If it hadn’t been for the pride he felt in still having the uniform on, Dalzell might not have been able to check the tears that tried to flow.
“Come on,” commanded Dave, leaping up, “we’ll run up to the deck above, and see if we can’t find Mr. Freeman in.”
“What good will that do?” demanded Dan. “Freeman is a first classman, but he hasn’t any particular drag with the Board.”
“It won’t do any harm, anyway, for us to have a talk with an older classman,” argued Dave. “Button your blouse, straighten your hair and come along.”
“So it’s as bad as that, is it!” asked Freeman sympathetically, after his cheery “come in” had admitted the unhappy youngsters.
“Yes,” replied Dave incisively. “Now, the question is, what can be done about it?”
“I wish you had asked me an easier one,” sighed the first classman. “You’re mighty well liked, all through the Academy, Dalzell, and every one of us will hate to see you go.”
“But what can be done to ward off that fate?” insisted Darrin as impatiently as a third classman might speak to a venerable first classman.
“Well, now, I want to think over that,” confessed Freeman frankly. “Of course, Dalzell’s record, this term, is in black and white, and can’t be gainsaid. It’s just possible our young friend can put up some line of talk that will extend his time here, and perhaps enable him to pull through. It’s a mighty important question, so I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Of course, the hop comes on for to-morrow night. Let me have until Sunday evening. Meanwhile I’ll talk with some of the other fellows of my class. You both come in here Sunday evening, and I’ll have the answer for you—if there’s any possible way of finding one.”
With that the chums had to be content. Expressing their gratitude to this friendly first classman, they withdrew.
That Saturday forenoon Dan did considerably better with the two recitations that he had in hand.
“I got easier questions than usual, I guess,” he said to Dave, with a mournful smile.
After Saturday dinner, Dave and Dan, having secured permission to visit in Annapolis, steered their course through the gate, straight up Maryland Avenue, through State Circle and around into Main Street, to the Maryland House.
At the desk they sent up their cards to Mrs. Meade, then stepped into the parlor.
Barely two minutes had passed when Belle and Laura flew downstairs.
“Mother says she’ll be down as soon as she fancies you’ll care about seeing her,” laughed Belle.
“And how are you getting on in your classes?” asked Laura Bentley, glancing straight at unhappy Dan.
Both midshipmen had agreed not to mention a word of Dan’s heartache to either of the girls.
Dan gulped hard, though he managed to conceal the fact.
Darrin, however, was ready with the answer:
“Oh, we’re having pretty rough sailing, but we’re both still in our class.”