“Howard!” called the coach briskly.
“Excused for to-day, sir,” reported another player.
“Any one but me!” growled Jetson.
“Jetson!” sounded the head coach’s heavy voice.
Midshipman Jetson started. His face flushed. Then, for an instant, a sulky impulse seized him to reply that he did not feel up to form to-day. But the midshipman smothered that desire and started forward.
“Here, sir,” he reported.
“Take right guard on second,” directed Coach Havens.
“Very good, sir.”
The game was resumed. Jetson, however, had a face full of sulkiness. As he joined the line-up his eyes rested on Dave Darrin.
“I wonder if Jetson means me any harm?” flashed through Dave’s mind. In an instant, however, he dismissed the suspicion.
“Jetson is a midshipman, a gentleman and a man of honor,” thought Darrin generously.
The whistle sounded, the ball was snapped back and passed, Darrin received it and dashed forward to carry it past the opponents.
In a twinkling there was a staggering crash. Dave was down with the ball, with men of two teams piled above him.
At the sound of the referee’s whistle the mass disentangled itself. Dave and Jetson were at the bottom of the heap. Jetson was the last man up, but Dave still lay there.
“Surgeon here?” called the coach’s steady voice, devoid of excitement. But there was anxiety enough when it was seen that Midshipman Darrin still lay face downward.
“Has Darrin been hurt—our Darrin—the great Darrin?” flew from tongue to tongue.
“Did Jetson do it?” was another question that was instantly asked.
DAN TRIES HARD TO KEEP COOL
A surgeon and a hospital man were quickly on the spot, the others, anxious as they were, drawing back considerately to give the men of medicine room in which to work.
As Dave Darrin was gently turned over on his back it was seen that Damn’s face was a mass of blood.
“Jetson’s work,” grunted two or three of the players.
“He did it on purpose!”
“If he didn’t, then the fellow is too clumsy to be trusted on the gridiron, anyway.”
“We must chase Jetson away from the squad.”
“Silence!” remarked Head Coach Havens, very simply, though in a tone which meant that obedience must follow.
Jetson, however, was not ignorant of the comments that were passing. His dark face flushed hotly with anger.
“They’ll blame anything on me, if I’m within a mile of the field,” he told himself sullenly.
“Is Mr. Darrin badly injured, doctor!” inquired Lieutenant-Commander Havens of the Naval surgeon.
“I think not, sir, beyond a possibly nasty mark on the face,” replied the surgeon, as he examined and directed the hospital men. “Mr. Darrin is merely stunned, from too hard an impact of some sort. He’ll soon have his eyes open—there they come now.”