“If you do not retract what you just said,” pursued Dave Darrin, growing cooler now that he realized the deliberate nature of the affront that had been put upon him, “I shall have no choice but to send my friends to you.”
“Delighted to see them, at any time,” replied the first classman, turning disdainfully upon his heel and strolling away.
“Now, why on earth does that fellow deliberately pick a fight with me?” wondered Darrin, as he strolled along by himself. “Treadwell can thump me. He can knock me clean down the Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean, but what credit is there in it for a first classman to thrash a youngster?”
It was too big a puzzle. After thinking it over for some time Dave turned and strolled back to Bancroft Hall.
“You didn’t stay out long!” remarked Dan, looking up with a weary smile as his chum re-entered their room.
“No,” admitted Dave. “There wasn’t much fun in being out alone.”
With a sigh, Dan turned back to his book, while Dave seated himself at his own study table, in a brown daze.
Things were happening fast—Dan’s impending “bilge” from the Naval Academy, and his own coming fight with the first classman who would be sure to make it a “blood fight”!
HOW DAN FACED THE BOARD
“We trust, Mr. Dalzell, that you can make some statement or explanation that will show that we shall be justified in retaining you as a midshipman in the Naval Academy.”
It was the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy who was speaking.
Dan’s hour of great ordeal had come upon him. That young midshipman found himself in the Board Room, facing the entire Academic Board, trying to remember what Freeman had told him the night before.
The time was 10.30 a.m. on that fateful Monday.
Midshipman Dalzell appeared to be collected, but he was also very certainly white-faced.
Many a young man, doomed to be sent forth from a Naval career, back into the busy, unheeding world, had faced this Board in times past. So it was hardly to be expected that Dan would inspire any unusual interest in the members of the Board.
Dan swallowed at something hard in his throat, then opened his lips to speak.
“I am aware, sir, and gentlemen, that I am at present sufficiently deficient in my studies to warrant my being dropped,” Dan began rather slowly. “Yet I would call attention to the fact that I was nearly as badly off, in the matter of markings, at this time last year. It is also a matter of record that I pulled myself together, later on, and contrived to get through the first year with a considerable margin of credits to spare. If I am permitted to finish the present term here I believe I can almost positively promise that I will round out this year with as good a showing as I did last year.”