Eunice.

"Mine's a horrid little thing, but I wasn't born bright," sighed Edna. "I'll get it done by Friday. I can't think up more than five lines a day."

"Mine's all done," said Cricket. "But, oh, girls! a newspaper ought to have ever so many more things than stories in it. We ought to have jokes, and advertisements, and deaths, and marriages, and all that. And puzzles, too."

"Oh-h!" groaned Edna. "Then you'll have to make them up, that's all. I think it's the editor's business, anyway."

"We'll each do a few. That won't be hard," suggested Eunice.

"Suppose nobody dies, or gets married, that we know of?" asked literal Edna.

"Make them up, child," answered Cricket, with a funny air of superiority. "In a paper you can make up anything. It doesn't have to be true. Don't you know how often papa says 'that's only a newspaper story?'"

"Making them up is just the trouble," persisted Edna. "If anybody really died, or married, or anything, it would be easy enough to write of it, of course. How silly people are who make real newspapers. Why do they ever make up anything, when real things are happening all the time?"

"It's more fun to make things up," answered Cricket, from the depths of her experience. "But we can write about that old red hen, and about poor little Wallops"-referring to a little black cat, lately deceased. "Then each of you must send me in some things besides your stories, and I'll make some up myself. Let's appoint next Tuesday for a meeting, if I can get the paper done. If I don't, we'll have it as soon as I can get it ready."

"Shall that be a rule?" laughed Eunice.

"No, miss. But suppose we make this a rule-how many rules have we now?"

"Three," said Edna, referring to the constitution.

"Then rule four: 'The paper shall be read on Wednesday afternoons, at three o'clock, in Rocky Nook.' Why, girls! I made up that name just then!" interrupting herself, in her surprise.

"It's a splendid name," the girls said.

"We might call it 'Exiles' Bower,'" laughed Edna, teasingly, for the boys had given that name to Bear Island since the girls' imprisonment there.

"If you like," said Cricket, the unteasable, serenely.

"Don't you think that the next rule ought to be that we won't tell the boys?" asked Edna. "I just know they will tease us out of our senses."

So rule five was duly registered, to the effect that strict secrecy was to be observed, and that they would tell no one but grandma and Auntie Jean.

"There must be another by-law," put in Cricket, reflectively, here, "for we must have some badges, like Marjorie's society."

"What are they?" asked Edna.

"Marjorie took a dime and had the jeweller rub it off smooth, and put some letters on it. We could have E. C. put on ours. Then he put a little pin on it, and she wears it all the time. Don't you suppose auntie would see about them for us?"

"I'm sure she would. She would lend us the money, I guess, and let us make it up from our allowances."

So the next regulation read:

"Buy-law two. We will have badges, made of dimes, with E. C. on them, and will ask mamma to let us have the money for them."

"Doesn't that look club-by?" exclaimed Cricket, enthusiastically, surveying the neatly written page, with its rules and "buy-laws."

"You ought to be the first editor, Edna, for you do write beautifully."

"You write my stories, and I'll print the paper, any time," said Edna, brightening.

"No, I won't. I won't let you wiggle out of writing your stories, Edna, if I print all the papers. Come, girls, I'm nearly dead with sitting still so long," added Cricket, springing up. "Let's go to ride."

"No, I thank you. This is all I want to do, this hot day," answered Edna, stretching herself out on the sand, with her head in Eunice's lap.

"Oh, lazybones! I'm going to find old Billy, and take him to ride. Good-by!"

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