Nor did the affair remain a secret for more than a moment Midshipmen returning to their own decks stepped to the wall to let the squad pass. Nor was more than a look at the two rear fourth classmen needed to enable any wondering midshipmen to guess the nature of the offense with which the remaining eleven upper classmen were to be charged.
“Our Darry in that!” gasped Farley, as the squad went by. “Did you see him?”
“Yes,” Page mournfully admitted.
“Then my eyes didn’t play me any trick, as I had hoped. Darry and Dalzell! What evil spirit tempted them to be in that scrape?”
In the meantime Lieutenant Preston was arraigning the captured delinquents before the officer in charge, and the commandant of midshipmen had already been telephoned for and was on the way.
Study call cut short a good deal of excited discussion on the different decks. The commandant of midshipmen arrived, heard the evidence of the discipline officer, looked over the offenders, entered their names on his own record, and then spoke briefly, but in the voice of fate itself:
“The accused midshipmen will go to their rooms. They will, until further orders, remain in their quarters, except for recitations and meal formation. They will forego all privileges until the superintendent or higher authority has acted finally in this matter. That is all, young gentlemen. Go to your rooms, except Midshipmen Flint and Austin, who will remain.”
As soon as the upper classmen had departed, the commandant took Flint and Austin in hand, questioning them keenly and making notes of the more important answers.
Back in their own rooms, Midshipman Dan Dalzell was at first overwhelmed with horror.
“We’re dished, Davy! We walk the plank! The super won’t forgive a single man who is caught at the royal pastime of hazing! I’m going to write, now, for the money to get home with. You know, in the last two affairs, the hazers have been dismissed from the Naval Academy.”
“Yes,” Dave nodded. “It looks black for us. But keep a stiff tipper lip, Danny boy.”
“It’s all my own miserable fault!” uttered Dalzell, clenching his fists, while tears tried to get into his eyes. “You’ve got me to blame for this, Davy! It was all my doing. I insisted on dragging you down to that room, and now you’ve got to walk the plank, all because of my foolishness! Oh, I’m a hoodoo!”
“Stop that, Danny!” warned Dave, resting a hand on his chum’s arm. “I didn’t have to go, and you couldn’t have made me do it. I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t wanted to. I’m not going to let even you rest the blame for my conduct on your shoulders.”
Finally the chums went to study table.
“What’s the use!” demanded Dan, closing a book after he had opened it. “We don’t need to study. We’ve got to walk the plank, at any rate, and all the study we do here for the next day or two is so much time wasted!”