“Mr. Darrin, why did you feel called upon to try to defeat the investigation that you foresaw, and which is now under way?”
“Because, sir, it is contrary to the spirit of the brigade of midshipmen to carry tales against each other. I did not care to act contrary to that spirit.”
“Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that you did not dare,” observed the O.C. half sneeringly.
“That way of stating it would be true, sir. I do not care to turn informer against my comrades.”
“Yet you think you possess the courage to become one of our fighting officers in the future, if the need arises?
“Of my courage as a fighting man, sir, I am unable to form any opinion until that courage has been properly tested.”
“But you are afraid to inform the authorities of the identity of comrades who commit serious offenses?”
“As it is contrary to the spirit of the brigade, sir, I would be more afraid of my own contempt than of any other punishment.”
Lieutenant-Commander Denham appeared to lose some of his patience presently.
“I wonder,” he remarked brusquely, “why you midshipmen cannot learn to accept some of your sense of honor from the officers who have seen so much more service than you. I wonder why you will go on formulating your own canons of honor, even when such beliefs sometimes result in the dismissal of midshipmen from the service.”
The three midshipmen, not being questioned, remained silent.
“And so not one of you has the slightest idea of the original nature of the quarrel in which you so readily took part? And none of you has any idea of the identity of the fourth midshipman concerned in this evening’s work?”
“I have not, sir,” replied Midshipmen Darrin, Dalzell and Joyce in one breath.
“Very good, gentlemen. The matter will be investigated further. You will go to your quarters and remain there. You will take part in the meal formations, but in no drills or recitations until you are further advised. And you will not leave Bancroft Hall without direct orders from competent authority.”
The three midshipmen saluted, turned and left the office, going to their own rooms.
“Wow!” muttered Dan as soon as the chums had closed their door on themselves.
“We shall surely have enough to think of,” smiled Dave wearily.
“Oh, aye!” agreed Dalzell.
“Oh, well, if we’re going to skip some recitations we’ll need all the more study,” sighed Dave, seating himself at his study table and drawing his books toward him.
But he was not permitted to study long in peace. Word of the affair had spread, and Hepson presented himself at Darrin’s quarters in great consternation.
“Great!” mocked Hepson. “Just when we’ve discovered that the Navy has a dub team without you two, or next door to one, then you two go and get ordered to quarters. You’ll not turn out with us Monday; you may not practice with us through the week or play in our next game. Fine!”