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HOME > Classical Novels > Boys of the Central > CHAPTER XIV. NEW METHODS IN THE BATTALION.
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 Professor Keene had no need to ask for attention when, the next day, he was ready to announce the names of the committee. There was great surprise and some disappointment among the officers when it was found that only two of them were of the number, the other two being privates of Company C. These last were Knox, one of the most troublesome fellows in the battalion, and Carr, one of the most faithful and reliable.  
Knox, after the first shock of surprise, was immensely elated at having been selected. He would not have been quite so jubilant over it if he had been present at a conference between the professor, Gordon and Graham the night before.
Gordon’s whispered words to the professor had been a request for a talk with him before the names of the committee should be announced, a request which was readily granted. The hour that the two lads spent at the professor’s house that evening had given him a clearer understanding[187] than he had had before of the state of affairs in Company C, and indeed in the whole battalion. He saw that these two boys had given very serious thought to the situation, and he appreciated the wisdom of Gordon’s suggestion that Knox, who, though one of the most troublesome in the company, was really one of the most soldierly boys, and one who, if his enthusiasm could once be aroused, might do perhaps more than any other to raise the standard of feeling and purpose in the battalion, should be one of the visiting committee. Carr was appointed partly to make it pleasanter for Knox than it would have been had the other three been officers.
Graham had wanted very much to be on the committee, as, owing to the trouble he had had with his company, he was extremely anxious to see for himself if the new method was one likely to work well in the high-school battalion; but he saw that it might not be best for three out of a committee of four to be taken from Company C. So Hamlin and one other captain were appointed.
There was a good deal of grumbling over the proposed innovation, and many of the boys declared that they would not stay on if any such scheme was carried out; but all the same, the four members of the committee were regarded with not a little envy and scarcely a boy but wished that he had been[188] lucky enough to be selected, especially as the fortunate four were to be excused from recitations and given perfect marks for the time of their absence. Coyle and Griffin, even, would have liked to visit that school, even though they scoffed at the idea of the plan proposed.

Coyle had deteriorated steadily as the weeks passed. He was a thorn in the flesh to Gordon, Hamlin and Clark, for his frequent failures in class brought down the record, in spite of the good work of the majority. Coyle rejoiced that this was so. In no other way could he have so effectually annoyed and tormented these three, whom he hated more and more as he saw how their influence was growing in the school. They had even succeeded in arousing a feeble ambition in Barber, and consequently, Barber was “no fun at all,” these days. He insisted on pegging away at his lessons, and wouldn’t, half the time, help Coyle “make things a bit lively in class.” In short, Coyle considered himself decidedly aggrieved because the boys of section D were working for honors, or for solid[194] acquirements, this year, instead of wasting their time in foolish tricks, or idling the hours away without accomplishing anything. True, there were still in Company C a few jolly chaps who went in for good times, but most of the fellows had taken up with that fol-de-rol about self-government, and wouldn’t so much as wink or “crack a smile” in drill, nor answer back, no matter what ridiculous order an officer might give them. All this was contrary to Coyle’s ideas, and he came to the conclusion ............
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