Going to the rear room, Dave faced his three comrades there with the question:
“You three are enough to take care of everything here for a few minutes, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” nodded Dan. “What’s up?”
“Hallam and I are going for a brief walk.”
Then, stepping back into the front room, Darrin nodded to his classmate, who followed him outside.
“Just come along, and say nothing about the matter on the street,” requested Dave. “It might be overheard.”
“Where are you going?” questioned Hallam wonderingly.
“Wait and see, please.”
From Chow Hop’s wretched establishment it was not far to the other building that Dave had in mind as a destination.
But when they arrived, and stood at the foot of the steps, Hallam clutched Darrin’s arm, holding him back.
“Why, see here, this is the police station!”
“I know it,” Dave replied calmly.
“But see here, you’re not—”
“I’m not going to drag you into anything that you’d object to,” Darrin continued. “Come along; all I want you for is as a witness to what I am going to say.”
“Don’t do it, old fel—”
“I’ve thought that over, and I feel that I must,” replied Dave firmly. “Come along. Don’t attract attention by standing here arguing.”
In another instant the two midshipmen were going swiftly up the steps.
The chief of police received his two callers courteously. Dave told the official how their attention had been called to the fact that one of their number was in an opium joint. Dave named the place, but requested the chief to wait a full hour before taking any action.
“That will give us a chance to get out a comrade who may have committed only his first offense,” Dave continued.
“If there’s any opium being smoked in that place I’ll surely close the joint out!” replied the chief, bringing his fist down upon his desk. “But I understand your reasons, Mr.—”
“Darrin is my name, sir,” replied Dave quietly.
“So, Mr. Darrin, I give you my word that I won’t even start my investigations before this evening. And I’ll keep all quiet about the midshipman end of it.”
“Thank you very much, sir,” said Dave gratefully.
As the two midshipmen strolled slowly back in the direction of Chow Hop’s, Dave murmured:
“Now, you see why I took this step?”
“I’m afraid not very clearly,” replied Midshipman Hallam.
“That scoundrelly Chow made his boast that other midshipmen patronized his place. I don’t believe it. Such a vice wouldn’t appeal to you, and it doesn’t to me. But there are more than two hundred new plebes coming in just now, and many of these boys have never been away from home before. Some of them might foolishly seek the lure of a new vice, and might find the habit fastened on them before they were aware of it. Chow’s vile den might spoil some good material for the quarter-deck, and, as a matter of midshipman honor, we’re bound to see that the place is cleaned out right away.”