“Davy, I don’t see how we are ever going to make it, this year,” Dalzell gasped, while they were making ready for supper formation. “We’ll bilge this year without a doubt.”
“There’s only one reason I see for hoping that we can get through the year with fair credit,” murmured Darrin.
“And what’s that?”
“Others have done it, before us, and many more are going to do it this year,” replied Dave slowly, as he laid comb and brush away and drew on his uniform blouse.
“I know men have gotten through the Naval Academy in years gone by,” Dalzell agreed. “But, the first chance that I have, I’m going to look the matter up and see whether the middies of old had any such fearful grind as we have our noses held to.”
“Oh, we’ll do it,” declared Darrin confidently. “I shall, anyway—for I’ve got to!”
As he spoke he was thinking of Belle Meade, and of her prospects in life as well as his own.
As the days went by, however, Dave and Dan became more and more dull of spirits. The grind was a fearful one. A few very bright youngsters went along all right, but to most of the third classmen graduation began to look a thousand years away.
The football squad was out now and training in deadly earnest. There were many big games to be played, but most of all the middies longed to tow West Point’s Army eleven into the port of defeat.
In their first year Dave and Dan had looked forward longingly to joining the gridiron squad. They had even practised somewhat. But now they realized that playing football in the second year at Annapolis must be, for them, merely a foolish dream.
“I’m thankful enough if I can study day and night and keep myself up to 2.5,” confessed Darrin, as he and Dan chatted over their gridiron longings.
Two-and-five tenths is the lowest marking, on a scale of four, that will suffice to keep a midshipman in the Naval Academy.
“I’m not going to reach 2.5 in some studies this month,” groaned Dan. “I know that much by way of advance information. The fates be thanked that we’re allowed until the semi-ans to pick up. But the question is, are we ever going to pick up? As I look through my books it seems to me that every succeeding lesson is twice as hard as the one before it.”
“Other men have gone through, every year.”
“And still other men have been dropped every year,” Dalzell dolefully reminded him.
“We’re among those who are going to stay,” Dave contended stubbornly.
“Then I’m afraid we’ll be among those who are dropped after Christmas and come back, next year, as bilgers,” Dalzell groaned.
“Now, drop that!” commanded Darrin, almost roughly. “Remember one thing, Daniel little lion slayer! My congressman and your senator won’t appoint us again, if we fail now. No talk of that kind, remember. We’ve got to make our standing secure within the next few weeks.”