“Some of your friends—I won’t name them—insisted, or at least let me feel the force of their suspicions.”
“If any of my friends hinted at such a thing, it was done in the heat of the moment,” replied Dave heartily. “Why, Mr. Pennington, such an act of dishonor is impossible to a man bred at Annapolis.”
Darrin fully believed what he said. On the spur of the moment he held out his hand to his enemy.
Pennington flushed deeply, for a moment, then put out his own hand, giving Dave’s a hearty, straightforward grasp.
“I was the first to imply the charge,” broke in Farley quickly. “I withdraw it, and apologize to both of you.”
There was more handshaking.
During the next few days, while Darry and Pen did not become by any means intimate, they no longer made any effort to avoid each other, but spoke frankly when they met.
The remaining days of the voyage passed uneventfully enough, except for a great amount of hard work that the middies performed as usual.
On the twenty-second of August they entered Chesapeake Bay. Once well inside, they came to anchor. There was considerable practice with the sub-caliber and other smaller guns. On the twenty-ninth of August the battleship fleet returned to the familiar waters around Annapolis. The day after that the young men disembarked.
Then came a hurried skeltering, for the first, second and third classmen were entitled to leave during the month of September.
BACK IN THE HOME TOWN
Back in the old, well-known streets of their home town, Gridley!
Dave and Dan, enjoying every minute of their month’s leave, had already greeted their parents, and had told them much of their life as midshipmen.
What hurt was the fact that the skipper of the “Princess Irene” had already told the marine reporters in New York the thrilling story of how Dave and Dan had nearly come to their own deaths rescuing Midshipman Hallam.
Everyone in Gridley, it seemed, had read that newspaper story. Darrin and Dalzell, before they had been home twelve hours, were weary of hearing their praises sung.
“There go two of the smartest, finest boys that old Gridley ever turned out,” citizens would say, pointing after Dave and Dan. “They’re midshipmen at Annapolis; going to be officers of the Navy one of these days.”
“But what’s the matter with Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes? They’re at West Point.”
“Oh, they’re all right, too, of course. But Darrin and Dalzell——”
It was the old circumstance of being “the lions of the minute” and of being on the spot.
On the first morning of his arrival home Dave Darrin went frankly and openly to call on his old schoolgirl sweetheart, Belle Meade.
Dan, having no particular associations with the gentler sex, took a stroll around town to meet any old friends who might care to see him again.