E-text prepared by Jim Ludwig
DAVE DARRIN’S FIRST YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS
Two Plebe Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy
H. IRVING HANCOCK
I. Two Admirals in the Bud
II. The First Day at the Naval Academy III. A Taste of Hazing
IV. The “Youngsters” Who Became “Spoons On” V. Invited to Join the “Frenchers”
VI. Dave Passes the Lie
VII. On the Field of the Code
VIII. The Man Who Won
IX. Dan Just Can’t Help Being “Touge” X. “Just For Exercise!”
XI. Midshipman Henkel Does Some Thinking XII. A Chronic Pap Frapper
XIII. Midshipman Farley’s About-Face XIV. The Trap in Midshipman’s Quarters
XV. Air “The Rogue’s March”
XVI. Brimmer Makes a New Friend
XVII. Tony Baits the Hook
XVIII. In the Days of “Old Two-Five” XIX. The Collision of the Chesapeake
XX. In the Line of Duty
XXI. Official and Other Report
XXII. The “Bazoo” makes Trouble
XXIII. The Spectre at the Fight Party XXIV. Conclusion
TWO ADMIRAL’S IN THE BUD
“Dave, I’m getting nervous!”
“Is that the best way you can find to enjoy yourself?” demanded the taller boy.
“But I am, Dave–dreadfully nervous!” insisted Dan Dalzell positively.
“Well, you’ll have to conceal it, then. The doctors at the United States Naval Academy won’t pass any nervous wrecks,” laughed Dave Darrin.
“Don’t you understand?” demanded Dan, in a hurt voice. “The nearer we get to Annapolis the more nervous I’m getting.”
“You’d better drop off, then,” hinted Dave ironically, “and take the next car back to Odenton and Baltimore. What earthly good would a Naval officer be who was going to get nervous as soon as he came in sight of an enemy?”
“But I wouldn’t get nervous in the sight the enemy,” flared up Dan Dalzell.
“Then why get nervous about the folks down at the Naval Academy? They all intend to be your friends!”
“I guess that is true,” Dan went on. “Of course, back in April, we went before the Civil Service Commission and took our academic examinations. We passed, and haven’t got that to go up against again.”
“We passed the home medical examiner, too,” retorted Dave. “In fact, you might say that we passed the sawbones with honors.
“But that medical chap put in a long time listening at my chest,” complained Dan Dalzell, who was undeniably fidgeting in his seat. “Then, too, the civil service sawbones told me that, while he passed me, as far as he was concerned, I’d have to stand the ordeal again before the Naval surgeons at Annapolis.”
“Well, he did just the same thing with me,” rejoined Darrin. “You just keep your eye on me, Dan! Do you see me shaking? Do you hear my voice falter? See me burning any blue lights?
“Perhaps, Dave, you don’t take the whole business as much to heart as I do,” continued Dan Dalzell almost tremulously. “Why, Great Scott, if they drop me at the Naval Academy, I’ll be the bluest fellow you ever saw! But maybe you won’t care, Dave, whether you are dropped or not.”
“Won’t I?” grumbled Darrin. “The Navy is the only thing in life that I care about!”
“Then aren’t you nervous, just now?” demanded Dan.
“If I am, I’m not making a show of myself,” retorted Darrin.
“But are you nervous?” begged Dan.
“No!” roared Dave, and then he allowed a grin to creep over his face.
“Oh, go ahead and say so tonight,” jeered Dan. “Tomorrow, if you have the good luck to get sworn in, you’ll have to quit fibbing and begin practicing at telling the truth. A midshipman at the Naval Academy, I understand, is kicked out of the service if he tells lies.”
“Not quite–only in case he gets caught,” laughed Dave Darrin.
“But really, about being nervous–“
“Oh, forget that sort of nonsense, won’t you, Dan, old fellow?” begged his chum. “Just get your eye on the lovely country we’re going through.”
It was just about the first of June. Our two young travelers had come by train, from Baltimore to a little country junction. Thence they had traveled, briefly, by trolley, to Odenton. There, after a wait of some minutes, they had boarded another trolley car, and were now bowling along through the open country of that part of Maryland. At the end of their journey lay the historic little town of Annapolis. It was now after seven o’clock; still daylight, the fag end of a beautiful June day in Maryland.
Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell had been appointed as midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy. If they should succeed in passing the four years’ course in the big government school at Annapolis, they would then be sent to sea for two years, as midshipmen, after which they would return to Annapolis for their final examinations. Passing these last examinations, they would then be commissioned as ensigns in the United States Navy, with the possibility of some day becoming full-fledged admirals.
Readers of our High School Boys Series have no need of further introduction to Dave and Dan.
These two young men will be remembered as former members of Dick & Co., six famous chums back in the lively little city of Gridley.
Dick Prescott, Greg Holmes, Dave Darrin, Dan Dalzell, Tom Reade and Harry Hazleton had composed the famous sextette who, in their day at Gridley High School, had been fast chums and leaders in all pertaining to High School athletics in their part of the state.
Following their High School days, however, the six chums had become somewhat widely scattered. Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes secured appointments to the United States Military Academy. Readers of our West Point Series are already familiar with the stirring doings and life of Dick and Greg at the fine old Army Academy on the Hudson. At the time this present narrative opens Dick and Greg had been nearly three months as plebe cadets, as told in the first volume of the West Point Series, under the title, “DICK PRESCOTT’S FIRST YEAR AT WEST POINT.”
Tom Reade and Harry Hazleton had gone from Gridley High School to the far West, where they had connected themselves with a firm of civil engineers engaged in railway construction. What befell Tom and Harry is told in “THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN COLORADO,” the first and very entertaining volume in the Young Engineers Series.
Readers of “THE HIGH SCHOOL CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM” recall how Dave Darrin won his appointment to the Naval Academy, as did Dick Prescott his chance for West Point, from the Congressman of the home district. Dalzell’s appointment, on the other hand, came from one of the two United States Senators from that state.
And here Dave and Dan were, on a trolley car from Odenton, rapidly nearing Annapolis.
At the forward end of the car was a small compartment set apart for the use of smokers Dave and Dan did not smoke; they had take seats in this compartment because they wished to be alone.
“You asked me to let you know when we got near Annapolis, gentlemen,” announced the conductor, a cheery-faced young man, thrusting his head in. “There is the town right ahead of you.”
“You said that you go by the hotel, I think?” Dave asked.
“I’ll stop and call the hotel,” replied the conductor. “We’ll be there in less than two minutes.”
It was a quaint, old-fashioned, very pretty southern town that the car now entered.
“I’ll bet they’re a thousand years behind the times here,” sighed Dalzell, as they gazed about them.
“Not at the Naval Academy, anyway,” retorted Dave Darrin.
“Oh, of course not,” Dan made haste to agree.
The car passed an imposing-looking brick building that housed the post-office, then sped along past the handsome, dignified old residence of the Governor of Maryland. Up on a hill at their left the State Capitol stood out. Then the car bell clanged, and the car stopped.
“Maryland Hotel!” called the conductor.
Dave and Dan caught up their suit cases and descended from the car. At their right, the found the steps leading to the porch of the roomy old hotel. In another moment they were in the office, registering.
“You want a room together, gentlemen?” asked the clerk.
“Surely,” retorted Dan. “My friend is always afraid when the gas is turned off. My presence quiets him.”
“Pardon me, gentlemen, but are you on your way to the Naval Academy?” queried the clerk.
“Yes,” nodded Dave quietly.
“Then you will want a room with bath, of course. You’ll have to strip before the medical examiners tomorrow.
“A room with bath, of course,” assented Dan. “I never have stopped at a hotel without a bathroom.”
Dan didn’t mention that this was the first time he had ever stopped at a hotel in his short life.
“Front!” called the clerk.
A small black boy in knee trousers came forward, picked up their suit cases and led the way to the next floor.
“My! I wonder who else is expected,” muttered Dalzell, as the two young travelers found themselves in their room after the boy had left them.
It was an enormous room, and the three beds in it did not crowd the apartment in the least. All the furniture was of a massive and old-fashioned pattern.
A few minutes later, with face and hands washed–clean collars, clothes neatly brushed, the two clear-eyed, manly-looking young fellows returned to the first floor.
“I suppose this hotel is full of young men like ourselves, wondering what tomorrow will bring them, when they get before the sawbones,” muttered Dan.
“Candidates, like ourselves, you mean?” suggested Darrin. “We’ll inquire.” With that, he approached the clerk and made the inquiry.
“Oh, no,” replied the clerk, in answer to Dave’s question. “There are only two other candidates besides yourselves stopping here. There are a good many young men in town, of course, but most of them have been here for some weeks, and are in lodging houses. A good many young men come here, you know, to attend the Naval preparatory schools before they go up for their examinations.”
“We’ve had our academic examinations, and have passed,” announced Dan.
“What about supper, sir?” asked Dave, who, in his short trip through the South, had noticed that in this part of the country the “sir” is generally employed.
“You’ll find supper ready, gentlemen,” replied the clerk, pointing the way to the dining room.
So the two young men passed in and enjoyed their first sample of southern cookery.
At this hour there were only a half dozen other people in the dining room–none of them interesting, Darrin decided, after hastily surveying the other diners.
The meal over, the two young candidates sauntered again out into the hotel office.
“Any midshipmen out around the town, sir?” Darrin asked.
“Hardly, sir,” replied the clerk, with a smile. “At this hour the young gentlemen are in their rooms at Bancroft Hall.”
“What does a midshipman look like?” ventured Dalzell.
“Like a human being, of course,” Dave laughed.
“You mean the uniform?” inquired the clerk. “A midshipman, sir, wears a dark blue uniform, like an officer’s, and a visored cap, Naval pattern. He also wears the anchor insignia on each side of his coat collar.”
Dave and Dan soon walked over to the open doorway and stood looking out upon the street, in which, at this time, few people were passing. Hearing a step in the office, Dan quickly turned. He saw a young man coming through the office, holding himself very erect. This young man was in dark blue uniform, with visored cap, and on each side of his collar was the anchor insignia. Past the anchor were two bars, but Dalzell didn’t notice that at the moment.
“There’s a real midshipman,” whispered Dan, plucking at Dave’s sleeve. “I’m going to speak to him.”
“Don’t you do it,” warned Dave, in an undertone. “You may make a mistake.”
“Mistake?” echoed Dan. “With that anchor on his collar?”
Hastily Dan Dalzell slipped back into the office, going up to the young man in uniform, who had stopped before the desk.
“Good evening,” began Dan politely. “I’d like to introduce myself. ‘Tomorrow I expect to be one of the crowd. You’re a midshipman, aren’t you?”
“I’m an officer of the Navy,” replied the uniformed stranger coldly, as he half turned to glance briefly at Dalzell. “You are a candidate, I suppose? Then I fancy you will report at the superintendent’s office in the morning.”
With that the Naval officer turned away, leaving poor Dalzell feeling decidedly dumfounded.
“Wasn’t that a midshipman?” gasped Dan, in a whisper.
“That gentleman is a lieutenant in the Navy,” replied the clerk, with a slight smile.
Crestfallen Dan hurried back to Darrin, brushing off his sleeves with his hands as he walked.
“Served you right; you must get over being fresh,” Dave Darrin rebuked his chum. “But what is the matter with your sleeves?”
“I’m brushing the frost off of them,” murmured Dan dejectedly. “Did you notice the ice-bath that fellow threw over me?”
“Come out for a walk,” urged Dave. “But be careful where you step and what you say to others.”
The two young men strolled down the street.
“Well,” smiled Darrin, “I must say, Dan, that you appear to be getting all over your nervousness.”
“No; I’m still nervous,” protested Dan. “Before, I was afraid I wouldn’t get into the Naval Academy. Now, I’m only afraid that I shall.”
“What nonsense are you talking now?” demanded Darrin, giving his chum a sharp look.
“Why, if they’re all going to be as chesty as that near-officer I spoke to in the hotel,” blinked Dan, “I’m not so sure that I want to go in with the bunch.”
“That officer wasn’t either chesty or snobbish,” rejoined Darrin.
“Then you will kindly explain what he tried to do to me?”
“That’s easy enough. That Naval officer recognized in you a rather common type–the too-chummy and rather fresh American boy. Down here in the service, where different grades in rank exist, it is necessary to keep the fresh greenhorn in his place.”
“Oh!” muttered Dan, blinking hard.
“As to your not wanting to go into the service,” Dave continued, “if you should fail, tomorrow, in your physical examination, you would be as blue as indigo, and have the blue-light signal up all the way back home.”
“I don’t know but that is so. Yes; I guess it is,” Dalzell assented.
“Now, there are at least ninety-nine chances in a hundred that you’re going to pass the Navy doctors all right, Dan,” his chum went on. “If you do, you’ll be sworn into the Naval service as a midshipman. Then you’ll have to keep in mind that you’re not an admiral, but only a midshipman–on probation, at that, as our instructions from the Navy Department inform us. Now, as a new midshipman, you’re only the smallest, greenest little boy in the whole service. Just remember that, and drop all your jolly, all your freshness and all your patronizing ways. Just listen and learn, Dan, and study, all the time, how to avoid being fresh. If you don’t do this, I’m mighty confident that you’re up against a hard and tough time, and that you’ll have most of the other midshipmen down on you from the start.”
“Any more ‘roast’ for me?” asked Dalzell plaintively.
“No; for, if you need any more, you’ll get it from other midshipmen, who don’t know you as well as I do, and who won’t make any allowances for your greenness and freshness.”
“My!” murmured Dan enthusiastically. “Won’t I quiver with glee the first time I see you being called for twelve-inch freshness!”
Yet, despite their wordy encounters, the two remained, as always, the best and most loyal of friends.
For an hour and a half the two youngsters roamed about Annapolis, taking many interested looks at quaint old buildings that had stood since long before the Revolutionary War.
At last they turned back to the hotel, for, as Dalzell suggested, they needed a long night’s sleep as a good preparation for going before the Naval surgeons on the next day.
Five minutes after they had turned out the gas Dave Darrin was soundly, blissfully asleep.
In another bed in the same room Dan Dalzell tossed for fully half an hour ere sleep caught his eyelids and pinned them down. In his slumber, however, Dan dreamed that he was confronting the superintendent of the Naval Academy and a group of officers, to whom he was expounding the fact that he was right and they were wrong. What the argument was about Dan didn’t see clearly, in his dream, but he had the satisfaction of making the superintendent and most of the Naval officers with him feel like a lot of justly-rebuked landsmen.
THE FIRST DAY AT THE NAVAL ACADEMY
A few minutes before nine o’clock, the next morning, Dave and Dan were strolling through Lover’s Lane, not far from the administration building at the United States Naval Academy.
Their instructions bade them report at 9.15. Dan was for going in at once and “calling on” the aide to the superintendent. But this Dave vetoed, holding that the best thing for them to do was to stick to the very letter of their orders.
So, as they waited, the young men got a glimpse of the imposing piles of buildings that compose the newer Naval Academy. Especially did handsome, big, white Bancroft Hall enchain their admiration. This structure is one of the noblest in the country. In it are the midshipmen’s mess, the midshipmen’s barracks for a thousand young men, numerous offices and a huge recreation hall.
“That’s a swell hotel where they’re going to put us up for four years, isn’t it?” demanded Dan.
“I fancy that we’ll find it something more–or less–than a hotel, before we’re through it,” was Dave’s prophetic reply.
As, at this time in the morning, all of the enrolled midshipmen were away at one form or another of drill or instruction, the central grounds were so empty of human life that the onlooker could form no idea of the immense, throbbing activity that was going on here among the hundreds of midshipmen on duty.
“Here’s some of our kind,” spoke Dan, at last, as he espied more than a dozen young men, in citizen’s dress, strolling along under the trees.
“I guess they’re candidates, fast enough,” nodded Darrin, after briefly looking at the approaching group.
“Cheap-looking lot, most of them, aren’t they?” asked Dalzell cheerfully.
“Probably they’re saying the same thing about us,” chuckled Dave dryly.
“Let ’em, then. Who cares?” muttered Dalzell.
“Dan, my boy, I reckon you’ll need to put the soft pedal on your critical tendencies,” warned Dave. “And, if you want my friendly opinion, I’ve a big idea that you’re going to talk your way into a lot of trouble here.”
“Trouble?” grinned Dalzell. “Well, I’m used to it.”
In truth Dan had been victor in many a hard-fought schoolboy disagreement, as readers of the High School Boys Series are aware.
As the young men in question drew nearer they eyed Darrin and Dalzell with a disapproval that was not wholly concealed. The truth was that Dave and Dan were recognized as not being boys who had studied at one of the Naval prep. schools in Annapolis. The assumption was, therefore, that Dave and Dan had not been able to afford such a luxury.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” was Dave’s pleasant greeting. “You are candidates, like ourselves, I take it?”
This fact being acknowledged, Dave introduced himself and his friend, and soon some pleasant new acquaintances were being formed, for Darrin had a way that always made him popular with strangers.
“Have you two got to go up before the June exams. here?” asked one of the young men, who had introduced himself as Grigsby.
“Part of it,” grinned Dan. “We’ve already gone through the primer tests and the catechism, and that sort of thing; but we still have to go before the barber and the toilet specialists and see whether our personal appearance suits.”
“You’re lucky, then,” replied Grigsby. “Our crowd all have to take the academic exams.”
“Cheer up,” begged Dan. “Any baby can go past the academic exams. Arithmetic is the hardest part. One funny chap on the Civil Service Commission nearly got me by asking me how much two and two are, but Darrin saved me, just in the nick of time, by holding up five fingers; so I knew the answer right off.”
Some of the candidates were already surveying Dan with a good deal of amusement. They had heard much of the severe way upper classmen at the Naval Academy have of taking all the freshness out of a new man, and, like Dave, these other candidates scented plenty of trouble ahead for cheerful, grinning Dan Dalzell.
“Gentlemen,” broke in Dave quietly, “do you see the time on the clock over on the academic building? It’s nine-fourteen. What do you say if we step promptly over to the administration building and plunge into what’s ahead of us?”
“Good enough,” nodded one of the new acquaintances. “Suppose you lead the way?”
So, with Dan by his side, Dave piloted the others over to the administration building, just beyond the chapel.
As they stepped inside, and found themselves in a hallway, a marine orderly confronted them.
“Candidates, gentlemen? Walk right upstairs. An orderly there will direct you to the office of the superintendent’s aide.”
“Thank you,” replied Dave, with a bow, and led the way upstairs.
Near the head of the stairs another marine, in spick-and-span uniform, wearing white gloves and with a bayonet at his belt, called out quietly:
“Candidates? First two, step this way please.”
He swung open a door. Dave and Dan stepped into an office where they found a young-looking though slightly bald gentleman in uniform, seated behind a flat-top desk.
“We have come to report, sir, according to our instructions,” announced Dave Darrin, happily.
“You are candidates, then?” asked Lieutenant-Commander Graham, reaching for a pile of bound sheets.
“David Darrin and Daniel Dalzell, sir.”
“Have you your papers, Mr. Darrin?”
Dave drew an official-looking envelope from an inner pocket and handed it to Lieutenant-Commander Graham.
These the Naval aide scanned closely, after which he looked up.
“You have your papers, Mr. Dalzell?”
“Yes,” nodded Dan.
A more than perceptible frown flashed across the face of the officer.
“Mr. Dalzell, whenever you answer an officer you will say ‘yes, sir,’ or ‘very good, sir.'”
Rather red in the face Dan handed over his envelope.
Mr. Graham examined these papers, too. Then, pulling a pile of blanks before him, he filled out two, bearing the names of the young men, and signed them, after which he handed one of the signed blanks to each.
“Mr. Darrin, you will inquire of the orderly downstairs your way to the office of the commandant of midshipmen. You will then at once present yourself before the commandant, handing him this paper.”
“Yes, sir; thank you, sir,” replied Dave, with a slight bow.
“Mr. Dalzell, stick close to your friend and you will find out what to do.”
“Yes, sir,” murmured Dan, again reddening.
The orderly below directed the two young men how to proceed to the main entrance of Bancroft Hall, there to turn to their left and inquire again their way to the commandant’s office.
“You see,” lectured Dave pleasantly, as the chums plodded along one of the walks, “you have already received your first lesson. You answered the superintendent’s aide without saying ‘sir.’ You’ll have to work out of this freshness.”
“That wasn’t freshness; it was ignorance,” protested Dalzell. “Don’t you worry, Dave; I shall soon get the Naval trotting gait to such an extent that I shall be saying ‘sir’ at every other word.”
This declaration was more prophetic than Dalzell could guess at that moment.
Each lad had a queer feeling at heart as he began to climb the long series of white steps that lead to the main entrance to Bancroft Hall. What would be the outcome? Were they hence-forth to find this huge pile “home” for four years to come? Would they, through all after life, look back upon this great government training school as their alma mater? It all seemed to depend, now, on the verdict of the examining Naval surgeons!
But there was little time for thought. Once inside, they were ushered, by a white-gloved midshipman, into the office of Commander Jephson, commandant of midshipmen.
That gentleman, also in uniform, as were all Navy officers on duty at the Academy, looked briefly as the two young men stood before him.
“Yes, sir,” replied Dave.
Each young man handed over the slip given him by the aide. Commander Jephson scanned each sheet closely, then made some entries on a set of papers of his own.
Next the commandant touched a button on his desk. Almost immediately footsteps were heard outside. Another white-gloved midshipman entered, raising his hand smartly to his cap in salute. This salute the commandant acknowledged in kind.
“Mr. Salisbury, conduct Candidates Darrin and Dalzell outside. Ascertain how soon the surgeons will be ready to examine them, and conduct the candidates to the Board Room at the time assigned for their examination.”
“Very good, sir,” replied Midshipman Salisbury, in measured tones. Again the inter-change of salutes, after which Midshipman Salisbury led Dave and Dan to an outer office.
“Wait here,” directed the midshipman briefly, “I’ll let you know when it’s time to go to the Board Room.”
Five minutes later the midshipman again approached them.
By this time there were seven more candidates in the room. The aide to the superintendent and the commandant were passing the young men quickly through the mill.
“Mr. Darrin, Mr. Dalzell!” called the midshipman master of ceremonies. As Dave and Dan started to their feet their conductor added:
“Follow me to the Board Room.”
Down the corridor and into the Board Room the two chums were led. There, awaiting them, they found three Naval medical officers, all in their proper uniform and one of them seated at a desk.
“Strip, with the least delay possible,” ordered the senior surgeon.
In a very short space of time Dave and Dan stood forth, minus clothes and, it must be confessed, both very nervous as to what these medical men might or might not find.
Thorough, indeed, was the examination, which began with the heart. But it went much further, including the hair, scalp, eyes, teeth, the condition of the tonsils, the appearance of the tongue, and so on, by regular stages, down to the soles of their feet.
“If there’s a square quarter of an inch these fellows have missed, I didn’t notice it,” muttered Dan to himself.
“You may dress, Mr. Darrin,” announced the senior surgeon, and Dave went to the chair on which his clothing lay.
“Mr. Dalzell, come here a moment”
Dan began to feel queer. What had they missed? On what point was his physical condition doubtful?
“Open your mouth,” directed one of the surgeons.
Then followed some more exploration of his teeth.
“Oh,” murmured Dan, when the medical men gave him a rest for a moment. “It’s only my teeth, eh? That’s not a vitally important point, is it, sir?”
“We reject candidates for what might seem very slight defects of the teeth,” replied the senior surgeon, with emphasis. “Open your mouth again.”
The cold ooze stood out on Dan’s brow this time. Joke as he might, he did not want to be dropped out of the Navy. Were these medical officers going to find, in his mouth, the clue his disqualification?
“Hm!” said the senior surgeon, watching while another medical officer did the probing and the holding of the dental mirrors.
That “hm!” sent a cold chill of dread coursing down young Daniel’s spine.
“Your teeth just about pass,” remarked the senior officer. “You may dress, Mr. Dalzell.”
It was not long before Dave and Dan both had their clothing on. As Dan was finishing, Dave turned to the senior surgeon.
“Is it improper, sir, for me to ask whether we have passed?” asked Darrin quietly.
“You have both passed,” nodded the surgeon. “Mr. Dalzell, however, will do well to take the most wholesome care of his teeth hereafter.”
Just then the door opened and two more candidates were shown in.
“Come with me,” directed the same midshipman master of ceremonies.
Dan was indiscreet enough to range up alongside their conductor, just missing a vigorous nudge that Dave tried to give him.
“Well, we slipped by the drug-store sign all right,” Dan confided to the white-gloved midshipman. “Now, how soon do we get our messenger-boy uniforms?
“Never, I hope,” replied their conductor frigidly, “unless you can learn to speak of the uniform of the service with more respect.”
Dan fell back abashed. His style of humor, he was fast discovering, did not seem to make a hit at Annapolis.
Back in the same waiting room the two young men lingered until nearly eleven o’clock. More than two score of candidates had passed the medical examiners by this time, and some others had failed to pass. Yet many of these successful candidates had yet to take their scholastic examinations over in Academic Hall, and so did not wait with Dave and Dan, who had now passed in everything.
By eleven there were fully a dozen young men who, like Dave and Dan, were ready to be sworn in. These were now led to the commandant’s office. Here each signed a paper agreeing to serve in the United States Navy for a term of eight years, unless sooner legally discharged. Each also signed a statement to the effect that he took this step with the full permission of parents or guardian.
Then the commandant of cadets ordered them to form in a line facing his desk. A notary appeared, who administered to them the oath of loyalty and obedience. These young men were at last actual members of the brigade of midshipmen.
Commander Jephson now delivered a short address to the lined-up dozen. He pointed out where the lines of their duty lay, and exhorted them to seek their duty and to perform it at all times. In closing the commandant put emphasis on these words:
“One word more, young gentlemen. Until this moment perhaps all of you have been wont to look upon yourself as boys. That time has passed. From the moment that you were sworn into the Navy of the United State–remember–you became men. All of your superior officers will now look to you to realize most fully that you are men–men in word, deed, thought and judgment.”
Now another midshipman, a cadet petty officer, appeared and conducted the new members of the brigade outside.
“Fall in by twos,” he directed. “When I give the word, move forward as well as you can, in the idea of marching.”
It was, indeed, a busy hour that followed. The young men were led before the midshipmen’s pay officer, with whom each deposited the sum of two hundred and sixty-four dollars and ninety-eight cents. This amount from each new midshipman is required by law. Of this sum sixty dollars is applied to the purchase of books needed by the new midshipman. The balance of the sum goes to pay for uniforms, articles of equipment, etc. From this it would seem that an absolutely poor boy had no chance to enter the Naval Academy. It usually happens, however, that, when a very poor boy is appointed to the Naval Academy, his Congressman, or some of his friends or fellow townsmen will loan him the money, returnable after he enters the service as an officer.
In addition to the amount required by law to be deposited with the Academy authorities each midshipman is ordered to turn over any other money that may be in his possession, this extra amount to be credited to him. A midshipman, on entering the service, receives a salary of six hundred dollars a year. Nearly all of this, however, is required to pay his ordinary expenses. Each midshipman is allowed a very small amount of spending money, with, however, a more liberal allowance when visiting ports during a cruise.
It is forbidden for a midshipman to receive spending money from home or friends. Midshipmen sometimes disobey this latter regulation, but, if detected, are liable to severe punishment.
Afterwards the new midshipmen were taken to the storekeeper’s, where each was supplied with one of the uniform caps worn by midshipmen.
Thence the young men were marched back to Bancroft Hall and out onto the terrace over the mess hall.
“Halt! Break ranks!” commanded their instructor, Midshipman Cranthorpe. “You will now pay close heed and endeavor to learn rapidly. Mr. Darrin, step over here.”
Dave went forward, Midshipman Cranthorpe placing him.
“The others will form in line of platoon front, using Mr. Darrin as their guide,” directed the young instructor.
Then followed some rapid-fire drilling in dressing, facings, counting fours, marching and halting. The material in hand was excellent, or Midshipman Cranthorpe might have been in despair.
Presently their instructor gave the order to break ranks, showing the new men where to stand, up against the building, out of the way. Almost immediately a bugler sounded a call. Then the new men were treated to a sight that made their blood dance.
Out of Bancroft Hall hastily poured scores and scores of midshipmen, until nearly six hundred had assembled. These were the members of the three upper classes.
The brigade of midshipmen is divided into two battalions, each of two divisions, six companies. The first and fourth companies formed on the right of the first battalion, the seventh and tenth companies on the right of the second battalion. The divisions formed with intervals of two paces between companies preparatory to muster. Second call was sounded quickly on the bugle, immediately after which the first petty officer of each company began briskly to call the roll. Each man answered just loudly enough to be heard. While roll-call was going on company commanders stepped briskly along inspecting their companies.
As the muster of each company was completed the first petty officer commanded, “count off!”
“One, two, three, four! One, two, three four!” went the count along each company line. Then the first petty officer of each company wheeled about, saluted his company commander, and reported:
“Sir, all present or accounted for!”
Company commanders next corrected the alignment on the right center company of each line.
Battalion commanders, seeing the divisions of their respective battalions aligned, faced about, while the battalion adjutants took post to right and rear. The brigade adjutant then faced about, saluted the brigade commander, reporting: “Sir, the brigade is formed.”
Receiving the word from his superior, the brigade adjutant next read the orders, after which he was ordered to take his post.
While this was going on Midshipman Cranthorpe had formed his awkward squad to the rear, behind the first battalion.
Now orders rang out crisply for battalion commanders to take charge. Thereupon each battalion commander marched his command in column of squads into the mess hall; battalion commanders preceding their battalions, company commanders preceding their companies and the junior officers of each company following the company. Last of all came Midshipman Cranthorpe’s awkward squad.
And very awkward, indeed, these young men felt. Each had a burning conviction that he was being watched curiously by hundreds of pairs of eyes. The new men might as well have saved themselves their worry. Barely an upper class man in the hall was paying any heed whatever to these self-conscious plebes.
The meal, a mid-day dinner, was an excellent one. Few of the new men, however, had any notion of what it consisted.
Mess hall was left with almost the same amount of formality. In the short recreation period that followed the new men, painfully conscious that their caps were the only part of the uniform they wore, were hurried away by Midshipman Cranthorpe.
Now they were quickly assigned to the rooms that they would occupy during their first year at the Naval Academy.
The midshipmen are not roomed by classes. Instead, each is assigned to a company, and there are three companies to a division. Each division occupies a floor in Bancroft Hall. It is not called a “floor” but a “deck.” Dave and Dan were assigned to the armory wing of the lowest deck, on what was virtually the basement floor of Bancroft Hall, or would have been, but for the mess hall underneath.
As far as wood work went it was a handsome room. When it came to the matter of furniture it was plain enough. There was the main or study room. Off at either side was an alcove bedroom. There was also a closet in which stood a shower bath. The one window of the room looked over across the Academy grounds in the direction of Academic Hall.
A cadet petty officer from the first class briefly, crisply instructed them concerning the care of their room, and their duties within its walls.
What followed that afternoon put the heads of the new midshipmen in a whirl. Afterwards they had a confused recollection of having been marched to the tailor at the storekeeper’s, where they were measured for uniforms, all of which are made to order. They recalled receiving a thin, blue volume entitled “Regulations of the U.S. Naval Academy,” a book which they were advised by a first clansman instructor to “commit to memory.”
“In former days, in the old-time academy, there were something more than six hundred regulations,” dryly remarked the cadet petty officer in charge of them. “In the new up-to-date Naval Academy there are now more than one thousand regulations. You are all expected to appreciate this merciful decrease in the number of things you are required to remember.”
There were also two periods of drill, that afternoon, and what-not more.
Supper came as a merciful release. When the meal was over, while many of the upper class men remained outside in the warm June air, the plebes were ordered to go to their rooms and start in making themselves familiar with the thousand-and-more regulations.
“Thank goodness they give us some time for light reading,” muttered Dan Dalzell, as he stalked into his room, hung up his uniform cap and sank into a chair. “Whew! What a day this has been!”
“I’ve rather enjoyed it,” murmured Dave, as he sank into the chair on the opposite side of the study table.
“Huh! You have liberal ideas, then, about enjoyment. How many hundred rules are you going to commit to memory tonight?
“I don’t know,” returned Dave. “But I do know that my head is in a big whirl, and that I’m going to rest it for a few minutes. By the way, Dan, there’s one thing I hope you remember.”
“What is that?” demanded Dalzell.
“What did they tell us this lower deck was named?”
“Dunno,” grunted Dan. “But I have my own name for it. _I_ call it the pinochle deck.”
“I’m afraid that won’t do to repeat,” laughed Dave.
At that moment the handle of the door was turned. Five upper class midshipmen entered, closing the door behind them. Then they stood there, glaring at the two poor plebes in “cit.” clothes.
A TASTE OF HAZING
“Good evening, gentlemen,” nodded Dave pleasantly, as he rose and stood by the study table, waiting to hear the pleasure of his visitors.
Dan Dalzell favored his callers with a nod, but remained seated, both hands thrust deep in his pockets.
“Get up on your feet, mister!” ordered one of the midshipmen, so sternly that Dan obeyed like a shot.
“Excuse me,” he began hastily. “I didn’t know you came here in an official capacity. I thought–“
“Silence, mister!” commanded another of the visitors. Dan subsided.
“What’s your name, mister?” demanded the last speaker, as he favored Dave with his next glance.
“Why, my name is Dave Darrin,” replied that plebe pleasantly.
“Say ‘sir,’ mister, when you address an upper class man. When asked your name, reply, ‘Darrin, sir.'”
“Darrin, sir,” replied Dave promptly.
“Stand at attention, both of you!” commanded another visitor.
Both plebes obeyed. Now still another caller wheeled upon Dan.
“What’s your name, mister.”
“Dalzell–Sir!” thundered Dan’s questioner.
“Dalzell, sir,” Dan responded meekly enough.
“It is plain enough that both of you plebes need a good deal of practice in the use of the word, sir. Therefore, in your next answers, you will be careful to employ ‘sir’ after each word that you utter in your reply. Mister,” to Dave, “what did you come to the Naval Academy for?”
“To, sir, become, sir, a sir, Naval, sir, officer. Sir.”
“Very good, mister. Mister,” to Dalzell, “why did you come here?”
“For sir, the same pur–“
“Sir, sir, sir, sir!” interrupted the quizzer. “Now, try again, mister.”
“For, sir, the, sir, same, sir, purpose, sir.”
“Now, mister,” continued the quizzing visitor, transfixing Dalzell with a look of tremendous sternness, “can you talk French?”
Dan’s eyes twinkled briefly.
“I don’t know, sir. I never tried, sir,” replied Dalzell, in pretended embarrassment.
For a moment it looked as though Dan had turned the tables of mischief upon his tormentors. His reply was so absurd that all of the upper class men, for a moment, betrayed signs of twitching at the corners of their mouths. Then all of them conquered the desire to laugh and returned to the inquest with added severity. The late questioner turned to one of his classmates, remarking scornfully:
“Very touge, indeed” replied the one addressed.
A “touge” plebe, in Naval Academy parlance, is one who is wholly “fresh.”
“Mister,” continued Dan’s quizzer, “we find you too full of levity for one who intends to embrace the profession of quarter-deck lounger. In our belief it will be necessary for you to let some new ideas soak into your head. Mister, get your wash basin and fill it exactly half full of water. Remember, mister–neither a drop nor less than exactly half full.”
Dan’s first impulse was to grin, his second to laugh. Yet something in the tone and look of the last speaker made “touge” Dalzell feel that the simplest way out of difficulty would be for him to obey as carefully and speedily as he could. So, with a hurried “very good, sir,” Dalzell turned in quest of his basin. He brought it, just about half full, for the inspection of his imperious visitor.
“Place it there on the floor, beside the wall,” ordered the tormentor
“Now, mister, stand on your head in that water!”
Dan flushed hotly, for an instant. He even clenched his fists. Then, with a sudden rush of good sense to the head, he bent over to carry out the order that he had received.
It was not as easy a feat as might be supposed, even for a rather well trained and hardened athlete like Dan Dalzell.
He got his head into the bowl all right, and rested his hands on the floor on either side of the bowl. It was when he tried to throw his feet up against the wall that he came to grief. His feet slid along the wall and came down to the floor again.
Dan fell out of the bowl with a good deal of splash.
“If, at first, you don’t succeed, mister,” began Midshipman Trotter, who had constituted himself chief of the tormentors, “try, try some more.”
“I’ll make it, sir,” responded Dan cheerily, and his very manner, now, inclined his tormentors to go a little more lightly with him.
At the third trial, with his eyes closed, just below the level of the water, Dalzell succeeded in standing very solidly on his head.
The upper class men, who were all third class men, or “youngsters” as they are unofficially termed, watched the performance with interest.
“Rather well done, for a beginner,” commented Midshipman Trotter. “As you were, mister.”
Dan, unfortunately, tried to be a bit “smart.” He made a half somersault forward, trying to spring up on his feet. He fell back, however, and sat down squarely in what was left of the water.
“Never mind a little wet, mister,” advised Midshipman Trotter, with a very serious face. “We always rate a man as highly awkward, however, if he breaks the washbowl.”
“Which one of you is the better athlete?” suddenly asked Midshipman Harris.
Neither chum intended to be caught, by this crowd, as wanting in modesty.
“He is, sir,” replied Dan, with great promptness, nodding toward Darrin.
“Dalzell is, sir,” contended Dave.
“In view of this conflicting testimony, we shall have to settle the question by actual test,” replied Mr. Trotter. “Mister,” to Dan, “bale out your boat.”
From the nod which accompanied this command Dalzell understood that he was to empty the water from his wash basin so he promptly obeyed.
“Mister,” to Darrin, “launch your boat on this water here.”
Plainly the “water” signified the floor. Dave brought out his own wash basin with alacrity. Under further orders the chums placed their bowls about four feet apart.
“Here,” announced Midshipman Trotter, taking two toothpicks from a pocket, “are a pair of oars.”
Dave Darrin received the toothpicks with a grin.
“And here are your oars, mister,” supplemented Mr. Trotter, handing another pair of toothpicks to Dan Dalzell.
At this instant a faint knock was heard at the door, which opened immediately after.
“Got a pair of beasts at work, fellows?” asked a voice. “Here are some more young admirals who need a little help.”
Four new midshipmen, in the custody of three youngsters, now stepped into the room and the door was closed.
“Bender’s in charge of the floor tonight, you know,” nodded one of the newly-arrived youngsters, “and Bender’s duty-crazy. Besides, he belongs to the second class, and hardly admits that we’re alive.”
On each floor a midshipman is detailed to be in charge through the evening. He is responsible for discipline on his floor, and must report all breaches of the rules. A midshipman who wishes to stand well with his comrades may, when in charge of the floor, conveniently fail to see a good many minor breaches of discipline. When the man in charge of the floor reports all breaches that come to his notice he is said to be duty-crazy. He is also charged with “trying to make his mark in grease.” “Grease” is high standing on the efficiency report. As a rule the man who stands well in “grease” stands somewhat lower in general popularity.
Midshipman Bender, second class, was, at this time, regarded as one of the worst “greasers” of all.
“What’s on?” inquired Midshipman Hayes, one of the newcomers in the room. “Tub race?”
“No, sir; fast spurt in single-pair shells,” replied Midshipman Trotter impressively.
“Whew! You’ve caught some real athletes, have you?”
“That’s what we want to find out,” responded Mr. Trotter. “Now, then, misters, we warn you against approaching this noble sport in any spirit of levity! You are not to think that this work is for your own amusement, or for anyone else’s. You must try yourselves out fairly and squarely. Our purpose is to find out which is the better oarsman, and also which rows with the more finish. Take your seats in your craft.”
Dave and Dan seated themselves, with all possible gravity, in their respective wash basins.
“Up oars!” commanded Mr. Trotter.
As neither plebe knew just what was meant by this command they had to be shown how to sit holding their “oars” straight up in the air.
This time the two new men guessed fairly well. They went through the motions of allowing their toothpick oars to fall into row-locks.
“Now, at the outset, take your strokes from my count,” directed Mr. Trotter. “One, two three, four, five, six, seven–“
And so on. It was all ludicrously absurd, to see Dave and Dan bending to their tasks as seriously as though they were rowing real craft with actual oars.
One of the visiting plebes was stupid enough to giggle.
“Go over and stand by the window in arrest, mister,” ordered Midshipman Hayes. “You shall be tried later!”
Then the “boat race” continued. It soon proved to be more than absurd; it was decidedly fatiguing. Both Dave and Dan found that their strained positions, and the motions required of them, made backs and shoulders ache. Their legs, too, began to suffer from cramp.
It was not until both showed signs of decided weariness that the race was brought to an end.
Then the cadet who had giggled was called forward, ordered to half fill one of the washbowls and to stand on his head in it.
While this was going on there was not a smile from anyone. From the serious faces of all this might have been one of the most important bits of drill in the whole course at the Academy.
Dave, however, made the best impression upon the youngsters. All the other new men came sooner or later, to the ordeal of standing on their heads in the wet bowl, but Dave seemed destined to escape.
The rowing was carried on until all of the youngsters had tired of this sport.
“Fall in, in platoon front,” directed Midshipman Trotter.
The six plebes, solemn as owls, stood up in line, “dressing” their line carefully.
“Now, attend me carefully,” cautioned Mr. Trotter, sweeping a stern glance down the line of plebes. “I am about to tell you a bit of the day’s news from over in Sleepy Hollow, which place is known to Maryland geographers as the village of Annapolis. You must attend me with extreme care, for, after I have narrated the news, I shall question you concerning it. Do you follow me, misters?”
“Yes, sir,” came in a chorus.
“You need not answer quite as loudly,” warned Midshipman Trotter, sending a backward look over his shoulder at the door. “Now, then, the police over in Sleepy Hol–Annapolis–today learned the details of a yellow tragedy. Some weeks ago three Chinamen came to town and opened a clean–I mean, a new–laundry. During the last week, however, the public noted that the door leading from the office to the rear room was always closed. You follow me?”
“Yes, sir,” came in an almost whispered chorus.
“Finally,” continued Mr. Trotter, “one customer, more curious than the others, reported his observations to the police. Today the Johnny Tinplates made a raid on the place. A most curious state of affairs came to light. So–but is this tangled tale clear to you all as far as I have gone?”
“Yes, sir,” came the whispered chorus.
“What the police learned,” went on Mr. Trotter, in a voice that now sounded slightly awestruck, “was this: a week ago the three Chinese partners had a serious row. They quarreled, then fought. Two of the yellow partners killed the third! And now, a serious problem confronted the two survivors of that misunderstanding. What was to be done with the remains of the unsuccessful disputant?”
Midshipman Trotter looked at each of the wondering plebes in turn. It looked as though he were asking the question of them.
“I don’t know, sir,” admitted Dan Dalzell, at the left of the line.
“I don’t know, sir,” admitted the man next to Dan. So it went down the line, until Dave Darrin, at the further end, had admitted himself to be as much in the dark as were the others.
“Then, listen,” resumed Mr. Trotter impressively. “The Chinese, being descended from a very ancient civilization, are not only very ingenious but also very thrifty. They were burdened with two hundred pounds of evidence on the premises. In their extremity the two survivors cut up their late partner, cooked him, and disposed of the flesh at meal times.”
From the gravity of the narrator’s expression he appeared to be reciting a wholly true story.
“Now, then,” rasped out Midshipman Trotter, “that being the state of affairs at the laundry–_what was the telephone number_?”
Trotter’s gaze was fixed on Dan Dalzell’s face almost accusingly.
“How the–” began startled Dan gruffly. Then, instantly realizing that he was making a mistake, he broke in hastily:
“Beg your pardon, sir, but I don’t understand how to get at the telephone number.”
“You try, mister,” ordered Midshipman Trotter, turning to the plebe next to Dalzell.
“I can’t solve the problem, sir.”
So it ran, straight down the line, each confessing his ignorance, until finally Mr. Trotter glared at Dave Darrin.
“Come, come, mister, from the very exact narrative that I have given, can’t you deduce the telephone number of that laundry?”
“Yes, sir; I think so,” answered Darrin, with a slight smile.
“Ah! Then there’s a man in the squad who is more than a mere saphead. Let us have the telephone number, mister!
“Two-ate-one-John,” replied Dave promptly.
This was the correct answer. Dave had heard that “gag” before.
“Mister,” beamed Mr. Trotter, “I congratulate you. You are no mollycoddle. Your head is not over-fat, but somewhat stocked with ideas. As soon as you have soaked in a few more ideas you will be fit to associate with the young gentlemen at this sailor-factory. You may, therefore, take the washbowl, fill it half full of ideas, and stand on your head in them until they have soaked well in!”
Poor Dave, his face flushed crimson, could have dropped in his humiliation at having thus fallen into the trap. But he started manfully for the washbowl, which he half filled with water. Meanwhile the other five plebes were choking. They could have screamed in their glee–had they dared!
Placing the bowl where ordered, Dave bent down to his knees, immersing the top of his head in the water.
With hands on opposite sides of the bowl he balanced his feet, preparatory to hoisting them into place against the wall.
“Up oars!” commanded Mr. Hayes dryly.
From one of the visiting plebes came an incautious giggle. Mr. Hayes turned and marked his man with a significant stare that made the unfortunate giggler turn red and white in turn with alarm.
At the order, “up oars,” Dave Darrin sent his feet aloft. By rare good luck he succeeded the first time trying.
There he remained, his head in the bowl of water, his feet resting against the wall.
Just at this moment, though, the sound of trouble was in the air, even if it reached interested ears but faintly.
A step was heard in the corridor outside. There was a faint knock.
The upper class midshipmen knew on the instant what the knock meant–and so indeed did Dave Darrin.
THE “YOUNGSTERS” WHO BECAME “SPOONS ON”
It was a most critical moment in the life histories of several young men who had grown to consider themselves as future officers in the United States Navy!
Such a man as Midshipman Bender was certain to report any form of hazing he detected.
Now, the usual punishment meted out to hazers at either Annapolis or West Point is dismissal from the service!
True, this was not brutal hazing, but merely the light form of the sport known as “running” the new man.
Nevertheless, “all hazing looks alike” to the public, when posted by the newspapers, and the Naval Academy authorities deal severely with even “running.”
So, for all of the “youngsters,” or third class men, who had been conducting the evening’s festivities, all the elements of trouble, and perhaps of dismissal, were at hand.
But Dave Darrin had been the first to hear the soft approach of footsteps, and somehow, he had guessed at the meaning of it all.
Just in the fraction of a second before the knock had sounded at the door Dave had made a fine handspring that brought him from his topsy-turvy attitude to a position of standing on his feet. And, at the same time, he held the washbowl in his hand without having spilled a drop of the water. Like a flash Dave few across the room, depositing the bowl where it belonged. With a towel he wiped his hair, then swiftly mopped his face dry. Hair brush and comb in hand, he turned, saving:
“Why, I suppose, gentlemen, Dalzell and myself were very fair athletes in the High School sense of the word. But it’s a long jump from that to aspiring to the Navy football team. Of course we’ll turn out for practice, if you wish, but–“
At this moment, Lieutenant Bender, the “duty-crazy” one, thrust the door open.
Here Dave, on his way to the mirror, hairbrush and comb in hand, halted as though for the first time aware of the accusing presence of Bender, midshipman in charge of the floor for the day.
“Uh-hum!” choked Midshipman Bender more confused, even, than he had expected the others to be.
“Looks like rather good material, doesn’t he, Bender?” inquired Mr. Trotter. “Green, of course, and yet–“
“I didn’t come here to discuss Navy athletics,” replied Midshipman Bender.
“Oh, an official visit–is that it?” asked shipman Hayes, favoring the official visitor with a baby-stare. “As it is past graduation, and there are no evening study hours, there is no regulation against visiting in the rooms of other members of the brigade.”
“No,” snapped Mr. Bender, “there is not.”
Saying this the midshipman in charge turned on his heel and left the room.
An instant after the door had closed the lately scared youngsters expressed themselves by a broad grin, which deepened to a very decided chuckle as Mr. Bender’s footsteps died away.
“Mister,” cried Midshipman Trotter, favoring Darrin with a glance of frank friendliness, “do you know that you saved us from frapping the pap hard?”
“And that perhaps you’ve saved us from bilging?” added Midshipman Hayes.
“I’m such a greenhorn about the Navy, sir, that I am afraid I don’t follow you in the least, sir,” Darrin replied quietly.
Then they explained to him that the “pap” is the conduct report, and that “to frap” is to hit. To “frap the pap” means to “get stuck on” the conduct report for a breach of discipline. A “bilger” is one who is dropped from the service, or who is turned back to the class below.
“I judged that there was some trouble coming sir,” Dave confessed, “and I did the best that I could. It was good luck on my part that I was able to be of service to you.”
“Good luck, eh?” retorted Midshipman Trotter. “Third class men, fall in!”
As the “youngsters” lined up Mr. Trotter, standing at the right of the line, asked coaxingly:
“Mister, will you be condescending enough to pass down the line and shake hands with each of us?”
Flushing modestly, but grinning, Dave did as asked–or directed.
“Mister,” continued Midshipman Trotter impressively, “we find ourselves very close to being ‘spoons on’ you.”
For a youngster to be “spoons on” a new fourth classman means for the former to treat the latter very nearly as though he were a human being.
“Now, you green dandelions may go,” suggested Mr. Trotter, turning to the four “visiting” plebes.
As soon as this had come about Trotter turned to Dave Darrin.
“Mister, we humble representatives of the third class are going to show you the only sign of appreciation within our power. We are going to invite you to stroll down the deck and visit us in our steerage. Your roommate is invited to join us.”
Dave and Dan promptly accepted, with becoming appreciation. All of the youngsters escorted Dave and Dan down the corridor to Midshipman Trotter’s room.
In the course of the next hour the youngsters told these new midshipmen much about the life at the Naval Academy that it would otherwise have taken the two plebes long to have found out for themselves.
They were initiated into much of the slang language that the older midshipmen use when conversing together. Many somewhat obscure points in the regulations were made clear to them.
Lest the reader may wonder why new fourth class men should tamely submit to hazing or “running,” when the regulations of the Naval Academy expressly prohibit these upper class sports, it may be explained that the midshipmen of the brigade have their own internal discipline.
A new man may very easily evade being hazed, if he insists upon it.
His first refusals will be met with challenges to fight. If he continues to refuse to be “hazed” or “run,” he will soon find himself ostracized by all of the upper class men. Then his own classmates will have to “cut” him, or they, too, will be “cut.” The man who is “cut” may usually as well resign from the Naval Academy at once. His continued stay there will become impossible when no other midshipman will recognize him except in discharge of official duties.
The new man at Annapolis, if he has any sense at all, will quietly and cheerfully submit to being “run.” This fate falls upon every new fourth class man, or nearly so. The only fourth class man who escapes bring “run” is the one who is considered as being beneath notice. Unhappy, indeed, is the plebe whom none of the youngsters above him will consent to haze. And frequent it happens that the most popular man in an upper class is one who, while in the fourth class, was the most unmercifully hazed.
Often a new man at the Naval Academy arrives with a firm resolution to resist all attempts at running or hazing. He considers himself as good as any of the upper class men, and is going to insist on uniformly good treatment from the upper class men.
If this be the new man’s frame of mind he is set down as being “ratey.”
But often the new man arrives with a conviction that he will have to submit to a certain amount of good-natured hazing by his class elders. Yet this man, from having been spoiled more or less at home, is “fresh.” In this case he is called only “touge.”
Hence it is a far more hopeful sign to be “touge” than to be “ratey.”
The new man who honestly tries to be neither “touge” nor “ratey,” and who has a sensible resolve to submit to tradition, is sometimes termed “almost sea-going.”
Dave Darrin was promptly recognized as being “almost sea-going.” He would need but little running.
Dan Dalzell, on the other hand, was soon listed as being “touge,” though not “ratey.”
INVITED TO JOIN THE “FRENCHERS”
Within the nest few days several things happened that were of importance to the new fourth class men.
Other candidates arrived, passed the surgeons, and were sworn into Naval service.
Many of the young men who had passed the surgeons, and who had gone through the dreary, searching ordeals over in grim old Academic Hall, had now become members of the new fourth class.
As organized, the new fourth class started off with two hundred and twenty-four members–numerically a very respectable battalion.
At the outset, while supplied only with midshipmen’s caps, and while awaiting the “building” of their uniforms, these new midshipmen were drilled by some of the members of the upper classes.
This state of affairs, however, lasted but very briefly. Graduation being past, the members of the three upper classes were rather promptly embarked on three of the most modern battleships of the Navy and sent to sea for the summer practice cruise.
The night before embarkation Midshipman Trotter looked in briefly upon Dave Darrin and his roommate.
“Well, mister,” announced the youngster, with a paternal smile, “somehow you’ll have to get on through the rest of the summer without us.”
“It will be a time of slow learning for us, sir,” responded Darrin, rising.
“Your summer will henceforth be restful, if not exactly instructive,” smiled Trotter. “In the absence of personal guidance, mister, strive as far as you can to reach the goal of being sea going.”
“I’ll try, sir.”
“You won’t have such hard work as your roommate,” went on Trotter, favoring Dalzell with a sidelong look. “And, now, one parting bit of advice, mister. Keep it at all times in mind that you must keep away from demoralizing association with the forty per cent.”
Statistics show that about forty per cent of the men who enter the U.S. Naval Academy fail to get through, and are sent back into civil life. Hence the joy of keeping with the winning “sixty.”
The next morning the members of the three upper classes had embarked aboard the three big battleships that lay at anchor in the Severn. It was not until two days afterwards that the battleships sailed, but the upper class men did not come ashore in the interval.
Soon after the delivery of uniforms to the new fourth class men began and continued rapidly.
Dave and Dan, having been among the first to have their measure taken, were among the earliest to receive their new Naval clothing.
A tremendously proud day it was for each new midshipman when he first surveyed himself, in uniform, in the mirror!
The regular summer course was now on in earnest for the new men.
On Mondays those belonging to the first and second divisions marched down to the seamanship building, there to get their first lessons in seamanship. This began at eight o’clock, lasting until 9.30. During the same period the men who belonged to the third and fourth divisions received instruction in discipline and ordnance. In the second period, from 10 to 11.30 the members of the first and second division attended instruction in discipline and ordnance while the members of the third and fourth divisions attended seamanship.
In the afternoon, from 3 to 4.45, the halves of the class alternated between seamanship and marine engineering.
All instruction proceeded with a rapidity that made the heads of most of these new midshipmen whirl! From 5 to 6 on the same afternoon the entire fourth class attended instruction in the art of swimming–and no midshipman hope to graduate unless he is a fairly expert swimmer!
Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were devoted to athletics and recreation.
A midshipman does not have his evenings for leisure. On the first five evenings of each week, while one half of the class went to the gymnasium, the other half indulged in singing drill in Recreation Hall.
“What’s the idea of making operatic stars out of us?” grumbled Dan to his roommate on day.
“You always seem to get the wrong impression about everything, Danny boy,” retorted Darrin, turning to his roommate with a quizzical smile. “The singing drill isn’t given with a view to fitting you to sing in opera.”
“What, then?” insisted Dan.
“You are learning to sing, my dear boy, so that, later on, you will be able to deliver your orders from a battleship’s bridge in an agreeable voice.”
“If my voice on the bridge is anything like the voice I develop in Recreation Hall,” grimaced Dalzell, “it’ll start a mutiny right then and there.”
“Then you don’t expect sailors of the Navy to stand for the kind of voice that is being developed in you in Recreation Hall?” laughed Darrin.
“Sailors are only human,” grumbled Dalzell.
The rowing work, in the big ten-oared cutters proved one of the most interesting features of the busy summer life of the new men.
More than half of these fourth class midshipmen had been accustomed to rowing boats at home. The work at Annapolis, however, they found to be vastly different.
The cutter is a fearfully heavy boat. The long Naval oar is surprisingly full of avoirdupois weight. True, a midshipman has to handle but one oar, but it takes him many, many days to learn how to do that properly.
Yet, as August came and wore along, the midshipmen found themselves becoming decidedly skilful in the work of handling the heavy cutters, and in handling boats under sail.
Competitive work and racing were encouraged by the Navy officers who had charge of this instruction.
Each boat was under the direct command of a midshipman who served as crew captain, with thirteen other midshipmen under him as crew.
When the post of crew captain fell to Dan Dalzell he embarked his crew, gave the order to shove off and let fall oars, and got away in good style.
Then, leaning indolently back Dan grinned luxuriously.
“This is the post I’m cut out for,” he murmured, so that stroke-oar heard him and grinned.
Yet, as “evil communications corrupt good manners,” Dan’s attitude was reflected in his crew of classmates. The cutter was manned badly at that moment.
“Mr. Dalzell!” rasped out the voice of Lieutenant Fenton, the instructor, from a near-by boat.
Dan straightened up as though shot. But the Navy officer’s voice continued sternly:
“Sit up in a more seamanlike manner. Pay close attention to the work of your boat crew. Be alert for the best performance of duty in the boat that you command. For your inattention, and worse, of a moment ago, Mr. Dalzell, you will put yourself on the conduct report.”
The next morning, at breakfast formation, Dan’s name was read from the “pap.” He had been given five demerits. This was below the gravity of his offense, but he had been let off lightly the first time.
“You’ve got to stick to duty, and keep it always in mind,” Darrin admonished his chum. “I don’t intend to turn preachy, Dan; but you’ll surely discover that the man who lets his indolence or sense of fun get away with him is much better off out of the Naval Academy.”
“Pooh! A lot of the fellows have frapped the pap,” retorted Dalzell. “Demerits don’t do any harm, unless you get enough of ’em to cause you to be dropped.”
“Well, if there is no higher consideration,” argued Dave, “at least you must remember that the number of demerits fixes your conduct grade. If you want such liberties and privileges as are allowed to new midshipmen, you’ll have to keep your name away from the pap.”
“Humph! Setting your course toward the grease mark are you?” jeered Dan.
“Think it over!” urged Dave Darrin patiently.
Before August was over the new fourth class men marched “like veterans.” They had mastered all the work of drill, marching and parade, and felt that they could hold their own in the brigade when the upper class men returned.
On the 28th of August the three big battleships were sighted coming up the bay in squadron formation. A little more than an hour later they rode at anchor.
It was not, however, until the 30th of August that the upper classmen were disembarked.
August 31 was devoted to manifold duties, including the hurried packing of light baggage, for now the members of the three upper classes were to enjoy a month’s leave of absence before the beginning of the academic year on October 1.
Then, like a whirlwind mob, and clad in their “cit.” clothes, the upper class men got away on that hurried, frenzied leave.
There was no leave, however, for the new midshipmen.
In lieu of leave, through the month of September, the new fourth class men spent the time, each week-day, from ten o’clock until noon, at the “Dago Department,” as the Department of Modern Languages is termed.
Here they made their start in French.
“When Trotter comes back,” muttered Dan, “if he asks me whether I can talk French, I’ll tell him that I’ve tried, and now I know I can’t.”
It was the last night before the upper classmen were due back from their leave.
Dave and Dan were in their room, poring hard over French, when a light tap sounded on the door.
Right on top of the tap Midshipman Farley, fourth class, entered on tiptoe, closing the door behind him.
This accomplished, Farley dropped his air of stealth, strolling over to the study desk.
“There’s a nice little place in town–you know, Purdy’s,” began Farley significantly.
“I’ve heard of it as an eating place,” responded Darrin.
“It’s more than that,” returned Farley, smacking his lips. “It’s an ideal place for a banquet.”
“I accept your word for it,” smiled Dave.
“I don’t ask you to, Darrin,” grinned Farley. “Like any honest man I’m prepared to prove all I say. Purdy has received–by underground telegraph–orders to prepare a swell feast for eight. It’s to be ready at eleven tonight. We had the eight all made up, but two fellows have flunked cold. We’re to French it over the wall tonight, leaving here a few minutes after taps. Are you on?”
Farley’s enthusiastic look fell upon the face of Dalzell.
“I’m on!” nodded Dan
“No; you’re not” broke in Dave quietly.
“I’m afraid I must disagree with you, little David,” murmured Dan.
“Oysters, clams, fish–watermelon!” tempted Midshipman Farley.
“Um-yum!” grunted Dan, his eyes rolling.
“Then you’re with us, Dalzell?” insisted Farley.
“–not!” interjected Dave Darrin with emphasis.
“Now, what are you butting in for, you greasy greaser?” demanded Farley, giving Dave a contemptuous glance. “Maybe you won’t join us, and maybe we’d just as soon not have as greasy a midshipman as you at the festive board, but Dalzell isn’t tied to your apron strings, are you, Dalzell?”
“No; he’s not,” replied Darrin, speaking for his chum. “Dalzell will speak for himself, if he insists. But he and I have been chums these many years, and we’ve often given each other good advice in trying or tempting times. Dalzell will go with you, if he cares to, for he already knows all that I have to say on the subject.”
“You’ve had your nose stuck down deep in the grease-pot ever since you struck Annapolis!” cried Farley angrily. “I hope you bilge, Darrin; with all my heart I hope you bilge soon. We don’t need a mollycoddle like you here in the Naval Academy!”
“Isn’t that about all you want to say?” demanded Dave, looking up with a frown.
“No; it’s not half what I have to say,” cried Farley hotly. “Darrin, your kind of fellow is a disgrace to the Naval service! You’re a sneak–that’s what–“
“You may stop, right there!” frowned Darrin, rising from his chair.
“I’ll stop when I’m proper ready!” retorted Farley hotly.
“If you don’t stop right now, you’ll finish while engaged in landing on your ear in the hall outside!” warned Dave, stepping forward.
There was a new look in Darrin’s usually patient eyes. It was a look Farley hadn’t seen there before, and it warned the hot-headed midshipman that he was in danger of going too far.
“Oh, fudge on you, Darrin!” jeered Farley, turning on his heel. “Going to be with us, Dalzell?
“No,” replied Dan promptly. “I never travel with the enemies of my friends.”
“Greasers, both of you!” flung back the caller, and left them.
“If that fellow had talked an hour longer I believe I might have lost my patience,” smiled Darrin, as he turned back to his desk. “But I’m glad you’re not with that outfit tonight Danny boy. It may turn out a big scrape.”
“Why should it turn out a big scrape.” demanded Dan.
“Oh, you never can tell,” replied Darrin, as he picked up his book.
Farley did not succeed in getting two more midshipmen to join in the Frenching. Twenty minutes after taps, however, the original six of the fourth class slipped out of Bancroft Hall.
Slyly they made their way to where they had a board hidden near the wall of the Academy grounds.
One at a time, and swiftly, they went up this board, and over the wall.
At Purdy’s they found a meal to tempt the most whimsical appetite. The meal over they spent much time in singing and story-telling.
It was nearly two in the morning when Farley and his fellow feasters tried to get back into the grounds, over the wall.
They got over the wall, all right, but only to fall into the hands of one of the watchmen, who seemed to have known exactly where to expect their return.
All six were reported to the officer in charge. At breakfast formation Midshipmen Farley, Oates, Scully, Brimmer, Henkel and Page were assigned fifty demerits each for unauthorized absence during the night.
Farley and his friends were furious. More, they were talkative.
Had Dave Darrin been less occupied that day he would have noted that many of his classmates avoided him.
Dan did notice, and wondered, without speaking of the matter.
That day all the upper class men returned, and Bancroft Hall hummed for a while with the bustle of the returning hundreds.
Just before the dinner formation Youngster Trotter encountered Dave in the corridor.
“Hullo, mister!” was Trotter’s greeting, and the youngster actually held out his hand.
“I hope you had a mighty pleasant leave, sir,” replied Dave, returning the handclasp.
“Passably pleasant, passably, mister,” returned Midshipman Trotter. “But see here, mister, what’s this about you and your class that I’ve heard?
“Nothing, so far as I know, sir,” replied Dave, scanning the youngster’s face closely.
“It must be more than nothing,” returned Trotter. “I understand that more than half of your class are furious with you over something that happened last night. I’ve heard you called a sneak, mister, though I don’t believe that for a single minute. But I’ve heard mutterings to the effect that your class will send you to coventry for excessive zeal in greasing, to the detriment of your classmates. What about it all, mister?”
Dave Darrin gazed at the youngster with eyes full of wonder.
“What about it?” repeated Dave. “That’s the very thing I’d like to know, sir, for this is the very first word I’ve heard of it.”
Nor could Midshipman Trotter doubt that Dave Darrin had answered in all sincerity.
“Well, you certainly must be innocent, mister, if you’re as puzzled as all this,” replied the youngster. “Then it must be that malicious mischief is brewing against you in some quarter. Take my advice, mister, and find out what it all means.”
“Thank you. I most certainly will, sir,” replied Dave, his eyes flashing.
DAVE PASSES THE LIE
Dalzell looked up wonderingly as Darrin marched swiftly into their room.
“Danny boy, have you heard any talk against me today?” demanded Dave.
“Do I look as though I had been fighting?” queried Dan promptly.
“I’ve just heard, from Trotter, that a good many of the fellows in our class are scorching me, and talking of sending me to coventry. Will you–“
“I sure will,” broke in Dan, dropping his book, rising and snatching at his cap. “I’ll be back as soon as I’ve heard something, or have settled with the fellow who says it.”
Dan was out of the room like a flash.
Dave sat down heavily in his chair, his brow wrinkling as he tried to imagine what it all meant.
“It must all be a mistake that Trotter has made,” argued Dave with himself. “Of course, Trotter might be stringing me, but I don’t believe he would do that. Now, to be sure, I came near to having words with Farley last night, but that wouldn’t be the