“Yes, sir,” replied Midshipman Eaton with great positiveness.
Eaton’s companions in the hazing all bore him out in the statement. The commandant of midshipmen then took up the matter of their testimony with the superintendent of the Naval Academy.
After six days of confinement to quarters, Darrin and Dalzell were ordered to report before the commandant. With that officer they found the superintendent also. It was the latter officer who spoke.
“Mr. Darrin and Mr. Dalzell, on the testimony of others, not of yourselves, we have learned that Mr. Darrin had just entered a rebuke against the hazing before Lieutenant Preston entered the room in which the hazing was taking place. We have this on such general assurance that both the commandant and myself feel warranted in restoring you to full duty and privileges. At the same time, Mr. Darrin, I desire to thank you for your manliness and attention to duty in entering a protest against the hazing.”
“I thank you very much, sir,” Dave Darrin answered. “However, much as I long to remain in the Navy, I do not want to hide behind a misunderstanding. While I spoke against the hazing, candor compels me to admit that I did not protest so vigorously but that more hazing went on immediately.”
“That I can quite understand,” nodded the superintendent. “I am aware of the disinclination of the members of one upper class to interfere with the members of another upper class. The fact that you made a protest at all is what has convinced me that yourself and Mr. Dalzell were in the room at the time with a worthy instead of an unworthy motive. Worthy motives are not punished at the Naval Academy, Mr. Darrin. For that reason yourself and Mr. Dalzell are restored to full duty and privileges. That is all, gentlemen.”
Thus dismissed, Dave and Dan could not, without impertinence, remain longer in the room.
There was wild joy in the second class when it was found that the class leaders, Darrin and Dalzell, had escaped from the worst scrape they had been in at Annapolis.
Eaton, Hough and Paulson, of the third class, proved to have been the ringleaders in the hazing. They were summarily dismissed from the Naval Academy, while the other six youngsters implicated in the affair all came in for severe punishments that fell short of dismissal.
After that matters went on smoothly enough for the balance of the term. Dave, Dan, Joyce, Farley, Page, Jetson and all their closest intimates in the class succeeded in passing their annual examinations. Jetson, in addition, had made good in his new role of amiable fellow.
As these young men, now new first classmen, stood on the deck of a battleship, watching the Naval Academy fade astern, at the beginning of the summer cruise, Dave Darrin turned to his friends, remarking wistfully:
“Fellows, if we get through one more year of it without falling down, we shall then be putting to sea once more, and then as graduated midshipmen, afloat in our effort to win our ensign’s commissions!”