“May I suggest, Mr. Havens,” hinted Jetson, “that something else may have scratched Mr. Darrin’s face, and that the blood trickled to my shoe? I was under Mr. Darrin, somewhat, sir, in the scrimmage when the bunch went down.”
There was really nothing that could be proved, in any case, so the head coach could only say very quietly:
“Let the practice go on, Mr. Hepson. Put Mr. Wardell temporarily in Mr. Darrin’s place on the line.”
There was one in the group who had not said a word so far. But he had been looking on, his keen eyes studying Jetson’s face. That looker-on was Midshipman Dan Dalzell, who, as the reader knows, sometimes displayed a good deal of temper.
“Jetson,” muttered Dan, as the other midshipman came over by him, “I shall need a little talk with you at the early convenience of us both.”
“Whenever you like,” retorted Midshipman Jetson, flashing back a look of defiance.
Then the game went on. By supper time the men of the brigade knew that Darrin was getting along comfortably; that he was in no pain and that he was in hospital only in the hope that he might be saved the annoyance of wearing a disfiguring scar on his face throughout all his life.
“I’m afraid that some of the fellows think I purposely cut Darrin up in that fashion,” remarked Jetson to his tablemates during the evening meal.
“Don’t you know that you didn’t?” inquired one of the midshipmen laconically. None of the other men at table took heed of Jetson’s words.
At some of the other tables equal silence did not prevail. Midshipmen who did not accuse or suspect Jetson of intentional wickedness expressed the opinion that he was, at all events, careless and not a valuable member of the football squad.
Jetson himself was wholly aware that he was more or less suspected in the minds of many, and the knowledge made him savage.
During the few minutes recreation that followed the evening meal, Dan Dalzell approached the sullen one, who was now standing quite alone.
“Mr. Jetson, I shall be glad to have a talk with you,” announced Dan. “Will you come to my room, or shall I go to yours?”
“Lead the way to your room, sir,” replied Jetson stiffly.
Dan did so, and behind the door the two midshipmen faced each other.
“Well, sir!” demanded the visitor.
“Mr. Jetson, both times that you have played against Darrin something has happened to him.”
“Don’t insinuate, Mr. Dalzell. If you anything to say, speak out plainly, sir.”
“I hardly know what to say,” Midshipman Dan confessed. “As a midshipman, your honor should be above question.”
“Do you wish to remark that it isn’t?”
“Why, I don’t know,” Dan answered frankly. “It seems a fearful thing to say, or even to think, about a midshipman.”
“Mr. Dalzell, either I did, or I didn’t, intentionally injure Mr. Darrin. Yon must think one thing or the other. If you suspect that I did the thing intentionally, then why beat about the bush?”