“Then I guess,” nodded Dan, “that we’ll have to stay in the ring, and let it go by apologizing to the Army for getting in their way on the field the Saturday after Thanksgiving.”
“We won’t do that, either, by Jingo!” retorted Midshipman Hepson. “But we’ve got to strengthen our team. We’ve got to practice every minute that the commandant will allow us for practice. We’ve got to make a front-rank team out of—nearly nothing!”
“Aren’t there any good players who have been holding back?” asked Dave Darrin.
“Two that I know of, Darrin,” rejoined Hepson, fixing his eyes keenly on Dave.
“Who are they?”
“You and Dalzell.”
“We haven’t backed out, or refused duty,” Darrin retorted quickly.
“No; but you haven’t pushed yourselves forward any, either.”
“Well, we’re hardly team material,” objected Dave modestly. “However, I’ll promise for myself and Dalzell, too, that we’ll turn out to all the practice we can, and work like blazes!”
“Will you?” cried Midshipman Hepson delightedly. He jumped up, grasping each midshipman by the hand in turn.
“But you don’t want to bank on us too much,” Darrin continued. “You know, we’ve never played on anything as big as the Navy team. We used to be good enough little players on a country school team. But it’s different here.”
“Let the coaches and the captain find that out, then,” grunted Hepson. “But you’ll work? You’ll try to make good? You’ll try to make the team and some history?”
“We’d lay down our lives for the Navy, at any point and in any sort of game,” rejoined Dave Darrin simply.
“Good! Bully! That’s the way I like to hear a fellow talk!” glowed Hepson, making toward the door. “You’ll turn out for practice to-morrow afternoon?”
“Without fail, if we’re physically able,” promised Midshipman Darrin.
“Awfully obliged to you, fellows,” cried Hepson, throwing the door open. “And now you won’t mind if I cut my visit short? I’ve a lot of fellows to see, you know.”
The door banged and Hepson was gone.
“Say, how’s the Navy going to win under a chap as nervous as Hepson?” asked Dan.
“That isn’t nervousness, Danny boy.”
“If it isn’t, what is it, then?”
“Elec—Oh, say, now—”
“It’s electricity,” Dave insisted. “He’s a live wire, that man Hepson. He’ll pull us through on the field this year, if any one can.”
“There’s nothing like looking on the bright side of things,” murmured Dalzell, drumming on his chair.
“I’d rather see Hepson under estimate the Navy team,” went on Dave, “than feel too sure that it is invincible. Still, I believe that the Navy is going to put forward a mighty strong eleven this year. Though, of course, that is not saying that we can beat the Army.”
“Why not?” demanded Dalzell almost fiercely.