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Dave Darrin's Fourth Year at Annapolis by H. Irving Hancock

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ANNAPOLIS***

E-text prepared by Jim Ludwig

DAVE DARRIN'S FOURTH YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS

Headed for Graduation and the Big Cruise

H. IRVING HANCOCK

CONTENTS

CHAPTERS
I. Wanted---A Doughface!
II. Some One Pushes the Tungsten
III. Bad News from West Point
IV. Dave's Work Goes Stale
V. Dan Hands Himself Bad Money
VI. The "Forgot" Path to Trouble
VII. Dan's Eyes Jolt His Wits
VIII. The Prize Trip on the "Dodger"
IX. The Treachery of Morton
X. "We Belong to the Navy, Too!"
XI. A Quarter's Worth of Hope
XII. Ready to Trim West Point
XIII. When "Brace Up, Army!" was the Word
XIV. The Navy Goat Grins
XV. Dan Feels as "Sold" as He Looks
XVI. The Day of Many Doubts
XVII. Mr. Clairy Deals in Outrages
XVIII. The Whole Class Takes a Hand
XIX. Midshipman Darrin Has the Floor
XX. Dan Steers on the Rocks Again
XXI. In the Thick of Disaster
XXII. The Search at the Bottom of the Bay
XXIII. Graduation Day---At Last
XXIV. Conclusion

CHAPTER I

WANTED---A DOUGHFACE!

"Now, then, Danny boy, we-----"

First Classman Dave Darrin, midshipman at the United States Naval
Academy, did not finish what he was about to say.

While speaking he had closed the door behind him and had stepped
into the quarters occupied jointly by himself and by Midshipman
Daniel Dalzell, also of the first or upper class.

"Danny boy isn't here. Visiting, probably," mused Dave Darrin,
after having glanced into the alcove bedroom at his right hand.

It was a Saturday night, early in October. The new academic year
at the Naval Academy was but a week old. There being no "hop"
that night the members of the brigade had their time to spend
as they pleased. Some of the young men would need the time sadly
to put in at their new studies. Dave, fortunately, did not feel
under any necessity to spend his leisure in grinding over text-books.

Dave glanced at his study desk, though he barely saw the pile of
text-books neatly piled up there.

"No letters to write tonight," he thought "I was going to loan
Danny boy one of my two new novels. No matter; if he'd rather visit
let him do so."

In the short interval of recreation that had followed the evening
meal Dave had missed his home chum and roommate, but had thought
nothing of it. Nor was Dave now really disappointed over the
present prospect of having an hour or two by himself. He went
to a one-shelf book rack high overhead and pulled down one of
his two recent novels.

"If I want Danny boy at any time I fancy I have only to step as
far as Page's room," mused Dave, as he seated himself by his desk.

An hour slipped by without interruption. An occasional burst
of laughter floated down the corridor. At some distance away,
on the same deck of barracks in Bancroft Hall, a midshipman was
industriously twanging away on a banjo. Darrin, however, absorbed
in his novel, paid no heed to any of the signs of Saturday-night
jollity. He was a third of the way through an exciting tale when
there came a knock on the door---a moment later a head was thrust in.

Midshipman Farley's head was thrust inside.

"All alone, Darry?" called Mr. Farley.

"Yes," Dave answered, laying his novel aside after having thrust
an envelope between pages to hold the place. "Come in, Farl."

"Where's Dalzell?" inquired Farley, after having closed the door
behind him.

"Until this moment I thought that he was in your room."

"I haven't seen him all evening," Farley responded. "Page and I
have been yawning ourselves to death."

"Danny boy is visiting some other crowd, then," guessed Darrin.
"He will probably be along soon. Did you want to see him about
anything in particular?"

"Oh, no. I came here to escape being bored to death by Page,
and poor old Pagey has just fled to Wilson's room to escape being
bored by me. What are these Saturday evenings for, anyway, when
there's no way of spending them agreeably?"

"For a good many of the men, who want to get through," smiled
Dave, "Saturday evening is a heaven-sent chance to do a little
more studying against a blue next week. As for Danny boy, I imagine
he must have carried his grin up to Wilson's room. Or, maybe,
to Jetson's. Danny has plenty of harbors where he's welcome to
cast his anchor."

"May I sit down?" queried Mr. Farley.

"Surely, Furl, and with my heartiest apologies for having been
too dull to push a chair toward you."

"I can easily help myself," laughed the other midshipman, "since
there's only one other chair in the room."

"What have you and Page been talking about tonight?" asked Dave.

"Why do you want to know?"

"So that I won't run the risk of boring you by talking oh the same
subject."

"Well," confessed Midshipman Farley, "we've been talking about
this season's football."

"Oh, dear!" sighed Darrin. "That's the only topic really worth
talking about."

"Speaking of football," resumed Farley, "don't you believe that
we have a stronger eleven than we had last year!"

"If we haven't we ought to walk the plank," retorted Dave. "You
remember how the Army walloped us last year?"

"That was because the Army team had Prescott and Holmes on it,"
rejoined Farley quickly.

"Well, they'll have 'em this year, too, won't they?

"So Prescott and Holmes are to be out for the Army this year!"

"I haven't heard anything definite on that head," Dave answered.
"But I take it as a matter of course that Prescott and Holmes
will play once more with the Army. They're West Point men, and
they know their duty."

"What wonders that pair are!" murmured Farley with reluctant admiration
for the star players of the United States Military Academy. "Yet,
after all, Darry, I can't for the life of me see where Prescott
and Holmes are in any way superior to yourself and Dan Dalzell."

"Except," smiled Dave, "that Prescott and Holmes, last year, got
by us a good deal oftener than we got by them---and so the Army
lugged off the score from Franklin Field."

"But you won't let 'em do it this year, Darry!"

"Dan and I will do all we can to stop our oldtime chums, now of the
Army," agreed Dave. "But they're a hard pair to beat. Any one who
saw Prescott and Holmes play last year will agree that they're a
hard pair of nuts for the Navy to crack."

"We've got to beat the Army this year," Farley protested plaintively.

"I certainly hope we shall do so."

"Darry, what is your candid opinion of Wolgast?"

"As a man?"

"You know better!"

"As a midshipman?"

"Darry, stop your nonsense! You know well enough that I'm asking
your opinion of Wolgast as captain of the Navy eleven."

"He seems inclined to be fair and just to every member of the
squad, so what more can you ask of him."

"But do you think he's any real good, Darry, as captain for the
Navy?"

"I do."

"We ought to have had you for captain of the team, Darry," insisted
Farley.

"So two or three other fellows thought," admitted Dave. "But I
refused to take that post, as you know, and I'm glad I did."

"Oh, come, now!

"Yes; I'm glad I refused. A captain should be in mid-field. Now,
if Dalzell and I are any good at all on the gridiron-----"

"Oh, Mr. Modesty!"

"If we're of any use at all," pursued Darrin, "it's only on the
flank. Now, where would the Navy be with a captain directing from
the right or left flank."

"Darry, you funker, you could play center as well as Wolgast does."

"Farl, you're letting your prejudices spoil your eyesight."

"Oh, I've no prejudice at all against Wolgast," Farley hastened
to rejoin. "Only I don't consider him our strongest man for captain.
Now, Wolgast-----"

"Here!" called a laughing voice. The door had opened, after a
knock that Darrin had not noticed.

"Talking about me?" inquired Midshipman Wolgast pleasantly, as
he stopped in the middle of the room.

Midshipman Farley was nothing at all on the order of the backbiter.
Service in the Brigade of Midshipmen for three years had taught him
the virtue of direct truth.

"Yes, Wolly," admitted Farley without embarrassment. "I was
criticizing your selection as captain of the eleven."

"Nothing worse than that?" laughed First Classman Wolgast.

"I was saying---no offense, Wolly---that I didn't consider you the
right man to head the Navy eleven."

Midshipman Wolgast stepped over to Farley, holding out his right
hand.

"Shake, Farl! I'm glad to find a man of brains on the eleven.
I know well enough that I'm not the right captain. But we couldn't
make Darry accept the post."

Midshipman Wolgast appeared anything but hurt by the direct candor
with which he had been treated. He now threw one leg over the
corner of the study table, though he inquired:

"Am I interrupting anything private?"

"Not in the least," Dave assured him.

"Am I intruding in any way?"

"Not a bit of it," Darrin answered heartily "We're glad to have
you here with us."

"Surely," nodded Farley.

"Now, then, as to my well known unfitness to command the Navy
football team," continued First Classman Wolgast, "do either of
you see any faults in me that can be remedied?"

"I can't," Dave answered. "I believe, Wolly, that you can lead
the team as well as any other man in the squad. On the whole,
I believe you can lead a little better than any other man could do."

"No help from your quarter, then, Darry," sighed Midshipman Wolgast.
"Farl, help me out. Tell me some way in which I can improve
my fitness for the post of honor that has been thrust upon me.
I assure you I didn't seek it."

"Wolgast, my objection to you has nothing personal in it," Farley
went on. "With me it is a case simply of believing that Darry
could lead us on the gridiron much better than you're likely to."

"That I know," retorted Wolgast, with emphasis. "But what on
earth are we going to do with a fellow like Darrin? He simply
won't allow himself to be made captain. I'd resign this minute,
if we could have Darry for our captain."

"You're going to do all right, Wolgast. I know you are," Dave
rejoined.

"Then what's the trouble? Why don't I suit all hands?" demanded
the Navy's football captain.

Darrin was silent for a few moments. The midshipmen visitors waited
patiently, knowing that, from this comrade, they could be sure of a
wholly candid reply.

"Have you found the answer, Darry?" pressed Wolgast at last.

"Yes," said Dave slowly; "I think I have. The reason, as I see
it, is that there are no decidedly star players on this year's
probable eleven. The men are all pretty nearly equal, which doesn't
give you a chance to tower head and shoulders above the other
players. Usually, in the years that I know anything of, it has
been the other way. There have been only two or three star players
in the squad, and the captain was usually one of the very best.
You're plenty good enough football man, Wolgast, but there are
so many other pretty good ones that you don't outshine the others
as much as captains of poorer teams have done in other years."

"By Jupiter! Darry has hit it!" cried Farley, leaping from his
seat. "Wolly, you have the luck to command an eleven in which
most of the men are nearly, if not quite, as good as the captain.
You're not head and shoulders over the rest, and you don't
tower---that's all. Wolly, I apologize for my criticisms. Darry has
shown me the truth."

"Then you look for a big slaughter list for us this year, Darry?"
Wolgast asked.

"Yes; unless the other elevens that we're to play improve as much
as the Navy is going to do."

At this moment Page and Jetson rapped and then entered. Ten minutes
later there were fully twenty midshipmen in the room, all talking
animatedly on the one subject at the United States Naval Academy in
October---football.

So the time sped. Dave lost his chance to read his novel, but
he did not mind the loss. It was Jetson who, at last, discovered
the time.

"Whew, fellows!" he muttered. "Only ten minutes to taps."

That sent most of the midshipmen scuttling away. Page and Farley,
however, whose quarters were but a few doors away on the same
deck, remained.

"Farl," murmured Darrin, "for the first time tonight I'm feeling a
bit worried."

"Over Danny?"

"The same."

"What's up?" Page wanted to know.

"Why, he hasn't been around all evening. Surely Dalzell would
be coming back by this time, unless-----"

"Didn't he have leave to visit town?" demanded Midshipman Page.

"Not that I've heard of," Dave Darrin answered quickly. "Nor
do I see how he could have done so. You see, Wednesday he received
some demerits, and with them went the loss of privileges for October."

"Whew!" whistled Page.

"What?" demanded Dave, his alarm increasing.

"Why, not long after supper I saw Danny heading toward the wall on
the town side."

"I have been afraid of that for the last two or three minutes,"
exclaimed Dave Darrin, his uneasiness now showing very plainly.
"Dan didn't say a word to me about going anywhere, but-----"

"You think, leave being impossible, Danny has Frenched it over
the wall?" demanded Farley.

"That's just what I'm afraid of," returned Dave.

"But why-----"

"I don't know any reason."

"Then-----"

"Farl", broke in Dave hurriedly, almost fiercely, "has anyone a
doughface?"

"Yes."

"Who has it?"

"I don't know."

"Find it---on the jump!"

"But-----"

"There's no time for 'buts,'" retorted Darrin, pushing Farley
toward the door. "Find it!"

"And I-----" added Page, springing toward the door.

"You'll stay here," ordered Dave.

Darrin was already headed toward his friend's alcove, where Dalzell's
cot lay. Page followed.

"The dummy," explained Darrin briefly.

Every midshipman at Annapolis, doubtless, is familiar with the
dummy. Not so many, probably, are familiar with the doughface,
which, at the time this is written, was a new importation.

Swiftly Dave and Page worked. First they turned down the clothing,
after having hurriedly made up the cot. Now, from among the garments
hanging on the wall nearby the two midshipmen took down the garments
that normally lay under others. With these they rigged up a figure
not unlike that of a human being. At least, it looked so after
the bed clothes had been drawn up in place.

Then, glancing at the time, Dave Darrin waited---breathless.

Farley hastened into the room without losing time by knocking.
Under one arm he bore, half hidden, some roundish object, wrapped
in a towel.

Without a word, but with a heart full of gratitude, Dave Darrin
snatched out from its wrapping the effigy of a male human head.
It was done in wax, with human hair on the head.

Dave Darrin neatly fitted this at the top of the outlines of a figure
under the bed clothing.

Under the full light the doughface looked ghostly. In a dimmer
light it would do very well.

"Thank you a thousand times, fellows," trembled Dave Darrin. "Now
hustle to your own quarters before the first stroke of taps sounds."

The two useful visitors were gone like a flash. Ere they had
quite closed the door, Dave Darrin was removing his own uniform
and hanging up trousers and blouse. Next off came the underclothing
and on went pajamas.

Just then taps sounded. Out went the electric light, turned off
at the master switch.

Dave Darrin dived under the bed clothes on his own cot and tried to
still the beating of his own heart.

Two minutes later a brisk step sounded on the corridor of the "deck."

Door after door was opened and closed. Then the door to Dave's
room swung open, and a discipline officer and a midshipman looked
into the room.

"All in?" the midshipman called.

A light snore from Dave Darrin's throat answered. In his left
hand the discipline officer carried an electric pocket light.
A pressure of a button would supply a beam of electric light
that would explore the bed of either midshipman supposed to be
in this room.

But the officer saw Midshipman Darrin plainly enough, thanks to
beams of light from the corridor. Over in the opposite alcove
the discipline officer made out, more vaguely, the lay figure
and the doughface intended to represent Midshipman Dan Dalzell.

"Both in. Darrin and Dalzell never give us any trouble, at any
rate," thought the discipline officer to himself, then closed the
door, and his footsteps sounded further down the corridor.

"Oh, Danny boy, I wish I had you here right at this minute!" muttered
Dave Darrin vengefully. "Maybe I wouldn't whang your head off
for the fright that you've given me! I'll wager half of my hairs
have turned gray in the last minute!"

However, Midshipman Dan Dalzell was not there, as Darrin knew
to his own consternation. Dave did not go to sleep. Well enough
he knew that he was on duty indefinitely through the hours until
Dan should return. If Midshipman Darrin fell into a doze this
night he would be as bad as any sentry falling asleep on any other
post.

So Darrin lay there and fidgeted. Twenty times he tried to solve,
in his own mind, the riddle of why Dalzell should be away, and where
he was. But it was a hopeless puzzle.

"Of course, Danny didn't hint that he was going to French it tonight,"
thought Dave bitterly. "Good reason why, too! He knew that,
if I got wind of his intention, I'd thrash him sooner than let
him take such a chance. Oh, Dan! Dan, you idiot! To take such
a fool chance in your last year here, when detection probably
means your being dropped from brigade, and your career ended!"

For Dave Darrin knew the way of discipline officers too well to
imagine that that one brief inspection of the room was positively
all the look-in that would be offered that night. Some discipline
officers have a way of looking in often during the night. Being
themselves graduates of the Naval Academy, officers are sure to
know that the inspection immediately after taps does not always
suffice. Midshipmen have been known to be in bed at taps, and
visiting in quarters of other midshipmen ten minutes later. True,
the electric light in rooms is turned off at taps---but midshipmen
have been known to keep candles hidden, and to be experts in clouding
doors and windows so that no ray of light gets through into a
corridor after taps.

Just how often discipline officers were accustomed to look in
through the night, Dave Darrin did not know from his own knowledge.
Usually, at the times of such extra visits, Darrin was too blissfully
asleep.

Tonight, however, despite the darkness of the room at present, Dave
lay wide awake. No sleep for him before daylight---perhaps not
then---unless Dan turned up in the meantime.

After an interval that seemed several nights long, the dull old
bell of the clock over on academic Hall began tolling. Dave listened
and counted. He gave an almost incredulous snort when the total
stopped at eleven.

Then another long period of waiting. Darrin did not grow drowsy.
On the contrary, he became more wide awake. In fact, he began
to imagine that he was becoming possessed of the vision of the
cat. Dark as it was in the room, Dave began to feel certain that
he could distinguish plainly the ghostly figure of the saving
doughface in the alcove opposite.

Twelve o'clock struck. Then more waiting. It was not so very
long, this time, however, before there came a faint tapping at the
window.

Dave Darrin was out of bed as though he had been shot out. Like a
flash he was at the window, peering out. Where, after all, was the
cat's vision of which he had thought himself possessed? Some one
was outside the window. Dave thought he recognized the Naval
uniform, but he could not see a line of the face.

Tap-tap-tap! sounded softly. Dave threw the window up stealthily.

"You, Dan?" he whispered.

"Of course," came the soft answer. "Stand aside. Let me in---on
the double-quick!"

Dave pushed the window up the balance of the way, then stepped
aside. Dan Dalzell landed on his feet in the room, cat-like,
from the terrace without. Then Dave, without loss of an instant,
closed the window and wheeled about in the darkness.

"Hustle!" commanded Dave.

"What about?"

"Get off your uniform! Get into pajamas. Then I'll-----"

Dave's jaws snapped together resolutely. He did not finish, just
then, for he knew that Midshipman Dalzell could be very stubborn
at times.

"I'll have a light in a jiffy," whispered Dan "I brought back
a candle with me."

"You won't use it---not in here," retorted Dave. "The dark is light
enough for you. Hustle into your pajamas."

Perhaps Midshipman Dalzell did not make all the speed that his
roommate desired, but at last Dan was safely rid of his uniform,
underclothing and shoes, and stood arrayed in pajamas.

"Now, I'll hide this doughface over night," whispered Darrin,
going toward Dalzell's bed. "At the same time you get the articles
of your equipment out from under your bed clothes and hang them
up where they belong."

"I'll have to light the candle for that," muttered Dan.

"If you do, I'll blow it out. There's a regulation against running
lights in the rooms after taps."

"Do you worship the little blue-covered volume of regulations, Dave?"
Dan demanded with a laugh.

"No; but I don't propose to take any chances in my last year here.
I don't intend to lose my commission in the Navy just because I can't
control myself."

Dan sniffed, but he silently got his parts of uniform out from
between the sheets and hung up the articles where they belonged,
in this going by the sense of feeling.

Then, all in the dark as they were, Midshipman Dave Darrin seized
his chum and roommate by the shoulders.

"Danny boy," he commanded firmly, "come over with an account of
yourself! Why this mad prank tonight---and what was it?"

CHAPTER II

SOME ONE PUSHES THE TUNGSTEN

You don't have to know every blessed thing that I do, do you?"
demanded Dan Dalzell, in an almost offended tone.

"No; and I have no right to know anything that you don't tell me
willingly. Are you ready to give me any explanation of tonight's
foolishness?

"Seeing that you kept awake for me, and were on hand to let me in,
I suppose I'll have to," grumbled Dan.

"Well, then?

"Dave, for the first time tonight, I struck my flag."

"Struck to whom?"

"Oh---a girl, of course," grunted Dan.

"You? A girl?" repeated Dave in amazement.

"Yes; is it any crime for me to get acquainted with a girl, and
to call on her at her home?"

"Certainly not. But, Dan, I didn't believe that you ever felt
a single flutter of the pulse when girls were around. I thought
you were going to grow up into a cheerful, happy old bachelor."

"So did I," sighed Dan.

"And now you've gone and met your fate?"

"I'm not so sure about that," Dalzell retorted moodily.

"Do you mean that you don't stand any real show in front of the pair
of bright eyes that have made you strike your colors?"

"I'm afraid I don't."

"Dan, is the game worth the candle," argued Darrin.

"You're mightily interested in Belle Meade, aren't you?"

"Yes; but that's different, Danny boy."

"How is it different, I'd like to know?"

"Well, in the first place, there's no guesswork in my case. Belle
and I are engaged, and we feel perfectly sure each of the other.
I'm so sure of Belle that I dream about her only in my leisure
moments. I don't ever let her face come between myself and the
pages of a textbook. I am here at the Naval Academy working for
a future that Belle is to share with me when the time comes, and
so, in justice to her, I don't let the thought of her get between
myself and the duties that will lead to the career she is to share
with me."

"Humph!" commented Midshipman Dalzell.

"Above all, Dan, I've never Frenched it over the wall. I don't take
any disciplinary chances that can possibly shut me off from the
career that Belle and I have planned. Belle Meade, Danny boy, would
be the first to scold me if she knew that I had Frenched it over the
wall in order to meet her."

"Well, Miss Preston doesn't know but what I had regular leave
tonight," Danny replied.

"Miss Preston?" repeated Dave his interest taking a new tack.
"I don't believe I know her."

"I guess you don't," Dan replied. "She's new in Annapolis. Visiting
her uncle and aunt, you know. And her mother's with her."

"Are your intentions serious in this, Danny?" Darrin went on.

"Blessed if I know," Dalzell answered candidly. "She's a mighty
fine girl, is May Preston. I don't suppose I'll ever be lucky
enough to win the regard of such a really fine girl."

"Then you aren't engaged?"

"Hang it, man! This evening is only the second time that I've
met Miss Preston."

"And you've risked your commission to meet a girl for the second
time?" Dave demanded almost unbelievingly.

"I haven't risked it much," Dan answered. "I'm in safe, now, and
ready to face any discipline officer."

"But wouldn't this matter wait until November, when you're pretty
sure to have the privilege of town leave again?" pressed Midshipman
Darrin.

"By November a girl like Miss Preston might be married to some one
else," retorted Dan Dalzell.

"It was a fool risk to take, Dan!"

"If you look at it that way."

"Will you promise me not to take the risk again, Danny boy?"

"No."

"It's a serious affair, then, so far as you are concerned," grinned
Dave, though in the dark Dan could not see his face. "For your sake,
Danny, I hope Miss Preston is as much interested in you as you
certainly are in her."

"Are you going to lecture me?"

"Not tonight, Dan."

"Then I'm going to get in between sheets. It's chilly here in
the room."

"Duck!" whispered Dave with sudden energy.

Footsteps could be heard coming down the corridor. It was a noise
like a discipline officer.

Three doors above that of the room occupied by our midshipman friends
were opened, one after the other. Then a hand rested on the knob of
the door to Dave and Dan's room. The door was opened, and the rays
of a pocket electric light flashed into the room.

Dan lay on one side, an arm thrown out of bed, his breathing regular
but a trifle loud. Dave Darrin had again found recourse to a snore.

In an instant the door closed. Any discipline officer ought to
be satisfied with what this one had seen.

"Safe!" chuckled Dalzell.

"An awfully close squeak," whispered Dave across the intervening
room.

"What if he had started his rounds ten minutes earlier?"

"He didn't, though," replied Dan contentedly.

Now another set of footsteps passed hurriedly along the "deck" outside.

"What's that?" questioned a voice sharply. "You say that you saw
some one entering a room from the upper end of the terrace?"

"Oh, by George," groaned Dan Dalzell, now beginning to shiver
in earnest. "Some meddling marine sentry has gone and whispered
tales."

"Keep a stiff upper lip," Dave whispered hoarsely, encouragingly.
"If the officer returns don't give yourself away by your shaking."

"But if he asks me?"

"If you're asked a direct question," sighed Dave mournfully, "you'll
have to give a truthful answer."

"And take my medicine!"

"Of course."

That annoying discipline officer was now on his way back, opening
doors once more. Moreover, the two very wide-awake midshipmen
could hear him asking questions in the rooms further along the
"deck."

"He's questioning each man," whispered Dave.

"Of course," nodded Dan gloomily.

"It'll be our turn soon."

"D-D-Dave!"

"What?"

"I---I'm feeling ill---or I'm going to."

"Don't have cold feet, old fellow. Take your dose like a man---if
you have to."

"D-Dave, I wonder if I couldn't have a real sickness? Couldn't
it be something so you'll have to jump up and help me to hospital?
Couldn't I have---a---a fit?"

"A midshipman subject to fits would be ordered before a medical
board, and then dropped from the brigade," Dave replied thoughtfully.
"No; that wouldn't do."

That meddling discipline officer was getting closer and closer.
Dave and Dan could hear him asking questions in each room that
he visited. And there are no "white lies" possible to a midshipman.
When questioned he must answer truthfully. If the officers over
him catch him in a lie they will bring him up before a court-martial,
and his dismissal from the service will follow. If the officers
don't catch him in a lie, but his brother midshipmen do, they
won't report him, but they'll ostracize him and force him to resign.
A youngster with the untruthful habit can find no happiness at the
Naval Academy.

"He---he's in the next room now," whispered Dan across the few
feet of space.

"Yes," returned Dave Darrin despairingly, "and I can't think of
a single, blessed way of getting you out of the scrape."

"Woof!" sputtered Midshipman Dan Dalzell, which was a brief way
of saying, "Here he comes, now, for our door."

Then a hand rested on the knob and the door swung open. Lieutenant
Adams, U.S.N., entered the room.

"Mr. Darrin, are you awake?" boomed the discipline officer.

Dave stirred in bed, rolled over so that he could see the lieutenant,
and then replied:

"Yes, sir."

"Rise, Mr. Darrin, and come to attention."

Dave got out of bed, but purposely stumbled in doing so. This
might give the impression that he had been actually awakened.

"Mr. Darrin," demanded Lieutenant Adams, "have you been absent from
this room tonight?"

"Yes, sir."

"After taps was sounded?"

"No, sir."

"You are fully aware of what you have answered?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very good."

That was all. A midshipman's word must be taken, for he is a
gentleman---that is to say, a man of honor.

"Mr. Dalzell!"

Poor Dan stirred uneasily.

"Mr. Dalzell!" This time the Naval officer's voice was sharper.

Dan acted as though he were waking with difficulty. He had no
intention, in the face of a direct question, of denying that he
had been absent without leave. But he moved thus slowly, hoping
desperately that the few seconds of time thus rained would be
sufficient to bring to him some inspiration that might save him.

"Mr Dalzell, come to attention!"

Dan stood up, the personification of drowsiness, saluted, then
let his right hand fall at his side and stood blinking, bracing
for them correct military attitude.

"It's too bad to disturb the boy!" thought Lieutenant Adams.
"Surely, this young man hasn't been anywhere but in bed since taps."

None the less the Naval officer, as a part of his duty, put the
question:

"Mr. Dalzell, have you, since taps, been out of this room? Did
you return, let us say, by the route of the open window from the
terrace?"

Midshipman Dalzell stiffened. He didn't intend to betray his own
honor by denying, yet he hated to let out the admission that would
damage him so much.

Bang! It was an explosion like a crashing pistol shot, and it
sounded from the corridor outside.

There could be no such thing as an assault at arms in guarded
Bancroft Hall. The first thought that flashed, excitedly, through
Lieutenant Adams's mind was that perhaps the real delinquent guilty
of the night's escapade had just shot himself. It was a wild
guess, but a pistol shot sometimes starts a wilder guess.

Out into the corridor darted Lieutenant Adams. He did not immediately
return to the room, so Dave Darrin, with rare and desperate presence
of mind, closed the door.

"Get back into the meadow grass, Danny boy," Darrin whispered,
giving his friend's arm a hard grip. "If the 'loot'nant' comes
back, get up fearfully drowsy when he orders you. Gape and look
too stupid to apologize!"

Lieutenant Adams, however, had other matters to occupy his attention.
There was a genuine puzzle for him in the corridor. Just out,
side the door of Midshipmen Farley and Page there lay on the floor
tiny glass fragments of what had been an efficient sixty-candle-power
tungsten electric bulb. It was one of the lights that illuminated
the corridor.

Now one of these tungsten bulbs, when struck smartly, explodes
with a report like that of a pistol.

At this hour of the night, however, there were none passing save
Naval officers on duty. None other than the lieutenant himself
had lately passed in the corridor. How, then, had this electric
light bulb been shattered and made to give forth the sound of the
explosion?

"It wouldn't go up with a noise like that," murmured the lieutenant
to himself. "These tungsten lights don't explode like that, except
when rapped in some way. They don't blow up, when left alone.
At least, that is what I have always understood."

So the puzzle waxed and grew, and Lieutenant Adams found it too big
to solve alone.

"At any rate, I've questioned all the young gentlemen about the
window episode, and they all deny knowledge of it," Lieutenant
Adams told himself. "So I'll just report that fact to the O.C.,
and at the same time I'll tell him of the blowing up of this tungsten
light."

Two minutes later Lieutenant Adams stood in the presence of
Lieutenant-Commander Henderson, the officer in charge.

"So you questioned all of the midshipmen who might, by any chance,
have entered by a window?" asked the O.C.

"Yes, sir."

"And they all denied it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you see signs of any sort to lead you to believe that any of
the midshipmen might have answered in other than the strict truth?"
continued the O.C.

"No, sir," replied Lieutenant Adams, and flushed slightly, as he
went on: "Of course, sir, I believe it quite impossible for a
midshipman to tell an untruth."

"The sentiment does you credit, Lieutenant," smiled the O.C.
Then he fell to questioning the younger discipline officer as
to the names of the midshipmen whom he had questioned. Finally
the O.C. came to the two names in which the reader is most interested.

"Darrin denied having been out after taps?" questioned Lieutenant-Commander
Henderson.

"He did, sir."

"Did Mr. Dalzell also deny having been out of quarters after taps?"

"He did, sir."

Lieutenant Adams answered unhesitatingly and unblushingly. In
fact, Lieutenant Adams would have bitten off the tip of his tongue
sooner than have lied intentionally. So firmly convinced had
Adams been that Dan was about to make a denial that now, with
the incident broken in two by the report of the tungsten bulb,
Lieutenant Adams really believed that had so denied. But Dan
had not, and had Dave Darrin been called as a witness he would
been compelled to testify that Dan did not deny being out.

The explosion of the tungsten bulb was too great a puzzle for
either officer to solve. A man was sent with a new bulb, and
so that part of the affair became almost at once forgotten.

Dan finally fell into a genuine sleep, and so did Dave Darrin.
In the morning Dave sought out Midshipman Farley to inquire to whom
the doughface should be returned.

"Give it over to me and I'll take care of it," Farley replied.
"Say, did you hear a tungsten bulb blow up in the night!"

"Did It" echoed Darrin devoutly. Then a sudden suspicion crossed
his mind.

"Say, how did that happen, Farl?" demanded Dave.

"If anyone should ask you-----" began the other midshipman.

"Yes-----?" pressed Darrin.

"Tell 'em---that you don't know," finished Farley tantalizingly,
and vanished.

It was not until long after that Darrin found out the explanation
of the accident to the tungsten bulb. Farley, during Dan's absence,
had been almost as much disturbed as had Dave. So Mr. Farley
was wide awake. When he heard Lieutenant Adams receive the message
in the corridor Farley began to wonder what he could do. Presently
he was made to rise, with Page, stand at attention, and answer
the questions of the discipline officer.

Soon after Dave and Dan were called up, Farley, listening with
his door ajar half an inch, slipped out and hit the tungsten
burner a smart rap just in the nick of time to save Dan Dalzell's
Navy uniform to that young man.

CHAPTER III

BAD NEWS FROM WEST POINT

Bump! The ball, hit squarely by the toe of Wolgast's football
shoe, soared upward from the twenty-five-yard line. It described
an arc, flying neatly over and between the goal-posts at one end
of the athletic field.

"That's the third one for you, Wolly," murmured Jetson. "You're
going to be a star kicker!"

"Shall I try out the rest of the squad, sir?" asked Wolgast, turning
to Lieutenant-Commander Parker, this year's new coach.

"Try out a dozen or so of the men," nodded coach, which meant,
in effect: "Try out men who are most likely to remain on the Navy
team."

"Jetson!" called Wolgast.

Jet tried, but it took his third effort to make a successful kick.

"You see, Wolly, who is not to be trusted to make the kick in a
game," remarked Jetson with a rueful smile.

"It shows me who may need practice more than some of the others---that's
all," answered Wolgast kindly.

With that the ball went to Dave. The first kick he missed.

"I can do better than that, if you'll give me the chance," observed
Darrin quietly.

At a nod from Coach Parker, Dave was allowed five more trials, in
each one of which he made a fair kick.

"Mr. Darrin is all right. He won't need to practice that very
often, Mr. Wolgast," called coach.

Then Dan had his try. He made one out of three.

"No matter, Danny Grin," cried Page solacingly, "we love you for
other things that you can do better on the field."

Farley made two out of three. Page, though a rattling good man
over on the right flank, missed all three kicks.

"I'm a dub at kicking," he growled, retiring in much disgust with
himself.

Other midshipmen had their try, with varying results.

"Rustlers, forward!" shouted Lieutenant-Commander Parker.

Eleven young fellows who had been waiting with more or less patience
now threw aside their blankets or robes and came running across
the field, their eyes dancing with keen delight.

"Mr. Wolgast, let the Rustlers start the ball---and take it
away from 'em in snappy fashion!" admonished coach.

The game started. In the second team at Annapolis there were
some unusually good players---half a dozen, at least, who were
destined to win a good deal of praise as subs. that year.

Tr-r-r-r-ill! sounded the whistle, and the ball was in motion.

Yet, try as he did, the captain of the Rustlers made a side kick,
driving the ball not far out of Dave Darrin's way. It was coming,
now, in Dan's path, but Dalzell muttered in a barely audible undertone:

"You, Davy!"

So Darrin, playing left end on the Navy team, darted in and caught
the ball. He did not even glance sideways to learn where Dan
was. He knew that Dalzell would be either at his back or right
elbow as occasion demanded.

"Take it away from Darry!" called Pierson, captain of the Rustlers.
"Block him!"

The scores of spectators lining the sides of the field were watching
with keenest interest.

It was rumored that Dave and Dan had some new trick play hidden up
their sleeves.

Yet, with two men squarely in the path of Darrin it seemed incredible
that he could get by, for the Rustlers had bunched their interference
skillfully at this point.

"Darry will have to stop!" yelled a score of voices at once, as
Dave bounded at his waiting opponents.

"Yah, yah, yah!"

"Wow!"

"Whoop!"

The spectators had been treated to a sight that they never forgot.

Just as Dave reached those who blocked him he seemed to falter.
It was Dan Dalzell who bumped in and received the opposition alone.
Dan went down under it, all glory to him!

But Dave, in drawing back as he had done, had stepped aside like
lightning, and now he had gone so far that he had no opposing end
to dodge.

Instead, he darted straight ahead, leaving all of the forward
line of the Rustlers behind.

But there was the back field to meet!

As Dave shot forward, Jetson, too, smashed over the line, blocking
the halfback who got in his way.

Straight over the line charged Dave Darrin, and laid the ball down.

Now the athletic field resounded with excited yells. Annapolis
had seen "a new one," and it caught the popular fancy like lightning.

Back the pigskin was carried, and placed for the kick.

"You take it, Darry," called Wolgast. "You've earned it!"

"Take it yourself, Wolly," replied Dave Darrin. "This is your
strong point."

So Wolgast kicked and scored. The Rustlers at first looked dismayed
over it all, but in another instant a cheer had broken loose from
them.

It was the business of the Rustlers to harry the Navy team all they
could---to beat the Navy, if possible, for the Rustlers received
their name from the fact that they were expected to make the team
members rustle to keep their places.

Just the same the Rustlers were delighted to find themselves beaten
by a trick so simple and splendid that it fairly took their breath
away. For it was the Navy team, not the Rustlers, who met the enemy
from the colleges and from West Point. Rustlers and team men alike
prayed for the triumph of the Navy in every game that was fought out.

"You never told me that you had that trick, Darry," muttered Wolgast,
in the rest that followed this swift, brilliant play.

"I wanted to show it to you before telling you about it" laughed
Dave.

"Why?"

"Because I didn't know whether it were any good."

"Any good? Why, Darry, if you can get up one or two more like
that you'll be the greatest gridiron tactician that the Navy has
ever had!"

"I didn't get up that one," Dave confessed modestly.

"You didn't, Mr. Darrin?" interposed Coach Parker. "Who did?"

"Mr. Jetson, sir."

"I helped a bit," admitted Jetson, turning red as he found himself
the center of admiring gazes. "Dalzell and Darrin helped work it
out, too."

"Have you any more like that one, Mr. Darrin?" questioned Coach
Parker.

"I think we have a few, sir," Dave smiled steadily.

"Are you ready to exhibit them, Mr. Darrin?"

"We'll show 'em all, if you order it, sir," Darrin answered
respectfully. "But we'll undoubtedly spring two or three of 'em,
anyway, in this afternoon's practice."

"I'll be patient, then," nodded coach. "But I want a brief talk
with you after practice, Mr. Darrin."

"Very good, sir."

"I just want you to sketch out the new plays to me in private, that
I may consider them," explained the lieutenant-commander.

"Yes, sir. But I am not really the originator of any of the new
plays. Mr. Dalzell and Mr. Jetson have had as much to do with
all of the new ones as I have, sir."

"And this is Darrin's last year! The Navy will never have his
like again," groaned one fourth classman to another.

"Ready to resume play!" called coach. "Navy to start the ball."

The play was on again, in earnest, but this time it fell to the
right flank of, the Navy team to stop the onward rush of the Rustlers
as they charged down with the ball after the Navy's kick-off.

In fact, not during the team practice did Dave or Dan get a chance
to show another of their new tricks.

"Just our luck!" grunted many of the spectators.

Meanwhile Dave, Dan and Jet got out of their togs, and through with
their shower baths as quickly as they could, for Lieutenant-Commander
Parker was on hand, awaiting them impatiently.

Until close to supper call did the coach hold converse with these
three men of the Navy's left flank. Then the lieutenant-commander
went to Midshipman Wolgast, who was waiting.

"Mr. Wolgast, I see the Army's banner trailed low in the dust
this year," laughed coach. "These young gentlemen have been explaining
to me some new plays that will cause wailing and gnashing of teeth
at West Point."

"I'm afraid, sir, that you forget one thing," smiled Darrin.

"What is that, sir?" demanded coach.

"Why, sir, the Army has Prescott and Holmes, beyond a doubt, for
they played last year."

"I saw Prescott and Holmes last year," nodded Mr. Parker. "But
they didn't have a thing to compare with what you've just been
explaining to me."

"May I remark, sir, that that was last year?" suggested Dave.

"Then you think that Prescott and Holmes may have developed some
new plays."

"I'd be amazed, sir, if they hadn't done so. And I've tried to
have the Navy always bear in mind, sir, that Dalzell and myself
learned everything we know of football under Dick Prescott, who,
for his weight, I believe to be the best football player in the
United States!"

"You're not going to get cold feet, are you, Mr. Darrin?" laughed
Lieutenant-Commander Parker.

"No, sir; but, on the other hand, I don't want to underestimate
the enemy."

"You don't seem likely to commit that fault, Mr. Darrin. For
my part," went on coach, "I'm going to feel rather satisfied that
Prescott and Holmes, of the Army, won't be able to get up anything
that will equal or block the new plays you've been describing
to me."

Dave and Dan were more than usually excited as they lingered in
their room, awaiting the call to supper formation. Farley and
Page, all ready to respond to the call, were also in the room.

"I hope old Dick and Greg haven't got anything new that will stop
us!" glowed Dan Dalzell.

"It's just barely possible, of course," assented Darrin, "that
they haven't."

"If they haven't," chuckled Farley gleefully, "then we scuttle
the Army this year."

"Wouldn't it be truly great," laughed Page, "to see the great
Prescott go down in the dust of defeat. Ha, ha! I can picture,
right now, the look of amazement on his Army face!"

"We mustn't laugh too soon," Dave warned his hearers.

"Don't you want to see the redoubtable Prescott shoved into the
middle of next year?" challenged Midshipman Page.

"Oh, yes; of course. Yet that's not because he's Prescott, for
good old Dick is one of the most precious friends I have in the
world," Dave answered earnestly. "I want to see Prescott beaten
this year, and I want to have a hand in doing it---simply for
the greater glory of the Navy!"

"Well," grunted Page, "that's good enough for me."

"We'll trail Soldier Prescott in the dust!" was a gleeful boast
that circulated much through the Naval Academy during the few
succeeding days.

Even Dave became infected with it, for he was a loyal Navy man
to the very core. He began to think much of every trick of play
that could possibly help to retire Dick Prescott to the
background---all for the fame of the Navy and not for the hurt of
his friend.

Dave even dreamed of it at night.

As for Dalzell, he caught the infection, proclaiming:

"We're out, this year, just to beat old Prescott and Holmes!"

Yet readers of the High School Boys' Series, who know the deep
friendship that had existed, and always would, between Prescott
and Holmes on the one side, and Darrin and Dalzell, on the other,
do not need to be told that this frenzied feeling had in it nothing
personal.

"If you two go on," laughed Midshipman Farley, one evening after
release, "you'll both end up with hating your old-time chums."

"Don't you believe it!" retorted Dave Darrin almost sharply.
"This is just a matter between the two service academies. What
we want is to show the country that the Navy can put up an eleven
that can walk all around the Army on Franklin Field."

"A lot the country cares about what we do!" laughed Page.

"True," admitted Dare. "A good many people do seem to forget
that there are any such American institutions as the Military
and the Naval Academies. Yet there are thousands of Americans
who are patriotic enough to be keenly interested in all that we do."

"This is going to be a bad year for Army friends," chuckled Farley.

"And for the feelings of Cadets Prescott and Holmes," added Page
with a grimace.

As the practice went on the spirits of the Navy folks went up to
fever heat. It was plain that, this year, the Navy eleven was to
make history in the world of sports.

"Poor old Dick!" sighed Darrin one day, as the members of the
squad were togging to go on to the field.

"Why?" Dan demanded.

"Because, in spite of myself, I find that I am making a personal
matter of the whole business. Dan, I'm obliged to be candid with
myself. It has come to the point that it is Prescott and Holmes
that I want to beat!"

"Same case here," Dan admitted readily. "They gave us a trouncing
last year, and we're bound to pass it back to 'em."

"I believe I'd really lose all interest in the game, if Dick and
Greg didn't play on the Army this year."

"I think I'd feel the same way about it," agreed Dan. "But never
fear---they will play."

Two days later Dan finished his bath and dressing, after football
practice, to find that Dave had already left ahead of him. Dan
followed to their quarters in Bancroft Hall, to find Dave pacing
the floor, the picture of despair.

"Dan!" cried Darrin sharply. "This letter is from Dick. He doesn't
play this year!"

"Don't tell me anything funny, like that, when I've got a cracked
lip," remonstrated Midshipman Dalzell.

"Dick doesn't play, I tell you---which means that Greg won't,
either. A lot of boobs at the Military Academy have sent Dick
to Coventry for something that he didn't do. Dan, I don't care
a hang about playing this year---we can't beat Prescott and Holmes,
for they won't be there!"

CHAPTER IV

DAVE'S WORK GOES STALE

"Aye, you're not---not joking?" demanded Dan Dalzell half piteously.

"Do you see any signs of mirth in my face?" demanded Dave Darrin
indignantly.

Rap-tap! Right after the summons Midshipman Farley and Page entered
the room.

"Say, who's dead?" blurted out Farley, struck by the looks of
consternation on the faces of their hosts.

"Tell him, Dave," urged Dan.

"Prescott and Holmes won't play on this year's Army team," stated
Darrin.

"Whoop!" yelled Farley gleefully. "And that was what you're looking
so mighty solemn about? Cheer up, boy! It's good news."

"Great!" seconded Midshipman Page with enthusiasm.

"I tell you, fellows," spoke Dave solemnly, "it takes all the joy
out of the Army-Navy game."

"Since when did winning kill joy?" demanded Farley aghast. "Why,
with Prescott and Holmes out of it the Navy will get a fit of
crowing that will last until after Christmas!"

"It makes the victory too cheap," contended Darrin.

"A victory is a victory," quoth Midshipman Page, "and the only
fellow who can feel cheap about it is the fellow who doesn't win.
Cheer up, Davy. It's all well enough to wallop a stray college,
here and there, but the one victory that sinks in deep and does
our hearts good is the one we carry away from the Army. Whoop!
I could cry for joy."

"But why won't Prescott and Holmes play this year?" asked Farley,
his face radiant with the satisfaction that the news had given him.

"Because the corps has sent Prescott to Coventry for something that
I'm certain the dear old fellow never did," Darrin replied.

"Lucky accident!" muttered Farley.

"But the corps will repent, when they find their football hope
gone," predicted Page, his face losing much of its hitherto joyous
expression.

"No! No such luck," rejoined Midshipman Darrin. "If the brigade,
here, sent a fellow to Coventry for what they considered cause,
do you mean to tell me that they'd take the fellow out of Coventry
just to get a good player on the eleven?"

"No, of course, not," Page admitted.

"Then do you imagine that the West Point men are any more lax in
their views of corps honor?" pressed Dave.

"To be sure they are not---they can't be."

"Then there's only a chance in a thousand that Dick Prescott will,
by any lucky accident, be restored to favor in the corps---at
least, in time to play on this year's eleven. If he doesn't play,
Holmes simply won't play. So that takes all the interest out of
this year's Army-navy game."

"Not if the Navy wins," contended Midshipman Page.

"Bosh, there's neither profit nor honor in the Navy winning, unless
it's against the best men that the Army can put forth," retorted
Dave Darrin stubbornly. "By the great Dewey, I'm afraid nine
tenths of my enthusiasm for the game this year has been killed by
the miserable news that has come in."

Within less than five minutes after the midshipmen had seated
themselves around the scores of tables in the mess hall, the news
had flown around that Prescott and Holmes were to be counted as
out of the Army eleven for this year.

Here and there suppressed cheers greeted the announcement The
bulk of the midshipmen, however, were much of Dave Darrin's opinion
that there was little glory in beating less than the best team
that the Army could really put forth.

"Darry looks as though he had just got back from a funeral," remarked
one member of the third class to another youngster.

"I don't blame him," replied the one so addressed.

"But he's all the more sure of winning over the Army this year."

"I don't believe either of you youngsters know Darrin as well
as I do," broke in a second classman. "What I'm afraid of is,
if Prescott and Holmes don't play with the soldiers, then Darry
will lose interest in the game to such a degree that even Army
dubs will be able to take his shoestrings away from him. Danny
doesn't enjoy fighting fourth-raters. It's the big game that
he enjoys going after. Why, I'm told that he had simply set his
heart on pushing Prescott and Holmes all the way across Franklin
Field this year."

Readers who are anxious to know why Dick Prescott, one of the
finest of American youths, had been sent to Coventry by his comrades
at the United States Military Academy, will find it all set forth
in the concluding volume of the West Point Series, entitled _"Dick
Prescott's Fourth Year At West Point."_

Strangely enough, the first effect of this news from West Point
was to send the Navy eleven somewhat "to the bad." That is to
say, Dave Darrin, despite his best endeavors, seemed to go stale
from the first hour when he knew that he was not to meet Dick
Prescott on the gridiron.

"Mr. Darrin, what ails you?" demanded coach kindly, at the end
of the second practice game after that.

"I don't know, sir."

"You must brace up."

"Yes, sir."

"You seem to have lost all ambition. No; I won't just say that.
But you appear, Mr. Darrin, either to have lost some of your snap
or ambition, or else you have gone unaccountably stale."

"I realize my defects, sir, and I am trying very, very hard to
overcome them."

"Are you ill at ease over any of your studies?" persisted coach.

"No, sir; it seems to me that the fourth year studies are the
easiest in the whole course."

"They are not, Mr. Darrin. But you have had the advantage of three
hard years spent in learning how to study, and so your present
course appears rather easy to you. Are you sleeping well?"

"Yes, sir."

"Eating well?"

"Splendid appetite, sir."

"Hm! I shall soon have a chance to satisfy myself on that point,
Mr. Darrin. The day after to-morrow the team goes to training
table. Have you any idea, Mr. Darrin, what is causing you to
make a poorer showing?"

"I have had one very great disappointment, sir. But I'd hate to
think that a thing like that could send me stale."

"Oh, a disappointment?"

"Yes, sir," Dave went on frankly. "You see, sir, I have been
looking forward, most eagerly, to meeting Prescott and downing
him with the tricks that Jetson, Dalzell and I have been getting
up."

"Oh! Prescott of the Army team?"

"Yes, sir."

"I think I heard something about his having been sent to Coventry at
the Military Academy."

"But, Mr. Darrin, you are not going to fail us just because the
Army loses a worthy player or two?" exclaimed Lieutenant-Commander
Parker in astonishment.

"Probably that isn't what ails me, sir," Dave answered flushing.
"After all, sir, probably I'm just beginning to go stale. If
I can't shake it off no doubt I had better be retired from the
Navy eleven."

"Don't you believe it!" almost shouted coach. "Mr. Darrin, you
will simply have to brace! Give us all the best that's in you,
and don't for one instant allow any personal disappointments to
unfit you. You'll do that, won't you?"

"Yes, sir."

Darrin certainly tried hard enough. Yet just as certainly the
Navy's boosters shook their heads when they watched Darrin's work
on the field.

"He has gone stale," they said. "The very worst thing that could
happen to the Navy this year!"

Then came the first game of the season---with Lehigh. Darrin
roused himself all he could, and his playing was very nearly up
to what might have been expected of him---though not quite.

The visitors got away with a score of eight to five against the Navy.

Next week the Lehighs went to West Point and suffered defeat at
the hands of the Army.

The news sent gloom broadcast through the Naval Academy.

"We get beaten by one of the smaller colleges, that West Point can
trim," was the mournful comment.

It did, indeed, look bad for the Navy!

CHAPTER V

DAN HANDS HIMSELF BAD MONEY

As the season went on it was evident that Dave Darrin was slowly
getting back to form.

Yet coach was not wholly satisfied, nor was anyone else who had
the triumph of the Navy eleven at heart.

Three more games had been played, and two of them were won by
the Navy. Next would come Stanford College, a hard lot to beat.
The Navy tried to bolster up its own hopes; a loss to Stanford
would mean the majority of games lost out of the first five.

True, the news from West Point was not wholly disconcerting to
the Navy. The Army that year had some strong players, it was
true; still, the loss of Prescott and Holmes was sorely felt.
Word came, too, in indirect ways, that there was no likelihood
whatever that the Coventry against Cadet Dick Prescott would be
lifted. It was the evident purpose of the Corps of Cadets, for
fancied wrongs, to ostracize Dick Prescott until he found himself
forced to resign from the United States Military Academy.

November came in. Stanford came. Coach talked to Dave Darrin
steadily for ten minutes before the Navy eleven trotted out on
to the field. Stanford left Annapolis with small end of the score,
in a six-to-two game, and the Navy was jubilant.

"Darrin has come back pretty close to his right form," was the
general comment.

For that Saturday evening Dan Dalzell, being now "on privilege"
again, asked and received leave to visit in town---this the more
readily because his work on the team had prevented his going out
of the Yard that afternoon.

Dave, too, requested and secured leave to go into town, though
he stated frankly that he had no visit to make, and wanted only
a stroll away from the Academy grounds.

Darrin went most of the way to the Prestons.

"Come right along through, and meet Miss Preston," urged Dan.

"If you ask it as a favor I will, old chap," Dave replied.

"No; I thought the favor would be to you."

"So it would, ordinarily," Darrin replied gallantly. "But to-night
I just want to stroll by myself."

"Ta-ta, then." The grin on Dan Dalzell's face as he turned away
from his chum was broader than usual. Dan was thinking that,
this time, though his call must be a short one, he would be in
no danger on his return. He could report unconcernedly just before
taps.

"No doughface need apply to-night," chuckled Dan. "But Davy was
surely one awfully good fellow to get me through that other scrape
as he did."

All thought of football fled from Dan Dalzell's brain as he pulled
the bellknob at the Preston house.

After all this was to be but the third meeting. Dan fancied,
however, that absence had made his heart fonder. Since the night
when he had Frenched it over the wall Dan had received two notes
from Miss Preston, in answer to his own letters, but the last
note was now ten days' old.

"May I see Mrs. Preston?" asked Dan, as a colored servant opened
the door and admitted him.

This was Dan's correct idea of the way to call on a young woman
to whom he was not engaged, but half hoped to be, some day.

The colored maid soon came back.

"Mrs. Preston is so very busy, sah, that she asks to be excused,
sah," reported the servant, coming into the parlor where Dan sat
on the edge of a chair. "But Mistah Preston will be down right
away, sah."

A moment later a heavier step was heard on the stairway. Then
May Preston's uncle came into the parlor.

"You will pardon Mrs. Preston not coming down stairs to-night,
I know, Mr. Dalzell," said the man of the house, as he and the
midshipman shook hands. "The truth is, we are very much occupied
to-night."

"I had not dreamed of it, or I would not have called," murmured
Dan reddening. "I trust you will pardon me."

"There is no need of pardon, for you have not offended," smiled
Mr. Preston. "I shall be very glad to spare you half an hour,
if I can interest, you."

"You are very kind, sir," murmured Dan. "And Miss Preston----"

"My niece?"

"Yes, sir."

"It is mainly on my niece's account that we are so busy to-night,"
smiled the host.

"She is not ill, sir?" asked Dan in alarm.

"Ill! Oh, dear me, no!"

Mr. Preston laughed most heartily.

"No; she is not in the least ill, Mr. Dalzell, though, on Monday,
she may feel a bit nervous toward noon,"

"Nervous---on Monday?" asked Dan vaguely. It seemed rank nonsense
that her uncle should be able to predict her condition so definitely
on another day.

"Why, yes; Monday is to be the great day, of course."

"Great day, sir? And why 'of course'?" inquired Dan, now as much
interested as he was mystified.

"Why, my niece is to be married Monday at high noon."

"Married?" gasped Midshipman Dalzell, utterly astounded and discomfited
by such unlooked-for news.

"Yes; didn't you know Miss Preston was engaged to be married?"

"I---I certainly did not," Dan stammered.

"Why, she spoke to you much of 'Oscar'-----"

"Her brother?"

"No; the man who will be her husband on Monday," went on Mr. Preston
blandly. Being quite near-sighted the elder man had not discovered
Dan's sudden emotion. "That is what occupies us to-night. We
leave on the first car for Baltimore in the morning. Mrs. Preston
is now engaged over our trunks."

"I---I am very certain, then, that I have come at an unseasonable
time," Dan answered hastily. "I did not know---which fact, I
trust, will constitute my best apology for having intruded at
such a busy season, Mr. Preston."

"There has been no intrusion, and therefore no apology is needed,
sir," replied Mr. Preston courteously.

Dan got out, somehow, without staggering, or without having his
voice quiver.

Once in the street he started along blindly, his fists clenched.

"So that's the way she uses me, is it?" he demanded of himself
savagely. "Plays with me, while all the time the day for her
wedding draws near. She must be laughing heartily over---my greenness!
Oh, confound all girls, anyway!"

It was seldom that Midshipman Dalzell allowed himself to get in
a temper. He had been through many a midshipman fight without
having had his ugliness aroused. But just now Dan felt humiliated,
sore in spirit and angry all over---especially with all members
of the gentler sex.

He even fancied that Mr. Preston was at that moment engaged in
laughing over the verdant midshipman. As a matter of fact, Mr.
Preston was doing nothing of the sort. Mr. Preston had not supposed
that Dan's former call had been intended as anything more than
a pleasant social diversion. The Prestons supposed that every
one knew that their niece was betrothed to an excellent young
fellow. So, at this particular moment, Mr. Preston was engaged
in sitting on a trunk, while his wife tried to turn the key in
the lock. Neither of them was favoring Midshipman Dalzell with
as much as a thought.

"Why on earth is it that all girls are so tricky?" Dan asked himself
savagely, taking it for granted that all girls are "tricky" where
admirers are concerned.

"Oh, my, what a laugh Davy will have over me, when he hears!" was
Dan's next bitter thought, as he strode along.

Having just wronged all girls in his own estimation of them, Dan
was now proceeding to do his own closest chum an injustice. For
Dave Darrin was too thorough a gentleman to laugh over any unfortunate's
discomfiture.

"What a lucky escape I had from getting better acquainted with
that girl!" was Dalzell's next thought. "Why, with one as wholly
deceitful as she is there can be no telling where it would all have
ended. She might have drawn me into troubles that would have
resulted in my having to leave the service!"

Dan had not the least desire to do any one an injustice, but just
now he was so astounded and indignant that his mind worked violently
rather than keenly.

"Serves me right!" sputtered Dalzell, at last. "A man in the
Navy has no business to think about the other sex. He should
give his whole time and thought to his profession and his country.
That's what I'll surely do after this."

Having reached this conclusion, the midshipman should have been
more at peace with himself, but he wasn't. He had been sorely,
even if foolishly wounded in his own self esteem, and it was bound
to hurt until the sensation wore off.

"You'll know more, one of these days, Danny boy," was his next
conclusion. "And what you know will do you a lot more good, too,
if it doesn't include any knowledge whatever of girls---except
the disposition and the ability to keep away from 'em! I suppose
there are a few who wouldn't fool a fellow in this shameless way
but it will be a heap safer not to try to find any of the few!"

Dan's head was still down, and he was walking as blindly as ever,
when he turned a corner and ran squarely into some one.

"Why don't you look out where you're going?" demanded that some
one.

"Why don't you look out yourself?" snapped Midshipman Dalzell,
and the next instant a heavy hand was laid upon him.

CHAPTER VI

THE "FORGOT" PATH TO TROUBLE

"Here, confound you! I'll teach you to-----"

"Teach me how to walk the way you were going when I stopped you?"
demanded the same voice, and a harder grip was taken on Dalzell's
shoulder.

In his misery Dan was not at all averse to fighting, if a good
excuse were offered. So his first move was not to look up, but
to wrest him self out of that grip, haul away and put up his guard.

"Dave Darrin!" gasped Midshipman Dan, using his eyes at last.

Dave was laughing quietly.

"Danny boy, you shouldn't cruise without lights and a bow watch!"
admonished Dave. "What sent your wits wool gathering? You look
terribly upset over something."

"Do I?" asked Dan, looking guilty.

"You certainly do. And see here, is this the way to the Preston
house?"

"No; it's the way away from it."

"But you had permission to visit at the Prestons."

"That isn't any news to me," grunted Dalzell.

"Then---pardon me---but why aren't you there?"

"Are you the officer of the day?" demanded Dan moodily.

"No; merely your best friend."

"I beg your pardon, Dave. I am a grouch tonight."

"Wasn't Miss Preston at home."

"I---I don't know."

"Don't know? Haven't you been there?"

"Yes; but I didn't ask-----"

As Dan hesitated Dave rested both hands on his chum's shoulders,
looking sharply into that young man's eyes.

"Danny, you act as though you were _loco_. (crazy). What on
earth is up? You went to call on Miss Preston. You reached the
house, and evidently you left there again. But you don't know
whether Miss Preston was in; you forgot to ask. Let me look in
at the answer to the riddle."

"Dave---Miss Preston is going to be married!"

"Most girls are going to be," Darrin replied quietly. "Do you
mean that Miss Preston is going to marry some one else than yourself?"

"Yes."

"Soon?"

"Monday noon."

Dave Darrin whistled.

"So this is the meaning of your desperation? Danny boy, if you're
stung, I'm sincerely sorry for you."

"I don't quite know whether I want any sympathy," Dan replied,
though he spoke rather gloomily. "Perhaps I'm to be congratulated."

He laughed mirthlessly, then continued:

"When a girl will treat a fellow like that, isn't it just as well
to find out her disposition early?"

"Perhaps," nodded Darrin. "But Danny, do you mean to say that
you attempted to pay your call without an appointment?"

"What was the need of an appointment?" demanded Dan. "Miss Preston
invited me to call at any time---just drop in. Now, she must
know that Saturday evening is a midshipman's only chance at this
time of the year."

"Nevertheless, you were wrong at that point, in the game," Dave
went on gravely. "Unless you're on the best of terms with a young
lady, don't attempt to call on her without having learned that
your purpose will be agreeable to her. And so Miss Preston, while
receiving your calls, has been engaged to some one else?"

Dan nodded, adding, "She might have given me some hint, I should
think."

"I don't know about that," Darrin answered thoughtfully. "Another
good view of it would be that a young lady's private affairs are
her own property. Didn't she ever mention the lucky fellow to you?"

"It seems that she did," Dalzell assented. "But I thought, all
the time, that she was talking about her brother."

"Why should you especially think it was her brother whom she was
mentioning?"

"Because she seemed so mighty fond of the fellow," Dan grunted.

Dave choked a strong impulse to laugh.

"Danny boy," he remarked, "girls, very often, are mighty fond,
also, of the fellow to whom they're engaged."

"Why did she let me call?" demanded Dan gloomily.

"How often have you called?" inquired Midshipman Darrin.

"Once, before to-night."

"Only once? Then, see here, Danny! Don't be a chump. When you
call on a girl once, and ask if you may call some other time,
how on earth is she to guess that you're an intended rival of
the man she has promised to marry?"

"But-----" That was as far as Midshipman Dalzell got. He halted,
wondering what he really could say next.

"Dan, I'm afraid you've got an awful lot to learn about girls,
and also about the social proprieties to be observed in calling
on them. As to Miss Preston receiving a call from you, and permitting
you to call again, that was something that any engaged girl might
do properly enough. Miss Preston came to Annapolis, possibly
to learn something about midshipman life. She met you and allowed
you to call. Very likely she permitted others to call. From
what you've told me I can't see that she treated you unfairly
in any way; I don't believe Miss Preston ever guessed that you
had any other than the merest social reasons for calling."

"And I'm not sure that I did have," grunted Dalzell.

Dave shot another swift look into his chum's face before he said:

"Danny boy, your case is a light one. You'll recover speedily.
Your vanity has been somewhat stung, but your heart won't have
a scar in three days from now."

"What makes you think you know so much about that?" insisted Dan,
drawing himself up with a dignified air.

"It isn't hard to judge, when it's another fellow's case," smiled
Darrin. "I believe that, at this minute, I understand your feelings
better than you do yourself."

"I don't know about my feelings," proclaimed Dan gloomily still,
"but I do know something about my experience and conclusions.
No more girls for me!"

"Good idea, Danny boy," cried Darrin, slapping his friend on the
back. "That's the best plan for you, too."

"Why?"

"Because you haven't head enough to understand girls and their ways."

"I don't want to."

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