“Aren’t they splendid fellows?” cried Laura.
“Yes,” answered Belle, her eyes snapping and her face glowing. “Though I won’t claim that they’re any finer than your own West Point boys.”
That brought an added flush to the color in Laura Bentley’s face, and her eyes sparkled her gratitude, for Dick Prescott, now at West Point with his chum, Greg Holmes, had been her High School sweetheart, and doubtless was to become her Army sweetheart after he had made sure of his career.
“Dave and Dan are experts,” glowed Miss Bentley. “They’ll know just what to do.”
“They’re better than mere experts,” returned Belle Meade. “They’re strong and manly to the core, and with them there’s no such word as fear when there’s a duty to be done.”
Both Dave and Dan were peering fixedly ahead all the time that they drove the sailboat toward the scene of the late disaster.
“I think I see a head,” cried Darrin.
“Boy or girl!” demanded Midshipman Dalzell.
“Can’t tell at this distance. And now the next wave has blotted out what I thought I saw.”
“We’ve got to be patient,” uttered Dan.
The position of the midshipmen was far from being free of danger. With all their coolness and their undoubted skill in boat handling, there was grave danger, with the mainsail set, that, at any instant, wind and wave would capsize the boat.
Indeed, Dave was running the lee gunwale under water half the time, trusting to the human ballast supplied by his comrade to keep them afloat.
“See anything now?” demanded Dave.
“No,” uttered Dan, “though I’m working my eyes three shifts to try to make out something. I’ll have to go to an oculist as soon as I get through with this. This eyestrain is awful.”
Midshipman Dan Dalzell was really unconscious of the fact that he was joking. It was second nature with him; he would have jested—unconsciously—with death in its most awful form.
“There, I see a head—two of them!” cried Midshipman Dave suddenly, as he half rose and pointed.
Dan let the boat’s head fall off a point in order that he might see better around the mast on the weather side, just where he must head his craft in the last dash in.
“It’s Foss and Ella Wright,” called Dan, as the flying sailboat got in closer over the foam-crested waves. “No, it isn’t; Foss has Susie.”
“Can you make out Canty and Ella?” demanded Darrin hoarsely.
“Not a sign, Dave. Maybe he’s gone under trying to save Ella.”
“Canty was one of our Gridley High School boys, so I’d expect him to have both the nerve and the grace to go down with a girl, if he couldn’t save her as well as himself,” muttered Darrin.
“There’s Canty, just come up!”
“Can you make out Ella’s head?”
“I don’t see her, and—there!”