“I hope our youngsters aren’t going too far,” Dave remarked, “youngster” being the accepted term for the third classmen, and the same as “yearling” at West Point.
“Well, it’s none of our business,” replied Dan, with a shrug of his shoulders. “Study call will be along in fifteen minutes. Going to get an early start with the books to-night?”
“I guess that will be wise,” Darrin nodded.
“It surely will.”
The rest of the winter had gone along rather uneventfully, save for the inevitable, overpowering amount of grind through which a midshipman must pass. It was now spring, and midshipmen thoughts were divided between two topics—annual exams, and summer cruise.
Dan had started into the room, and Dave was about to follow, when he heard an unusually loud thud at the further end of the deck.
“Danny boy, the plebes must be getting it hard to-night.”
“I’d like to see the fun,” muttered Dalzell, his eyes snapping with mischief. “But it doesn’t seem to be any of our business. Hazing work is left in charge of the youngster crowd.”
“Yes; a second classman shouldn’t interfere,” assented Dave. “Well, study for ours.”
“I’m afraid I’m not as studious as I was a minute ago,” contended Dan, with a grin.
Dave looked almost startled as he seized his chum by the arm.
“Inside with you, Danny boy!”
“Not under compulsion,” laughed Midshipman Dalzell.
“I’ll condescend to coaxing, then. But don’t anger the youngsters by butting in.”
“And why not? An upper classman has a right to step in, if he wishes.”
“It is, at least, against the rules of good taste to interfere,” argued Darrin.
“Well, hang you, I don’t want to interfere. All I want to do is to look on. Can’t an upper classman do that?”
“I won’t,” returned Dave.
Yet almost immediately he changed his mind, for two hard bumps and a gust of laughter swept up the deck.
“They’re making so much racket,” murmured Dave, lingering by his own door, “that, the first thing we know, a duty officer will swoop down and rag the bunch.”
“Let’s go in, then, as grave and dignified second classmen, and warn the youngsters like daddies,” proposed Dan, but his eyes were twinkling with the spirit of mischief.
A good deal against his own inclination Darrin allowed himself to be coaxed into the thing.
Nine youngsters were found in Midshipmen Flint and Austin’s room when Dave and Dan entered after rapping.
“We’re not intruding, I hope?” inquired Dalzell, with his most inviting grin.
“Not at all, gentlemen,” responded Midshipman Eaton, of the third class.
“These fourth classmen seemed unwontedly popular to-night,” insinuated Dan.
“They’ve been most uncommonly touge all through the year, sir,” replied Eaton, tacking on the “sir” in order to impress Midshipmen Flint and Austin with the tremendous dignity or all upper classmen.