“With our hostess’s approval we shall be charmed to grant any request the young ladies make,” ventured Dave, as Marian smiled into his eyes.
But Marian, the wily and experienced, found herself baffled during this walk. Using all her cajoleries, she could bring him to a certain point beyond which he would not go. As a matter of fact, Dave Darrin, secure in his loyalty to Belle, did not perceive what Maid Marian was striving to lead up to, but saw in her only a lively and interesting girl.
“I’ll get you yet, Midshipman Darrin,” she vowed to herself after they had parted.
The gossip of a sweetheart in his home town which in time reached her ears only made the girl more determined to get her way. Looking in the mirror with satisfaction, she murmured:
“There’ll be the added zest of making Midshipman Darrin forget the distant face of that home girl.”
Not on that visit did Maid Marian succeed in leading Dave beyond the point of simple but sincere friendship. However, Miss Stevens could be charming to whomsoever she wished, and before she left Annapolis she had secured invitations to visit the wife of more than one of the officers.
Christmas came and went, and soon after this the semi-annual examinations were on in earnest. Some of the midshipmen failed and sadly turned their faces homeward to make a place for themselves in some other lane of life. Dan Dalzell, however, made good his promise, and by a better margin than he had dared hope. Dave came through the examination somewhat better than his chum. Both felt assured now that they would round out the year with fair credit to themselves.
Marian Stevens came to Annapolis several times during the latter half of the year, and as it is expected that the future officer shall have social as well as Naval training, Dave Darrin met her often.
Exasperation that she could draw the young midshipman on only so far soon changed in Miss Stevens to anger and chagrin. Still Dave, giving prolonged thought to no girl except Belle Meade, saw in her only a lively companion. Sometimes he was her dinner partner. Always at a dance he danced with her more than once.
It was at one such dance that she looked up as they circled the room to say:
“I wonder if you know, Mr. Darrin, how much I enjoy dancing with you.”
“Not as much as I enjoy dancing with you,” he replied smilingly. Just then the music stopped suddenly and an officer called in a voice that carried over the great floor of the gymnasium and over all the chatter:
“Ladies and gentlemen, one moment’s attention, please!”
In an instant all was still.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” continued the officer, “official permission has been granted for taking a flashlight photograph of the scene to-night. Will everybody please remain where he is until after the exposure has been made?”