Part 2 out of 3
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"No need for us to worry, with Dave's eye glued to his watch," laughed
"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
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
Darrin and his friends were soon informed by classmates that the
launches now making shore-ward were coming in on their last trip for
"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
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
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
"We're locked in--that's sure!" gasped Dalzell, almost dazed by the
"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
"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
"We don't take the last launch back to ship," declared Farley, wild with
"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
"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
"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
"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.
[Illustration: The Three Midshipmen Raced Toward the Pier.]
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"There are certain to be three vacancies in the Naval Academy," remarked
"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
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
"That is," put in another third classman, "if any of the three are still
"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.
When fifteen minutes had been spent in the search the onlooking but
helpless middies began to look worried.
At the end of half an hour some of them looked haggard. Farley's face
was pitiable to see.
At the end of an hour of constant but fruitless searching hardly any one
felt any hope of a rescue now.
All three midshipmen, the "man overboard" and his two willing, would-be
rescuers, were silently conceded to be drowned.
Yet the hardest blow of all came when, at the end of an hour and a
quarter, the flagship signaled the recall of the small boats.
Then, indeed, all hope was given up. In an utter human silence, save for
the husky voicing of the necessary orders, the launches were hoisted on
board. Then the flagship flew the signal for resuming the voyage.
There were few dry eyes among the third class midshipmen when the
battleships fell in formation again and proceeded on their way.
As a result of more signals flown from the flagship, all unnecessary
duties of midshipmen for the day were ordered suspended.
In the afternoon the chaplain on each battleship held funeral services
over the three lost midshipmen. Officers, middies and crew attended on
board each vessel.
THE DESPAIR OF THE "RECALL"
Dave Darrin stood within ten feet of Hallam when that latter midshipman
had lost his balance and fallen into the boiling sea.
Dave's spring to the stern rail was all but instantaneous. He was
overboard, after his classmate, ere the marine had had time to leap to
the life buoys.
Out of the corner of one eye Dan Dalzell saw the marine start on the
jump, but Dan was overboard, also, too soon to see exactly what the
marine sentry was doing.
Both daring midshipmen sank beneath the surface as they struck.
As Dan came up, however, his hand struck something solid and he clutched
at it. It was one of the life buoys.
As he grasped it, and drew his head up a trifle, Dan saw another
floating within thirty feet of him. Swimming hard, and pushing, Dan
succeeded in reaching the other buoy. He now rested, holding on to both
"Now, where's David, that little giant?" muttered Dalzell, striving hard
to see through the seething waters and over the tops of foam-crested
After a few minutes Dan began to feel decidedly nervous.
"Yet Dave can't have gone down, for he's a better swimmer than I am,"
was Dan's consoling thought.
At last Dalzell caught sight of another head. He could have cheered, but
he expended his breath on something more sensible.
"Dave!" he shouted. "Old Darry! This way! I have the life buoys."
At the same time, holding to both of them, but kicking frantically with
his feet, Dalzell managed slowly to push the buoys toward Dave.
Soon after he had started, Dan did utter a cheer, even though it was
checked by an inrush of salt water that nearly strangled him.
He saw two heads. Dave Darrin was coming toward him, helping Hallam.
The wind carried the cheer faintly to Dave. He raised his head a little
in the water, and caught sight of Dan and the buoys.
Some three minutes it took the two chums to meet. Dave Darrin was all
but exhausted, for Hallam was now unconscious.
As Darrin clutched at the buoy he tried to shout, though the voice came
"Catch hold of Hallam. I'm down and----"
But Dan understood, even before he heard. While Dave clutched at one of
the life buoys Dalzell shot out an arm, dragging Hallam in to safety.
Now, it was Darrin who, with both arms, contrived to link the buoys
At last the youngsters had a chance to observe the fact that the
battleships had put about and were coming back.
"We'll soon be all right," sighed Dave contentedly, as soon as he could
speak. "There are thirty-five hundred officers, middies and sailors of
the American Navy to look after our safety."
From where they lay as they hung to the buoys the chums could even see
the launches lowered.
Dan, with some of the emergency lashing about the buoy, succeeded, after
a good deal of effort, and with some aid from Dave, in passing a cord
about Hallam and under the latter's armpits that secured that midshipman
to one of the buoys. The next move of the chums was to lash the buoys
"Now," declared Dave, "we can't lose. We can hang on and be safe here
for hours, if need be."
"But what a thundering long time it takes them to bring the battleships
around to get to us!" murmured Midshipman Dalzell in wonder.
"Be sure not an unnecessary second has been lost," rejoined Dave.
"We're learning something practical now about the handling of big
"I wonder if Hally's a goner?" murmured Dan in an awe-struck voice.
"I don't believe it," Dave answered promptly. "Once we get him back
aboard ship the medicos will do a little work over him and he'll sit up
and want to know if dinner's ready."
Then they fell silent, for, with the roar of wind and waters, it was
necessary for them to shout when they talked.
As the minutes went by slowly, the two conscious midshipmen found
themselves filled with amazement.
A dozen times the launches darted by, not far away. It seemed impossible
that the keen, restless eyes of the seekers should not discover the
At such times Dave and Dan shouted with all the power of their lusty
Alternately Dan and Dave tried the effect of rising as far as they could
and frantically waving an arm. There was not a cap to wave among the
three of them.
"I'm beginning to feel discouraged," grunted Dave in disgust at last.
"They must have spent a full half day already looking for us."
"Merciful powers!" gasped Dan at last, as they rode half way up the
slope of a big wave. "I just caught sight of the 'recall of boats'
flying from the flagship!"
"No!" gasped Dave incredulously.
"Yes, I did!"
"They've failed and have given up the search," spoke Dan rather
"We may as well face it," muttered Dan brokenly. "They don't believe
that any of us has survived, and we've been abandoned."
"Then," spoke Dave Darrin very coolly, "there's nothing left for us but
to die like men of the American Navy."
"It seems heartless, needless," protested Dan.
"No," broke in Darrin. "They've done their best. They're convinced that
we're lost. And I should think they would be, after all the time they've
searched for us--half a day, at least."
Dan said nothing, but tugged until he succeeded in bringing his watch up
to the light.
"The blamed thing is water-logged," he uttered disgustedly.
"The hands point to less than half past nine!"
Darrin managed to get at his own watch.
"My timepiece doesn't call for half past nine, either," he announced.
"Can it be possible--"
"Yes; the time has only seemed longer, I reckon," observed Dalzell.
"Well, we'll face it like men," proposed Dave.
"Of course," nodded Dan. "At least, we're going down in the ocean, and
we wear the American Naval uniform. If there's any choice in deaths, I
guess that's as good and manly a one as we could choose."
"Poor old Hally won't know much about it, anyway, I guess," remarked
Darrin, who seemed unnaturally cool. Possibly he was a bit dazed by the
stunning nature of the fate that seemed about to overtake them.
"Maybe the ships will go by us in their final get-away," proposed Dan
Dalzell very soberly.
"Not if I'm seaman enough to read the compass by what's visible of the
sun," returned Midshipman Darrin.
"Then there's no help for it," answered Dan, choking slightly. "I wonder
if we could do anything for Hallam?"
"We won't do anything to bring him to, anyway," muttered Darrin. "Under
these circumstances I wouldn't do anything as mean as that to a dog!"
"Maybe he's dead already, anyway," proposed Dan, now hopefully.
"I hope so," came from Darrin.
Now they saw the not very distant battleships alter their courses and
steam slowly away.
All was now desolation over the angry sea, as the battleships gradually
vanished. The two conscious midshipmen were now resolved to face the end
bravely. That was all they could do for themselves and their flag.
THE GRIM WATCH FROM THE WAVES
By the time that little more than the mastheads of the departing
battleships were visible, Hallam opened his eyes.
It would have seemed a vastly kinder fate had he been allowed to remain
unconscious to the last.
Hallam had not been strangled by the inrush of water. In going
overboard, this midshipman had struck the water with the back of his
head and had been stunned. In the absence of attention he had remained a
long time unconscious.
Even now the hapless midshipman whose frollicking had been the cause of
the disaster, did not immediately regain his full senses.
"Why, we're all in the water," he remarked after a while.
"Yes," assented Darrin, trying to speak cheerfully.
Midshipman Hallam remained silent for some moments before he next asked:
"How did it happen?"
"Fell overboard," replied Dan laconically, failing to mention who it was
who had fallen over the stern.
Again a rather long silence on Hallam's part. Then, at last, he
"Funny how we all fell over at the same time."
To this neither of his classmates made any rejoinder.
"See here," shouted Hallam, after a considerable period of silent
wondering, "I remember it all now. I was fooling at the stern rail and I
Dan nodded without words.
"And you fellows jumped in after me," roared Hallam, both his mental and
bodily powers now beginning to return. "Didn't you?"
"Of course," assented Darrin rather reluctantly.
"And what became of the fleet!"
Dave and Dan looked at each other before the former replied:
"Oh, well, Hally, brace up! The ships searched for us a long time, and
some launches were put out after us. But they couldn't see our little
heads above the big waves, and so----"
"They've gone away and left us?" queried Hallam, guessing at once. "Now,
fellows, I don't mind so much for myself, but it's fearful to think that
I've dragged you into the same fate. It's awful! Why couldn't you have
left me to my fate?"
"Would you have done a thing like that?" demanded Dave dryly.
"Oh, well, I suppose not, but--but--well, I wish I had been left to pay
the price of my tomfoolery all alone. It would have served me right. But
to drag you two into it--"
Hallam could go no further. He was choking up with honest emotion.
"Don't bother about it, Hally," urged Dave. "It's all in the day's work
for a sailor. We'll just take it as it comes, old fellow."
To not one of the trio did it occur to let go of the life buoys and sink
as a means of ending misery. In the first place, human instinct holds to
hope. In the second place, suicide is the resort of cowards.
"None of you happened to hide any food in his pockets at breakfast, I
take it?" asked Dan grimly, at last.
Of course they hadn't.
"Too bad," sighed Dan. "I'm growing terribly hungry."
"Catch a fish," smiled back Darrin.
"And eat it raw?" gasped Dalzell. "Darry, you know my tastes better than
"Then wait a few hours longer," proposed Dave, "until even raw fish will
be a delicacy."
Hallam took no part in the chaffing. He was miserably conscious, all
the while, that his own folly had been solely responsible for the
present plight of these noble messmates.
Thus the time passed on. None kept any track of it; they realized only
that it was still daylight.
Then suddenly Dave gave a gasp and raised one hand to point.
His two classmates turned and were able to make out the mastheads of a
craft in the distance.
How they strained their eyes! All three stared and stared, until they
felt tolerably certain that the craft was headed their way.
"They may see us!" cried Hallam eagerly.
"Three battleships and as many launches failed to find us," retorted
Dan. "And they were looking for us, too."
As the vessel came nearer and the hull became visible, it took on the
appearance of a liner.
"Why, it looks as though she'd run right over us when she gets nearer,"
cried Dave, his eyes kindling with hope.
"Don't get too excited over it," urged Dan. "For my part, I'm growing
almost accustomed to disappointments."
As the minutes passed and the liner came on and on, it looked still
more as though she would run down the three middies.
[Illustration: "Look! They See Us!"]
At last, however, the craft was passing, showing her port side, not very
far distant, to be sure.
Uniting their voices, the three midshipmen yelled with all their power,
even though they knew that their desperate call for help could not carry
the distance over the subsiding gale.
Boom! That shot came from the liner, and now her port rail was black
"They see us!" cried Hallam joyously. "Look! That craft is slowing up!"
Once more came the cheers of encouragement, as the liner, now some
distance ahead, put off a heavy launch. A masthead lookout, who had
first seen the midshipmen, was now signaling the way to the officer in
command of the launch.
Unable to see for himself, the officer in the launch depended wholly on
those masthead signals. So the launch steamed a somewhat zig-zag course
over the waves. Yet, at last, it bore down straight upon the midshipmen.
Darrin, Dalzell and Hallam now came very near to closing their eyes, to
lessen the suspense.
A short time more and all three were dragged in over the sides of the
"Get those life buoys in, if you can," begged Dave, as he sank in the
bottom of the launch. "They are United States property entrusted to our
From officer and seamen alike a laugh went up at this request, but the
life buoys were caught with a boathook and drawn aboard.
What rousing cheers greeted the returning launch, from the decks of the
liner, "Princess Irene"! When the three midshipmen reached deck and it
was learned that they were midshipmen of the United States Navy, the
cheering and interest were redoubled.
But the captain and the ship's doctor cut short any attempt at lionizing
by rushing the midshipmen to a stateroom containing three berths. Here,
under the doctor's orders, the trio were stripped and rubbed down. Then
they were rolled into blankets, and hot coffee brought to them in their
berths, while their wet clothing was sent below to one of the furnace
rooms for hurried drying.
As soon as the medical man had examined them, the steamship's captain
began to question them.
"Headed for the Azores, eh?" demanded the ship's master. "We ought to be
able to sight your squadron before long."
He hastened out, to give orders to the deck officer.
By the time that the young midshipmen had been satisfactorily warmed,
and their clothing had been dried, the ship's surgeon consented to their
dressing. After this they were led to a private cabin where a satisfying
meal was served them.
"Oh, I don't know," murmured Dan, leaning back, with a contented sigh,
after the meal was over; "there are worse things than what happened to
The greater speed of the liner enabled her to sight the battleship
squadron something more than two hours afterward. Then the nearest
vessel of the fleet was steered for directly.
The deck officers of the liner sent their heavy overcoats for the use of
the midshipmen, who, enveloped in these roomy garments, went out on deck
to watch the pursuit of their own comrades.
Within another hour it was possible to signal, and from the "Princess
Irene's" masthead the signal flags were broken out.
"Now, watch for excitement on board your own craft," smiled the liner's
commander, an Englishman.
As soon as the liner's signal had been read by the vessels of the
squadron a wild display of signal bunting swiftly broke out.
"Heaven be thanked!" read one set of signal flags.
"We have officially buried the young men, but ask them to go on
living," read another.
While the most practical signal of all was:
"The 'Massachusetts' will fall astern of the squadron. Kindly stand by
to receive her launch."
In a few minutes more the two vessels were close enough. Both stopped
headway. One of the big battleship's launches put off and steamed over,
rolling and pitching on the waves.
Most carefully indeed the three midshipmen climbed down a rope ladder
and were received by an ensign from the "Massachusetts," who next gave
the American Navy's profound thanks to the rescuers of the middies.
"Kindly lower that United States property that was in our care, sir!"
Dave Darrin called up.
There was good-humored laughter above, and a look of amazement on Ensign
White's face until the two buoys, attached to lines, were thrown down
over the side.
"When your time comes you will make a very capable officer, I believe,
Mr. Darrin, judging by your care of government property," remarked
Ensign White, working hard to keep down the laughter.
"I hope to do so, sir," Dave replied, saluting.
Then away to the "Massachusetts" the launch bore, while the whole
battleship squadron cheered itself hoarse over the happy outcome of the
Dave, Dan and Hallam all had to do a tremendous amount of handshaking
among their classmates when they had reached deck. Pennington was the
only one who did not come forward to hold his hand out to Darrin--a fact
that was noted at the time by many of the youngsters.
To the captain the trio recounted what had befallen them, as matter for
"Mr. Darrin and Mr. Dalzell," announced the battleship's captain, "I
must commend you both for wholly heroic conduct in going to the aid of
your classmate. And, Mr. Darrin, I am particularly interested in your
incidental determination to preserve government property--the life buoys
that you brought back with you."
"It's possible I may need them again, sir," returned Dave, with a smile,
though he had no notion of prophetic utterance.
MIDSHIPMAN PENNINGTON'S ACCIDENT
The stop at the Azores was uneventful. It remained in the minds of the
midshipmen only as a pleasant recollection of a quaint and pretty place.
Once more the squadron set sail, and now the homeward-bound pennant was
flying. The course lay straight across the Atlantic to the entrance of
On the second night out the wind was blowing a little less than half a
Darkness had fallen when Dave, Dan, Farley and several other midshipmen
gathered to talk in low tones at the stern rail.
Presently all of them wandered away but Dave. He stood close to the
rail, enjoying the bumping motion every time the descending stern hit
one of the rolling waves.
Presently, thinking he saw a light astern, he raised himself, peering
Another group of restless middies had sauntered up. Pennington, after a
swift look at the pacing officer in charge here, and discovering that
the officer's back was turned, executed a series of swift cartwheels.
"Look out, Pen!" called Midshipman Dwight, in a low, though sharp
Just too late the warning came.
As Pen leaped to his feet after the last turn, one of his hands struck
Dave swayed, tried to clutch at something, then--
"O-o-o-oh!" rang the first startled chorus.
Then, instantly, on top of it, came the rousing hail:
Farley and Hallam were the first to reach the rail. But Lieutenant
Burton was there almost as quickly.
"Haul back!" commanded the lieutenant sternly. "No one go overboard!"
That held the middies in check, for in no place, more than in the Navy,
are orders orders.
Clack! was the sound that followed the first cry. Like a flash the
marine sentry had thrown his rifle to the deck. A single bound carried
him to one of the night life buoys. This he released, and hurled far
As the night buoy struck the water a long-burning red light was fused by
contact. The glow shone out over the waters.
In the meantime, the "Massachusetts's" speed was being slowed rapidly,
and a boat's crew stood at quarters.
The boat put off quickly, guided by the glow of the red signal light on
the buoy. Ere the boat reached the buoy the coxswain made out the head
and shoulders of a young man above the rim of the floating buoy.
Soon after the boat lay alongside. Dave, with the coxswain's aid, pulled
himself into the small craft.
Recovering the buoy, the coxswain flashed the red light three times.
From the deck of the battleship came a cheering yell sent up from
hundreds of throats.
In the meantime, however, while the boat was on its way to the buoy, a
pulsing scene had been enacted on board.
Farley went straight up to Midshipman Pennington.
"Sir," demanded Farley hotly, "why did you push Mr. Darrin over the
Pennington looked at his questioner as one stunned.
"I--I did push Darrin over," admitted Pennington, "but it was an
"An easily contrived one, wasn't it?" demanded Midshipman Farley, rather
"It was pure accident," contended Pennington, paling. "Until it happened
I hadn't the least idea in the world that I was going to send Mr. Darrin
or anyone else overboard."
"Huh!" returned Farley dubiously.
"Huh!" quoth Hallam.
Dan Dalzell uttered not a word, but the gaze of his eyes was fixed
angrily on Pennington.
That latter midshipman turned as white as a sheet. His hands worked as
though he were attempting to clutch at something to hold himself up.
"Surely, you fellows don't believe, do you--" he stammered weakly, then
"One thing we did notice, the other day," continued Farley briskly, "was
that, when Darrin was rescued from the sea and returned to us, you were
about the only member of the class who didn't go up to him and
congratulate him on his marvelous escape."
"Mr. Pennington, I haven't the patience to talk with you now," rejoined
Farley, turning on his heel.
At that moment the yell started among the midshipmen nearer the rail.
Farley, Dan, Hallam and others joined in the yell and rushed to better
points of vantage.
Pennington tried to join in the cheer, but his tongue seemed fixed to
the roof of his mouth. He stood clenching and unclenching his hands, his
face an ashen gray in his deep humiliation.
"I don't care what one or two fellows may say," groaned Pennington.
"But I don't want the class to think such things of me."
He was the most miserable man on board as the small boat came alongside.
The boat, occupants and all, was hoisted up to the davits and swung
in-board. To the officer of the deck, who stood near-by, Dave turned,
with a brisk salute.
"I beg to report that I've come aboard, sir," Darrin uttered.
"And very glad we are of it, Mr. Darrin," replied the officer. "You will
go to your locker, change your clothing and then report to the captain,
"Aye, aye, sir."
With another salute, Dave hastened below, followed by Dan Dalzell, who
was intent on attending him.
Ten minutes later Dave appeared at the door of the captain's cabin. Just
a few minutes after that he came out on deck.
A crowd gathered about him, expressing their congratulations.
"Thank you all," laughed Dave, "but don't make so much over a middy
getting a bath outside of the schedule."
To the rear hung Pennington, waiting his chance. At last, as the crowd
thinned, Pennington made his way up to Dave.
"Mr. Darrin, I have to apologize for my nonsense, which was the means
of pushing you overboard. It was purely accidental, on my honor. I did
not even know it was you at the stern, nor did I realize that my antics
would result in pushing any one overboard. I trust you will do me the
honor of believing my statement."
"Of course I believe it, Mr. Pennington," answered Darrin, opening his
"There are some," continued Pennington, "who have intimated to me their
belief that I did it on purpose. There may be others who half believe or
suspect that I might, or would, do such a thing."
"Nonsense!" retorted Dave promptly. "There may be differences,
sometimes, between classmates, but there isn't a midshipman in the Navy
who would deliberately try to drown a comrade. It's a preposterous
insult against midshipman honor. If I hear any one make a charge like
that, I'll call him out promptly."
"Some of your friends--I won't name them--insisted, or at least let me
feel the force of their suspicions."
"If any of my friends hinted at such a thing, it was done in the heat of
the moment," replied Dave heartily. "Why, Mr. Pennington, such an act of
dishonor is impossible to a man bred at Annapolis."
Darrin fully believed what he said. On the spur of the moment he held
out his hand to his enemy.
Pennington flushed deeply, for a moment, then put out his own hand,
giving Dave's a hearty, straightforward grasp.
"I was the first to imply the charge," broke in Farley quickly. "I
withdraw it, and apologize to both of you."
There was more handshaking.
During the next few days, while Darry and Pen did not become by any
means intimate, they no longer made any effort to avoid each other, but
spoke frankly when they met.
The remaining days of the voyage passed uneventfully enough, except for
a great amount of hard work that the middies performed as usual.
On the twenty-second of August they entered Chesapeake Bay. Once well
inside, they came to anchor. There was considerable practice with the
sub-caliber and other smaller guns. On the twenty-ninth of August the
battleship fleet returned to the familiar waters around Annapolis. The
day after that the young men disembarked.
Then came a hurried skeltering, for the first, second and third classmen
were entitled to leave during the month of September.
BACK IN THE HOME TOWN
Back in the old, well-known streets of their home town, Gridley!
Dave and Dan, enjoying every minute of their month's leave, had already
greeted their parents, and had told them much of their life as
What hurt was the fact that the skipper of the "Princess Irene" had
already told the marine reporters in New York the thrilling story of how
Dave and Dan had nearly come to their own deaths rescuing Midshipman
Everyone in Gridley, it seemed, had read that newspaper story. Darrin
and Dalzell, before they had been home twelve hours, were weary of
hearing their praises sung.
"There go two of the smartest, finest boys that old Gridley ever turned
out," citizens would say, pointing after Dave and Dan. "They're
midshipmen at Annapolis; going to be officers of the Navy one of these
"But what's the matter with Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes? They're at
"Oh, they're all right, too, of course. But Darrin and Dalzell----"
It was the old circumstance of being "the lions of the minute" and of
being on the spot.
On the first morning of his arrival home Dave Darrin went frankly and
openly to call on his old schoolgirl sweetheart, Belle Meade.
Dan, having no particular associations with the gentler sex, took a
stroll around town to meet any old friends who might care to see him
Dave was shown into the parlor at the Meade home. Soon after Belle came
swiftly in, her face beaming with delight.
"Oh, but you're not in uniform!" was her first disappointed comment.
"No," smiled Dave. "I'm allowed every possible chance, for one month, to
forget every detail of the big grind which for a short time I've left
"But you're the same old Dave," cried Belle, "only bigger and manlier.
And that magnificent work you and Dan did in jumping over-bo----"
"Stop!" begged Dave. "You're a friend of mine, aren't you! Then don't
add to the pain that has been already inflicted on me. If I had had the
newspapers in mind I wouldn't have the nerve to----But please let's not
talk about it anymore."
Then the two young people seated themselves and spent a delightful hour
in talking over all that had befallen them both since they had last
Belle, too, through Laura Bentley, had some much later news of the old
chums, Dick and Greg, now cadets at West Point.
This news, however, will be found in full in "DICK PRESCOTT'S SECOND
YEAR AT WEST POINT."
"What are your plans for this afternoon?" Belle asked at last.
"That's what I want your help in making," Dave answered.
"Can you get hold of Dan?"
"No trouble about that. But keeping hold of him may be more difficult,"
"I was going to propose that you get Dan, call here and then we'll all
go over to Laura Bentley's. I know she'll be anxious to see us."
"Nothing could be better in the way of a plan," assented Dave. "I'll pin
Danny boy down to that. It would really seem like a slight on good old
Dick if we didn't make Laura an early call."
"I'll go to the telephone, now, and tell her that we're coming," cried
Belle, rising quickly.
"Laura is delighted," she reported, on her return to the room. "But
Dave, didn't you at least bring along a uniform, so that we could see
what it looks like?"
"I didn't," replied Dave, soberly, then added, quizzically:
"You've seen the district messenger boys on the street, haven't you?"
"Yes, of course; but what--"
"Our uniforms look very much like theirs," declared Dave.
"I'm afraid I can't undertake to believe you," Belle pouted.
"Well, anyway, you girls will soon have a chance to see our uniforms.
Just as soon as our hops start, this fall, you and Laura will come down
and gladden our hearts by letting us drag you, won't you!"
"Drag us?" repeated Belle, much mystified.
"Oh, that's middies' slang for escorting a pretty girl to a midshipman
"You have a lot of slang, then, I suppose."
"Considerable," admitted Dave readily.
"What, then, is your slang for a pretty girl?"
"Oh, we call her a queen."
"And a girl who is--who isn't--pretty!"
"A gold brick," answered Dave unblushingly.
"A gold brick?" gasped Belle. "Dear me! 'Dragging a gold brick' to a hop
doesn't sound romantic, does it?"
"It isn't," Darrin admitted.
"Yet you have invited me--"
"Our class hasn't started in with its course of social compliments
yet," laughed Dave. "Please go look in the glass. Or, if you won't
believe the glass, then just wait and see how proud Dan and I are if we
can lead you and Laura out on the dancing floor."
"But what horrid slang!" protested Belle. "The idea of calling a homely
girl a gold brick! And I thought you young men received more or less
training in being gracious to the weaker sex."
"We do," Dave answered, "as soon as we can find any use for the
accomplishment. Fourth classmen, you know, are considered too young to
associate with girls. It's only now, when we've made a start in the
third class, that we're to be allowed to attend the hops at all."
"But why must you have to have such horrid names for girls who have not
been greatly favored in the way of looks? It doesn't sound exactly
"Oh, well, you know," laughed Dave, "we poor, despised, no-account
middies must have some sort of sincere language to talk after we get our
masks off for the day. I suppose we like the privilege, for a few
minutes in each day, of being fresh, like other young folks."
"What is your name for 'fresh' down at Annapolis!" Belle wanted to know.
"And for being a bit worse than touge?"
"Which did they call you?" demanded Belle.
Dave started, then sat up straight, staring at Miss Meade.
"I see that your tongue hasn't lost its old incisiveness," he laughed.
"Not among my friends," Belle replied lightly. "But I can't get my mind
off that uniform of yours that you didn't bring home. What would have
happened to you if you had been bold enough to do it?"
"I guess I'd have 'frapped the pap,'" hazarded Dave.
"And what on earth is 'frapping the pap'?" gasped Belle.
"Oh, that's a brief way of telling about it when a midshipman gets stuck
on the conduct report."
"I'm going to buy a notebook," asserted Belle, "and write down and
classify some of this jargon. I'd hate to visit a strange country, like
Annapolis, and find I didn't know the language. And, Dave, what sort of
place is Annapolis, anyway?"
"Oh, it's a suburb of the Naval Academy," Dave answered.
"Is it dreadfully hard to keep one's place in his class there?" asked
"Well, the average fellow is satisfied if he doesn't 'bust cold,'" Dave
"Gracious! What sort of explosion is 'busting cold'?"
"Why, that means getting down pretty close to absolute zero in all
studies. When a fellow has the hard luck to bust cold the superintendent
allows him all his time, thereafter, to go home and look up a more
suitable job than one in the Navy. And when a fellow bilges----"
"Stop!" begged Belle. "Wait!"
She fled from the room, to return presently bearing the prettiest hat
that Dave ever remembered having seen on her shapely young head. In one
hand she carried a dainty parasol that she turned over to him.
"What's the cruise?" asked Darrin, rising.
"I'm going out to get that notebook, now. Please don't talk any more
'midshipman' to me until I get a chance to set the jargon down."
As she stood there, such a pretty and wholesome picture, David Darrin
thought he never before had seen such a pretty girl, nor one dressed in
such exquisite taste. Being a boy, it did not occur to him that Belle
Meade had been engaged for weeks in designing this gown and others that
she meant to wear during his brief stay at home.
"What are you thinking of?" asked Belle.
"What a pity it is that I am doomed to a short life," sighed Darrin.
"A short life? What do you mean?" Belle asked.
"Why, I'm going to be assassinated, the first hop that you attend at the
"So I'm a gold brick, am I?" frowned Belle.
"You--a--gold brick?" stammered Dave. "Why, you--oh, go look in the
"Who will assassinate you?"
"A committee made up from among the fellows whose names I don't write
down on your dance card. And there are hundreds of them at Annapolis.
You can't dance with them all."
"I don't intend to," replied Belle, with a toss of her head. "I'll
accept, as partners, only those who appear to me the handsomest and most
distinguished looking of the midshipmen. No one else can write his name
on my card."
"Dear girl, I'm afraid you don't understand our way of making up dance
cards at Crabtown."
"Crabtown. That's our local name for Annapolis."
"Gracious! Let me get out quickly and get that notebook!"
"At midshipmen's hops the fellow who drags the----"
"Gold brick," supplied Belle, resignedly.
"No--not for worlds! You're no gold brick, Belle, and you know it, even
though you do refuse to go to the mirror. But the fellow who drags any
"'Femme' stands for girl. The fellow who drags any femme makes up her
dance card for her."
"And she hasn't a word to say about it?"
"Not as a rule."
"Oh!" cried Belle, dramatically.
She moved toward the door. Dave, who could not take his eyes from her
pretty face, managed, somehow, to delay her.
"Belle, there's something--" he began.
"Good gracious! Where? What?" she cried, looking about her keenly.
"It's something I want to say--must say," Dave went on with more of an
effort than anyone but himself could guess.
"Tell me, as we're going down the street," invited Belle.
"_Wha-a-at?_" choked Dave. "Well, I guess not!"
He faced her, resting both hands lightly on her shoulders.
"Belle, we were pretty near sweethearts in the High School, I think," he
went on, huskily, but looking her straight in the eyes. "At least, that
was my hope, and I hope, most earnestly, that it's going to continue.
Belle, I am a long way from my real career, yet. It will be five years,
yet, before I have any right to marry. But I want to look forward, all
the time, to the sweet belief that my schoolgirl sweetheart is going to
become my wife one of these days. I want that as a goal to work for,
along with my commission in the Navy. But to this much I agree: if you
say 'yes' now, and find later that you have made a mistake, you will
tell me so frankly."
"Poor boy!" murmured Belle, looking at him fully. "You've been a plebe
until lately, and you haven't been allowed to see any girls. I'm not
going to take advantage of you as heartlessly as that."
Yet something in her eyes gave the midshipman hope.
"Belle," he continued eagerly, "don't trifle with me. Tell me--will you
marry me some day?"
Then there was a little more talk and--well, it's no one's business.
"But we're not so formally engaged," Belle warned him, "that you can't
write me and draw out of the snare if you wish when you're older. And
I'm not going to wear any ring until you've graduated from the Naval
Academy. Do you understand that, Mr. David Darrin?"
"It shall be as you say, either way," Dave replied happily.
"And now, let us get started, or we shan't get out on the street
to-day," urged Belle.
Then they passed out on the street, and no ordinarily observant person
would have suspected them of being anything more than school friends.
Being very matter-of-fact in some respects, Belle's first move was to go
to a stationer's, where she bought a little notebook bound in red
Dave tried to pay for that purchase, but Belle forestalled him.
"Why didn't you allow me to make you that little gift?" he asked in a
low tone, when they had reached the street.
"Wait," replied Belle archly. "Some day you may find your hands full in
"One of my instructors at Annapolis complimented me on having very
capable hands," Dave told her dryly.
"The instructor in boxing?" asked Belle.
It was a wonderfully delightful stroll that the middy and his sweetheart
enjoyed that September forenoon.
Once Dave sighed, so pronouncedly that Belle shot a quick look of
questioning at him.
"Tired of our understanding already?" she demanded.
"No; I was thinking how sorry I am for Danny boy! He doesn't know the
happiness of having a real sweetheart."
"How do you know he doesn't?" asked Belle quickly. "Does he tell you
"No; but I know Danny's sea-going lines pretty well. I'd suspect, at
least, if he had a sweetheart."
"Are you sure that you would?"
"Oh, yes! By gracious! There's Danny going around the corner above at
this very moment."
Belle had looked in the same instant.
"Yes; and a skirt swished around the corner with him," declared Belle
impressively. "It would be funny, wouldn't it, if you didn't happen to
know all about Dan Dalzell?"
In the early afternoon, however, the mystery was cleared up.
On the street Dalzell had encountered Laura Bentley. Both were full of
talk and questions concerning Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes, at West
Point, for which reason Dan had strolled home with Miss Bentley without
any other thought, on the midshipman's part, than playing substitute
gallant for his chum, Cadet Richard Prescott, U.S. Military Academy.
A most delightful afternoon the four young people spent together at the
These were the forerunners of other afternoons.
Belle and Laura, however, were not able to keep their midshipmen to
Other girls, former students at the High School, arranged a series of
affairs to which the four young people were invited.
Dave's happiest moments were when he had Belle to himself, for a stroll
Dan's happiest moments, on the other hand, were when he was engaged in
hunting the old High School fellows, or such of them as were now at
home. For many of them had entered colleges or technical schools. Tom
Reade and Harry Hazelton, of the famous old Dick & Co., of High School
days, were now in the far southwest, under circumstances fully narrated
in "THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN ARIZONA," the second volume of "THE YOUNG
Day by day Belle jotted down in her notebook more specimens of
"I shall soon feel that I can reel off the language like a native of
Crabtown," she confided laughingly to Dare.
"It won't be very long before you have an opportunity to try," Dave
declared, "if you and Laura embrace your first opportunity to come to a
Dan had a happy enough time of it, even though Dave's suspicion was true
in that Dan had no sweetheart. That, however, was Dan's fault entirely,
as several of the former High School girls would have been willing to
Since even the happiest times must all end so the latter part of
September drew near.
Then came the day when Dave and Dan met at the railway station. A host
of others were there to see them off, for the midshipmen still had
crowds of friends in the good old home town.
A ringing of bells, signaling brakesmen, a rolling of steel wheels and
the two young midshipmen swung aboard the train, to wave their hats from
Gridley was gone--lost to sight for another year. Dan was exuberant
during the first hour of the journey, Dave unusually silent.
"You need a vast amount of cheering up, David, little giant!" exclaimed
"Oh, I guess not," smiled Dave Darrin quietly, adding to himself, under
"I carry my own good cheer with me, now."
Lightly his hand touched a breast pocket that carried the latest,
sweetest likeness of Miss Belle Meade.
One journey by rail is much like another to the traveler who pays little
heed to the scenery.
At the journey's end two well-rested midshipmen joined the throng of
others at Crabtown.
DAN RECEIVES A FEARFUL FACER
"Oh, you heap!" sighed Dan Dalzell dismally.
He sat in his chair, in their new quarters in Bancroft Hall, United
States Naval Academy, gazing in mock despair at the pile of new books
that he had just drawn.
These text-books contained the subjects in which a midshipman is
required to qualify in his second academic year.
"Been through the books for a first look?" called Dave from behind his
own study table.
"Some of 'em," admitted Dalzell. "I'm afraid to glance into the others."
"I've looked in all of my books," continued Darrin, "and I've just come
to a startling conclusion."
"I'm inclined to believe that I have received a complete set of
text-books for the first and second classes."
"No such luck!" grunted Dan, getting up and going over to his chum. "Let
me see if you got all the books I did."
Before Dave could prevent it, Dan started a determined over-tossing of
the book pile. As he did so, Dan suddenly uncovered a photograph from
which a fair, sweet, laughing face gazed up at him.
"Oh, I beg a million pardons, Dave, old boy!" cried Dalzell.
"You needn't," came Dave's frank answer. "I'm proud of that treasure and
of all it means to me."
"And I'm glad for you, David, little giant."
Their hands met in hearty clasp, and that was all that was said on that
subject at the time.
"But, seriously," Dan grumbled on, after a while, "I'm aghast at what an
exacting government expects and demands that we shall know. Just look
over the list--mechanical drawing and mechanical processes, analytical
geometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, English literature, French and
Spanish, integral calculus, spherical trigonometry, stereographic
projection and United States Naval history! David, my boy, by the end of
this year we'll know more than college professors do."
"Aren't you getting a big head, Danny?" queried Darrin, looking up with
"I am," assented Dalzell, "and I admit it. Why, man alive, one has to
have a big head here. No small head would contain all that the Academic
Board insists on crowding into it."
By the time that the chums had attended the first section recitations
on the following day, their despair was increased.
"Davy, I don't see how we are ever going to make it, this year," Dalzell
gasped, while they were making ready for supper formation. "We'll bilge
this year without a doubt."
"There's only one reason I see for hoping that we can get through the
year with fair credit," murmured Darrin.
"And what's that?"
"Others have done it, before us, and many more are going to do it this
year," replied Dave slowly, as he laid comb and brush away and drew on
his uniform blouse.
"I know men have gotten through the Naval Academy in years gone by,"
Dalzell agreed. "But, the first chance that I have, I'm going to look
the matter up and see whether the middies of old had any such fearful
grind as we have our noses held to."
"Oh, we'll do it," declared Darrin confidently. "I shall, anyway--for
I've got to!"
As he spoke he was thinking of Belle Meade, and of her prospects in life
as well as his own.
As the days went by, however, Dave and Dan became more and more dull of
spirits. The grind was a fearful one. A few very bright youngsters went
along all right, but to most of the third classmen graduation began to
look a thousand years away.
The football squad was out now and training in deadly earnest. There
were many big games to be played, but most of all the middies longed to
tow West Point's Army eleven into the port of defeat.
In their first year Dave and Dan had looked forward longingly to joining
the gridiron squad. They had even practised somewhat. But now they
realized that playing football in the second year at Annapolis must be,
for them, merely a foolish dream.
"I'm thankful enough if I can study day and night and keep myself up to
2.5," confessed Darrin, as he and Dan chatted over their gridiron
Two-and-five tenths is the lowest marking, on a scale of four, that will
suffice to keep a midshipman in the Naval Academy.
"I'm not going to reach 2.5 in some studies this month," groaned Dan. "I
know that much by way of advance information. The fates be thanked that
we're allowed until the semi-ans to pick up. But the question is, are we
ever going to pick up? As I look through my books it seems to me that
every succeeding lesson is twice as hard as the one before it."
"Other men have gone through, every year."
"And still other men have been dropped every year," Dalzell dolefully
"We're among those who are going to stay," Dave contended stubbornly.
"Then I'm afraid we'll be among those who are dropped after Christmas
and come back, next year, as bilgers," Dalzell groaned.
"Now, drop that!" commanded Darrin, almost roughly. "Remember one thing,
Daniel little lion slayer! My congressman and your senator won't appoint
us again, if we fail now. No talk of that kind, remember. We've got to
make our standing secure within the next few weeks."
Before the month was over the football games began in earnest on the
athletic field. Darrin and Dalzell, however, missed every game. They
were too busy poring over their text-books. Fortunately for them their
drills, parades and gym. work furnished them enough exercise.
The end of October found Darrin at or above 2.5 in only three studies.
Dan was above 2.5 in two studies--below that mark in all others.
"It's a pity my father never taught me to swear," grumbled Dalzell, in
the privacy of their room.
"Stow that talk," ordered Darrin, "and shove off into the deeper waters
of greater effort."
"Greater effort?" demanded Dan, in a rage. "Why I study, now, every
possible moment of the time allowed for such foolishness. And we can't
run a light. Right after taps the electric light is turned off at the
"We're wasting ninety seconds of precious time, now, in grumbling,"
uttered Dave, seating himself doggedly at his study table.
"Got any money, Darry?" asked Dalzell suddenly.
"Yes; are you broke?"
"I am, and the next time I go into Annapolis I mean to buy some
"Don't try that, Danny. Running a light is dangerous, and doubly so with
candles. The grease is bound to drip, and to be found in some little
corner by one of the discipline officers. It would be no use to study if
you are going to get frapped on the pap continuously."
Immediately after supper both midshipmen forfeited their few minutes of
recreation, going at once back to their study tables. There they
remained, boning hard until the brief release sounded before taps was
Almost at the sound of the release there came a knock at the door.
Farley and his roommate, Page, came bounding in.
"I've got to say something, or I'll go daffy," cried Farley, rubbing his
eyes. "Fellows, did you ever hear of such downright abuse as the second
year course of studies means?"
"It is tough," agreed Dave. "But what can we do about it, except fight
"Can you make head or tail out of calculus?" demanded Farley.
"No," admitted Darrin, "but I hope to, one of these days."
Just then Freeman, of the first class, poked his head in, after a soft
"What is this--a despair meeting?" he called cheerily.
"Yes," groaned Page. "We're in a blue funk over the way recitations are
"Oh, buck up, kiddies!" called Freeman cheerily, as he crossed the
floor. "Youngsters always get in the doldrums at the beginning of the
"You're a first classman. When you were in the third class did you have
all the studies that we have now?"
"Every one of them, sir," affirmed Midshipman Freeman gravely, though
there was a twinkle in his eyes.
"And did you come through the course easily?" asked Page.
"Not easily," admitted the first classman. "There isn't anything at
Annapolis that is easy, except the dancing. In fact, during the first
two months very few of our class came along like anything at all. After
that, we began to do better. By the time that semi-ans came around
nearly all of us managed to pull through. But what seems to be the worst
grind of all--the real blue paint?"
"Calculus!" cried the four youngsters in unison.
"Why, once you begin to see daylight in calculus it's just as easy as
taking a nap," declared the first classman.
"At present it seems more like suffering from delirium," sighed Dave.
"What's the hard one for to-morrow?" asked Freeman.
"Here it is, right here," continued Dave, opening his text-book. "Here's
the very proposition."
The others crowded about, nodding.
"I remember that one," laughed Freeman lightly. "Our class named it
'sticky fly paper.'"
"It was rightly named," grumbled Farley.
"None of you four youngsters see through it?" demanded Midshipman
"Do you mean to claim, sir, that you ever did?" insisted Dan Dalzell.
"Not only once, but now," grinned Mr. Freeman. "You haven't been looking
at this torturing proposition from the right angle--that's all. Now,
listen, while I read it."
"Oh, we all know how it runs, Mr. Freeman," protested Page.
"Nevertheless, listen, while I read it."
As the first classman read through the proposition that was torturing
them he threw an emphasis upon certain words that opened their eyes
better as to the meaning.