Down went the larger midshipman again. This time he moaned. His eyes were open, though they had a somewhat glassy look in them.
Dawley was counting off the seconds in measured tones.
“—seven, eight, nine—ten!”
Pen had struggled to rise to his feet, but sank back with a gasp of despair and rage.
“Mr. Pennington loses the count and the fight,” announced Referee Remington coolly. “I don’t believe we’re needed here, Dawley. The seconds can handle the wreck. Come along.”
As the two officials of the meeting hustled out of the barn, Dalzell gave his attention to helping his chum, while Farley went over to offer his services in getting the vanquished midshipman into shape.
“There were times when I could have closed both of Pennington’s eyes,” murmured Dave to Dan. “But I didn’t want to give him any disfiguring marks that would start questions on board ship.”
“You had him whipped from the start,” murmured Dan confidently, as he sprayed, then rubbed Dave’s chest and arms.
“Maybe, but I’m not so sure of that,” rejoined Darrin. “That fellow isn’t so easy a prize for any one in my class. There were times when I was all but convinced that he had me.”
“Oh, fairy tales!” grunted Dan.
“Have it your own way, then, Danny boy!”
When Darrin and his seconds left the barn they went off to enjoy what remained of the shore leave. Pennington’s seconds finally, at his own request, left him at an ice cream parlor, where he proposed to remain until he could return to the big, steel “Massachusetts” without exciting any wonder over the little time he had remained ashore. Pennington had strength to walk about, but he was far from being in really good shape, and preferred to keep quiet.
IN TROUBLE ON FOREIGN SOIL
From Hampton Roads the Battleship Squadron, with the midshipmen on board, sailed directly for Plymouth, England.
During most of the voyage over slow cruising speed was used. By the time that England’s coast was sighted the third-class middies found they knew much more about a battleship than they had believed to be possible at the start of the voyage.
They had served as firemen; they had mastered many of the electrical details of a battleship; they had received instruction and had “stood trick” by the engines; there had been some drill with the smaller, rapid-fire guns, and finally, they had learned at least the rudiments of “wig-wagging,” as signaling by means of signal flags is termed.
It was just before the call to supper formation when England’s coast loomed up. Most of the midshipmen stood at the rail, watching eagerly for a better glimpse at the coast.
Some of the midshipmen, especially those who came from wealthier families, had been in England before entering the Naval Academy. These fortunate ones were questioned eagerly by their comrades.