“Search your conscience,” jeered Jetson.
“I’ve been doing so ever since this foolish conversation started, and I haven’t found the answer yet. All I recall, Jetson, is that, at the outset of my football practice, there was some little unpleasantness between us. You injured me, twice, in practice play, and I admit that I was somewhat angry about it at the time. But you gave your word that you hadn’t intended any tricks against me. I believed you to be a man of honor, and I accepted your word that you were innocent of evil intention against me. Having accepted your word, I held no further grudge in the matter, and I have as nearly forgotten the whole business as a man with a memory can.”
“Then tell me why I didn’t play on the football eleven?” flamed up Midshipman Jetson.
“Principally, I imagine, because Captain Hepson, after consultation with the coaches, didn’t call you to the Navy eleven.”
“And why didn’t Hepson call me?” followed up Jetson, all his pent-up sulkiness boiling over now.
“I don’t know, particularly. Probably, I imagine, for the same reason that he didn’t call a lot of other men to the eleven—because he believed he could make a better choice.”
“Darrin, you know well enough that you so influenced Hepson to keep me off the team!”
“Jetson, are you mad?”
“No; but I’m naturally angry.”
“I give you my word that I didn’t do anything to prevent your making the team.”
“And you expect me, Mr. Darrin, to believe that?”
“If you decline to do so, it amounts to passing the lie. But I’ll overlook that for a moment. Joyce, I think Hepson is not dancing at present. Will you return to the hop, and, if he is not dancing, will you bring him out here?”
“I don’t want to see Hepson,” cried Midshipman Jetson. “You’re the only one I’m interested in in this matter, Mr. Darrin.”
“You’ve virtually refused to accept my word.”
“I do so refuse.”
“Then you call me—”
“A liar, if you like!” snapped back Midshipman Jetson.
“Sir, do you realize—”
“I realize that you’re still talking!” sneered Jetson.
“Then I won’t talk any longer,” replied Dave Darrin in a quiet but dangerous voice. “Since you refuse to listen even to Hepson—”
“Who’s taking my name in vain?” demanded a laughing voice as a burly figure moved in between Dave and his enemy.
The new comer was Hepson, who had come upon the group unnoticed.
“Perhaps you’re just in time, Hep,” murmured Dave, fighting to cool down his temper. “I wanted you to prove—”
“Stop!” ejaculated Jetson angrily. In his extreme passion he threw all restraint and courtesy to the winds. “I wouldn’t take the word of Hepson, or of any man in the entire brigade in this matter. Darrin has lied, and—”
“Step aside, Hep, please,” urged Dave, giving the late football captain a gentle shove. “This matter can’t go any further in words. Mr. Jetson, you have insulted me, and grossly. Are you capable of cooling down? Do you wish to retract?—to apologize?”