It was now only the day after the events whose narration closed the preceding volume.
Dave Darrin and Dalzell were first of all brought to notice in “The high school boys’ series.” In their High School days, back in Gridley, these two had been famous members of Dick & Co., a sextette of youngsters who had made a name for themselves in school athletics.
Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes, two other members of the sextette, had been appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where they were serving in the corps of cadets and learning how to become Army officers in the not far distant future. All of the adventures of Dick and Greg are set forth in “The West point series.”
The two remaining members of famous old Dick & Co., Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton, became civil engineers, and went West for their first taste of engineering work. Tom and Harry had some wonderful and startling adventures, as fully set forth in “The young engineers’ series.”
On this early June day when we again encounter Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell in their handsome Naval uniforms, all members of the first, second and third classes were due to be aboard one of the three great battleships that lay off the Yard at Annapolis at four p.m.
These three great battleships were the “Massachusetts,” the “Iowa” and the “Indiana.” These three huge, turreted fighting craft had their full crews aboard. Not one of the battleship commanders would allow a “jackie” ashore, except on business, through fear that many of the “wilder” ones might find the attractions on shore too alluring, and fail to return in time.
With the young midshipmen it was different. These young men were officially and actually gentlemen, and could be trusted.
Yet here, in the back room of this laundry, was one who was apparently not dependable.
This young midshipman’s name was Pennington, and the fact was that he lay in deep stupor from the effects of smoking opium!
It had been a storekeeper, with a shop across the street, who had called the attention of Dave and his four comrades to the probable fate of another of their class.
“Chow Hop runs a laundry, but I have heard evil stories about a lot of young fools who flock to his back room and get a chance to ‘hit’ the opium pipe,” the storekeeper had stated to Dave. “One of your men, or at least, one in a midshipman’s uniform, went in there at eleven o’clock this forenoon, and he hasn’t been out since. It is now nearly two o’clock and, I’ve been looking for some midshipmen to inform.”
Such had been the storekeeper’s careful statement. The merchants of Annapolis always have a kindly feeling toward these fine young midshipmen. The storekeeper’s purpose was to enable them to help their comrade out.
So the five had entered the laundry. The proprietor, Chow Hop, had attempted to bar their way to the rear room.