Then, after the two had departed, an apprentice messenger went through the ship calling Dave’s name. That young man was summoned to Captain Scott’s office.
“I am in possession of all the facts relating to the unfortunate affair of Midshipman Pennington, Mr. Darrin,” began Captain Scott, after the interchange of salutes. “Will you tell me why you reported the affair to the police?”
“I went to the police, sir,” Dave replied, “because I was aware that many members of the new fourth class are away from home for the first time in their lives. I was afraid, sir, that possibly some of the new midshipmen might, during one of their town-leaves, be tempted to try for a new experience.”
“A very excellent reason, Mr. Darrin, and I commend you heartily for it. I shall also report your exemplary conduct to the commandant of midshipmen. You have, in my opinion, Mr. Darrin, displayed very good judgment, and you acted upon that judgment with promptness and decision. But I am afraid,” continued the Navy captain dryly, “that you have done something that will make you highly unpopular, for a while, with some of the members of your class.”
“I hope not, sir,” replied Dave.
“So do I,” smiled Captain Scott “I am willing to find myself a poor prophet. That is all, Mr. Darrin.”
Once more saluting, Dave left the commanding officer’s presence. Almost the first classmate into whom he stumbled was Dan Dalzell.
“Well, from what quarter does the wind blow!” murmured Dan.
Darrin repeated the interview that he had just had.
“I’m afraid, Dave, little giant, that you’ve planted something of a mine under yourself,” murmured Dalzell.
“I feel as much convinced as ever, Danny boy, that I did just what I should have done,” replied Darrin seriously.
“And so does Captain Scott, and so will the commandant,” replied Dan. “But winning the commendation of your superior officers doesn’t always imply that you’ll get much praise from your classmates.”
“Unfortunately, you are quite right,” smiled Dave. “Still, I’d do the same thing over again.”
“Oh, of course you would,” assented Dan. “That’s because you’re Dave Darrin.”
Here a voice like a bass horn was heard.
“All third classmen report to the quarter-deck immediately!”
This order was repeated in other parts of the ship. Midshipmen gathered with a rush, Pennington and Hallam being the only members absent. As soon as the third classmen, or “youngsters,” as they are called in midshipman parlance, had formed, the orders were read off dividing them into sections for practical instruction aboard ship during the cruise.
Dave’s name was one of the first read off. He was assigned to duty as section leader for the first section in electrical instruction. Dalzell, Farley, Hallam, Pennington and others were detailed as members of that section.