“Dave, I’m getting nervous!”
“Is that the best way you can find to enjoy yourself?” demanded the taller boy.
“But I am, Dave—dreadfully nervous!” insisted Dan Dalzell positively.
“Well, you’ll have to conceal it, then. The doctors at the United States Naval Academy won’t pass any nervous wrecks,” laughed Dave Darrin.
“Don’t you understand?” demanded Dan, in a hurt voice. “The nearer we get to Annapolis the more nervous I’m getting.”
“You’d better drop off, then,” hinted Dave ironically, “and take the next car back to Odenton and Baltimore. What earthly good would a Naval officer be who was going to get nervous as soon as he came in sight of an enemy?”
“But I wouldn’t get nervous in the sight the enemy,” flared up Dan Dalzell.
“Then why get nervous about the folks down at the Naval Academy? They all intend to be your friends!”
“I guess that is true,” Dan went on. “Of course, back in April, we went before the Civil Service Commission and took our academic examinations. We passed, and haven’t got that to go up against again.”
“We passed the home medical examiner, too,” retorted Dave. “In fact, you might say that we passed the sawbones with honors.
“But that medical chap put in a long time listening at my chest,” complained Dan Dalzell, who was undeniably fidgeting in his seat. “Then, too, the civil service sawbones told me that, while he passed me, as far as he was concerned, I’d have to stand the ordeal again before the Naval surgeons at Annapolis.”
“Well, he did just the same thing with me,” rejoined Darrin. “You just keep your eye on me, Dan! Do you see me shaking? Do you hear my voice falter? See me burning any blue lights?
“Perhaps, Dave, you don’t take the whole business as much to heart as I do,” continued Dan Dalzell almost tremulously. “Why, Great Scott, if they drop me at the Naval Academy, I’ll be the bluest fellow you ever saw! But maybe you won’t care, Dave, whether you are dropped or not.”
“Won’t I?” grumbled Darrin. “The Navy is the only thing in life that I care about!”
“Then aren’t you nervous, just now?” demanded Dan.
“If I am, I’m not making a show of myself,” retorted Darrin.
“But are you nervous?” begged Dan.
“No!” roared Dave, and then he allowed a grin to creep over his face.
“Oh, go ahead and say so tonight,” jeered Dan. “Tomorrow, if you have the good luck to get sworn in, you’ll have to quit fibbing and begin practicing at telling the truth. A midshipman at the Naval Academy, I understand, is kicked out of the service if he tells lies.”
“Not quite—only in case he gets caught,” laughed Dave Darrin.
“But really, about being nervous—”
“Oh, forget that sort of nonsense, won’t you, Dan, old fellow?” begged his chum. “Just get your eye on the lovely country we’re going through.”