“We may walk the plank,” retorted Dave. “In fact, I feel rather certain that we shall. But it hasn’t happened yet Danny boy, open that book again, and open it at the right page. Study until recall, and work harder than you ever did before. You know all about that old-time Navy man who said, ‘Don’t give up the ship!’”
They studied, or manfully pretended to, until release sounded. How much they learned from their books that night may have been a different matter.
By the next day it was generally conceded among the midshipmen that the ranks of the brigade were about to be thinned as a result of the last hazing episode. Nor did the third class generally uphold Eaton and his youngster associates in the affair of the night before.
“They were out for trouble, and they got it,” declared one third classman. “The rest of us let up on all hazing before Christmas.”
In some underground way Farley and Page heard the straight story concerning Dave and Dan; how the two upper classmen had gone to the room and Darrin had entered a mild protest against the hazing.
Though it was against regulations to visit them confined to their quarters, Farley took the chance and got a few words with Dave.
“Darry, don’t let anyone trim you for what you didn’t do,” begged Midshipman Farley. “Go straight to the com.; tell him that you and Dan had just entered the room to see what was going on, and that you had just made a protest against the hazing.”
“Nothing doing there, Farl,” Dave gently assured his friend. “We were present and we really had no business to be. We wouldn’t make ourselves look any more manly by crying when the medicine is held out to us.”
“But you did protest,” urged Farley anxiously. “Stand up for your own rights, Darry. Remember, I’m not counseling you to lie, or to make any stretched claims. That would be unworthy of you. But tell the full truth in your own defense.”
“Dan and I will truthfully answer all questions put to us by competent officers,” Dave replied gravely. “Farl, that is about all we can do and keep our self-respect. For, you understand, we were there, and we knew just about what we were going to look in on before we crossed the threshold of that room.”
“But we can’t lose you from the brigade, Darry,” pleaded Farley hoarsely. “Nor can the people of this country spare you from the Navy of the future. Stick up for all your rights. That’s all your friends ask of you. Remember, man, you’re nearly three fourths of the way through to graduation! Don’t let your fine chances be sacrificed.”
Dave, however, still maintained that he was not going to play baby. In dismay some forty members of the second class held an unofficial outdoor meeting at which ways and means were suggested. In the end Joyce, Farley and Page were appointed a committee of three to think the matter over solemnly, and then to go to the commandant of midshipmen with whatever statement they felt justified in making.