Caspar Ardmore was “busy” within an hour after Dave’s summary handling of him. Ardmore had never been considered a truly bad fellow, though he was foppish, conceited and wholly unable to understand why anything that he wanted should be denied him. Belle was now two years beyond her High School days, and had developed into a most attractive young woman. Ardmore had fallen victim to her charms and had decided that he would make a better husband for her than any Naval officer could. Hence the young dandy had pursued Miss Meade with his attentions; upon finding her with Dave, he had hoped, in his foolish way, to put an end to Darrin’s pretensions.
Ardmore, therefore, having met only disaster, was now engaged in drawing up a complaint to be sent to the Secretary of the Navy, complaining that he had been set upon and treated with severe physical violence by Midshipman Darrin.
Nor was there great difficulty in finding three men, out of the small crowd that had witnessed the assault, to swear to affidavits that they had seen Darrin knock Caspar Ardmore down repeatedly.
All this “evidence” Ardmore got together with great relish, and mailed the mass of stuff, that same night, to the Secretary of the Navy at Washington.
Then Ardmore went out of town for three days. Behind him he left an active toady who promised to keep watch of matters and to advise him.
It was through this toady that Dave received an intimation that his case would be attended to at Washington. Belle, also, received a hint, and with it she went to Darrin.
“Can the fellow really make any trouble for you, Dave?” she asked anxiously.
“Why, yes,” admitted Dave. “Anyone can make trouble for a midshipman, to the extent that the charge must be investigated by the Navy Department. If the Secretary were satisfied that I am a reckless sort of bully, he would decide that I am unfit to be an officer of the Navy.”
IN THE VIEW OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT
Dave Darrin did not let the news of the charges disturb his outward serenity, though he was inwardly aware that perjured evidence might work great harm to his future career.
Until he was advised by the Navy Department that charges had been made against him, he really could do nothing in the matter.
But that letter from the Secretary was not long in coming. The letter informed Midshipman Darrin that he has been accused of severely assaulting a citizen without just provocation, and contained, also, some of the circumstances alleged by Caspar Ardmore. Dave was commanded to forward his defense promptly.
This Darrin did, in a courteous answer, as briefly as he could properly make it. He admitted knocking Ardmore down, but stated that he did it in resenting an insult offered by Ardmore to a young lady under his (Darrin’s) escort at the time.