Dave Darrin's First Year at Annapolis
H. Irving Hancock
Part 3 out of 4
absent by permission of the head of the Department of Mathematics,
"for purposes of study." Unusual as this excuse was the instructor
had accepted it without making any inquiry.
If Farley was in his room for purposes of study, then what kind
of "study" could it be?
For at that precise moment, Midshipman Farley was standing close
to a tiny crack between the edge of his room door and the jamb.
He was "peeking" out attentively.
Curiously enough Midshipman Page, Farley's roommate, had also
been excused from attending section work. At this moment Mr.
Page sat tilted back in his chair, with his feet resting across
the corner of the study table.
A most unmilitary pose for Mr. Page, to be sure. Yet what need
was there to fear report with roommate Farley thus industriously
standing by the door?
So Mr. Page hummed softly to himself and stared out of the window.
Midshipman Farley remained by the door until he was becoming decidedly
wearied of his occupation, and Page had several times shifted his feet.
Then, all of a sudden, Midshipman Farley turned with a low, sharp hiss.
"It?" whispered Midshipman Page, rising swiftly.
"Yes," nodded Farley.
Midshipman Page walked swiftly out of the room, though his heels
did not make as much noise as usual.
Just after Page had left the room Midshipman Farley stole along
the corridor, halting before a door.
There he paused, as though on duty. It was not long before his
erect attitude was accounted for, for Lieutenant Nettleson, the
officer in charge, came down into the corridor, followed by the
cadet officer of the day.
Just a little way behind them walked Midshipman Page.
Farley stood quickly at attention, saluting the officer in charge,
who returned the salute.
THE TRAP IN MIDSHIPMEN'S QUARTERS
Tap-Tap! sounded Lieutenant Nettleson's knuckles on the door.
Just a shade longer than usual the lieutenant waited ere he turned
the door knob and entered the room.
Behind him, like a faithful orderly, stood Midshipman Hawkins, of
the first class, cadet officer of the day.
A quick look about the room Lieutenant Nettleson took, then turned
to the cadet officer of the day.
"Mr. Hawkins," spoke the O.C., "Mr. Darrin seems to be growing
worse in his breaches of duty."
"So it seems, sir," agreed the cadet officer the day.
"Mr. Darrin has left his bed turned down," continued the lieutenant,
inspecting that article of furniture. "And, judging by the looks
of the sheets, he has been abed with his boots on."
"You will put Mr. Darrin on the report for this latest offense,
"Aye, aye, sir."
Lieutenant Nettleson made a further inspection of the room.
"And Mr. Darrin has neglected to empty his washbowl. He has also
thrown the towel on the floor. Put Mr. Darrin on the report for
that as well."
"Aye, aye, sir."
"That is all here, Mr Hawkins."
"Very good, sir."
O.C. and cadet officer of the day turned to leave the room. As they
were crossing the threshold Midshipman Farley, saluting, reported:
"I think, sir, if you search more closely, you will find some one
in this room."
"Very good," replied the officer in charge, turning back.
In truth, Lieutenant Nettleson was already aware that there was a
prowler in the room, for he had seen a pair of feet in a dark corner;
but he had purposely awaited Midshipman Farley's report.
Now, swift as a flash, Lieutenant Nettleson turned back, going
straight so the cupboard in which Dave Darrin's uniform equipment
Pushing aside a dress uniform and a raincoat that hung like curtains,
Lieutenant Nettleson gazed into the face of--Midshipman Henkel!
Henkel had been caught so suddenly, had realized it so tardily, that
the grin of exultation had not quite faded from his face by the time
that he stood exposed.
In another second, however, that midshipman's face had turned as
white as dirty chalk.
"Stand forth, sir!" ordered the O.C. sternly.
Henkel obeyed, his legs shaking under him.
"What is your name?"
"Mr. Henkel, what are you doing in the room of another midshipman,
in the absence of both occupants?
"I--I--just dropped in, sir!" stammered affrighted midshipman.
"Mr. Henkel, sir," continued Lieutenant Nettleson sternly, "it
has long been a puzzle to the discipline officers why Mr. Darrin
should so deliberately and senselessly invite demerits for lack
of care of his equipment. You may now be certain that you will
be accused of all breaches of good order and discipline that have
been laid at Mr. Darrin's door. Have you anything to say, sir."
Midshipman Henkel, who had been doing some swift thinking, had
had time enough to realize that no one had seen him doing any
mischief in the room. The offense, merely, of visiting another
midshipman's room improperly would call but for ten demerits.
Pooh! The scrape was such a simple one that he would lie valiantly
out of the graver charge and escape with ten demerits.
"I admit being here, sir, without propriety. I am innocent of
any further wrongdoing, sir," lied the culprit.
Lieutenant Nettleson studied the young man's face keenly.
"Mr. Henkel, was Mr. Darrin's bed turned down and in its present
disordered state when you entered the room?"
"You declare this on your honor as a midshipman and gentleman?"
"Yes, sir," lied the unabashed Henkel.
"Was Mr. Darrin's washbowl in its present untidy state?"
"I don't know, sir. I didn't notice that."
"Very good, Mr. Henkel. Go to your room and remain there in close
arrest. Do not leave your room, except by orders or proper permission,
"Very good, sir," replied Henkel, saluting. Then, his face still
a ghastly hue, he turned and marched from the room, not venturing,
under the eyes of the O.C., to look at either Farley or Page.
When the sections came marching back from math. Lieutenant Nettleson
stood outside the door of his office.
"Mr. Darrin!" called the O.C. And, a moment later, "Mr. Dalzell!"
Both wondering midshipmen approached the officer in charge for the
day at Bancroft Hall, and saluted.
"Mr. Darrin," stated Lieutenant Nettleson, "you and your roommate
may go to your room to leave your books. In the room you will
find some evidences of disorder. Do not attempt to set them straight.
As soon as you have left your books return to me."
"And I also, sir?" queried Dan, saluting.
"You, also, Mr. Dalzell," replied the officer.
"Now, has this thing broken loose again?" groaned Dave Darrin, as the
two chums hurried below.
"It seems as if it ought to stop some time," gasped Dalzell.
"It will, and soon," gritted Darrin. "In a very short time, now,
I shall certainly have the full course of two hundred demerits.
For now the two chums were in their room, and saw the full extent of
the mischief there. "I guess I may as well wire home to Gridley for
the price of my return ticket," hinted Dave bitterly.
"Don't do anything of the sort," urged Dan, though with but little
hope in his voice. "You may still have a margin of ten or fifteen
dems. left to hold you on."
"We're under orders, Danny boy, to report back to the O.C."
"Come along, then."
In the office of the officer in charge stood Midshipmen Farley and
Page. Just after Dave and Dan entered Henkel came in, accompanied
Midshipman Hawkins, the cadet officer of day.
It was an actually ferocious gaze that Henkel turned upon Darrin.
In that same instant Dave believed that a great light had broken in
upon his mind.
"Mr. Hawkins," requested the O.C., "ascertain whether the commandant
of midshipmen can see us now."
Saluting, the cadet officer of the day passed out of the room, very
prim and erect, his white gloves of duty a very conspicuous part of
In a few moments, he returned, raising his right, white-gloved hand
to the visor of his cap.
"The commandant of midshipmen is ready, sir."
"Come with me, then," directed Lieutenant Nettleson, who had already
risen to receive the cadet officer's report.
The O.C. led the way into the office of Commander Jephson, U.S. Navy,
the commandant of midshipmen.
"This, Mr. Nettleson, I understand, relates to Mr. Darrin's late
apparent course in matters of discipline?" inquired Commander
The commandant of midshipmen, who was middle-aged and slightly
bald, removed his eye-glasses, holding them poised in his right
hand while he gazed calmly at Mr. Nettleson.
"Yes, sir. This is the matter," replied the O.C., saluting his
Commander Jephson had, usually, a manner of slow and gentle speech.
He impressed one, at first sight, as being a man lacking in "ginger,"
which was a great mistake, as many a midshipman had found to his
The commandant of cadets, however, did not believe in becoming
excited or excitable until the occasion arose.
"Be good enough to make your statement, Mr. Nettleson," requested
Consulting a slip of paper that he held in his left hand the younger
Naval officer recounted the previous instances in which Midshipman
Darrin, fourth class, U.S. Naval Academy, had been found delinquent
in that he had slighted the care of his equipment or of his room.
Having made this preliminary statement, the officer in charge now
came down to the doings of the present day.
Midshipman Henkel kept his gaze fixed on Lieutenant Nettleson's face.
Henkel's bearing was almost arrogant. He had fully decided upon
his course of lying himself out of his serious scrape.
AIR "THE ROGUE'S MARCH"
"It is already, sir," spoke Lieutenant Nettleson, "a matter of
knowledge with you that Mr. Darrin denied his responsibility in
each case of disorder among his personal belongings. It is also
a matter within your knowledge, sir, that Mr. Darrin, finally,
in his desperation, informed you that he believed that some enemy
in the brigade of midshipmen was responsible for all the bad appearances
"The reply of this department, sir, to Mr. Darrin, was to the effect
that, while there was a possibility of his claim being correct, yet
it was nearly inconceivable. Mr. Darrin was given permission to
bring forward any evidence he could secure in support of his view.
As time passed, and he confessed himself unable to secure any such
evidence, one set of demerits after another accumulated against
"Yesterday, sir, so I am informed, Mr. Farley and Mr. Page approached
you, stating that they believed they had good reason for suspecting
a member of the brigade of seeking to injure Mr. Darrin. Midshipmen
Farley and Page also stated to you that they believed the offender
to be a member of the half of the fourth class which does not
recite in mathematics the same time as does the half of the class
to which Mr. Darrin and his roommate belong.
"As Midshipmen Farley and Page belong to the half of the class
that recites during the same periods as do Mr. Darrin and Dalzell,
Midshipmen Farley and Page requested permission to remain in their
room during the time when they would otherwise be reciting in
mathematics. They were thus to remain for two mornings, and other
members of the fourth class were then willing to stay on watch
for two mornings more, and so on, until the offender against Mr.
Darrin, if there was one, could be caught in the act."
What a baleful glare Midshipman Henkel shot at Farley and Page!
Then Henkel saw the eye of the commandant of midshipmen fixed
curiously on him, and glanced down at the floor.
"This very unusual permission, sir, you finally agreed to seek
from the head of the Department of Mathematics. So, this morning,
Mr. Farley and Mr. Page did not march off to recitation in mathematics,
but remained in their room. Presently Mr. Page reported to me,
in great haste, that a midshipman other than Mr. Darrin, or Mr.
Dalzell had just entered their room. I thereupon went down to
that room, knocked, waited a moment, and then entered, accompanied
by the cadet officer of the day. The condition of things that
I found in the room you already, sir, know from my written report.
While in the room I detected a pair of feet showing under the
bottom of Mr. Darrin's uniform equipment hanging in his cupboard.
I pretended, however not to see the feet, and turned to leave
the room when Mr. Farley, as prearranged, stepped forward and
informed me that he had seen some one enter the room a while before.
I then turned and compelled the prowler to step forth. That
prowler was Mr. Henkel."
"You questioned Mr. Henkel as to his reason for being in the room?"
asked Commander Jephson.
"I did, sir."
"Did he deny guilty intention in being there?"
"He did, sir, other than admitting that he had broken the regulations
by entering another midshipman's room in that midshipman's absence."
Tapping his right temple with the eye-glasses that he held in
his hand, the commandant of midshipmen turned to look more directly
at the startled culprit.
"Mr. Henkel, did you arrange any or all of the disorder which
Lieutenant Nettleson reported having found in Mr. Darrin's room?"
"I did not, sir."
Henkel's voice was clear, firm--almost convincing.
"Have you, at any time, committed any offense in Mr. Darrin's room,
by tampering with his equipment or belongings, or with the furniture
of the room?"
"Never, sir," declared Midshipman Henkel positively.
"You are aware that Mr. Darrin has been punished by the imposition
of a great many demerits for untidiness in the care of his equipment?"
"But you were not responsible for any of these seeming delinquencies
on Mr. Darrin's part?"
"You did not turn down, disarrange and soil his bed this forenoon,
or create the appearance of untidiness in connection with Mr.
"You make these denials on your word of honor, as a midshipman
and gentleman?" persisted Commander Jephson.
"I do, sir, and most earnestly and solemnly, sir," replied Midshipman
"One word, more, Mr. Henkel," went on the commandant of midshipmen.
"When you improperly entered Mr. Darrin's room this morning,
did you then observe the signs of disorder which Lieutenant Nettleson
subsequently discovered and reported?"
"I did, sir, as to the bed. The washbowl I did not notice."
"That will do, for the present, Mr. Henkel. Mr. Farley, will you
now state just what you saw, while watching this forenoon?"
Midshipmen Farley told, simply, how he and Page had commenced
"In the first place, sir," declared Farley, "as soon as Mr. Darrin
and Mr. Dalzell had left their room, and the corridor was empty,
Mr. Page and I, acting by permission and direction of this office,
went at once to Mr. Darrin's room. We made an inspection. At
that time there were no such signs of disorder as those which
Lieutenant Nettleson subsequently found. Then, sir, Mr. Page
and I went back to our room. I held our door very slightly ajar,
and stood in such a position that I could glance down the corridor
and keep Mr. Darrin's room door constantly within my range of
"As a matter of vital fact, Mr. Farley," interrupted the commandant
of midshipmen, "did you at any time relax such vigilance, even for a
"Not even for a few seconds, sir."
"After the inspection that Mr. Page and yourself made, who was the
first person that you saw enter Mr. Darrin's room?"
"Was he Alone?"
"Did you then immediately send Mr Page to the officer in charge?"
"I did, sir."
"Without allowing my glance to turn from Mr. Darrin's door, sir, I
stepped out into the corridor, walked close to Mr. Darrin's room
door, and then stood there until Lieutenant Nettleson and Mr.
"Then, Mr. Farley, you are certain that there was no disorder in
Mr. Darrin's room at the time when he and Mr. Dalzell left to
recite in mathematics?
"I am absolutely positive, sir."
"And you are also certain that none but Mr. Henkel entered that room
up to the time when the disorder was discovered by Lieutenant
"I am certain, sir."
Midshipman Page was then questioned. He bore out the testimony
just given by Farley in every particular.
The manner of the commandant of midshipmen was still gentle when he
turned again to Henkel.
"Mr. Henkel, do you wish to modify your previous statements in
"No, sir," replied Henkel. "In all my answers I have told the
whole and exact truth, as I know it. I am eager, sir, to answer
any further questions that you may wish to put to me on the subject."
"Gentlemen, you may all withdraw, save Lieutenant Nettleson and
Mr. Henkel," announced the commandant, after a few moments of
seemingly mild thought. "Mr. Hawkins, of course you understand
that what you know of this matter you know officially, and that
you are not to mention or discuss it until such time as official
action shall have been taken. As for you other midshipmen, I
see no harm, gentlemen, in your discussing it among yourselves,
but you will see to it that information does not, for the present,
spread through the brigade. You may go, gentlemen."
Once outside Farley and Page walked so rapidly that Dave and Dan
did not attempt to overtake them in the corridors. But they found
Farley and Page waiting outside Dave's room door.
"May we come in?" asked Farley.
"If anyone on earth may," replied Dave heartily, throwing open the
door, then stepping back to allow the others to enter.
"I'm afraid we've cooked a goose for some one," cried Farley,
with grim satisfaction.
"Great Scott, yes," breathed Dan Dalzell, in devout thankfulness.
"Is it fair, Farley, for me to ask you whether you suspected Henkel
before you caught him?" queried Dave Darrin.
"Yes; and the commandant knows that. Henkel came here one night,
weeks ago, and mysteriously tried to interest us in putting up
a job to get you dropped from the Navy rolls. When Page and I
really tumbled that an enemy working against you, it didn't take
us two minutes to guess who that enemy was. Then we started on
"I wonder," asked Dave Darrin huskily, "whether it is really necessary
for me to assure you of the tremendous burden of obligation that
you've put upon me?"
"It isn't necessary, any way that you can look at the question,"
retorted Farley promptly. "What we did for you, Darrin, is no
more than we'd stand ready to do for any man in the brigade who
was being ground down and out by a mean trickster."
"Wouldn't I like to take peep in on Henkel, now, while the commandant
is grilling him in that gentle way the commandant has?" mocked
"David, little giant, the matter is cleared and as good as squared,"
cried Dalzell. "And now I know this is the first time in my life
that I've ever been really and unutterably happy!"
During the nest two days it was known through the brigade at large
that Midshipman Henkel was in close arrest. The brigade did not
at once learn the cause. Yet, in such appearances as Henkel was
permitted to make, it was noted that he bore himself cheerfully
Then, one day, just before the dinner formation, Darrin was ordered
to report at the commandant's office.
"Mr. Darrin," announced Commander Jephson, when the midshipman
had reported and saluted, "I am glad to be able to announce that
we have been able to pile up so much evidence against Mr Henkel
that young man finally confessed that it was he, and he alone,
who created all the disorders with your equipment, and in your
room for which so many demerits have been inflicted upon you.
At the dinner formation. Therefore, when the orders of the day
are published by the brigade adjutant, you will again hear that
your demerits, given for the offenses unjustly charged against
you, have been remitted by order of the superintendent. You will
also learn that you have been restored to the first conduct grade,
with all the privileges belonging to the midshipmen of that grade."
It was with a light heart that Dave Darrin left the commandant's
office, though the young man had been expecting that very decision.
Yet, despite the fact that he knew it was coming, Dave's heart
thrilled with exultation and gratitude as he heard the order read
out in the brigade adjutant's quick, monotonous tones.
Then, immediately following, came another order.
Midshipman Henkel, for dishonorable conduct, was dropped from
"Fours right, march!"
By companies the brigade wheeled and marched into the mess hall--the
air resounding with the quick, martial tread of eight hundred or
more of the pick of young American manhood!
As the command "march" was given one man fell out of the ranks.
Henkel, from the moment of the publications of the order, was no
longer a midshipman!
He had fallen deservedly, as one not fit to associate with gentlemen,
or to figure among the future defenders of his country of honorable
As the brigade marched indifferently off, and left him there,
Henkel gazed, for a few moments at the solid ranks of blue and
gold, and a great sob welled up within him. In this supreme moment
he realized all that he had lost--his place among honest men!
Then, crushing down any feeling of weakness, he turned on his heel,
a sneer darkening his face.
Then, recalling himself, Henkel sprang up the steps and hastened to
the room that had been partly his. Here he discarded his uniform
substituting for it the citizen's clothes which had been brought to
him from the midshipmen's store. His own few belongings that he
cared about taking with him he packed hastily in a dress-suit case.
Yet the task required time. His roommate, Brimmer, was back before
Henkel was ready to depart.
"You'd better wait, now, until the coast is clear," whispered
Brimmer. "Hosts of the fellows are hanging about outside."
"They won't see me," jeered Henkel harshly. "I'll wait until
they're off at afternoon duties. But see here, Brimmer, don't
you dare forget that I might have said much about you, and that
I didn't. Don't dare forget that I leave to you the task of humbling
that fellow, Darrin. If you fail me, Brimmer, it won't be too
late for me to do some talking."
"Oh, I'll get Darrin out of here," grimaced Brimmer. "But I won't
try to do it the way you did. You went in for enmity. I'm going
to undo Darrin by being his friend."
"Well, I'm through and ready to leave," muttered Henkel. "But
I'm not going until the coast is clear."
Seating himself by the window, he stared moodily out, thinking
of the life which had strongly appealed to him, and from which
he had exiled himself. While he was so occupied knock sounded
at the door; then the cadet officer of the day stepped in:
"I see you are ready to go, Mr. Henkel," announced the cadet officer.
"The published order was to the effect that you leave the Naval
Academy immediately. The officer in charge has sent me to see that
you comply with the order at once."
"Oh, well," muttered Henkel bitterly. He turned, holding out his
hand to his late roommate.
"Goodby, Brimmer; good luck!"
"The same to you," replied Brimmer, as their hands met. That
was all that was said with the cadet officer of the day looking
on, but both of the late roommates understood the compact of dishonor
that lay between them concerning Dave Darrin's coming fate.
With his derby hat pulled low over his eyes and gripping his suit
case, Henkel slunk through the corridors of Bancroft Hall. Now
he faced the hardest ordeal of all in going out through the entrance
of the great white building, beyond which stood many groups of
Now these young men of the Navy caught sight of Henkel. No goodbyes
were called out to him. Instead, as his feet struck the flagging
of the walk scores of lips were puckered. The midshipmen gave
the departing one a whistled tune and furnished the drum part with
their hands. That tune was--
"The Rogue's March."
BRIMMER MAKES A NEW FRIEND
"Darrin, I hope you don't hold me in any way responsible for that
fellow Henkel's actions.
"Why should I?" asked Dave, turning and looking into the eyes of
"I know that, for a while, there was hard feeling between us,"
continued Brimmer seriously. "It took me a long time to get it out
of my stubborn head that you were the one responsible for having our
crowd ragged by the watchman the night of the spread in Annapolis.
Even after Farley changed his mind it took me a long time to believe
that he was right."
"I forgot that whole matter long ago," replied Darrin.
"Then will you accept my tardy apology, and let us be friends?"
urged Brimmer, holding out his hand.
It was not Dave Darrin's way to hold a grudge forever. He extended
his own hand to take Brimmer's.
"And I hope you'll let me know you better," continued Brimmer,
turning to Dan Dalzell.
"Most people who know me at all think they know me too well,"
laughed Dan, but he held out his hand.
Perhaps, in other walks of life, the chums might have been more
wary about accepting Brimmer's suddenly proffered friendship,
as they stood in the open air just after dinner one November day.
The weather was so fine and mild that it seemed a shame to be
cooped up between walls. Back in the High School days, for instance,
Dave and Dan would have been more cautious in accepting such an
offer of friendship. But at the U.S. Naval Academy the atmosphere
is wholly different. The midshipmen are ranked as gentlemen,
and all are so taken on trust unless they betray themselves as
dishonorable. Ninety-nine per cent of the young men are earnest,
honest and wholly aboveboard.
After that, during the next two or three weeks, Brimmer cultivated
the acquaintance of Darrin and Dalzell at every possible opportunity.
Often, in the evening, he came hastening to their room for a short
visit after the release bell had sounded at 9.30. When he called,
Brimmer always remained until the warning call just before taps.
"It took you a long while to find out that Dave Darrin is white
enough to shake hands with," laughed Farley, one day.
"As I remember, it took you quite a little while, also, to find
it out," laughed Brimmer. "I admit that I am slow at forming
my friendships. But there's no mistake about Darrin, when you get
to know him. He's about the finest fellow in the class."
"He certainly is," nodded Farley heartily.
Being shorn of the long list of unjustly-given demerits that had
stood against his name, Darrin was now in the first conduct grade.
So was Dan. That gave to both considerable in the way of privileges.
On Saturdays and Sundays, for instance, they were at liberty
to accept invitations to call on or dine at the houses of officers
and their families. This privilege, while pleasant to possess,
amounted to little, for Dave and Dan had been too busy over their
studies to have any opportunity to attract social notice.
As to dancing, fourth class men do not, by tradition, attend any
of the midshipmen's hops, which are reserved for upper class men.
Neither is a plebe midshipman expected to be seen escorting young
ladies. In fact, the plebe has no social pleasures within the
Outside, however, it is different. If the fourth class men are
acquainted with young ladies in the town of Annapolis they may
visit them on Saturday afternoons when so invited.
Here, again, Dave and Dan found no delight. For they became acquainted
with none of the girls of Annapolis.
They could, however, on Saturday afternoon secure permission to
go into the town. Any change outside of the Academy walls now
became welcome, though our young midshipmen had no other form
of pleasure than merely to stroll through the streets of the town
and occasionally regale themselves with a dish of ice-cream or
a glass of soda at Wiegard's.
Brimmer, one Saturday afternoon, when strolling through the town,
discovered a new little shop on Main Street.
This was a little store that had just been fitted up. Some fruit
was displayed for sale, though the main business of the place
appeared to be the dispensing of various temperance drinks.
On the sign over the door the proprietor's first name was given
as "Tony." The second name was an unpronounceable Greek one.
Being thirsty Brimmer stepped inside.
"Are you Tony?" he asked of the swarthy young man behind the counter.
"Yes, sare," grinned Tony. "What you drink?"
Brimmer looked over the stock, selected a bottle of ginger ale
and paid for it.
"Business good?" asked the midshipman.
"No, sare; ver' bad," replied Tony sadly.
"Oh, well, it will pick up by-and-by."
"I hope so, sare. But when I come here I think maybe the midsheepmen
come see me offen. You, sare, first midsheepman who came here."
"You have a neat little place," continued Brimmer. "And this
ginger ale," holding up his glass, "is good. You'll have trade
"You tell other midsheepmen they come here, sare?" asked Tony
"Why, yes; I think perhaps I can send you a bit of trade," replied
Brimmer. The young man's father was a politician, and a prosperous
one. The son had learned the wisdom of making friends wherever
he could, since there could be no telling when a friend anywhere
might be useful.
"You come with me, sare," urged Tony, taking a gentle hold on
Brimmer's arm, and leading him to the rear of the store.
Tony threw open a door, revealing a rear room in which were three
"Maybe midsheepmen like play cards, sometimes," suggested Tony,
with a grin.
"Great!" cried Brimmer. "Yes; sometimes the fellows do like to
know a quiet little place where they can have a good game without
a discipline officer butting in. Good enough; I'll tell some
of the fellows about this place; but you must keep it quiet, and
not let anyone else into that room."
"For midsheepmen on'y," promised Tony solemnly.
"Good enough, then," smiled Mr. Brimmer. "I'll bring you a party
as soon as possible."
"Then you make me your frien', sare," protested the Greek.
As Brimmer went strolling along the street, after that, a plan
began rapidly to hatch in his mind. He thought he saw how Tony
could made a most valuable ally.
As luck would have it, Brimmer was not long in meeting three midshipmen
of rather wild tendencies. To them he proposed a quiet little
game of cards. He led his classmates back to Tony's. Here they
regaled themselves with ginger ale, then passed on into the rear
room. For more than two hours the midshipmen remained here.
Occasionally they called for more of the temperance drinks. As
they left Brimmer passed Tony a two-dollar bill, for this midshipman
disregarded the regulations in that he frequently received money
from home and was always well supplied.
"Thank you, sare," cried Tony, bowing very low, indeed.
The following Saturday Brimmer returned to the little shop with
a small party of friends.
Late that afternoon Tony was richer by a few dollars.
"You one ver' good frien', sare," protested the delighted Tony.
"Me? I your ver' good frien', too. I do anything for you,
"I'm getting Tony about where I want him," thought Mr. Brimmer.
"Just a little more help to him, and then I'll spring my idea
Thanksgiving had gone by, and now the Christmas Holidays were
nearing. Brimmer was playing his game slowly, and without the
slightest risk to himself. Tony must take all the risk. If the
Greek got into any trouble Brimmer could deny all knowledge of
One Saturday afternoon, just before Christmas Midshipman Brimmer
came down Main Street, looked in and found the Greek standing
alone in his shop.
"Howdy, Tony," was the midshipman's greeting, as he sauntered
into the store.
"Hullo, my good frien', sare."
"Wish you a Merry Christmas, Tony."
"I don' know, sare, I don' know," replied the Greek, shaking his
"Why, isn't business good now, Tony?"
"You do ver' much, my frien', to help make it better," replied
Tony, shaking his head, "but still I not make much money."
"Are you hard up at Christmas, Tony?" asked Brimmer, with pretended
"Oh, yes, sare; all time hard up."
At that moment Brimmer's gleaming eyes saw Dave Darrin and Dan
Dalzell passing on the other side of the street.
"Quick, Tony! Get a look at my friends over there!" whispered
Brimmer. "Take such a good look that you will know them again
anywhere. Now, it's the one on the inside, especially. Note
him sharply, Tony."
"I never mistake him again, sare, eff I see him," replied the
"Do you see many of these ten-dollar bills nowadays, Tony?" questioned
Brimmer, carelessly displaying a banknote.
The Greek shook his head wistfully.
"This is yours now, Tony; and twice as much more afterwards, if
you do what I want of you. It's a good joke that I want to play
on a midshipman down at the Academy."
"A joke, eh?" repeated the Greek. "Then, sare, my frien', it
can't be anything so ver' bad, eef it only a joke."
"Oh, it isn't anything bad," Brimmer lied cheerfully. "But that
fellow played a warm one on me, and I want to pay him back."
"I understand, sare, my ver' good frien'."
Inside of five minutes Tony understood very much better. Still,
the Greek saw no real harm in what he now engaged himself to do.
That night Tony slept with Brimmer's ten-dollar note under his
pillow. Dave Darrin slept as soundly as ever, unconscious of
harm hanging over his head.
Midshipman Brimmer did much gleeful chuckling after taps, as he
lay on the bed in the room that Henkel had once shared with him.
"Now, let's see anyone get a chance to bring this job back to
me!" laughed Brimmer. "And goodby, Darrin! The Naval Academy
won't know you much longer!"
TONY BAITS THE HOOK
Up to this time Darrin had dropped in at Tony's but once, and
Dan not at all.
The Saturday after Christmas was an anxious one for nearly all
of the midshipmen. Only a few availed themselves of any privilege
of going into Annapolis this Saturday afternoon. Most of the
young men remained in their rooms at Bancroft Hall, anxiously
going over the work in which they were soon to take their semi-annual
Especially was this true of the fourth class men in the "wooden"
or lowest sections. Most of these men knew that, if they succeeded
in staying on at all, it would be by a very small margin indeed.
Even the men in the "savvy sections," with the highest marks
of their class, were eager to come out as well as possible in
the dreaded semi-ans.
Dave and Dan both had secured permission to go into Annapolis.
"We'll want to clear out the cobwebs by a brisk walk, anyway,"
They did not intend to go townward, however, until rather late
in the afternoon.
Dan, when he could stand the grind no longer picked up his cap.
Dave wanted to put in least fifteen minutes more over his book.
"I've got to get out in the air," Dalzell muttered.
"Going to town?" Dave asked.
"Yes. Coming along?"
"I've got a little more in logarithms to clean up," murmured Darrin,
looking wistfully at two pages in one of his text-books on mathematics.
"Will it do as well, Danny boy, if I follow in fifteen or twenty
"Yes; you'll probably find me on Main Street, though you can look
in at Wiegard's on the way."
Wiegard's is the famous confectionery shop where cadets go for
candy, for ices or soda fountain drinks. If upper class men and
young ladies are plentiful in Wiegard's, however, prudent fourth
class men keep right on without stopping.
Dan left Bancroft Hall quite certain that his chum would not be
along for at least an hour.
At the gate Dan made his report of liberty, then kept on up Maryland
As he turned into State Circle he slowed up a trifle, glancing
in through the door at Wiegard's.
"Too many upper class men in there for me," decided Dan, so turning
he made his was way through the State Capitol grounds, and on into
Here he strolled more slowly, passing, here and there, a member
of his class, though none with whom he was particularly intimate.
"I'm thirsty," decided Dalzell. "I don't believe I want any of
the hot drinks. There's Tony's. I'll drop in and get a bottle
of soda lemonade."
Tony saw the fourth classman coming, and a peculiar smile crossed
his lips. On the occasion on which Brimmer had pointed out the
chums to the Greek the latter had understood that it was Dan who
was to be the principal victim.
"Good afternoon, Tony!" was Dan's greeting, as he stepped into
the shop. "Merry Christmas."
"Thank you, sare, good frien'," was Tony's reply. Then the Greek
turned briefly, to hide a grin.
"Crowd seems to have left you, Tony," said Dan sympathetically.
"Save their money to buy present for girls," guessed the Greek.
"Tony, have you a small bottle of lemon soda that's good and cold?"
"Oh, yes, sare."
"Then I want it."
Tony fumbled among bottles clinking in ice under the counter.
At last he found what he wanted and held the bottle up to the
capping machine. Then the Greek did something unusual. Instead
of emptying the bottle into a glass on the counter he performed
that service underneath the counter. Next he held the glass up
full of bright, cold liquid filled with bubble and sparkle.
"It makes me thirstier to look at this," muttered Dan, picking
up the glass. "I'll get it down as soon as I can."
He sipped the last out of the glass, put do a coin to pay for
it, and stood, for a moment, chatting with Tony.
"Excuse me, sare," broke in the Greek, suddenly. "I hear ma wife
Opening a door behind him Tony stepped into a hallway.
The short December afternoon was drawing to a close. Standing
in the shop Dan saw that the light in the street was growing less.
"I'll walk a little further down the street," thought Dan. "Then
I'll turn back, and keep on toward State Circle, and look for Dave."
As he took the first step away from the store Dalzell noticed
a slight feeling of dizziness.
After a moment this passed off, but soon it came on again, heavier
"What ails me?" wondered the astonished midshipman. "It can't
be that I'm turning sick, for I've been feeling fine all along."
He tried the effect of will power, holding himself as erect as
he could and trying to walk slowly in a straight line.
Then, though he did not realize it, three or four passers-by turned
to look at the unsteady young man in a midshipman's uniform.
Two men passing in an auto runabout glanced quickly at Dan.
"Look at that fool midshipman, throwing away a great future for
a few glasses of strong drink," he remarked to his companion.
Then the auto sped on.
As for Dan Dalzell, he no longer understood clearly what was happening.
At this lower end of Main Street, on which he was now moving,
there were not many people astir. One there was behind him,
however--Tony, the Greek, following stealthily on his trail.
At last, as Dalzell reached the head of a short, narrow alleyway
Tony caught up with him in the darkness that had now fallen.
A quick shove Tony gave the midshipman, and Dan, helpless, staggered
into the alleyway, tripped and fell.
Tony passed on as though he had merely accidentally jostled another.
Then, in an instant he wheeled, went back the head of the alley
and glanced in.
Dan Dalzell was lying still, in a complete stupor.
With a chuckle the Greek drew a small bottle from one of his pockets,
taking out the stopper and throwing it away. Then he began sprinkling
the contents on Dan's uniform coat with energy.
At that instant there was a quick step outside. Then Dave Darrin,
tall, handsome, and even distinguished-looking in the uniform
that he wore so well, bounded in, gripping the Greek's right arm
in a tight grasp.
"You rascal!" vibrated Dave's angry voice. "What are you doing
It being darker in the alleyway than it was outside, Tony did
not recognize his captor. Dave towered so in his wrath that the
Greek took him to be an officer of the Navy.
"Speak up, before I shake the truth out of you!" warned Darrin.
"Do you understand that this is a crime, you knave, and that
I can place you under arrest and have you sent to the penitentiary
Tony was now sure that he was in the clutch of a Naval officer.
Moreover, Darrin's grip was one that spoke of more muscular strength
held in reserve.
"Let me go, sare!" begged the Greek, squirming. "This ees all
one joke. I do ze man no harm."
For answer, Dave used his left hand to snatch away the bottle
that Tony still held.
"Alcohol!" detected Dave, and hurled the bottle to the other end
of the alleyway. "And you have been sprinkling it on this midshipman's
uniform? You are the fellow who runs the temperance drinks place?
A nice business for you to be in--drugging midshipmen and trying
to ruin them! To prison you go, unless you limber up your tongue.
Who put you up to this miserable business? Talk quickly--or
off to a cell you go!"
This was pure bluff, as Dave, being under twenty-one, had no right
to make an arrest, even as a citizen. But he saw that he had
the Greek scared, and he resolved to push his advantage to the limit.
"Talk this instant, or to the police station you go!" warned Dave.
"Then it will be years before you are a free man again."
"Mercy, Captain!" howled the frightened Greek.
"Then out with the whole truth like lightning!" ordered Dave Darrin.
He accompanied his order with a shaking that made the Greek's
"Stop, sare, stop! I tell you!" whined Tony.
"Go ahead, then, you brute."
"You know Midsheepman Brimmer?"
"I know him," repeated Dave.
"He tell me, sare, about one joke. He geev me bottle of stuff,
and he tell me when this midsheepman, or his friend, come in my
place I am to put half of stuff in the bottle in one glass of
what the midsheepman order. Then I am to follow the midsheepman
out, and watch him until he fall. I am also to have bottle of
alcohol with me and sprinkle some on the midsheepman when he fall
and lie still. Then I am to go away and let the midsheepman be
found. It is to be one grand joke on the midsheepman."
"Give me what is left of the bottle of stuff that Midshipman Brimmer
gave you to put in the drink," commanded Dave sternly.
Tony's first impulse was to deny that he had the vial with him.
But Darrin's grip on the fellow's arm tightened so alarmingly
that the Greek thrust his left hand down into a trousers pocket,
then produced the vial, which Darrin pocketed.
"So this is Brimmer's work--and Brimmer was at one time Henkel's
roommate and crony!" flashed swiftly through Darrin's mind. "Oh,
"Some one ees coming, sare," warned Tony. "Let me go, sare."
"Stay where you are, and don't dare make a move to get away,"
warned Darrin. "It would do you no good, anyway. I know where
to find you."
Then Darrin peeped cautiously out at the head of the alley. Some
one was coming, and that some one wore the Naval uniform. Dave's
heart began to beat faster. Then the wearer the uniform passed
the light from a store window, and his face was briefly revealed.
Darrin's heart, for a few seconds, seemed almost to stop beating.
For it was Brimmer himself!
Further up in the town that midshipman had heard a fleeting word,
uttered by some one, about a staggering midshipman having been
seen going down Main Street.
"A dollar to a doughnut it's Darrin himself! flashed exultantly
through Brimmer's mind. He hurried on, though careful to avoid
the appearance of haste.
"I wish Henkel were here at this moment!" thought Brimmer. "Oh,
it will be great to see that sneak, Darrin--"
Just at that moment Brimmer stopped short, with something like
For he did see Darrin, standing before him, towering in his wrath.
IN THE DAYS OF "OLD TWO-FIVE"
Before Brimmer could utter a word Darrin pounced upon him, seizing
him by the collar and fairly dragging him into the alleyway.
Then, still gripping his astounded, dismayed foe, Darrin demanded:
"Tony, is this the fellow who paid you to drug my friend?
"The treacherous Greek has betrayed me!" was the thought that
flashed instantly through Brimmer's startled mind.
"Let go of my collar, Darrin!" he commanded loudly. "If this
lying Greek has dared to say that I--"
"Shut up!" ordered Dave tersely.
Ever since coming to Annapolis he had tried to keep his temper
in the background. But now, quivering in his righteous wrath,
Darrin was once more the hot-headed, impulsive, generous Dave
of old--a doer of deeds, and a thrasher of scoundrels.
"No, no, no!" protested Tony, shrilly and cunningly. "Mr. Brimmer,
he no tell me--he no hire me--"
"Be silent, fellow!" commanded Dave Darrin hotly. "You've told
the truth once. Don't spoil it with a dozen lies! Brimmer, you
dastard, you disgrace to the noble old uniform--"
By a quick, forceful twist Brimmer had freed himself from Dave's
It availed the plotter but little, however.
Quick as a flash Dave let drive with his right fist, landing a
blow on the chest that sent Mr. Brimmer flat to the pavement of
"You coward! You--" screamed Brimmer, as he rose.
But no sooner was he on his feet than Dave planted a terrific
blow over his left eye.
Down went Brimmer again, his eyes closed "until further notice."
"Don't try to get up!" warned Darrin, crouching over his enemy.
"If you make a move upward, until I'm through talking, I'll kick
you clean over the town of Annapolis and far out into Chesapeake
Bay. Brimmer, if you send me a challenge when we get back to
Bancroft Hall, I won't pay any attention to it until after the
class has passed on the merits of the case. If you want to fight
here and now I'll let you up and we'll settle it right off. But
no formal fight, under decent auspices. You hear me? You
Brimmer made no reply.
"All right, then," nodded Dave. "I understand that you don't
want to fight here. Don't try to provoke me into a formal fight,
at the Naval Academy, unless you are prepared to defend your side
before a class committee. Now get up and take yourself away--you
Tony, in the meantime, had swiftly vanished. The Greek's change
of front, in denying his charge against Brimmer, had been prompted
"Meester Brimmer, he pay me, now, not twenty dollars, but all
the money he have, and all he can get," chuckled the rascally
Greek. "Otherwise, he be afraid I tell too much, and he get the
double-queeck out of the Naval Acadeemy!"
Brimmer, boiling with helpless rage, got up and made off as quickly
as he could. He would have fought, on the spot, but knew that
with one eye closed, and giving him great pain, he would be but
a football for the strenuous Darrin.
And now Dave bent over his chum, who, still unconscious, was breathing
"He's in no immediate danger," breathed Darrin, in great relief.
Then, hearing wheels, he stepped to the end of the alleyway.
As if in answer to his prayer the vehicle turned ont to be a
cab, and without a fare.
"Driver, I need you here!" called Dave, and the cab rolled in
at the curb.
"Follow me," directed Darrin, leading the way up the alley
Catching sight of the prostrate midshipman the driver grinned.
"No, he's not intoxicated!" flashed out Darrin half angrily.
"This is all a trick. Help me lift him into your cab. Then drive
us to the best physician in the town."
Dan was propped in place on the back seat, Darrin beside him.
"Give me the card of your stable, driver," Dave requested. "I
haven't money enough to pay you, but I'll write and have my father
send you the amount of your bill."
"That'll be all right, sir," nodded the driver who knew the ways
of midshipmen, and who also knew that such a "risk" was a safe one.
A few minutes later the cab stopped before the residence of Dr.
"See if the doctor is in," directed Darrin.
The physician was at home, and not engaged. So Dave and the driver
carried Dan into the medical man's office.
"Too bad!" murmured the physician. "Intoxicated, eh?
"No, sir," responded Dave quietly, "and that's one of the things
I wish you to note positively, so that you can be prepared to
certify if necessary. This is the stuff, I believe, with which
my friend was drugged."
Dave passed over the vial Tony had handed him. Dr. Stewart smelled
the contents, then touched the bottle lightly to his tongue.
Next he stepped over to a cabinet, poured a small quantity of
the liquid into a test tube and did some hurried experimenting.
"The regulation knockout drops," he smiled grimly. "Now, help
me to take off your friend's overcoat. Whew! There is the smell
of alcohol here!
"Only on the overcoat, I guess, doctor," suggested Dave. "You
don't notice any on my friend's breath, do you?
"No," replied the doctor.
"There has been a plot on foot to make it appear that my friend
had been indulging in liquor. Doctor, I hope you can prove positively
that such was not the case."
"I shall have to pump the young man's stomach out. That is the
first step in getting him back to consciousness. That will also
show convincingly whether he has been using alcoholic drinks."
Within three minutes Dr. Stewart was positive that Dan had not
been using strong drink.
Soon after Dan regained consciousness. Dr. Stewart quickly gave
him something to restore his faculties.
Catching sight of the office clock Dave broke in:
"Doctor, if it is barely possible, we must be back for supper
formation. Can you fix it?"
"I think so," nodded the physician. "You can help. Turn on that
electric fan and place your friend's uniform overcoat where the
fan will play upon it. That will drive away most of the smell
"Alcohol?" mumbled Dan wonderingly.
"Don't try to think, now, Mr. Dalzell," ordered the physician.
"Mr. Darrin will explain to you later."
Dan lay on the lounge, the physician keeping a finger on his pulse.
Presently the man of medicine gave Dan another drink of restorative.
"Now, get up and walk to the back of the room with me," commanded
the physician. "Here, I'll throw this window up. Now, take in as
deep breaths as you can."
Dave, in the meantime, was standing near fan attending to driving
the fumes from his friend's coat.
A few minutes later Dr. Stewart gave Dalzell a third draught.
Dan was now recovering steadily from his mental numbness.
"You can take your friend away safely, now," declared Dr. Stewart,
at last. "He can thank a strong constitution for recovering so
quickly under treatment."
"Shall I take him near the gate in a cab, or walk him there?"
"It will bring about his recovery more completely if he walks."
"Pardon me for a moment, then, and I'll go outside and release
Then, returning, Darrin added:
"Doctor, if you'll hand me your bill, Mr. Dalzell will see that
his father remits to you."
Dr. Stewart nodded, wrote the bill, and passed it over. It was
not by any means the first time that the physician had done business
on that basis.
"A fairly brisk walk, gentlemen, will be best," said the doctor,
at the street door. "Good evening--and good luck."
"Another Naval mystery, I suppose," smiled the physician, as he
turned back to his office. "But I shall never hear from it again,
except when the remittance arrives from the young man's father."
Arriving at the Maryland Avenue gate of the Academy grounds Dave
turned in report for both of them. Then the chums continued across
to Bancroft Hall.
Midshipman Brimmer was reported absent, but accounted for, at
that supper formation. At that moment Brimmer was undergoing
a Naval surgeon's treatment for his eye. Brimmer's brief explanation
to the surgeon was that he had run his face against something hard
in a dark alleyway while in town. The surgeon noted down the
explanation, smiling grimly.
That being Saturday evening, with release from studies, Dave slipped
down to the door of Farley and Page, and invited them to his quarters.
There sat Dan.
Both Farley and Page listened almost in stupefaction. They had
always rather liked Brimmer. Yet they were convinced that Darrin
spoke the truth.
"Now, help me with your advice," begged Dave. "Should I make
an official report of this whole matter?
"Not until you have stronger evidence against Brimmer," suggested
"Would it do any good to ask for a class committee, and to bring
Brimmer before it?"
"Not until you have a better case to offer," replied Page.
"Then what should I do?"
"Cut Brimmer, of course," said Farley thoughtfully. "And don't
let him guess that you're going to let up at any point of the
investigation into the matter."
"We won't let up, either," blazed Dave, "if we can think of any
way to probe the facts.
"I don't believe it will do much good to fool with Tony, the Greek,"
suggested Midshipman Page. "Brimmer has more money than any of us,
and he'll pay blackmail to keep Tony's tongue quiet."
It was Tuesday when Midshipman Brimmer returned to formations.
Immediately after breakfast Dave Darrin went up to him.
"Mr. Brimmer, I want a word with you."
"I don't want any words with you, at any time, Mr. Darrin," Brimmer
"You won't have any that are not necessary," retorted Dave. "Yet I
think it will be to your advantage to step aside and hear what I
have to say now."
"Make it very short, then."
"Mr. Brimmer," continued Darrin, when they were by themselves,
"all I have to say is to confirm the language that I used to you
the other evening. Further, I will say that you are quite at
liberty to report me for having assaulted you. Or, you may ask
for a class committee to investigate this affair between us.
The last that I have to say is that I have the vial of knockout
stuff that you gave Tony to serve to Dalzell and myself, and I
have also expert testimony as to the nature of the stuff. Nor
do I mind admitting to you that Dalzell and I are going to go
as far as we can in getting the evidence that; will warrant our
making an official report your scoundrelly conduct. If possible
we shall bring about your dismissal from the Naval Academy."
Brimmer's eyes flashed. Yet in the next minute the yellow streak
in him showed. His lip quivered, and he begged, brokenly:
"Darrin, show a little mercy. Would you care to be kicked out
of the Academy?"
"Not any more than Dalzell would have liked it," replied Dave
"Then you must realize that it would spoil my life, too."
"Mr. Brimmer," retorted Darrin sternly, "it is no longer a question
of what your feelings in the matter may be. The plain fact is
that you are not a gentlemen--not honorable. You are not fit
to be the comrade of gentlemen. You are a profanation of the
uniform of the United States. It is for the good of the service,
far more than for any personal enmity, that several of us have
resolved to keep on the hunt for evidence until we get a complete
enough lot to drive you away from Annapolis."
Finding that coaxing was of no avail Brimmer became surly.
At the first opportunity for liberty to go into town Dave, Dan
and Farley went abruptly to Tony, the Greek, questioning him
insistently. Tony, however, would not say a word beyond stolidly
denying that he had had any part in the plot, and that he had
ever said so.
Tony had abundant reasons for his silence. He had promptly demanded
two hundred dollars from Brimmer, and the latter had sent post
haste to his father for the money, explaining only that he needed
it to "buy his way out of a scrape."
The money now rested in Tony's pocket.
Dave, Dan, Farley and Page tried hard, however, in other directions,
to secure the need evidence. There was no druggists' label on
the vial, so these four midshipmen visited all the druggists in
Annapolis, seeking light on the matter. The druggists, however,
denied any knowledge of the vial or of its contents.
Now, the friends appeared to be up against a dead wall of difficulty.
They did not cease their efforts, however, and held many conferences
behind closed doors.
Brimmer kept track of their activities as best he could. He became
moody, and slackened in his studies.
After that the semi-annual examinations came on. Dave passed
better than he had hoped, making two-nine as his standing.
Dalzell was forced to be content with two-seven, but as two-five
was a high enough mark for passing Dan was delighted. Farley and
Page got through safely, and that was all.
Fifty-nine of the men of the fourth class were dropped for failing
to keep up to the two-five standard.
And one of these was Midshipman Brimmer. He and the other unlucky
ones left for their homes as soon as the results had been announced.
Brimmer would have passed, in all probability, had he not been
unstrung by the knowledge that four of his comrades were working
to secure the evidence which should warrant his expulsion from
the Naval Academy. Oppressed by dread, this young scoundrel was
not capable of doing his best work at the semi-annuals.
So Brimmer left as Henkel had done. The only difference was that
Brimmer did not have to slink away to the tune of "The Rogue's
"You're past the worst of it, now, mister," murmured Youngster
Trotter, in passing Dave. "You'll win through hereafter."
But Dave Darrin could hardly help feeling that his greatest
thankfulness was over the fact that the poisonous pair, Henkel and
Brimmer, were both out of the Navy for good and all.
The Collision on the Chesapeake
The weeks slipped by quickly now.
Athletics cannot occupy as prominent a place at Annapolis as at
the universities and colleges, for the midshipmen must, above
all, be sure that they stand high enough in their academic work.
Dave and Dan were both invited out for baseball try-out,
but both asked to be excused.
Dan, by himself, would have gone in for the Navy nine, and
doubtless would have made it.
It was Darrin, the cautious, who dissuaded Dalzell.
"Better shy away from athletics, Danny boy, until you've made your
academic footing secure," was Dave's advice.
"You didn't talk that way in the High School," argued Dan.
"No; there the athletics were more necessary, if we were to keep
in condition. Here athletics may be regarded as the luxury, which
we are not yet entitled. Here, with the gym work, the fencing,
the drills under arms and the boat drills, we're kept in the pink
of physical condition without need for special training."
"Next year, when we feel absolutely solid in our marks, we can
go in for athletics, if we wish, Dan."
So Dalzell gave in. He was beginning to realize that his chum
had a "long" head and that his advice was always good.
With the coming of spring the boat drills were resumed in earnest.
Dave, standing well in "grease," now, became captain of one of
the boat crews, for he had developed unusual skill in boat handling.
One bright afternoon in the latter part of April, while half of
the brigade marched off to instruction on shore, the other half
marched down to the docks beyond the seamanship building.
Here the members of the third class embarked in the steam launches
each craft representing a war vessel--for fleet drill.
The fourth class men embarked, by crews, in the sailboats.
As each captain gave the order to shove clear of the dock the
mainsail was hoisted. Then each crew captain kept one eye on
the watch for the signals of the instructor, who was aboard a
boat designated as the flagship.
The sail was downstream. Beyond Annapolis some pretty manoeuvering
work was done. While this drill was proceeding, however, the
wind died out considerably. Then, light as the breeze was, the
youthful crew captains were forced to beat back against almost
a head wind.
There being no signs of squalls or puffs, the crew captains did not
seem to need to exercise much caution. The members of the crews
stood indolently at their stations.
Yet Dave was as alert as ever. He stood close to the midshipman
tillerman, looking constantly for signals from the flagship, and
at the same time watchful for any wind signs.
An hour or more they had proceeded thus. Some of Dave's boat
crew, who had been making a lark of their nearly becalmed condition
now began to demur over the prospect of getting back late for
"The steam-launch fleet might show up and give us a tow," grumbled
Dave smiled and said nothing. He was as eager as any midshipman
in the boat to have his supper on time, but he felt that the crew
captain must appear above any sign of complaint untoward fate.
For a moment or so Darrin turned to look aft at the weather.
"Motor boat 'John Duncan' on the port bow, two points off and
bearing this way, sir," reported the bow watch.
Darrin turned quickly, bending to glance under the boom, for the
mainsail was in his way.
What he saw made him dart quickly forward, to take up his stand
by the mast.
"Pass me the megaphone, Mr. Dalzell," he requested.
With this mouth-piece in hand, Dave watched the nearing craft.
The "Duncan" was a semi-speed boat, some forty-five feet over
all, without cabin, and carrying only a sprayhood forward to protect
Two men appeared in the boat--Mr Salisbury, the owner, and his
engineer. The latter was steering at this time.
Chug-chug-chug! came the fast craft.
Dave waited, well knowing that his hail could not carry to either
engineer or owner over the noise that the "Duncan's" engine was
Farley stood close to Dave watching. The tillerman also had his
eye on the approaching craft. The other midshipmen, telling stories
or staring out over the water, paid little heed. There could
be no danger from the motor boat. Both the owner and engineer
were well known, in these waters, as capable boat handlers and
as men of judgment.
Darrin, himself, did not believe that there was any danger.
"Throw her head a point and a half off to the starboard," called
Dave Darrin evenly.
"Aye, aye, sir," responded the midshipman tillerman, and the sailboat
responded slowly under the slight headway.
"Great Scott, don't those fellows know that a sailboat has the
right of way over a power craft?" demanded Darrin suddenly.
"Perhaps they're going to see how close they can come to us without
hitting us," remarked Farley.
Dave raised the megaphone to his lips, waiting until he judged that
there was a chance of his hail being heard.
"Duncan, 'ahoy!" bellowed Darrin. "Go to port of us!"
Still the motor boat came onward, at a speed something better than
"Hard-a-starboard!" Darrin roared back to his own tillerman.
Then he repeated his hail. He was almost frenzied now; for the
motor boat had not yet changed its course.
Suddenly, when the two craft were almost together, the engineer,
after throwing over his wheel, held up one hand.
Before Dave could guess what the gesture meant, the "Duncan" loomed
up on the sail-boat's port bow, coming on at unabated speed.
There was an instant scampering of midshipmen for safety. Then
bump! the motor boat's bow crashed into the sailboat, cutting
a great gap in her.
The force of the shock threw most of the midshipmen into the water.
The rest jumped.
Now, the "Duncan" responded to her engine by backing off. But
the motor boat, too, had received her deathblow. Ere she had
backed off a hundred and fifty feet she began to fill rapidly.
Owner and engineer had only time to adjust life-preservers
and leap overboard. Then the "Duncan" went down.
At the moment of collision there was a crash of spars and a snapping
of cordage. The sailing craft's mast had gone by the board, though
not much before the sailboat itself had filled.
Dave himself was pitched headlong. He sank below the water, but
had no fear for himself, for he was wholly at home in the water.
Yet, as he found the water closing over him, Dave Darrin felt
a great thrill of terror for others run through him.
"My boat crew is the poorest in the class in swimming!" he gasped,
with a throb of agony. "Not more than half of them know how
to take care of themselves! And I, as captain, am responsible
for their safety!"
IN THE LINE OF DUTY
As his head shot above the water a Dave barely paused to expel the
water from his mouth.
"Boat's crew close together, to stand by the poor swimmers!" he
The water being barely ruffled, Darrin was able to count eight heads
besides his own.
That meant that five men had still failed to come up.
Midshipman Driscoll, an instant later, shot up beside Dave.
"Help!" sputtered Driscoll.
"Float on my arm, sir," ordered Dave, swimming with lusty strokes
until he had thrust his left arm under Driscoll's chest.
Then the young crew captain shouted:
"Who can get here first to support Mr. Driscoll."
"Here!" called another midshipman, overtaking the pair with lusty
"Keep Mr. Driscoll up," called Dave, as he swam away. "I've got
to count heads fast."
Another midshipman came above water, and Dan Dalzell was at him,
like a flash, supporting the new arrival, who was one of the poor
That left three men to be accounted for.
Further down the stream still another head appeared. Only for
a moment or two, this midshipman succeeded in keeping his head
"I'll get that man," cried Farley, as he and another midshipman
started with powerful strokes after the man who was going down
for the second time.
"There's a seat floating!" shouted Dalzell.
Darrin plunged forward for it, until he saw one of his crew nearing
it ahead of him.
"Hold that as a life-buoy!" called Dave.
Hardly had he given this order when another midshipman made himself
heard, as he trod water.
The board was pushed toward him, while Dave made a rapid count.
"All up but Mr. Page;" muttered Dave, but even that thought made
him sick at heart.
Only a few moments had passed, but that was time enough for any
man to come to the surface if his buoyancy remained.
Darrin had paid no heed to Mr. Salisbury or the latter's engineer,
for he had seen them jumping for their life-preservers.
In the meantime the other boats of the sailing fleet were making
for the scene of the disaster. Yet, with the light breeze, that
was no easy thing to do. It would take some time yet to bring
the nearest of the sailing fleet to the scene.
Signals had been sprung to the steam-launch fleet, but the launches
were far down the bay, and many minutes must pass before relief
could be looked for from that quarter. Two or three of the
sailboats would, in fact, be at hand first.
Though there were some excellent swimmer among the wrecked
midshipmen, the best of these were already standing by midshipmen
who did not swim well. Dave Darrin was the only one free to go to
Page's assistance should he show up.
"Every man keep his eyes peeled for Mr. Page!" shouted Dave. "We
simply can't stand the loss of any member of the crew!"
"There's a hat!" cried Dan, a few moments later. "Can you make
it out, sir."
Dalzell was pointing further down the bay.
"A cap, yes," called Dave, striking out lustily for the spot.
"But I don't see any head there. Watch, all of you, and give
me a hail if you see Mr. Page's head show up anywhere."
Midshipman Farley was in agony over the thought of the loss of
his roommate. Yet Farley was at this time engaged in standing
by a less-skilled swimmer.
"That looks like a face, fifteen yards west from the cap!" shouted
one of the crew.
Dave Darrin made the greatest spring, he could up out of the water.
It gave him a chance for a better view.
"I see the face!" he roared back. "Look after yourselves. I'll
get in close to Mr. Page."
Dave swam as he had never done before, taking swift yet long,
powerful strokes. He reached the spot, only to see what he had
taken for a face sink slowly below the surface.
"That must be the second time going down!" throbbed Darrin, with
a feeling of horror.
More powerfully than ever he surged forward. He was too late to
catch another glimpse of the white face. But he had noted the
point at which it had sunk.
Taking a breath, Darrin took a dive downward, duck fashion. Holding
his breath, he went below, his eyes wide open, seeking as best
Down where the light of day reached him poorly Darrin caught sight
of something floating slowly past. It might have been a fish,
for all the sense of shape that reached Dave.
With an inward prayer the young crew captain surged downward and
forward. He grappled with--something--then fought his way the
surface, holding that something tightly.
As they shot above the water Darrin's blood danced for joy.
It was Page--"good old Page!"--whom he had brought to the top.
"Got him safe?" bellowed Farley, over the water.
Dave was too winded to answer. He thrust one hand above his head,
waving it joyfully. Then he let the hand fall that he might better
attend to his work.
For a few moments they floated there. The nearest of the sailing
cutters was now nearing the victims of the wreck.
The boat, however, would reach Darrin last of all.
While Darrin watched Farley and three others clambering aboard
the rescuing boat, the young crew captain trod water, supporting
Page at the same time.
Then Page opened his eyes, as though returning from a faint, rather
than reviving from a partial drowning.
"Hold me tight!" gasped Page, almost in a whisper. "I'm a fearfully
"I know," nodded Dave, "but I've got you, and I never let go of a
Darrin's heart throbbed gratefully. All of the boat crew were
accounted for; not a man of his command lost.
Further off he could see Mr. Salisbury and the engineer of the
foundered power boat, each held up by a life-preserve.
But, though all of the wrecked middies were afloat, they were
as yet by no means safe. Some were so helpless that every man
who could keep himself afloat and help another was thus engaged.
Dave, after his strong exertions, found himself rapidly "playing
out." If help did not soon reach him he felt that he would be
"Can't you help yourself a little more, Mr. Page?" he asked.
Unnoticed by Darrin, Midshipman Page had been slowly relapsing
into unconsciousness. In the collision Page had been hit glancingly
on the head by the gaff of the falling mainsail.
Page heard Dave's query with a muddled mind. All he grasped was
that Darrin was doubtful of his ability to keep them both up.
In an agony of unreasoning, stupefied dread, Midshipman Page swiftly
wound both arms around Dave Darrin.
"Here!" commanded the young captain the crew. "Don't do that!"
But Page either did not hear or did not heed. His arms clung
more desperately around Dave, binding one of the latter's arms
to his body.
"He'll drown both of us!" was the thought that flashed instantly
through Midshipman Darrin's mind.
There was no time to think of more. Before he realized that the
thing was happening Darrin felt the waters close over his head.
Both midshipmen were going down. While Darrin's mind was fully
alive to the situation Page, a gallant fellow at heart, and thoroughly
brave, was now unwittingly carrying his comrade down with him to
Nor, in the first moments, did any of the other midshipmen note
the tragic happening.
It was not long, however, before Dan Dalzell's agonized query
shot over the waters:
"Where's grand old Darrin?"
Dan groaned with his helplessness. For Dan was, at that instant,
holding up one of the poor swimmers, to leave whom would be to
abandon him to death.
OFFICIAL AND OTHER REPORT
When under the water, and in imminent danger of drowning, seconds
count as hours.
If they perished, now, Page would be spared the deep horror of it
all, for his mind was already clouded again through his recent
He retained only consciousness enough to fight like a dying wild
With one of Darrin's arms pinioned Page seemed fighting to get the
other in an equal state of helplessness.
Dave fought to free himself. Yet he did not struggle too hard.
"If I free myself abruptly, I may lose Page!" was the thought
that rushed through his brain.
To free himself of his comrade in order to get to the surface
alone and safe was furthest from the young midshipman's mind.
"It's a tough fix, but I'm going to get Page to the surface, or
stay down here with him!" throbbed Dave.
They were near enough to the surface to enable Darrin to see his
comrade, though not with much clearness.
Down under the water all forms looked indistinct.
While Darrin struggled cautiously his mind worked fast.
It would have been easy enough to choke Page into insensibility,
but that would cause the unreasoning midshipman to open his mouth,
insuring his drowning.
Suddenly Dave saw his chance! He made up his mind at once.
Swiftly moving his free hand back, he struck Page on the forehead
with his clenched fist.
At that moment, Page began to fight harder to keep them both down.
But Darrin struck him again on the head with his fist.
The injured midshipman now collapsed, senseless.
Cautiously though swiftly Dave freed himself, got a left hand
grip on the collar of Page's blouse, and with his right hand struck
out for the surface.
His feet aided. With joy Dave saw the water overhead growing
lighter and lighter. Then his face shot up into the life-giving air.
Darrin took in a great gulp of it, then turned to make sure that
the unconscious Page's mouth was above water.
Close at hand one of the sailboats of the fleet was bearing down
"There are Mr. Darrin and Mr. Page!" shouted a voice.
Splash! splash! Two classmates were over in the water, swimming
superbly toward the exhausted Dave.
"Keep up a moment or two longer, Mr. Darrin!" hailed the voice
of Midshipman Hallam encouragingly.
All these young midshipmen were on duty. Therefore, throughout
the mishap and its attendant circumstances the ceremonious use
of "Mr." had been followed.
"Won't I keep up, though!" thrilled Dave, as he heard the cheering
All but forgetting himself, Dave turned to make sure that Page's
mouth was kept above water.
"Let me have Mr. Page!" called out Midshipman Botkin, ranging
up alongside and taking charge of Darrin's burden.
"How are you, Mr. Darrin? Enjoy a little help?" queried Midshipman
Hallam, throwing out a supporting arm to his classmate.
"I'm nearly all in," confessed Dave, with a ghastly smile.
"But not all in? Good enough! Get hold of my arm, and don't
try to do much more than float. They're gathering the men in
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