DAVE DARRIN'S SECOND YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS
Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy "Youngsters"
H. IRVING HANCOCK Illustrated
I. A QUESTION OF MIDSHIPMAN HONOR
II. DAVE'S PAP-SHEET ADVICE
III. MIDSHIPMAN PENNINGTON GOES TOO FAR
IV. A LITTLE MEETING ASHORE
V. WHEN THE SECONDS WONDERED
VI. IN TROUBLE ON FOREIGN SOIL
VII. PENNINGTON GETS HIS WISH
VIII. THE TRAGEDY OF THE GALE
IX. THE DESPAIR OF THE "RECALL"
X. THE GRIM WATCH FROM THE WAVES
XI. MIDSHIPMAN PENNINGTON'S ACCIDENT
XII. BACK IN THE HOME TOWN
XIII. DAN RECEIVES A FEARFUL FACER
XIV. THE FIRST HOP WITH THE HOME GIRLS
XV. A DISAGREEABLE FIRST CLASSMAN
XVI. HOW DAN FACED THE BOARD
XVII. LOSING THE TIME-KEEPER'S COUNT
XVIII. FIGHTING THE FAMOUS DOUBLE BATTLE
XIX. THE OFFICER IN CHARGE IS SHOCKED
A QUESTION OF MIDSHIPMAN HONOR
"How can a midshipman and gentleman act in that way?"
The voice of Midshipman David Darrin, United States Navy, vibrated uneasily as he turned to his comrades.
"It's a shame—that's what it is," quivered Mr. Farley, also of the third class at the United States Naval Academy.
"But the question is," propounded Midshipman Dan Dalzell, "what are we going to do about it?"
"Is it any part of our business to bother with the fellow?" demanded Farley half savagely.
Now Farley was rather hot-tempered, though he was "all there" in points that involved the honor of the brigade of midshipmen.
Five midshipmen stood in the squalid, ill-odored back room of a Chinese laundry in the town of Annapolis.
There was a sixth midshipman present in the handsome blue uniform of the brigade; and it was upon this sixth one that the anger and disgust of the other five had centered.
He lay in a sleep too deep for stirring. On the still, foul air floated fumes that were new to those of his comrades who now gazed down on him.
"To think that one of our class could make such a beast of himself!" sighed Dave Darrin.
"And on the morning of the very day we're to ship for the summer cruise," uttered Farley angrily.
"Oh, well" growled Hallam, "why not let this animal of lower grade sleep just where he is? Let him take what he has fairly brought upon himself!"
"That's the very question that is agitating me," declared Dave Darrin, to whom these other members of the third class looked as a leader when there was a point involving class honor.
Dave had became a leader through suffering.
Readers of the preceding volume in this series, "DAVE DARRIN'S FIRST YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS," will need no introduction to this fine specimen of spirited and honorable young American.
Readers of that preceding volume will recall how Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell entered the United States Naval Academy, one appointed by a Congressman and the other by a United States Senator. Such readers will remember the difficult time that Dave and Dan had in getting through the work of the first hard, grinding year. They will also recall how Dave Darrin, when accused of treachery to his classmates, patiently bided his time until he, with the aid of some close friends, was able to demonstrate his innocence. Our readers will also remember how two evil-minded members of the then fourth class plotted to increase Damn's disgrace and to drive him out of the brigade; also how these two plotters, Midshipmen Henkel and Brimmer, were caught in their plotting and were themselves forced out of the brigade. Our readers know that before the end of the first year at the Naval Academy, Dave had fully reinstated himself in the esteem of his manly classmates, and how he quickly became the most popular and respected member of his class.
It was now only the day after the events whose narration closed the preceding volume.
Dave Darrin and Dalzell were first of all brought to notice in "THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' SERIES." In their High School days, back in Gridley, these two had been famous members of Dick & Co., a sextette of youngsters who had made a name for themselves in school athletics.
Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes, two other members of the sextette, had been appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where they were serving in the corps of cadets and learning how to become Army officers in the not far distant future. All of the adventures of Dick and Greg are set forth in "THE WEST POINT SERIES."
The two remaining members of famous old Dick & Co., Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton, became civil engineers, and went West for their first taste of engineering work. Tom and Harry had some wonderful and startling adventures, as fully set forth in "THE YOUNG ENGINEERS' SERIES."
On this early June day when we again encounter Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell in their handsome Naval uniforms, all members of the first, second and third classes were due to be aboard one of the three great battleships that lay off the Yard at Annapolis at four p.m.
These three great battleships were the "Massachusetts," the "Iowa" and the "Indiana." These three huge, turreted fighting craft had their full crews aboard. Not one of the battleship commanders would allow a "jackie" ashore, except on business, through fear that many of the "wilder" ones might find the attractions on shore too alluring, and fail to return in time.
With the young midshipmen it was different. These young men were officially and actually gentlemen, and could be trusted.
Yet here, in the back room of this laundry, was one who was apparently not dependable.
This young midshipman's name was Pennington, and the fact was that he lay in deep stupor from the effects of smoking opium!
It had been a storekeeper, with a shop across the street, who had called the attention of Dave and his four comrades to the probable fate of another of their class.
"Chow Hop runs a laundry, but I have heard evil stories about a lot of young fools who flock to his back room and get a chance to 'hit' the opium pipe," the storekeeper had stated to Dave. "One of your men, or at least, one in a midshipman's uniform, went in there at eleven o'clock this forenoon, and he hasn't been out since. It is now nearly two o'clock and, I've been looking for some midshipmen to inform."
Such had been the storekeeper's careful statement. The merchants of Annapolis always have a kindly feeling toward these fine young midshipmen. The storekeeper's purpose was to enable them to help their comrade out.
So the five had entered the laundry. The proprietor, Chow Hop, had attempted to bar their way to the rear room.
But Dave had seized the yellow man and had flung him aside.
The reader already knows what they discovered, and how it affected these young men.
"Bring that copper-colored chink in here, if you'll be so good," directed Dave.
Dan and Hallam departed on the quest.
"You're wanted in there," proclaimed Dalzell, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.
"Me no sabby," replied Chow Hop, looking up briefly from his ironing board.
"Get in there—do you hear?" commanded Hallam, gripping the other's arm with all his force.
"You lemme go chop-chop (quickly), or you get alle samee hurt—you sabby?" scowled Chow Hop, using his free hand to raise a heavy flat-iron menacingly.
But Dan Dalzell jumped in, giving the Chinaman's wrist a wrench that caused him to drop the iron.
Then, without a bit of ceremony, Dan grasped the Oriental by the shoulders, wheeled him about, while he protested in guttural tones, and bluntly kicked the yellow-faced one through the door into the inner room.
At this summary proceeding both the Chinese helpers gripped their flat-irons firmly; and leaped forward to fight.
In an ugly temper the Chinaman is a bad man to oppose. But now this pair were faced by a pair of quietly smiling midshipmen who were also dangerous when angry.
"You two, get back," ordered Dalzell, advancing fearlessly upon the pair. "If you don't, we'll drag you out into the street and turn you over to the policemen. You 'sabby' that? You heathen are pretty likely to get into prison for this day's work!"
Scowling for a moment, then muttering savagely, the two helpers slunk back to their ironing boards.
Yet, while Dan turned to go into the rear room, Hallam stood just where he was, to keep an eye on two possible sources of swift trouble.
"Chow Hop," began Dave Damn sternly, as the proprietor made his flying appearance, "You've done a pretty mean piece of work here"—pointing to the unconscious midshipman in the berth. "Do you understand that you're pretty likely to go to prison for this?"
"Oh, that no maller," replied Chow, with a sullen grin. "Him plenty 'shipmen come here and smoke."
"You lie!" hissed Dave, grasping the heathen by the collar and shaking him until the latter's teeth rattled.
Then Dave gave him a brief rest, though he still retained his hold on the Chinaman's collar. But the yellow man began struggling again, and Dave repeated the shaking.
Chow Hop had kept his hands up inside his wide sleeves. Now Farley leaped forward as he shouted:
"Look out, Darry! He has a knife!"
Farley attempted to seize the Chinaman's wrist, for the purpose of disarming the yellow man, but Dave swiftly threw the Chinaman around out of Farley's reach. Then, with a lightning-like move, Dave knocked the knife from Chow Hop's hand.
"Pick that up and keep it for a curio, Farley," directed Dave coolly.
In another twinkling Darrin had run the Chinaman up against the wall.
Smack! biff! thump!
With increasing force Dave's hard fist struck the heathen in the face.
"Now stand there and behave yourself," admonished Midshipman Dave, dropping his hold on the yellow man's collar, "or we'll stop playing with you and hurt you some."
The scowl on Chow Hop's face was ominous, but he stood still, glaring at Dave.
"Chow, what can we do to bring this man out of his sleep!" asked Dave coolly, and almost in a friendly tone.
"Me no sabby," sulked the Chinaman.
"Yes, you do," retorted Dave warningly. "Now, what can we do to get our friend out of this!"
"You allee same cally (carry) him out," retorted Chow, with a suspicion of a sulky grin.
"None of that, now, you yellow-face!" glared Dave. "How shall we get our comrade out of this opium sleep!"
"Me no sabby no way," insisted Chow.
"Oh, yes, you do!" snapped Dave. "But you won't tell. All right; we'll find the way, and we'll punish you into the bargain. Dan, get a piece of paper from the other room."
Dalzell was quickly back with the desired item. On the paper Dave wrote a name and a telephone number.
"It's near the end of the doctor's office hours," murmured Dave. "Go to a telephone and ask the doctor to meet you at the corner above. Tell him it's vastly important, and ask him to meet you on the jump."
"Shall I tell him what's up!" asked Dan cautiously.
"Yes; you'd better. Then he'll be sure to bring the necessary remedies with him."
Dan Dalzell was off like a shot.
Chow tried to edge around toward the door.
"Here, you get back there," cried Dave, seizing the Chinaman and slamming him back against the wall. "Don't you move again, until we tell you that you may—or it will be the worse for you."
Ten minutes passed ere Dan returned with Dr. Lawrence.
"You see the job that's cut out for you," said Darrin, pointing to the unconscious figure in the bunk. "Can you do it, Doctor?"
The medical man made a hasty examination of the unconscious midshipman before he answered briefly:
"Will it be a long job, Doctor?"
"Fifteen minutes, probably."
"Oh, good, if you can do it in that time!"
"Me go now?" asked Chow, with sullen curiosity, as the medical man opened his medicine-case.
"Yes; if you don't try to leave the joint," agreed Dave. "And I'm going outside with you."
Chow looked very much as though he did not care for company, but Midshipman Darrin kept at his side.
"Now, see here, Chow," warned Dave, "this is the last day you sell opium for white men to smoke!"
"You heap too flesh (fresh)" growled the Chinaman.
"It's the last day you'll sell opium to white men," insisted Dave, "for, as soon as I'm through here I'm going to the police station to inform against you. They'll go through here like a twelve-inch shot."
"You alle same tell cop?" grinned Chow, green hatred showing through his skin. "Then I tell evelybody about you fliend in there."
"Do just as you please about that," retorted Dave with pretended carelessness. "For one thing, you don't know his name."
"Oh, yes, I do," swaggered Chow impudently. "Know heap 'bout him. His name alle same Pen'ton."
Seizing a marking brush and a piece of paper, Chow Hop quickly wrote out Pennington's name, correctly spelled. His ability to write English with a good hand was one of Chow's great vanities, anyway.
"You go back to your ironing board, yellow-face," warned Darrin, and something in the young third classman's face showed Chow that it would be wise to obey.
Then Hallam drew Darrin to one side, to whisper earnestly in his ear:
"Look out, old man, or you will get Pen into an awful scrape!"
"I shan't do it," maintained Darrin. "If it happens it will have been Pen's own work."
"You'd better let the chink go, just to save one of our class."
"Is a fellow who has turned opium fiend worth saving to the class!" demanded Dave, looking straight into Hallam's eyes.
"Well, er—er—" stammered the other man.
"You see," smiled Dave, "the doubt hits you just as hard as it does me!"
"Oh, of course, a fellow who has turned opium fiend is no fellow ever to be allowed to reach the bridge and the quarter-deck," admitted Hallam. "But see here, are you going to report this affair to the commandant of midshipmen, or to anyone else in authority?"
"I've no occasion to report," replied Dave dryly. "I am not in any way in command over Pennington. But I mean to persuade him to report himself for what he has done!"
"But that would ruin him!" protested Hallam, aghast. "He wouldn't even be allowed to start on the cruise. He'd be railroaded home without loss of a moment."
"Yet you've just said that an opium-user isn't fit to go on in the brigade," retorted Darrin.
"Hang it, it's hard to know what to do," rejoined Hallam, wrinkling his forehead. "Of course we want to be just to Pen."
"It doesn't strike me as being just exactly a question of justice to Pennington," Darrin went on earnestly. "If this is anything it's a question of midshipman honor. We fellows are bound to see that all the unworthy ones are dropped from the service. Now, a fellow who has fastened the opium habit on himself isn't fit to go on, is he?"
"Oh, say, but this is a hard one to settle!" groaned Hallam.
"Then I'll take all the responsibility upon myself," said Dave promptly. "I don't want to make any mistake, and I don't believe I'm going to. Wait just a moment."
Going to the rear room, Dave faced his three comrades there with the question:
"You three are enough to take care of everything here for a few minutes, aren't you?"
"Yes," nodded Dan. "What's up?"
"Hallam and I are going for a brief walk."
Then, stepping back into the front room, Darrin nodded to his classmate, who followed him outside.
"Just come along, and say nothing about the matter on the street," requested Dave. "It might be overheard."
"Where are you going?" questioned Hallam wonderingly.
"Wait and see, please."
From Chow Hop's wretched establishment it was not far to the other building that Dave had in mind as a destination.
But when they arrived, and stood at the foot of the steps, Hallam clutched Darrin's arm, holding him back.
"Why, see here, this is the police station!"
"I know it," Dave replied calmly.
"But see here, you're not—"
"I'm not going to drag you into anything that you'd object to," Darrin continued. "Come along; all I want you for is as a witness to what I am going to say."
"Don't do it, old fel—"
"I've thought that over, and I feel that I must," replied Dave firmly. "Come along. Don't attract attention by standing here arguing."
In another instant the two midshipmen were going swiftly up the steps.
The chief of police received his two callers courteously. Dave told the official how their attention had been called to the fact that one of their number was in an opium joint. Dave named the place, but requested the chief to wait a full hour before taking any action.
"That will give us a chance to get out a comrade who may have committed only his first offense," Dave continued.
"If there's any opium being smoked in that place I'll surely close the joint out!" replied the chief, bringing his fist down upon his desk. "But I understand your reasons, Mr.—"
"Darrin is my name, sir," replied Dave quietly.
"So, Mr. Darrin, I give you my word that I won't even start my investigations before this evening. And I'll keep all quiet about the midshipman end of it."
"Thank you very much, sir," said Dave gratefully.
As the two midshipmen strolled slowly back in the direction of Chow Hop's, Dave murmured:
"Now, you see why I took this step?"
"I'm afraid not very clearly," replied Midshipman Hallam.
"That scoundrelly Chow made his boast that other midshipmen patronized his place. I don't believe it. Such a vice wouldn't appeal to you, and it doesn't to me. But there are more than two hundred new plebes coming in just now, and many of these boys have never been away from home before. Some of them might foolishly seek the lure of a new vice, and might find the habit fastened on them before they were aware of it. Chow's vile den might spoil some good material for the quarter-deck, and, as a matter of midshipman honor, we're bound to see that the place is cleaned out right away."
"I guess, Darry, you come pretty near being right," assented Hallam, after thinking for a few moments.
By the time they reached Chow Hop's again they found that Dr. Lawrence had brought the unfortunate Pennington to. And a very scared and humiliated midshipman it was who now stood up, a bit unsteadily, and tried to smooth down his uniform.
"How do you feel now?" asked Dave.
"Awful!" shuddered Pennington. "And now see here, what are you fellows going to do? Blab, and see me driven out of the Navy?"
"Don't do any talking in here," advised Dave, with a meaning look over his shoulder at the yellow men in the outer room. "Doctor, is our friend in shape to walk along with us now?"
"He will be, in two or three minutes, after he drinks something I'm going to give him," replied the medical man, shaking a few drops from each of three vials into a glass of water. "Here, young man, drink this slowly."
Three minutes later the midshipmen left the place, Dave walking beside Pennington and holding his arm lightly for the purpose of steadying him.
"How did this happen, Pen?" queried Dave, when the six men of the third class at last found themselves walking down Maryland Avenue. "How long have you been at this 'hop' trick?"
"Never before to-day," replied Midshipman Pennington quickly.
"Pen, will you tell me that on your honor?" asked Dave gravely.
The other midshipman flared up.
"Why must I give you my word of honor?" he demanded defiantly. "Isn't my plain word good enough?"
"Your word of honor that you had never smoked opium before to-day would help to ease my mind a whole lot," replied Darrin. "Come, unburden yourself, won't you, Pen?"
"I'll tell you, Darry, just how it happened. To-day was the first time, on my word of honor, I came out into Annapolis with a raging toothache. Now, you know how a fellow gets to hate to go before the medical officers of the Academy with a tale about his teeth."
"Yes, I do," nodded Darrin. "If a fellow is too much on the medical report for trouble with his teeth, then it makes the surgeons look his mouth over with all the more caution, and in the end a fellow may get dropped from the brigade just because he has invited over zeal from the dentist. But what has all this to do with opium smoking?"
"Just this," replied Pennington, hanging his head. "I went into a drug store and asked a clerk that I know what was the best thing for toothache. He told me the best he knew was to smoke a pipe of opium, and told me where to find Chow Hop, and what to say to the chink. And it's all a lie about opium helping a sore tooth," cried the wretched midshipman, clapping a hand to his jaw, "for there goes that fiendish tooth again! But say! You fellows are not going to leak about my little mishap?"
"No," replied Darrin with great promptness. "You're going to do that yourself."
"What?" gasped Midshipman Pennington in intense astonishment. "What are you talking about?"
"You'll be wise to turn in a report, on what happened," pursued Dave, "for it's likely to reach official ears, anyway, and you'll be better off if you make the first report on the subject."
"Why is it likely to reach official ears, if you fellows keep your mouths shut?"
"You see," Darrin went on very quietly, "I reported the joint at the police station, and Chow Hop threatened that, if I did, he'd tell all he knew about everybody. So you'd better be first——"
"You broke the game out to the police!" gasped Pennington, staring dumfoundedly at his comrade. "What on earth——"
"I did it because I had more than one satisfactory reason for considering it my duty," interposed Dave, speaking quietly though firmly.
"You—you—bag of wind!" exploded Midshipman Pennington.
"I'll accept your apology when you've had time to think it all over," replied Dave, with a smile, though there was a brief flash in his eyes.
"I'll make no apology to you—at any time, you—you—greaser!"
Marks for efficiency or good conduct, which increase a midshipman's standing, are called "grease-marks" or "grease" in midshipman slang. Hence a midshipman who is accused of currying favor with his officers in order to win "grease" is contemptuously termed a "greaser."
"I don't want to talk with you any more, Mr. Darrin," Pennington went on bitterly, "or walk with you, either. When I get over this toothache I'll call you out—you greaser!"
Burning with indignation, Midshipman Pennington fell back to walk with Hallam.
DAVE'S PAP-SHEET ADVICE
When our party reached the landing a lively scene lay before them.
Fully a hundred midshipmen, belonging to the first, second and third classes, were waiting to be transported out to one or another of the great, gray battleships.
Several launches were darting back and forth over the water. The baggage of the midshipmen had already been taken aboard the battleships. Only the young men themselves were now awaited.
Near-by stood a lieutenant of the Navy, who was directing the embarkation of the midshipmen of the different classes.
Five minutes after our party arrived a launch from the "Massachusetts" lay in alongside the landing.
"Third classmen, this way!" shouted the lieutenant. "How many of you?"
Turning his eyes over the squad that had moved forward, the officer continued:
"Twenty-two. You can all crowd into this launch. Move quickly, young gentlemen!"
In another couple of minutes the puffing launch was steaming away to the massive battleship that lay out in the stream.
Dave stood well up in the bow. Once he barely overheard Pennington mutter to a comrade:
"The rascally greaser!"
"That means me," Dave muttered under his breath. "I won't take it up now, or in any hurry. I'll wait until Pen has had time to see things straight."
As soon as the launch lay alongside, the young midshipmen clambered nimbly up the side gangway, each raising his cap to the flag at the stern as he passed through the opening in the rail.
Here stood an officer with an open book in his hand. To him each midshipman reported, saluting, stated his name, and received his berthing.
"Hurry away to find your berthings, and get acquainted with the location," ordered this officer. "Every midshipman will report on the quarter-deck promptly at five p.m. In the meantime, after locating your berthings, you are at liberty to range over the ship, avoiding the ward room and the staterooms of officers."
The latest arrivals saluted. Then, under the guidance of messengers chosen from among the apprentice members of the crew, the young men located their berthings.
"I'm going to get mine changed, if I can," growled Pennington, wheeling upon Dave Darrin. "I'm much too close to a greaser. I'm afraid I may get my uniforms spotted, as well as my character."
"Stop that, Pen!" warned Dave, stationing himself squarely before the angry Pennington. "I don't know just how far you're responsible for what you're saying now. To-morrow, if you make any such remarks to me, you'll have to pay a mighty big penalty for them."
"You'll make me pay by going to the commandant and telling him all you know, I suppose?" sneered Pennington.
"You know better, Pen! Now, begin to practise keeping a civil tongue behind your teeth!"
With that, Darrin turned on his heel, seeking the deck.
This left "Pen" to conjecture as to whether he should report his misadventure, and, if so, how best to go about it.
"See here, Hallam," began the worried midshipman, "I begin to feel that it will be safer to turn in some kind of report on myself."
"Much safer," agreed Hallam. "It will show good faith on your part if you report yourself."
"And get me broken from the service, too, I suppose," growled the unhappy one.
"I hardly think it will, if you report yourself first," urged Hallam. "But you'll be about certain to get your walking papers if you wait for the first information to come from other sources."
"Hang it," groaned Pennington, "I wish I could think, but my head aches as though it would split and my tooth is putting up more trouble than I ever knew there was in the world. And, in this racked condition, I'm to go and put myself on the pap-sheet. In what way shall I do it, Hallam? Can't you suggest something?"
"Yes," retorted Hallam with great energy. "Go to the medical officer and tell him how your tooth troubles you. Tell him what you tried on shore. I'll go with you, if you want."
"Will you, old man? I'll be a thousand times obliged!"
So the pair went off in search of the sick-bay, as the hospital part of a battleship is called. The surgeon was not in his office adjoining, but the hospital steward called him over one of the ship telephones, informing him that a midshipman was suffering with an ulcerated tooth.
Dr. Mackenzie came at once, turned on a reflector light, and gazed into Midshipman Pennington's mouth.
"Have you tried to treat this tooth yourself, in any way?" queried the ship's surgeon.
"Yes, sir; I was so crazy with the pain, while in Annapolis, that I am afraid I did something that will get me into trouble," replied Pennington, with a quiver in his voice.
"What was that?" asked Dr. Mackenzie, glancing at him sharply. "Did you try the aid of liquor?"
"Worse, I'm afraid, sir."
Pennington told of his experience with the opium pipe.
"That's no good whatever for a toothache, sir," growled Dr. Mackenzie. "Besides, it's a serious breach of discipline. I shall have to report you, Mr. Pennington."
"I expected it, sir," replied Pennington meekly.
"However, the report won't cure your toothache," continued Dr. Mackenzie in a milder tone. "We'll attend to that first."
The surgeon busied himself with dissolving a drug in a small quantity of water. This he took up in a hypodermic needle and injected into the lower jaw.
"The ache ought to stop in ten minutes, sir," continued the surgeon, turning to enter some memoranda in his record book.
After that the surgeon called up the ship's commander over the 'phone, and made known Pennington's report.
"Mr. Pennington, Captain Scott directs that you report at his office immediately," said the surgeon, as he turned away from the telephone.
"Very good, sir. Thank you, sir."
Both midshipmen saluted, then left the sick-bay.
"This is where you have to go up alone, I guess," hinted Midshipman Hallam.
"I'm afraid so," sighed Pennington.
"However, I'll be on the quarter-deck, and, if I'm wanted, you can send there for me."
"Thank you, old man. You're worth a brigade of Darrins—confound the greasing meddler!"
"Darrin acted according to his best lights on the subject of duty," remonstrated Mr. Hallam mildly.
"His best lights—bah!" snarled Pennington. "I'll take this all out of him before I'm through with him!"
Pennington reported to the battleship's commander. After some ten minutes a marine orderly found Hallam and directed him to go to Captain Scott's office. Here Hallam repeated as much as was asked of him concerning the doings of the afternoon. Incidentally, the fact of Midshipman Darrin's report to the police was brought out.
"Mr. Pennington, I shall send you at once, in a launch, over to the commandant of cadets to report this matter in person to him," said Captain Scott gravely. "Mr. Hallam, you will go with Mr. Pennington."
Then, after the two had departed, an apprentice messenger went through the ship calling Dave's name. That young man was summoned to Captain Scott's office.
"I am in possession of all the facts relating to the unfortunate affair of Midshipman Pennington, Mr. Darrin," began Captain Scott, after the interchange of salutes. "Will you tell me why you reported the affair to the police?"
"I went to the police, sir," Dave replied, "because I was aware that many members of the new fourth class are away from home for the first time in their lives. I was afraid, sir, that possibly some of the new midshipmen might, during one of their town-leaves, be tempted to try for a new experience."
"A very excellent reason, Mr. Darrin, and I commend you heartily for it. I shall also report your exemplary conduct to the commandant of midshipmen. You have, in my opinion, Mr. Darrin, displayed very good judgment, and you acted upon that judgment with promptness and decision. But I am afraid," continued the Navy captain dryly, "that you have done something that will make you highly unpopular, for a while, with some of the members of your class."
"I hope not, sir," replied Dave.
"So do I," smiled Captain Scott "I am willing to find myself a poor prophet. That is all, Mr. Darrin."
Once more saluting, Dave left the commanding officer's presence. Almost the first classmate into whom he stumbled was Dan Dalzell.
"Well, from what quarter does the wind blow!" murmured Dan.
Darrin repeated the interview that he had just had.
"I'm afraid, Dave, little giant, that you've planted something of a mine under yourself," murmured Dalzell.
"I feel as much convinced as ever, Danny boy, that I did just what I should have done," replied Darrin seriously.
"And so does Captain Scott, and so will the commandant," replied Dan. "But winning the commendation of your superior officers doesn't always imply that you'll get much praise from your classmates."
"Unfortunately, you are quite right," smiled Dave. "Still, I'd do the same thing over again."
"Oh, of course you would," assented Dan. "That's because you're Dave Darrin."
Here a voice like a bass horn was heard.
"All third classmen report to the quarter-deck immediately!"
This order was repeated in other parts of the ship. Midshipmen gathered with a rush, Pennington and Hallam being the only members absent. As soon as the third classmen, or "youngsters," as they are called in midshipman parlance, had formed, the orders were read off dividing them into sections for practical instruction aboard ship during the cruise.
Dave's name was one of the first read off. He was assigned to duty as section leader for the first section in electrical instruction. Dalzell, Farley, Hallam, Pennington and others were detailed as members of that section.
The same section was also designated for steam instruction, Dalzell being made leader of the section in this branch.
The class was then dismissed. Somewhat later Pennington and Hallam returned from their interview with the commandant.
Hallam at once sought out Dave.
"Darry, old man," murmured Hallam, "Pen is as crazy as a hornet against you. As he had taken the first step by sticking himself on the pap-sheet (placing himself on report), the commandant said he would make the punishment a lighter one."
"What did Pen get?" queried Dave.
"Fifty demerits, with all the loss of privileges that fifty carry."
"He's lucky," declared Dave promptly. "Had the report come from other sources, he would have been dismissed from the service."
"If Pen's lucky," rejoined Hallam, "he doesn't seem to realize the fact. He's calling you about everything."
"He can keep that up," flashed Dave, "until his toothache leaves him. Then, if he tries to carry it any further, Pen will collide with one of my fists!"
Not much later a call sounded summoning the youngsters to the midshipmen's mess. Dave was glad to note that Pennington sat at some distance from him at table.
While the meal was in progress the "Massachusetts" and the other battleships got under way. The midshipmen were on deck, an hour later, when the fleet came to anchor for the night, some miles down Chesapeake Bay.
Before the youngsters were ordered to their berths that night Third Classman Pennington had found opportunity to do a good deal of talking to a few comrades who would listen to him.
Pennington was determined to stir up a hornet's nest for Dave Darrin.
MIDSHIPMAN PENNINGTON GOES TOO FAR
At eight o'clock the following morning the various sections were formed and marched to the deck.
"All present, sir."
The chief electrician was now summoned, and to him the section was turned over. This young man, Whittam, by name, was an enlisted man, but a bright young sample of what the Navy can do for the boy who enlists as an apprentice.
"You will take your orders from Mr. Whittam as though he were an officer," directed the officer, his words intended for all members of the section, though he looked only at Darrin.
Dave saluted, then, as Chief Electrician Whittam turned to lead the way, Dave called quietly:
"Section, left wheel—march!"
They followed Whittam down into the dynamo room, an interesting spot for a machinist.
"It's fine," muttered Dan, as he stared about him at the bright metal work, the switch-board and the revolving machines. "But I'm afraid I couldn't learn the use and sense of all this in five years."
"Silence in the section," commanded Dave, turning around upon his chum.
Whittam now began a short, preliminary talk upon the subjects in which the midshipmen would be required to qualify.
"One of the first and most important requests I have to make," said Whittam presently, "is that none of you touch the switches, except by direction. None of you can guess the harm that might follow the careless and ignorant handling of a switch."
"It's pretty cheeky for an enlisted man to talk to midshipmen about ignorance," whispered Pennington to Farley.
"Oh, I don't know—" Farley started to reply, but Darrin's quiet voice broke in with authority:
"Cease talking in section."
Farley knew this to be a merited rebuke, and accepted it as such, but Pennington's face went violently red.
"Confound that grease-spot-chaser," growled Pen. "He'll be bound to take it out of me as long as the cruise lasts. But I'll get even with him. No cheap greaser is going to ride over me!"
That morning none of the midshipmen were called upon to handle any of the fascinating-looking machinery. Nearly the whole of this tour of practical instruction was taken up by the remarks of the chief electrician. As he spoke, Whittam moved over to one piece or another of mechanism and explained its uses. Finally, he began to question the attentive young men, to see how much of his instruction they had absorbed.
"This is a shame, to set an enlisted man up over us as quiz-master, just to see how little we know," growled Pennington; but this time he had the good sense not to address his remark to anyone.
Pennington was not yet in good shape, after his harrowing experiences of the day before.
Ere the tour of instruction was over, he began to shift somewhat uneasily.
Then his attention began to wander.
A brilliantly shining brass rod near him caught his eye. Something about the glossy metal fascinated him.
Once or twice Pen put out his hand to touch the rod, but as quickly reconsidered and drew back his hand.
At last, however, the temptation proved too strong. He slid one hand along the rail.
"Here, sir, don't handle that!" rasped in the voice of Whittam.
Pennington drew back his hand, a flush mounting to his face.
"The fellow has no right to talk to a midshipman in that fashion!" quivered Pennington to himself. "But it was the fault of that low-minded greaser Darrin, anyway. Darrin saw me, and he glanced swiftly at the chief electrician to draw attention to me."
It is only just to Pennington to state that he actually believed he had seen Dave do this. Darrin, however, was not guilty of the act. He had in no way sought to direct attention at Pennington.
Towards the close of the tour the officer in whose department this instruction fell passed through the dynamo room.
"Are there any breaches of conduct to be reported, Whittam?" inquired the officer, halting.
"Nothing worth mentioning, sir," replied the chief electrician.
"I asked you, Whittam, whether there had been any breaches of conduct," retorted the officer with some asperity.
"One midshipman, sir, after having been instructed to touch nothing, rested his hand on one of the brass rods."
"I don't know the names of many of the young gentlemen yet, sir, so I don't know the particular midshipman's name, sir."
"Then point him out to me," insisted the officer.
There was hardly any need to do so. Pennington's face, flushed with mortification, was sufficient identification. But the chief electrician stepped over, halting in front of the hapless one, and said:
"This is the young gentleman, sir."
"Your name, sir?" demanded the officer.
"Mr. Pennington, you will place yourself on the report, sir, for disobedience of orders," commanded the officer. "Is this the only case, Whittam?"
"The only case, sir."
The officer passed out of the dynamo room, leaving the unlucky one more than ever angry with Darrin, whom he incorrectly charged with his present trouble.
The recall sounding, Dave turned to Whittam, saying crisply but pleasantly:
"Thank you for our instruction."
"He's thanking the fellow for my new scrape," growled Pennington inwardly.
Dave marched his section back to deck and dismissed it. Dan Dalzell, as section leader in steam instruction, immediately re-formed it.
"You will report in the engine-room, Mr. Dalzell, to Lieutenant-Commander Forman, who is chief engineer of this ship. He will assign you to an instructor."
"Aye, aye, sir," Dan replied, saluting. "Section, right wheel—march!"
Dan already knew where, down in the bowels of the great battleship, to find the engine room.
Reaching that department, Dan halted his section.
"Section all present, sir," reported Dan, saluting a strange officer, who, however, wore the insignia of a lieutenant-commander.
"Your name, sir?" inquired the officer.
"Let your section break ranks. Then you may all follow me, and keep your eyes open, for you will go through one or two dark places."
"Aye, aye, sir. Section break ranks."
Lieutenant-Commander Forman led the way, with all the members of the section wondering what was to be the nature of their first day's work in the engineer department.
Descending lower into the ship, the chief engineer led the young middies over a grating, and paused at the head of an iron ladder.
"Pass down in orderly fashion, single file," directed the chief engineer, halting. "When at the foot of this ladder, cross a grating to port side, and then descend a second ladder, which you will find."
All the midshipmen went down the first ladder in silence. Dan, who had preceded the others, crossed the grating and found the second ladder.
Once more these youngsters descended. Pennington, as though by mere accident, succeeded in following Dave Darrin down the ladder.
Just as they were near the bottom Dave felt a foot descend upon his shoulder, almost with a kick, and then rest there with a crushing pressure.
It hurt keenly until Darrin was able to dodge out from under and hurriedly reach the bottom.
"Pardon, whoever you are," came a gruff voice.
Dave, with his shoulder crippled a good deal, and paining keenly, halted as soon as his foot had touched bottom. It was dark down there, though some reflected light came from an incandescent light at a distance.
Dave waited, to peer into the face of the man who had stepped on his shoulder.
It was Pennington, of course!
"I'll take pains not to go down ahead of you again, or to follow you up a ladder," grunted Darrin suspiciously.
"Oh, are you the man on whose shoulder my foot rested?" asked Pennington, with apparent curiosity.
"Didn't you know it!" questioned Darrin, looking straight into the other's eyes.
Instead of answering intelligibly, Pennington turned and walked away a few feet.
"Perhaps that fellow thinks he's going to vent his spite on me in a lot of petty ways," murmured Dave. "If that is the idea he has in his head, he's going to wake up one of these days!"
Following the last midshipman came Lieutenant-Commander Forman.
"After me, gentlemen," directed the chief engineer. He turned down a narrow passage, only a few feet long, and came out in the furnace room.
Here huge fires glowed through the furnace doors. Four of the Navy's firemen stood resting on their shovels. Instantly, on perceiving the chief engineer, however, the men stood at attention.
"Pass the word for the chief water tender," ordered the engineer, turning to one of the firemen.
The messenger soon came back with a pleasant-faced, stalwart man of forty.
"Heistand," ordered the chief engineer, "give these members of the first section, third: class, steam instruction, a thorough drill in firing."
"Aye, aye, sir," replied the chief water tender, saluting.
"Heistand's orders are mine, Mr. Dalzell," continued the lieutenant-commander, facing Dan. "Preserve order in your section."
"Aye, aye, sir," replied Dan, saluting. Acknowledging this courtesy in kind, the chief engineer turned and left the furnace room.
Heistand was presumably of German parentage, though he had no accent. He struck the midshipmen as being a pleasant, wholesome fellow, though the water tenders and firemen of the "Massachusetts" knew that he could be extremely strict and grim at need.
"You will now, young gentlemen," began Heistand, "proceed to learn all about priming a furnace, lighting, building, cleaning and generally taking care of a fire. Two furnaces have been left idle for this instruction."
But two of the regular firemen now remained in the room. These were ordered to hustle out coal before boilers B and D. Then Heistand taught the members of the section how to swing a shovel to the best advantage so as to get in a maximum of coal with the least effort. He also illustrated two or three incorrect ways of shoveling coal.
"The idea of making coal heavers out of us!" growled a much-disgusted voice.
Dan did not see who the speaker was, but his eyes flashed as he turned and rasped out:
"Silence in the section! Speak only to ask for information, and then at the proper time."
"Another young autocrat!" muttered a voice.
"Wait one moment, please, Heistand," begged Dan. Then, wheeling squarely about, and facing all the members of the section, he declared with emphasis:
"If there's any more unauthorized talking I shall feel obliged to pass the word above that discipline is in a bad way in this section."
Then he wheeled about once more, facing the chief water tender.
"Now, young gentlemen," resumed the chief water tender, "take your shovels and fill in lively under boilers B and D."
Three or four times Heistand checked one or another of the midshipmen, to show him a more correct way of handling the shovel. Yet, in good time, both furnaces were primed.
"Now, Mr. Dalzell, please detail four members of the section to follow me with their shovels and bring red coals from under another boiler."
Dan appointed himself, Darrin, Farley and Pennington.
Burning coals were brought and thrown into each furnace, and in a little while roaring fires were going. These, though not needed for the handling of the battleship, were permitted to burn for a while, Heistand explaining to the section practically the uses of the water gauges and the test cocks. By this time the midshipmen's white working clothes were liberally sprinkled with coal dust and somewhat smeared with oils.
"And now, young gentlemen, as we have no further use for these fires, you will next learn how to haul them," announced Heistand.
This was interesting work, but hot and fast. The implements with which the middies worked soon became red-hot at the end. Yet, as all entered into this novel work with zest, the fires had soon been hauled out on to the floor plates.
Just as the last of this work was being done Pennington, as an apparent accident due to excess of zeal, dropped the red-hot end of his implement across the toe of Darrin's left shoe.
In an instant the leather began to blaze. With swift presence of mind Dave stepped his right foot on the flame, smothering it at once.
But he was "mad clean through."
"See here, Pen," he muttered, in a low voice, his eyes blazing fiercely into the other midshipman's, "that is the last piece of impudence that will be tolerated from you."
Midshipman Pennington's lip curled disdainfully.
Dan had not seen the "accident," but he was near enough to hear the talking, and he caught Dave at it. So Dan ordered, impartially:
"Mr. Darrin, you will place yourself on report for unauthorized talking in section!"
Dave flushed still more hotly, but said nothing.
Midshipman Dalzell now marched the section from the furnace room, and dismissed it. It was near noon, and would soon be time for the middies to eat.
Dave hurried away, washed, changed his uniform, and then stepped away swiftly to place himself on the report.
"I was sorry to do that, old chum," murmured Dan, as he met Dave returning. "But of course I couldn't play favorites. What made you so far forget yourself?"
"A something that would have had the same effect on you," retorted Dave grimly. Thereupon he described Pennington's two underhanded assaults that morning.
"Humph!" muttered Dalzell. "That fellow Pen is bound to go the whole limit with you."
"He won't go much further," declared Dave, his eyes flashing.
"And the chump ought to know it, too," mused Dan. "The class history of the last year should have taught him that. But see here, Dave, I don't believe Pen will do anything openly. He will construct a series of plausible accidents."
"There will be one thing about him that will be open, if he goes any further," retorted Dave, "and that will be his face when he collides with my fist."
"I hope I see that when it happens," grinned Dalzell. "It's bound to be entertaining!"
"Wait a second, then. Here comes Pennington now," murmured Dave Darrin in an undertone.
Pennington, in his immaculate blue uniform, like the chums, came strolling along the passageway between decks.
He affected not to see the chums, and would have passed by. But Dave, eyeing him closely, waited until Pen was barely three feet away. Then Darrin said tersely:
"Mr. Pennington, I wish an understanding with you."
"I don't want any with you," replied Pennington insolently, as he stared at Dave from under much-raised eyebrows. He would have gone by, but Dave sprang squarely in front of him.
"Just wait a moment!" warned Dave rather imperiously, for he was aglow with justifiable indignation.
"Well?" demanded Pennington halting. "Out with it, whatever you may think you have to say."
"I have two things to speak about," replied Dave, trying to control his voice. "In the first place, while going down the ladders to the furnaces this morning, you stepped on my shoulder."
"Well!" insisted Pennington coldly.
"The second thing you did was, when hauling the fires, to drop red-hot metal across one of my shoes, setting it on fire."
"Well?" insisted Pennington more coldly.
"If you mean to contend that either one was an accident," resumed Dave, "then—"
But he found himself obliged to pause for a moment in order to steady his voice.
"Well?" asked Pennington with more insolence than ever.
"If you make such pretense in either case," tittered Dave Darrin, "then you're a liar!"
"Fellow!" sputtered Pennington, turning white with anger.
"I mean what I say, and I can back it up," muttered Darrin.
"Then I'll make you eat your words!" roared Pennington.
Clenching his fists and with the boxer's attitude, Pen aimed two swift blows at Darrin.
Neither blow reached, however, for Dave dodged out of the way. Then Darrin struck back, a straight, true, forceful blow that landed on the other midshipman's nose, knocking him down.
Pennington staggered somewhat when he rose, but he was quickly up, none the less, and ready for anything that might happen.
All of a sudden Dan Dalzell felt his own heart going down into his shoes. One of the ship's officers had just entered the passageway, in time to see what was going on.
A LITTLE MEETING ASHORE
"Stop it, both of you," whispered Dan.
"Stand at attention, ready to salute the officer."
Pennington, with the blood flowing from his damaged nose, would have made a most ludicrous figure saluting!
The instant that he saw such evidence as Pen's nose presented the officer would be bound to make inquiries.
Then, just as surely, his next step must be to Border the three before the commandant of midshipmen.
Fighting carries with it a severe penalty. Even Dan was certain to be reported, through the mere fact of his presence there, as aiding in a fight. And those who aid are punished as severely as the principals themselves.
It was a tense, fearsome instant, for midshipmen have been dismissed from the Naval Academy for this very offense.
The passage was not brilliantly lighted.
The on-coming officer, a lieutenant, junior grade, was looking at the floor as he came along.
Suddenly he paused, seemed lost in thought, then wheeled and walked back whence he had come.
Dan breathed more easily. Dave heaved a sigh of relief.
As for Pennington, that midshipman had wheeled and was stealing rapidly down the passageway, intent only on escape.
"That was the closest squeak we'll ever have without being ragged cold," murmured Dalzell tremulously.
"Where is Pennington?" demanded Dave, wheeling about after he had watched the Naval lieutenant out of sight.
"Ducked out of sight, like a submarine," chuckled Dan.
At that moment the call for midshipmen's dinner formation sounded. Dave and Dan were ready.
Pennington showed up just after the line had started to march into the midshipmen's mess tables.
To the inquiry of the officer in charge, Pen lamely explained that he had bumped his nose into something hard in a poorly lighted passageway.
Though the officer accepted the excuse, he smiled within himself.
"It wasn't iron or steel that bumped that young man's nose," thought the officer.
"Oh, the middies haven't changed a lot since I boned at Annapolis!"
Pennington's nose was no very lovely member of his face at that moment. It had been struck hard, mashed rather flat, and now looked like a red bulb.
"Meet with an accident, Pen?" asked Hallam curiously at table.
"Quit your kidding, please," requested Pennington sulkily.
That directed the curious glances of other middies at Pennington's new bulbous nose.
The young man was so brusque about it, however, that other table mates ceased quizzing him.
Yet, as soon as the meal was over, many a youngster asked others of his class for news regarding Pen. But none possessed it.
During the brief rest that followed the meal, however, Midshipman Pennington made it his business to try to meet Dave Darrin alone. He succeeded, finding Dave staring off across the water at the port rail.
"Of course, Mr. Darrin," began the other midshipman, in a voice suggestive of ice, "you are aware that the incident of an hour ago cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed."
"I don't believe there's any danger of that," retorted Darrin, with an ironical glance at Pennington's damaged-looking nose.
"Confound you, sir," hissed the other midshipman, "don't you dare to be insolent with me."
"Why, I had thought," observed Dave, "that, of your own choice, the period of courtesies between us had passed."
"I shall call you out, Mr. Darrin!"
"You'll find my hearing excellent," smiled Dave. "I shall make but one stipulation."
"I'll do you the favor of asking what that stipulation is," sneered Pennington.
"Why, after the narrow escape we had from being caught and reported, an hour or so ago, I shall ask that the fight be held where we are not so likely to be caught at it. I don't care about being dropped from the Naval Academy, nor do I believe you do."
"It would be a good thing for the service, if one of us were to be dropped," sneered Pennington.
"Yes! Oh, well, you can easily procure writing materials from the captain's clerk," volunteered Dave generously. "On a cruise, I believe, a resignation is sent direct to the commandant of midshipmen."
This ridicule served only to fan the flame of Pennington's wrath.
"Darrin," he hissed, "the Academy isn't big enough to hold us both!"
"But I've already told you how to get out," protested Dave coolly.
"I don't intend to get out!"
"No more do I," rejoined Dave. "I won't even toss pennies with you to find out who quits the service."
"Mr. Darrin, you are merely seeking to divert my mind from what I have said."
"What did you say—particularly?"
"That you would have to fight me."
"I have already signified my entire willingness, Mr. Pennington. To that I really can add nothing."
Fourth classmen are always addressed as "mister," and they must use the same "handle to the name" when addressing upper classmen. But members of the three upper classes resort to the use of "mister," in addressing classmates, only when they wish to be offensive or nearly so.
"I will send a friend to meet you," Pennington continued.
"Why, I thought," bantered Darrin ironically, "that you were going to fight me yourself."
"So I am—be sure of it. I will amend my statement by saying that I will send a second to see you."
"Save time by sending him to Dalzell."
"Very good, Mr. Darrin."
"Is that all you wished to say to me?"
"Very good, Mr. Pennington."
With two very stiff nods the midshipmen parted.
Pennington hastened at once in search of Hallam.
"Will you serve me, old man?" queried Pennington.
"Well, you see, Pen, not knowing all the facts of the case, I must admit that all my sympathies are with Darrin."
"All your sympathies?" echoed Pen, frowning.
"Well, nearly all, anyway. You see, I've known and observed Darrin for a full year now, and I don't believe patient old Darry is the one to start any trouble."
"He called me a liar," protested Pennington.
"Did he?" gasped Hallam.
"Well, he qualified the statement, but his way of saying it was as offensive as the direct lie could have been."
"So you're bent on fighting Darry?"
"Too bad!" muttered Hallam, shaking his head.
"Are you anxious for your idol?" asked Pen in a disagreeable tone.
"No, Penny; it's you that I'm concerned about in my own mind. You're going next to a very hard proposition. Darry is patient—almost as patient as the proverbial camel—but when he fights he fights! You'll be hammered to a pulp, Pen."
"No one has yet beaten Darrin at a fist fight."
"There always has to be a first time, you know."
"And you think you're It?"
"As far as Darrin is concerned—yes."
"Too bad—too bad!" sighed Hallam. "I'm afraid, Penny, that the heat in the furnace room was too much for you this morning."
"Then you won't serve as one of my seconds?"
"The honor is most regretfully declined," replied Hallam in a tone of mock sadness.
"You want to see Darrin win?"
"If there has to be a fight, I do," replied Midshipman Hallam.
"Don't bet your money on him, anyway."
"I'm not a gambler, Penny, and I don't bet," replied Hallam, with a dignity that, somehow, ended the conversation.
Pennington had considerable difficulty, at first, in finding a second. At last, however, he induced Decker and Briggs to represent him.
These two midshipmen went to see Dan Dalzell.
"Wait until I send for Mr. Farley," proposed Dalzell. He soon had that midshipman, who was wholly willing to serve Darrin in any capacity.
"We're ready to have the fight this evening," proposed Midshipman Decker.
"We're not," retorted Dan, with vigor.
"This forenoon Pennington deliberately stepped on Darrin's shoulder, with such force as to lame it a good deal," replied Dan. "Our man insists that he has a right to rest his shoulder, and to wait until to-morrow."
"But to-morrow we have a short shore liberty at Hampton Roads," remonstrated Briggs.
"Yes; and during that shore liberty we can have the fight more safely than on board ship," insisted Dalzell.
"But we intended to devote our shore leave to pleasure," objected Decker.
"You'll find plenty of pleasure, if you accept our proposition," urged Dan dryly. "At any rate, we won't hear of Darrin fighting before to-morrow. He must have to-night to rest that shoulder."
"All right; so be it," growled Decker, after a side glance at Briggs.
"On shore, at some point to be selected by the seconds?" asked Dan Dalzell.
"Yes; that's agreed."
Details as to whom to invite as referee and time-keeper were also arranged.
"I suppose we'll have to use up our shore leave that way, then," grunted Pennington, when told of the arrangement.
"There's one way you can save the day," grinned Decker.
"Put Darrin to sleep in the first round, then hurriedly dress and leave, and enjoy your time on shore."
"But Darrin is a very able man with his fists," observed Pennington.
"Yes; but you're a mile bigger and heavier, and you're spry, too. You ought to handle him with all the ease in the world."
"I don't know," muttered Pennington, who didn't intend to make the mistake of bragging in advance. "I'll do my best, of course."
"Oh, you'll win out, if you're awake," predicted Midshipman Briggs confidently.
When the cadets were called, the following morning, they found the battleship fleet at anchor in Hampton Roads.
WHEN THE SECONDS WONDERED
One after another the launches sped ashore, carrying their swarms of distinguished looking young midshipmen.
The fight party managed to get off all in the same boat, and on one of the earliest trips.
Pennington was to have ordinary shore leave on the cruise, his fifty demerits to be paid for by loss of privileges on his return to the Naval Academy.
"Decker," proposed Dan, "you and I can skip away and find a good place in no time. Then we can come back after the others."
"That's agreeable to me," nodded Midshipman Decker.
In twenty minutes the two seconds were back.
"We've found just the place," announced Decker. "And it isn't more than three minutes' walk from here. Will you all hurry along?"
"The place" turned out to be a barn that had not been used for a year or more. The floor was almost immaculately clean. In consideration of two dollars handed him, the owner had agreed to display no curiosity, and not to mention the affair to any one.
"How do you like it, Darry?" asked Dan anxiously.
"It will suit me as well as any other place," responded Dave, slipping off his blouse, folding it neatly and putting it aside, his uniform cap following.
"And you?" asked Decker of his man.
"The floor's hard, but I don't expect to be the man to hit it," replied Pennington.
In five minutes both midshipmen were attired for their "affair." Between them the different members of the party had smuggled ashore shoes, old trousers and belts for the fighters.
It being a class affair, Remington, of the third class, had come along as referee, while Dawley; was to be the time-keeper.
"If the principals are ready, let them step forward," ordered Midshipman Remington, going to the middle of the floor. "Now, I understand that this is to be a finish fight; rounds, two minutes; rests, two minutes. I also understand that the principals do not care to shake hands before the call to mix up."
Darrin and Pennington nodded their assent.
"Take your places, gentlemen," ordered the referee quickly. "Are you ready, gentlemen?"
"Yes," came from both principals.
Both men had their guards up. As the word left the referee's lips each tried two or three passes which the other blocked. Midshipman Pennington was trying to take his opponent's "measure."
Then Dave ducked, darted, dodged and wheeled about. Pennington had to follow him, and it made the latter angry.
"Stand up and fight, can't you," hissed Pen.
"Silence during the rounds, Mr. Pennington," admonished the referee quietly. "Let the officials do all the talking that may be necessary."
Dave, as he dodged again, and came up unscathed, grinned broadly over this rebuke. That grin made Pen angrier than anything else could have done.
"I'll wipe that grin off his face!" muttered Pennington angrily.
And this very thing Pennington tried hard to do. He was quick on his own feet, and for a few seconds he followed the dodging Darrin about, raining in blows that required all of Dave's adroitness to escape.
Dave's very success, however, made his opponent all the angrier. From annoyance, followed by excessive irritation, Pennington went into almost blind rage—and the man who does that, anywhere in life, must always pay for it.
Suddenly Dave swung his right in on the point of Pen's chin with a force that jolted the larger midshipman. As part of the same movement, Darrin's left crashed against Pennington's nose.
Then, out of chivalry, Dave dropped back, to give Pen a few moments, in case he needed them, to get his wits back.
"Time!" roared Dawley, and Pennington's seconds pounced upon him and bore him away to his corner.
"Now I know how that fellow Darrin wins his fights," growled Pennington in an undertone. "He keeps on running away until he has the other man gasping for breath. Then Darrin jumps in and wins."
"The method doesn't much matter," commented Briggs dryly, as he and Decker worked over their man. "It's the result that counts. Rush Darry into a tight corner, Pen, and then slam him hard and sufficiently."
"Thanks, fellows; now I'm all right for the second round." muttered Midshipman Pennington.
In a few seconds more Dave and his opponent were hard at work.
Dave still used his footwork, and most cleverly. Yet, wherever he went, Pen followed him nimbly. It didn't look so one sided now.
Then Pennington, at last, managed to deliver one blow on Darrin's right short ribs. It took a lot of Dave's spare wind; he raced about, seeking to regain his wind before allowing close quarters. But at last Pennington closed in again, and, after a swift feint, tried to land the same short-rib blow.
Darrin was watching, and blocked. Then, his temples reddening with anger, Dave swung in a huge one that crashed in under Pennington's right ear.
"Time!" shouted Dawley, just as Pen went to the floor in a heap. That saved the larger midshipman from having to take the count. His seconds had him ready at the call for the third round.
Now, suddenly, Darrin seemed to change not only his tactics, but his whole personality. To his opponent Dave seemed suddenly transformed into a dancing demon.
It was about the same old footwork, but it was aggressive now, instead of being defensive.
First, Dave landed a light tap on the already suffering nose. A few seconds later he landed on the point of Pen's chin, though not hard enough to send his man down. Then a rather light blow on the jaw, just under Pen's right ear again. The larger midshipman was now thoroughly alarmed. He feared that Darrin could do whatever he willed, and shivered with wonder as to when the knockout blow would come.
The truth was, Pennington was still putting up a better battle than he himself realized, and Darrin was not disposed to take any foolish chances through rushing the affair. Thus, the third round ended.
By the time that they came up for the fourth round, after both men had undergone some vigorous handling by their respective seconds, Pennington was a good deal revived and far more confident.
Dave's tactics were the same in the fourth round. Pennington didn't find time to develop much in the way of tactics for himself, save to defend himself.
During the first minute no important blows were landed on either side. Then, suddenly, Dave darted in and under, and brought a right-arm hook against Pen's nose in a way that started that member to bleeding again, and with a steady flow.
That jarred the larger midshipman. He plunged in, heavily and blindly, blocking one of Darrin's blows by wrapping both arms around him.
"None of that, Mr. Pennington! Break away fast!" ordered Midshipman Remington quickly.
Dave took a fair get away, not attempting to strike as the clinch was broken. But an instant later Dave came back, dancing all around his dazed opponent, landing on the short ribs, on the breast bone, under either ear and finally on the tip of the chin.
Pen was sure that none of these blows had been delivered with the force that Darrin could have sent in.
"Time!" shouted Midshipman Dawley.
The principals retired to their corners, Pennington almost wholly afraid from the conviction that his antagonist was now merely playing with him to keep the interest going.
So Pennington was still rather badly scared when the two came together for the fifth round.
"Get lively, now, gentlemen, if you can," begged Referee Remington. "Finish this one way or the other, and let us get some of the benefits of our shore leave."
Pen started by putting more steam behind every blow. Dave, who had used up so much of his wind by his brilliant footwork, began to find it harder to keep the upper hand.
Twice, however, he managed to land body blows. He was trying to drive in a third when Pennington blocked, following this with a left-arm jab on Darrin's left jaw that sent the lighter man to the floor.
Instantly Dawley began to count off the seconds.
"—seven, eight, nine, te——"
Dave was up on his feet. Pen tried to make a quick rush, but Darrin dodged cleverly, them wheeled and faced his opponent as the latter wheeled about.
After that there was less footwork. Both men stood up to it, as keenly alert as they could be, each trying to drive home heavy blows. While they were still at it the call of time sounded.
"Don't let him put it over you, David, little giant!" warned Dan, as the latter and Farley vigorously massaged Darrin's muscles. "He all but had you, and there isn't any need of making Pen a present of the meeting."
"I tried to get him," muttered Dave in an undertone, "and I shall go on trying to the last. But Pennington is pretty nearly superior to anyone in my class."
"Just waltz in and show him," whispered Dalzell, as the call sounded.
Pennington entered the sixth round with more confidence. He began, at the outset, to drive in heavy blows, nor did Dave do much dodging.
Bump! Twenty-five seconds only of this round had gone when Darrin landed his right fist with fearful force upon the high point of Pennington's jaw.
Down went the larger midshipman again. This time he moaned. His eyes were open, though they had a somewhat glassy look in them.
Dawley was counting off the seconds in measured tones.
"—seven, eight, nine—ten!"
Pen had struggled to rise to his feet, but sank back with a gasp of despair and rage.
"Mr. Pennington loses the count and the fight," announced Referee Remington coolly. "I don't believe we're needed here, Dawley. The seconds can handle the wreck. Come along."
As the two officials of the meeting hustled out of the barn, Dalzell gave his attention to helping his chum, while Farley went over to offer his services in getting the vanquished midshipman into shape.
"There were times when I could have closed both of Pennington's eyes," murmured Dave to Dan. "But I didn't want to give him any disfiguring marks that would start questions on board ship."
"You had him whipped from the start," murmured Dan confidently, as he sprayed, then rubbed Dave's chest and arms.
"Maybe, but I'm not so sure of that," rejoined Darrin. "That fellow isn't so easy a prize for any one in my class. There were times when I was all but convinced that he had me."
"Oh, fairy tales!" grunted Dan.
"Have it your own way, then, Danny boy!"
When Darrin and his seconds left the barn they went off to enjoy what remained of the shore leave. Pennington's seconds finally, at his own request, left him at an ice cream parlor, where he proposed to remain until he could return to the big, steel "Massachusetts" without exciting any wonder over the little time he had remained ashore. Pennington had strength to walk about, but he was far from being in really good shape, and preferred to keep quiet.
IN TROUBLE ON FOREIGN SOIL
From Hampton Roads the Battleship Squadron, with the midshipmen on board, sailed directly for Plymouth, England.
During most of the voyage over slow cruising speed was used. By the time that England's coast was sighted the third-class middies found they knew much more about a battleship than they had believed to be possible at the start of the voyage.
They had served as firemen; they had mastered many of the electrical details of a battleship; they had received instruction and had "stood trick" by the engines; there had been some drill with the smaller, rapid-fire guns, and finally, they had learned at least the rudiments of "wig-wagging," as signaling by means of signal flags is termed.
It was just before the call to supper formation when England's coast loomed up. Most of the midshipmen stood at the rail, watching eagerly for a better glimpse at the coast.
Some of the midshipmen, especially those who came from wealthier families, had been in England before entering the Naval Academy. These fortunate ones were questioned eagerly by their comrades.
The battleships were well in sight of Eastern King Point when the midshipmen's call for supper formation sounded. Feeling that they would much have preferred to wait for their supper, the young men hastened below.
After the line was formed it seemed to the impatient young men as though it had never taken so long to read the orders.
Yet there came one welcome order, to the effect that, immediately after the morning meal, all midshipmen might go to the pay officer and draw ten dollars, to be charged against their pay accounts.
"That ten dollars apiece looms up large David, little giant," murmured Dan Dalzell, while the evening meal was in progress.
"We ought to have a lot of fun on it," replied Darrin, who was looking forward with greatest eagerness to his first visit to any foreign soil. "But how much shore leave are we to have?"
"Two days, the word is. We'll get it straight in the morning, at breakfast formation."
In defiance of regulations, Midshipman Pennington, whose father was wealthy, had several hundred dollars concealed in his baggage. He had already invited Hallam, Mossworth and Dickey to keep in his wake on shore, and these young men had gladly enough agreed.
"Say, but we're slackening speed!" quivered Dalzell, when the meal was nearly finished.
"Headway has stopped," declared Darrin a few moments later.
"Listen, everyone!" called Farley. "Don't you hear the rattle of the anchor chains?"
"Gentlemen, as we're forbidden to make too much racket," proposed irrepressible Dan, "let us give three silent cheers for Old England!"
Rising in his place, Dan raised his hand aloft, and brought it down, as his lips silently formed a "hurrah!"
Three times this was done, each time the lips of the midshipmen forming a silent cheer.
Then Dan, with a mighty swoop of his right arm, let his lips form the word that everyone knew to be "tiger!"
"Ugh-h-h!" groaned Midshipman Reilly.
"Throw that irresponsible Fenian out!" directed Dan, grinning.
Then the midshipmen turned their attention to the remnants of the meal.
Boom! sounded sharply overhead.
"There goes the twenty-one-gunner," announced Darrin.
When a foreign battleship enters a fortified port the visiting fleet, or rather, its flagship, fires a national salute of twenty-one guns. After a short interval following the discharge of the last gun, one of the forts on shore answers with twenty-one guns. This is one of the methods of observing the courtesies between nations by their respective fleets.
Ere all the guns had been fired from the flagship, the third classmen received the rising signal; the class marched out and was dismissed. Instantly a break was made for deck.
The midshipmen were in good time to see the smoke and hear the roar of guns from one of the forts on shore.
In the morning the commandant of cadets, as commanding officer of the squadron, would go ashore with his aide and pay a formal call to the senior military officer. Later in the day that English officer and one or two of his staff officers would return the call by coming out to the flagship. That accomplished, all the required courtesies would have been observed.
It was still broad daylight, for in summer the English twilight is a long one, and darkness does not settle down until late.
"Oh, if we were only going ashore to-night!" murmured Hallam. There were many others to echo the thought, but all knew that it could not be done.
"Couldn't we find a trick for slipping ashore after lights out?" eagerly queried Dickey, who was not noted as a "greaser."
"Could we?" quivered Hallam, who, with few demerits against him, felt inclined to take a chance.
But Pennington, to whom he appealed, shook his head.
"Too big a risk, Hally," replied Pen. "And trebly dangerous, with that greaser, Darrin, in the class."
"Oh, stow that," growled Hallam. "Darrin is no greaser. You've got him on your black books—that's all."
"He is a greaser, I tell you," cried Pennington fiercely.
There were a score of midshipmen in this group, and many of them nodded approvingly at Pennington's statement. Though still a class leader, Dave had lost some of his popularity since his report to the police of Annapolis.
So the middies turned in, that night, with unsatisfied dreams of shore life in England.
Soon after breakfast the next morning, however, every midshipman had drawn his ten dollars, even to Pennington, who had no use for such a trifling amount.
As fast as possible the launches ranged alongside at the side gangway, taking off groups of midshipmen, everyone of whom had been cautioned to be at dock in time to board a launch in season for supper formation.
Pennington and his party were among the first to land. They hurried away.
It was on the second trip of one of the launches that Dave, Dan and Farley made their get away. These three chums had agreed to stick together during the day. They landed at the Great Western Docks, to find themselves surrounded by eager British cabbies.
"Are we going to take a cab and get more quickly and intelligently to the best part of the town to see?" asked Farley.
"I don't vote for it," replied Darrin. "We have only five dollars apiece for each of the two days we're to be ashore. I move that we put in the forenoon, anyway, in prowling about the town for ourselves. We'll learn more than we would by riding."
"Come on, then," approved Dan.
Plymouth is an old-fashioned English seaport that has been rather famous ever since the thirteenth century. Many parts of the town, including whole streets, look as though the houses had been built since that time. This is especially true of many of the streets near the water front.
For two hours the three middies roamed through the streets, often meeting fellow classmen. Wherever the young midshipmen went many of the English workmen and shopkeepers raised their hats in friendly salute of the American uniform.
"We don't seem to run across Pen's gang anywhere," remarked Farley at last.
"Oh, no," smiled Dave. "That's a capitalistic crowd. They'll hit only the high spots."
Nevertheless, these three poor-in-purse midshipmen enjoyed themselves hugely in seeing the quaint old town. At noon they found a real old English chop house, where they enjoyed a famous meal.
"I wish we could slip some of these little mutton pies back with us!" sighed Dan wistfully.
In the afternoon the three chums saw the newer market place, where all three bought small souvenirs for their mothers at home. Darrin also secured a little remembrance present for his sweetheart, Belle Meade.
The guild hall and some of the other famous buildings were visited.
Later in the afternoon Dave began to inspect his watch every two or three minutes.
"No need for us to worry, with Dave's eye glued to his watch," laughed Dan.
"Come on, fellows," summoned Darrin finally. "We haven't more than time now to make the dock and get back to supper formation."
"Take a cab?" asked Farley. "You know, we've found that they're vastly cheaper than American cabs."
"No-o-o, not for me," decided Dave. "We'll need the rest of our shore money to-morrow, and our legs are good and sturdy."
Yet even careful Dave, as it turned out, had allowed no more than time. The chums reached the dock in time to see the launches half way between the fleet and shore. Some forty other midshipmen stood waiting on the dock.
Among these were Pennington and his party, all looking highly satisfied with their day's sport, as indeed they were.
Pennington's eyes gleamed when he caught sight of Darrin, Dalzell and Farley—for Pen had a scheme of his own in mind.
Not far from Pennington stood a little Englishman with keen eyes and a jovial face. Pen stepped over to him.
"There are the three midshipmen I was telling you about," whispered Pennington, slipping a half sovereign into the Englishman's hand. "You thoroughly understand your part in the joke, don't you?"
"Don't h'I, though—just, sir!" laughed the undersized Englishman, and strolled away.
Darrin and his friends were soon informed by classmates that the launches now making shore-ward were coming in on their last trip for midshipmen.
"Well, we're here in plenty of time," sighed Dave contentedly.
"Oh, I knew we'd be, with you holding the watch," laughed Dan in his satisfied way.
As the three stood apart they were joined by the undersized Englishman, who touched his hat to them with a show of great respect.
"Young gentlemen," he inquired, "h'I suppose, h'of course, you've 'ad a look h'at the anchor h'of Sir Francis Drake's flagship, the time 'e went h'out h'and sank the great Spanish h'Armada?"
"Why, no, my friend," replied Dave, looking at the man with interest. "Is that here at Plymouth?"
"H'assuredly, sir. H'and h'only a minute's walk h'over to that shed yonder, sir. H'if you'll come with me, young gentlemen, h'I'll show h'it to you. H'it's one of h'our biggest sights, h'and it's in me own custody, at present. Come this way, young gentlemen."
"That sounds like something worth seeing," declared Dave to his comrades. "Come along. It'll take the launches at least six minutes to get in, and then they'll stay tied up here for another five minutes."
With only a single backward glance at the young midshipmen, the undersized Englishman was already leading the way.
At quickened pace the young midshipmen reached the shed that had been indicated. Their guide had already drawn a key from a pocket, and had unsnapped the heavy padlock.
"Step right in, young gentlemen, h'and h'I'll follow h'and show h'it to you."
Unsuspecting, the three middies stepped inside the darkened shed. Suddenly the door banged, and a padlock clicked outside.
"Here, stop that, you rascally joker!" roared Dalzell, wheeling about. "What does this mean?"
"Big trouble!" spoke Dave Darrin seriously and with a face from which the color was fast receding.
PENNINGTON GETS HIS WISH
"The scoundrel!" gasped Farley, his face whiter than any of the others.
Dave was already at the door, trying to force it open. But he might almost as well have tried to lift one of the twelve-inch guns of the battleship "Massachusetts."
"We're locked in—that's sure!" gasped Dalzell, almost dazed by the catastrophe.
"And what's more, we won't get out in a hurry, unless we can make some of our classmates hear," declared Dave.
For the next half minute they yelled themselves nearly hoarse, but no response came.
"What could have been that little cockney's purpose in playing this shabby trick on us?" demanded Farley.
"Perhaps the cockney thinks we're admirals, with our pockets lined with gold. Perhaps he and some of his pals intend to rob us, later in the evening," proposed Dan, with a ghastly grin.
"Any gang would find something of a fight on their hands, then," muttered Dave Darrin grimly.
All three were equally at a loss to think of any explanation for such a "joke" as this. Equally improbable did it seem that any thugs of the town would expect to reap any harvest from robbing three midshipmen.
Desperately they turned to survey their surroundings. The shed was an old one, yet strongly built. There were no windows, no other door save that at which the three middies now stood baffled.
"Another good old yell," proposed Darrin.
It was given with a lusty will, but proved as fruitless as the former one.
"We don't take the last launch back to ship," declared Farley, wild with rage.
"Which means a long string of demerits," said Dan.
"No shore leave to-morrow, either," groaned Darrin. "Fellows, this mishap will affect our shore leave throughout all the cruise."
"We can explain it," suggested Farley with a hopefulness that he did not feel at all.
"Of course we can," jeered Dave Darrin. "But what officer is fool enough to believe such a cock-and-bull story as this one will seem? At the very least, the commandant would believe that we had been playing some pretty stiff prank ourselves, in order to get treated in this fashion. No, no, fellows! We may just as well undeceive ourselves, and prepare to take the full soaking of discipline that we're bound to get. If we attempted this sort of explanation, we'd be lucky indeed to get through the affair without being tried by general court-martial for lying."
"Drake's anchor, indeed!" exclaimed Dan in deep self disgust.
"We ought to have known better," grunted Farley, equally enraged with himself. "What on earth made us so absent-minded as to believe that a priceless relic would be kept in an old shed like this?"
"We're sure enough idiots!" groaned Dan.
"Hold on there, fellows," interrupted Dave Darrin. "Vent all your anger right on me. I'm the great and only cause of this misfortune. It was I who proposed that we take up that cockney's invitation. I'm the real and only offender against decent good sense, and yet you both have to suffer with me."
"Let's give another yell, bigger than before," suggested Dan weakly.
They did, but with no better result than before.
"The launches are away now, anyway, I guess," groaned Farley, after consulting his watch.
"Yes, and we're up the tree with the commandant," grunted Dalzell bitterly.
"Yell again?" asked Farley.
"No," retorted Dave, shaking his head. "We've seen the uselessness of asking help from outside. Let's supply our own help. Now, then—altogether! Shoulder the door!"
A savage assault they hurled upon the door. But they merely caused it to vibrate.
"We can't do it," gasped Dan, after the third trial.
Considerable daylight filtered in through the cracks at top, bottom and one side of the door. Further back in the shed there was less light.
"Let's explore this old place in search of hope," begged Dave.
Together they started back, looking about keenly in what appeared to be an empty room.
"Say! Look at that!" cried Dave suddenly.
He pointed to a solid looking, not very heavy ship's spar.
"What good will that thing do us?" asked Farley rather dubiously.
"Let's see if we can raise it to our shoulders," proposed Dave Darrin radiantly. "Then well find out!"
"Hurrah!" quivered Dan Dalzell, bending over the spar at the middle.
"Up with it!" commanded Darrin, placing himself at the head of the spar. Farley took hold at the further end.
"Up with it!" heaved Midshipman Darrin.
Right up the spar went. It would have been a heavy job for three young men of their size in civil life, but midshipmen are constantly undergoing the best sort of physical training.
"Now, then—a fast run and a hard bump!" called Darrin.
At the door they rushed, bearing the spar as a battering ram.
Bump! The door shook and shivered.
"Once more may do it!" cheered Darrin. "Back."
Again they dashed the head of their battering ram against the door. It gave way, and, climbing through, they raced back to the pier.
But Dan, who had secured the lead, stopped with a groan, pointing out over the water.
"Not a bit of good, fellows! There go the launches, and we're the only fellows left! It's all up with our summer's fun!"
"Is it, though?" shouted Dave, spurting ahead. "Come on and find out!"
As they reached the front of the piers, down at the edge of a landing stage they espied a little steam tender.
"That boat has to take us out to the 'Massachusetts'!" cried Darrin desperately, as he plunged down the steps to the landing stage, followed by his two chums.
"Who's the captain here?" called Dave, racing across the landing stage to the tender's gangplank.
"I am, sir," replied a portly, red-faced Englishman, leaning out of the wheel-house window.
"What'll you charge to land us in haste aboard the American battleship 'Massachusetts'?" asked Darrin eagerly.
"Half a sov. will be about right, sir," replied the tender's skipper, touching his cap at sight of the American Naval uniform.
"Good enough," glowed Dave, leaping aboard. "Cast off as quickly as you can, captain, or we'll be in a heap of trouble with our discipline officers."
The English skipper was quick to act. He routed out two deckhands, who quickly cast off. Almost while the deckhands were doing this the skipper rang the engineer's bell.
"Come into the wheel-'ouse with me," invited the skipper pleasantly, which invitation the three middies accepted. "Now, then, young gentlemen, 'ow did it 'appen that you missed your own launches."
"It was a mean trick—a scoundrelly one!" cried Darrin resentfully. Then he described just what had happened.
The skipper's own bronzed cheeks burned to a deeper color.
"I can 'ardly believe that an Englishman would play such a trick on young h'officers of a friendly power," he declared. "But I told you, sir, the fare out to your ship would be half a sov. I lied. If a nasty little cockney played such a trick on you, it's my place, as a decent Englishman, to take you out for nothing—and that's the fare."
"Oh, we'll gladly pay the half sov." protested Darrin.
"Not on this craft you can't, sir," replied the skipper firmly.
Looking eagerly ahead, the three middies saw two of the launches go along side of the "Massachusetts" and discharge passengers. As the second left the side gangway the Briton, who had been crowding on steam well, ranged in along side.
"What craft is that, and what do you want?" hailed the officer of the deck, from above.
"The tender 'Lurline,' sir, with three of your gentlemen to put h'aboard of you, sir," the Briton bellowed through a window of the wheel-house.
"Very good, then. Come alongside," directed the officer of the deck.
In his most seamanlike style the Briton ranged alongside. Dave tried to press the fare upon the skipper, but he would have none of that. So the three shook hands swiftly but heartily with him, then sprang across to the side gangway, where they paused long enough to lift their caps to this stranger and friend. The Briton lifted his own cap, waving it heartily, ere he fell off and turned about.
"You didn't get aboard any too soon, gentlemen," remarked the officer of the deck, eyeing the three middies keenly as they came up over the side, doffing their uniform caps to the colors. "Hustle for the formation."
Midshipman Pennington was chuckling deeply over the supposed fact that he had at last succeeded in bringing Darrin in for as many demerits as Darrin had helped heap upon him.
"That'll break his heart as an avowed greaser," Pen told himself. "With all the demerits Darrin will get, he'll have no heart for greasing the rest of this year. It's rough on Farley, but I'm not quite as sorry for Dalzell, who, in his way, is almost as bad as Darrin. He's Darrin's cuckoo and shadow, anyway. Oh, I wish I could see Darrin's face now!"
This last was uttered just as Midshipman Pennington stepped into line at the supper formation.
"I wish I could see Darrin's face now!" Pen repeated to himself.
Seldom has a wish been more quickly gratified. For, just in the nick of time to avoid being reported, Midshipmen Darrin, Dalzell and Farley came into sight, falling into their respective places.
At that instant it was Midshipman Pennington's face, not Dave Darrin's, that was really worth studying.
"Now how did the shameless greaser work this!" Pennington pondered uneasily.
But, of course, he couldn't ask. He could only hope that, presently, he would hear the whole story from some other man in the class.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE GALE
There is altogether too much to the summer practice cruise for it to be related in detail.
Nor would the telling of it prove interesting to the reader. When at sea, save on Sundays, the midshipman's day is one of hard toil.
It is no life for the indolent young man. He is routed out early in the morning and put at hard work.
On a midshipman's first summer cruise what he learns is largely the work that is done by the seamen, stokers, water tenders, electricians, the signal men and others.
Yet he must learn every phase of all this work thoroughly, for some day, before he becomes an officer, he must be examined as to his knowledge of all this great mass of detail.
It is only when in port that some relaxation comes into the midshipman's life. He has shore leave, and a large measure of liberty. Yet he must, at all times, show all possible respect for the uniform that he wears and the great nation that he represents. If a midshipman permits himself to be led into scrapes that many college boys regard as merely "larks," he is considered a disgrace to the Naval service.
Always, at home and abroad, the "middy" must maintain his own dignity and that of his country and service. Should he fail seriously, he is regarded by his superiors and by the Navy Department as being unfit to defend the honor of his flag.
The wildest group from the summer practice fleet was that made up of Pennington and his friends. Pen received more money in France from his fond but foolish father. Wherever Pennington's group went, they cut a wide swath of "sport," though they did nothing actually dishonorable. Yet they were guilty of many pranks which, had the midshipmen been caught, would have resulted in demerits.
Ports in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy were touched briefly. At some of these ports the midshipmen received much attention.
But at last the fleet turned back past Gibraltar, and stood on for the Azores, the last landing point before reaching home.
When two nights out from Gibraltar a sharp summer gale overtook the fleet. Even the huge battleships labored heavily in the seas, the "Massachusetts" bringing up the rear.
She was in the same position when the morning broke. The midshipmen, after breakfast, enjoyed a few minutes on the deck before going below for duty in the engine rooms, the dynamo room, the "stoke hole" and other stations.
Suddenly, from the stern rail, there went up the startled cry:
In an instant the marine sentry had tumbled two life-preservers over into the water.
With almost the swiftness of telegraphy the cry had reached the bridge. Without stopping to back the engine the big battleship's helm was thrown hard over, and the great steel fighting craft endeavored to find her own wake in the angry waters with a view to going back over it.
Signal men broke out the news to the flagship. The other two great battleships turned and headed back in the interests of humanity.
It seemed almost as though the entire fleet had been swung out of its course by pressure on an electric button.
Officers who were not on duty poured out. The captain was the first to reach the quarter-deck. He strode into the midst of a group of stricken-looking midshipmen.
"Who's overboard!" demanded the commanding officer.
"And Darrin, sir——"
"And Dalzell, sir——"
"How many?" demanded the captain sharply.
"How did so many fall overboard?"
"Mr. Hallam was frolicking, sir," reported Midshipman Farley, "and lost his footing."
"But Mr. Darrin and Mr. Dalzell?" inquired the captain sharply.
"As soon as they realized it, sir, Darrin and Dalzell leaped overboard to go to Hallam's rescue, sir."
"It's a wonder," muttered the captain, glancing shrewdly at the bronzed, fine young fellows around him, "that not more of you went overboard as well."
"Many of them would, sir," replied Farley, "but an officer forward shouted: 'No more midshipmen go overboard,' So we stopped, sir."
Modest Mr. Farley did not mention the fact that he was running toward the stern, intent on following his chums into the rough sea at the very instant when the order reached him.
The captain, however, paused for no more information. He was now running forward to take the bridge beside the watch officer.
The midshipmen, too, hurried forward, mingling with the crew, as the big battleship swung around and tried to find her wake.
The flagship had crowded on extra steam, and was fast coming over the seas.
With such a sea running, it was well nigh impossible to make out so small a thing as a head or a life-preserver, unless it could be observed at the instant when it crested a wave.
Marine glasses were in use by every officer who had brought his pair to the deck. Others rushed back to their cabins to get them.
A lieutenant of the marine corps stood forward, close to a big group of sorrowing midshipmen.
"There are certain to be three vacancies in the Naval Academy," remarked the lieutenant.
"Don't say that, sir," begged Farley, in a choking voice. "The three overboard are among the finest fellows in the brigade!"
"I don't want to discourage any of you young gentlemen," continued the marine corps lieutenant. "But there's just about one chance in a thousand that we shall be able to sight and pick up any one of the unlucky three. In the first place, it would take a wonderful swimmer to live long in such a furious sea. In the second place, if all three are still swimming, it will be almost out of the question to make out their heads among the huge waves. You've none of you seen a man overboard before in a big sea?"
Several of the mute, anxious midshipmen shook their heads.
"You'll realize the difficulties of the situation within the next few minutes," remarked the lieutenant. "I am sorry to crush your hopes for your classmates, but this is all a part of the day's work in the Navy."
The largest steam launches from all three of the battleships were being swiftly lowered. Officers and men were lowered with the launches. As the launch shoved off from each battleship tremendous cheers followed them.
"Stop all unnecessary noise!" bellowed the watch officer from the bridge of the "Massachusetts." "You may drown out calls for help with your racket."
While the three battleships went back over their courses in more stately fashion, the launches darted here and there, until it seemed as though they must cover every foot within a square mile.
"I don't see how they can help finding the three," Farley declared hopefully.
"That is," put in another third classman, "if any of the three are still afloat."
"Stow all talk of that sort," ordered Farley angrily.
Other midshipmen joined in with their protests. When a man is overboard in an angry sea all hands left behind try to be optimists.