“Mr. Darrin, you are merely seeking to divert my mind from what I have said.”
“What did you say—particularly?”
“That you would have to fight me.”
“I have already signified my entire willingness, Mr. Pennington. To that I really can add nothing.”
Fourth classmen are always addressed as “mister,” and they must use the same “handle to the name” when addressing upper classmen. But members of the three upper classes resort to the use of “mister,” in addressing classmates, only when they wish to be offensive or nearly so.
“I will send a friend to meet you,” Pennington continued.
“Why, I thought,” bantered Darrin ironically, “that you were going to fight me yourself.”
“So I am—be sure of it. I will amend my statement by saying that I will send a second to see you.”
“Save time by sending him to Dalzell.”
“Very good, Mr. Darrin.”
“Is that all you wished to say to me?”
“Very good, Mr. Pennington.”
With two very stiff nods the midshipmen parted.
Pennington hastened at once in search of Hallam.
“Will you serve me, old man?” queried Pennington.
“Well, you see, Pen, not knowing all the facts of the case, I must admit that all my sympathies are with Darrin.”
“All your sympathies?” echoed Pen, frowning.
“Well, nearly all, anyway. You see, I’ve known and observed Darrin for a full year now, and I don’t believe patient old Darry is the one to start any trouble.”
“He called me a liar,” protested Pennington.
“Did he?” gasped Hallam.
“Well, he qualified the statement, but his way of saying it was as offensive as the direct lie could have been.”
“So you’re bent on fighting Darry?”
“Too bad!” muttered Hallam, shaking his head.
“Are you anxious for your idol?” asked Pen in a disagreeable tone.
“No, Penny; it’s you that I’m concerned about in my own mind. You’re going next to a very hard proposition. Darry is patient—almost as patient as the proverbial camel—but when he fights he fights! You’ll be hammered to a pulp, Pen.”
“No one has yet beaten Darrin at a fist fight.”
“There always has to be a first time, you know.”
“And you think you’re It?”
“As far as Darrin is concerned—yes.”
“Too bad—too bad!” sighed Hallam. “I’m afraid, Penny, that the heat in the furnace room was too much for you this morning.”
“Then you won’t serve as one of my seconds?”
“The honor is most regretfully declined,” replied Hallam in a tone of mock sadness.
“You want to see Darrin win?”
“If there has to be a fight, I do,” replied Midshipman Hallam.
“Don’t bet your money on him, anyway.”
“I’m not a gambler, Penny, and I don’t bet,” replied Hallam, with a dignity that, somehow, ended the conversation.