“You are a friend of Dave’s, aren’t you?” asked Marian.
“Of Mr. Darrin’s? Oh, yes, we’ve always known each other.”
“Then you’ve been here to many of these dances?”
“Too bad you could not have been here oftener. This has been an unusually brilliant season. Really, many of the young people have lost their heads—or their hearts. I often wonder if these midshipmen have sweethearts at home.” This daring—and impertinent—remark was made musingly but smilingly.
“These Annapolis affairs are never very serious, I imagine,” Belle observed calmly.
“On the contrary, most of the Navy marriages date back to an Annapolis first meeting.”
“Then you think it well to come often?”
“Unless one has other ways of keeping in touch,” was the brazen reply.
“I have,” said Belle sweetly. “I receive a good many souvenirs in the course of a year. One last winter was a photograph.” With the words Belle gazed intently into Miss Stevens’ eyes. Then she went on: “There was an anonymous message written on it. It was a lying message, of course, as anonymous messages always are, written in a coarse hand. Did you ever study handwriting, Miss Stevens?”
Marian gasped, realizing she was out-maneuvered.
“This writing had all the characteristics of a woman whose instincts are coarse, that of a treacherous though not dangerous person—”
“Here’s Mr. Sanderson back. Will you excuse me, Miss Meade?” and Marian fairly fled.
Belle told Dave she had found out who had sent the photograph, but added:
“I wish you wouldn’t ask me who it was, Dave. I can assure you that the person who did it will never trouble us again,” and as Dave did not like to think evil of any one, he consented, and continued to think of Marian Stevens, when he thought of her at all, as a jolly girl.
The annual examinations were approaching. Dan Dalzell was buried deep in gloom. Dave Darrin kept cheerful outwardly, but doubts crept into his heart.
The examinations over, Dave felt reasonably safe. But Dan’s gloom deepened, for he was sure he had failed in “skinny,” as the boys termed chemistry and physics. So it was that when the grades were posted Dave scanned the D’s in the list of third classmen who had passed. Dan, on the other hand, turned instantly to what he termed the “bust list.”
“Why, why, I’m not there!” he muttered.
“Look at the passing list, Danny,” laughed Dave.
Unbelieving, Dan turned his eyes on the list and to his utter astonishment found his name posted. True, in “skinny” he had a bare passing mark. But in other subjects he was somewhat above the minimum.
“So you see, old man, we’ll both be here next year as second classmen,” said Dave jubilantly.
This was as Dave Darrin said, and what happened during this time may be learned in a volume entitled, “Dave Darrin’s third year at Annapolis; or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen.”