Pennington had considerable difficulty, at first,
in finding a second.
At last, however, he induced Decker and Briggs to represent him.
These two midshipmen went to see Dan Dalzell.
“Wait until I send for Mr. Farley,” proposed Dalzell. He soon had that midshipman, who was wholly willing to serve Darrin in any capacity.
“We’re ready to have the fight this evening,” proposed Midshipman Decker.
“We’re not,” retorted Dan, with vigor.
“This forenoon Pennington deliberately stepped on Darrin’s shoulder, with such force as to lame it a good deal,” replied Dan. “Our man insists that he has a right to rest his shoulder, and to wait until to-morrow.”
“But to-morrow we have a short shore liberty at Hampton Roads,” remonstrated Briggs.
“Yes; and during that shore liberty we can have the fight more safely than on board ship,” insisted Dalzell.
“But we intended to devote our shore leave to pleasure,” objected Decker.
“You’ll find plenty of pleasure, if you accept our proposition,” urged Dan dryly. “At any rate, we won’t hear of Darrin fighting before to-morrow. He must have to-night to rest that shoulder.”
“All right; so be it,” growled Decker, after a side glance at Briggs.
“On shore, at some point to be selected by the seconds?” asked Dan Dalzell.
“Yes; that’s agreed.”
Details as to whom to invite as referee and time-keeper were also arranged.
“I suppose we’ll have to use up our shore leave that way, then,” grunted Pennington, when told of the arrangement.
“There’s one way you can save the day,” grinned Decker.
“Put Darrin to sleep in the first round, then hurriedly dress and leave, and enjoy your time on shore.”
“But Darrin is a very able man with his fists,” observed Pennington.
“Yes; but you’re a mile bigger and heavier, and you’re spry, too. You ought to handle him with all the ease in the world.”
“I don’t know,” muttered Pennington, who didn’t intend to make the mistake of bragging in advance. “I’ll do my best, of course.”
“Oh, you’ll win out, if you’re awake,” predicted Midshipman Briggs confidently.
When the cadets were called, the following morning, they found the battleship fleet at anchor in Hampton Roads.
WHEN THE SECONDS WONDERED
One after another the launches sped ashore, carrying their swarms of distinguished looking young midshipmen.
The fight party managed to get off all in the same boat, and on one of the earliest trips.
Pennington was to have ordinary shore leave on the cruise, his fifty demerits to be paid for by loss of privileges on his return to the Naval Academy.
“Decker,” proposed Dan, “you and I can skip away and find a good place in no time. Then we can come back after the others.”