“You’re a wonderful guesser,” laughed Joyce. “Well, I’ll admit that I’m simply restless, and that anything that will stir my blood and my liver will fill the bill. I’m afraid I’m so depraved to-night that even a street-fight wouldn’t go against the grain.”
“You’d better forget it,” advised Darrin quietly. “It’s a dangerous frame of mind for a future officer and gentleman, who must acquire control over himself before he can be fit to command men.”
“You talk like a padre!” (chaplain) uttered Joyce in disgust “Can’t you forget, for one evening, that you’re a midshipman?”
“No; I don’t want to,” Dave returned quietly.
“Prig!” uttered Joyce again, and this time he did not take the pains to speak under his breath. But Darrin only smiled indulgently.
By way of simple dissipation the three midshipmen went to a drug store, enjoying themselves with ice cream sodas. Soon after they found themselves in a Main Street bookstore, looking over post cards. They could, however, find no new ones, and so left without buying.
“And there’s the theatre right over there!” sighed Joyce.
“It would be against our word as midshipmen and gentlemen to visit it,” Dave urged. “Come on, Joyce; we’ll turn into one of the very quiet side streets and stroll along. Then we’ll be out of temptation.”
Accordingly they went to one of the all but deserted side streets of the better sort.
“There’s a comrade ahead of us,” said Dave in an undertone presently, as he made out the uniform half a block away.
Hardly had he spoken when a door opened and a young man in evening clothes came lightly down the steps. At once the unknown midshipman wheeled and sprang at the young civilian. There was a swift interchange of blows, over almost as soon as it started, for the unknown midshipman speedily knocked down the man he had assaulted. Nor did the civilian get up at once. Instead, he bawled lustily for help.
Joyce made a move to spring forward, but Dave caught him by the arm.
“Don’t get forward, Joyce. If you do, you’ll probably recognize the midshipman. Then you’ll have to report his name.”
Answering the calls for help five other young men ran out of the same house. The midshipman disdained to flee and stood his ground.
“We’ll teach you!” snarled one of the newly arrived civilians, raising his cane as though to bring it down on the midshipman’s shoulders.
The midshipman, like a flash, wrenched the cane from the other’s hands and began to lay it lustily about him. The whole crowd, therefore, including the young man who had first been knocked down, joined in the attack.
“That’s too much like cowardice, and we’re bound to go to the rescue of a comrade!” muttered Dave Darrin, his eyes blazing. “Come on, fellows—and be sure not to recognize that comrade!”
In a moment the fight was somewhat more equal. Darrin, Dalzell and Joyce were all accomplished and disciplined boxers. They closed with the crowd around the midshipman.