Three days later even the launch was saved; that is, it was raised and was towed to a boat-builder for overhauling and repairs.
THE TROUBLE-MAKING FOP
The story that Len Spencer wrote for the “Blade” was “worse” than the midshipmen had expected. That is, the newspaper made them out to be heroes of some rare, solid-gold type. To add to the trouble, the story, in a condensed form, was printed broadcast by the dailies all over the country.
“We can’t hope to keep it quiet, Danny boy,” groaned Dave when the two chums met the next morning.
“No,” sighed Dan. “The most we can hope for is to be allowed to live it down.”
“And I’m much afraid that we’ve got to stand for a lot more of gush this afternoon,” continued Darrin.
“At the reception? Oh, yes! I wish we could desert the town and get away somewhere to hide.”
The affair for the afternoon was a reception for which Laura Bentley had sent out hurried invitations to a lot of the former High School boys and girls of Gridley. Though Laura was more especially interested in the U. S. Military Academy at West Point—because Dick Prescott was there—yet she did not show undue partiality to the Army.
“I’m sorry Laura didn’t wait a fortnight,” Dan continued.
“Oh, well, she doesn’t understand,” Dave urged.
“You’re going, of course?”
“I surely am. I wouldn’t slight that splendid girl. She’s a whole lot to me, Danny boy, both for her own sake and Dick Prescott’s.”
Even the short stroll, however, between Belle Meade’s home and Laura’s, was bound to bring Dave Darrin again into the unwished-for limelight.
He and Belle had turned into Main Street together, and were walking along, chatting, when Belle’s eyes flashed suddenly.
“There’s that horrid wretch Ardmore,” she murmured in an undertone.
“Don’t believe I know him,” Darrin returned.
“Then you haven’t been deprived of much,” replied Belle, in a tone that was very nearly bitter. “I’ve been meaning to tell you about him, Dave, but other matters have been cropping up and it has escaped me until now.”
“What’s wrong with Ardmore?” asked Dave.
“He’s posing as an admirer of mine.”
“I can’t quarrel with his taste,” smiled Darrin.
“But he annoys me.”
“Has he dared to do that?” demanded Dave, a quick flash in his eyes.
“Not in any way that it would be easy to resent,” Belle assured him.
“Who is this fellow Ardmore?”
“He appears to be a gentleman—at least in his ordinary conduct,” Belle Meade answered. “He moved here last spring with his parents. The father is a retired lawyer, and wealthy. The Ardmores move in a rather good set in town. About a month ago Caspar Ardmore, the young man, met me at a church affair. Ever since then he has all but waylaid me. Several times he has tried to walk with me when we met, and has often tried to see me home from church or elsewhere. I’ve been almost downright rude to him, and have shown him in every way I can that I don’t wish to continue acquaintance. But he’s hard to discourage.”