“Still, it’s hard to believe,” spoke up Midshipman Joyce. “Darrin, we look upon you as the best thing that ever happened to the Navy end of the gridiron.”
“I don’t know that I care about being ‘kidded,’” responded Dave seriously.
“But we honestly do,” contended the same speaker, “and we don’t like to have you tell us that Prescott is a better man.”
“But I believe he is.”
“Are you afraid of him?”
“I’m not afraid of any one on the gridiron,” Darrin retorted bluntly. “I’ll work hard to beat any man that I have to go up against, and if work, this season, will do it, I’ll beat Dick Prescott out!”
“Good! That’s the way we like to hear you talk,” glowed Hepson.
“And I’ll bottle up Holmes and put the stopper in,” promised Dan with solemn modesty.
Again two of the men made a rush for him to quiet him.
“It may be only a rumor that Prescott and Holmes are on the Army eleven,” spoke up another midshipman.
“No,” objected still another, “I had a letter, this afternoon, from a cousin who has been up to West Point and has seen the Army crowd at work. The Army is rejoicing over Prescott and Holmes as a pair of precious finds, and they’re both nailed to the colors for this season.”
“Then we’re going to have a tough time in our game with the Army,” Darrin declared thoughtfully. “And the Army will beat more college teams this year than usual.”
“We won’t die until the Army shoots, anyway,” promised Hepson. “And now, Darry, there’s another question we want to put to you, and we want an out-and-out answer. Do you believe that Jetson really meant to trip you this afternoon?”
“You heard his denial,” Dave rejoined.
“Well, Jetson is a midshipman and a gentleman. There has never been any question here about his honor,” Darrin replied. “I accepted his denial of intention at the time, and I still accept it.”
“It’s queer, then, how Jetson came to give you such a nasty trip,” observed another caller.
“I’ll tell you what I think really must have happened,” Dave continued frankly. “I think Jet was crazy to stop me. It was on his mind, and he was determined to do it. He tripped me, of course, but I think he really acted on an unconscious impulse and without intention. So, at that rate, the trip was not really intended, since he had not deliberately planned it.”
“Would you be willing to play on the same team with him, Darry?” pursued Midshipman Hepson.
“Yes, or with any other man in the brigade. I don’t suspect any man here at the Naval Academy of anything intentionally and deliberately dishonorable.”
“Good, Darry!” cried several midshipmen.
For a few minutes the talk grew fast and furious. Then some one looked at his watch and there was a prompt flight of visitors. Ten minutes later taps sounded and a master switch turned off the lights in midshipmen’s quarters, with nearly eight hundred young men in their beds and already dropping asleep.