“Willis, stand up here by the fire. I want to say to you, my boy, that we are proud to have you as a brother and that we feel confident that you are a real addition to our number. We want you to be a real, live member—to enter into the spirit of our organization. Our letters, O.F.F., stand for a very simple slogan, one that has meant great things in the lives of every one of us fellows, and one that will mean great things to you if you take it into your life and let it work. It means that from this night on you will be more interested in the welfare of others than of yourself. O.F.F.—Other Fellow First. Give me your hand. Do you promise that you will live a clean life, physically, mentally, and morally? Do you promise that you will forget your own interests in helping others, that selfishness will have no place in your life? Do you promise that you will not give your support for any reason to anything that to your mind is beneath the honor of a gentleman? If so, say, ’I do.’”
Willis lifted his eyes to Mr. Allen’s, and, with a pressure of his hand, he answered in a clear voice, “I do!”
“I take great pleasure,” continued Mr. Allen, “in welcoming you as a brother.”
The other fellows arose, and there was a general handshaking, followed by cries of “Speech!” “Speech!”
“All I have to say, fellows, is that I, too, am proud of every one of you and of everything for which you stand, and that I’ll do my best to be a worthy member. Thank you for the honor you have shown me by asking me to be one of you.”
They sat a long time that evening, talking and exchanging ideas, for there was something nearly bewitching in the fire and the view and the friendship.
Willis Becomes Interested in Gold Mines
The next four weeks passed by very slowly to Willis. Mr. Allen had gone to the annual summer camp with a large number of the Association boys. It was a State encampment, held in that very odd and interesting part of the second range known as Cathedral Park. Willis had been very anxious to go, for he knew it would be a very new and profitable experience for him. Mr. Allen had asked him to go as a Leader, to have charge of one tent of seven boys. He had never been to a camp of any kind, to say nothing of a mountain camp, so it was a great disappointment to him when his mother had told him that he had better not go this time. His aunt had grown worse as the hot weather came on, and his mother explained that she could not do without him in case his aunt should pass away.
He understood perfectly and knew that his mother’s request was reasonable, so had contented himself by offering to help out at the Association in Mr. Allen’s absence. He was anxious to give something in return for all Mr. Allen was giving him. Then, too, it gave him an opportunity to watch the development of a good many of the cocoons and chrysalides that the nature study club had placed in glasses in a window of the reading room.