"It is going to be a very interesting meeting," said the Young Mason, sitting down in the ante-room beside the Old Past Master.
"I am glad you look forward with pleasure to it," came the ready answer, "but what especial feature intrigues you tonight?"
"Why, Brother Smith is going to ask for an appropriation from the lodge to help the Scottish Rite start a chapter of DeMolay. And there are a lot of the brethren who are going to object. You know, Sir, there are many of us who think that Masonry doesn't need any juvenile branches. And there are others who say the lodge should not give to a boy's organization, because many of the members have no boys but do have girls. So I expect there will be a warm discussion."
"I am glad you told me," said the Old Past Master. "It isn't often I get on my feet in the lodge anymore; I believe in letting the line officers run the lodge and in keeping old Past Masters where they belong on the side line. But now and then I get the urge to get up and talk, and this is one of those times."
"I am glad you are going to object to the appropriation," said the Young Mason. "That's the way I feel about it."
"I am not going to object," answered the Old Past Master, sharply. "I am going to urge the appropriation with all the force I have. I am going to puncture the feeble arguments of those who refer to DeMolay as 'Juvenile Masonry' and I am going to annihilate that brother who says he doesn't want lodge money spent for such Orders because he has daughters instead of sons."
"Why... why, you surprise me," cried the Young Mason. "Has it been drawn to your attention the DeMolay degrees are highly elaborate, spectacular and beautiful? Don't you think that a young man who sees such work will, when he becomes a Mason, be disappointed?"
"My young friend," answered the Old Past Master, "most of us live in small houses, in small towns, or bigger houses in big cities. Most of us do not live beneath the thunder of Niagara, or in site of the Grand Canyon, or in the shadow of Pike's Peak. Few of us live in or near Yellowstone, or the Yosemite, or Crater Lake. The larger part of the population of this country does not live in sight of the mighty ocean. Do you think it makes us dissatisfied with our lives and our homes that we go sight-seeing among the beauties of this wonderful land of ours?
"I have seen the DeMolay degrees. They are much better put on by the boys, than our Masonic degrees are put on by the men. Is that the fault of the boys, their Order, their degrees, or is it our fault? Their degrees are beautiful and solemn; but that they even touch the skirts of the inner beauty of the Masonic degree, no real student of Masonry would admit for a moment. It may, indeed, be true that some young man, having taken the DeMolay degrees, will be disappointed when he gets his Third Degree in Masonry, that it is not more wrapped up in costumes, trappings, stage work. But such a young man would be disappointed in any event.
"I believe that most boys, when they grow up to be men, will turn from the elaborate and spectacular degrees of the DeMolay Order to the more quiet, thoughtful and deeper degrees of Masonry with relief, and will throw themselves in them with greater enthusiasm, because of their training in lodge room etiquette, their experience of fraternalism, their education in ritual and brotherhood.
"There are Masons in this lodge who will, I know, object to our spending money from the lodge treasury. They will say 'why, I have no son to enter such an order, why should I help support it?' But they may have daughters. Then they are interested in having the young men in this town grow up to be good men, true men, square men. For some one of these young men, is some day, probably to be a husband to that Mason's daughter. And the better man he is, the happier she will be.
"Did you ever stop to think, my brother, what it is in Masonry which has kept it alive and made it grow, for thousands of years? What other thing can you name which has lived and grown for thousands of years? Only one, love and worship of God. Then I am speaking true words when I say it is the God in Masonry which has held it together. The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as taught in Masonry, are the inner cements which we spread with our trowels of degrees and lodges and ritual.
"The Order for the boys is but a new way of making ready the stones for our building. Before there was such an Order, we took young men as we found them. We still so take them. But in addition, we have now an Order which, while it speaks no word which can be construed as an invitation, which say nothing to any boy which would make him think Masonry wanted anything of him, yet teaches him patriotism, love of country, love of public schools, love of Masonry, because of its unity, its charity, its brotherhood, and teaches him too, the lessons of help to a brother, of broadminded tolerance and of sincere worship of a Supreme Being. No boy who has been a DeMolay will ever join a Masonic lodge without being better prepared to become a good Mason than the same boy would have been had he not been a DeMolay.
"There, my brother, now you know how I feel about it, and why I am going to urge that our lodge stand not in the way obstructing, but along side and pushing, that our young men have this glorious chance to learn the elements of fraternity before they come to us to be made Master Masons."
"And I am going to stand at your side and urge the same course," said the Young Brother. "I didn't understand."