Midshipman Pennington’s lip curled disdainfully.
Dan had not seen the “accident,” but he was near enough to hear the talking, and he caught Dave at it. So Dan ordered, impartially:
“Mr. Darrin, you will place yourself on report for unauthorized talking in section!”
Dave flushed still more hotly, but said nothing.
Midshipman Dalzell now marched the section from the furnace room, and dismissed it. It was near noon, and would soon be time for the middies to eat.
Dave hurried away, washed, changed his uniform, and then stepped away swiftly to place himself on the report.
“I was sorry to do that, old chum,” murmured Dan, as he met Dave returning. “But of course I couldn’t play favorites. What made you so far forget yourself?”
“A something that would have had the same effect on you,” retorted Dave grimly. Thereupon he described Pennington’s two underhanded assaults that morning.
“Humph!” muttered Dalzell. “That fellow Pen is bound to go the whole limit with you.”
“He won’t go much further,” declared Dave, his eyes flashing.
“And the chump ought to know it, too,” mused Dan. “The class history of the last year should have taught him that. But see here, Dave, I don’t believe Pen will do anything openly. He will construct a series of plausible accidents.”
“There will be one thing about him that will be open, if he goes any further,” retorted Dave, “and that will be his face when he collides with my fist.”
“I hope I see that when it happens,” grinned Dalzell. “It’s bound to be entertaining!”
“Wait a second, then. Here comes Pennington now,” murmured Dave Darrin in an undertone.
Pennington, in his immaculate blue uniform, like the chums, came strolling along the passageway between decks.
He affected not to see the chums, and would have passed by. But Dave, eyeing him closely, waited until Pen was barely three feet away. Then Darrin said tersely:
“Mr. Pennington, I wish an understanding with you.”
“I don’t want any with you,” replied Pennington insolently, as he stared at Dave from under much-raised eyebrows. He would have gone by, but Dave sprang squarely in front of him.
“Just wait a moment!” warned Dave rather imperiously, for he was aglow with justifiable indignation.
“Well?” demanded Pennington halting. “Out with it, whatever you may think you have to say.”
“I have two things to speak about,” replied Dave, trying to control his voice. “In the first place, while going down the ladders to the furnaces this morning, you stepped on my shoulder.”
“Well!” insisted Pennington coldly.
“The second thing you did was, when hauling the fires, to drop red-hot metal across one of my shoes, setting it on fire.”
“Well?” insisted Pennington more coldly.
“If you mean to contend that either one was an accident,” resumed Dave, “then—”