“I made the remark, after a measure, sir,” Jetson replied. “What I said was that in a certain matter I would not take the word of any midshipman in the brigade if it went counter to my fixed belief.”
“Mr. Jetson, don’t you consider that, under the circumstances, that amounted to a statement of your unwillingness to accept the word of members of the brigade?”
“I should be sorry to have that construction placed on my remark, Mr. President, for I know that nearly all the men of the brigade are men with a fine sense of honor.”
“Then how do you reconcile this statement with your other one?”
“Mr. President, I meant, and I still mean, that I am so certain of the truth of the charge that I made to one Darrin, that, if members of the brigade spoke differently, I would then know that they were not telling the truth.”
A storm of protests went up, while one hoarse voice bellowed:
“Throw him out!”
And another called:
“Order!” commanded the class president, rapping hard with his gavel. “Mr. Jetson, it is a most serious matter to impugn the good faith and honor of the brigade. It is hardly mitigated by the fact that the words were uttered in the heat of passion, especially when, in your cooler moment, you are not inclined to retract your statement or to render it harmless. I believe, therefore, that I am in accord with the sense of this meeting of the class when I ask you if you have any retraction or apology to offer.”
“For the statement, in the form in which I offered it, Mr. President, I have no retraction or apology to offer, and only such explanation as I have lately given.”
“Coventry! Coventry!” came the insistent call.
“Well, then, you can send me to Coventry, you friends of Darrin, if you feel yourselves justified in doing it!” quivered Midshipman Jetson, tossing his head and glaring defiantly around the room.
“In view of the charge, and the subsequent statements of Mr. Jetson, I feel that we have an unpleasant duty to perform. The brigade is founded and based on honor. We, the members, cannot allow that honor to be impugned by one who would otherwise be fitted to be a member of the brigade. As Mr. Jetson refuses to retract his words, and as some one must take the initiative, it is my disagreeable duty to move you, sir, that the second class decide that Mr. Jetson is no longer worthy to be of our number, and that he accordingly be sent to Coventry.”
“Mr. President, I desire to second the motion, and this I do as regretfully as it was moved.”
“Oh, go ahead and send me to Coventry, then!” Jetson blazed forth angrily. “This class appears to have been hypnotized by Darrin. But, even if you do send me to Coventry, we shall see whether your action will be potent enough to drive me from the Naval Academy!”