“I don’t know,” returned Dave. “But I do know that my head is in a big whirl, and that I’m going to rest it for a few minutes. By the way, Dan, there’s one thing I hope you remember.”
“What is that?” demanded Dalzell.
“What did they tell us this lower deck was named?”
“Dunno,” grunted Dan. “But I have my own name for it. I call it the pinochle deck.”
“I’m afraid that won’t do to repeat,” laughed Dave.
At that moment the handle of the door was turned. Five upper class midshipmen entered, closing the door behind them. Then they stood there, glaring at the two poor plebes in “cit.” clothes.
A TASTE OF HAZING
“Good evening, gentlemen,” nodded Dave pleasantly, as he rose and stood by the study table, waiting to hear the pleasure of his visitors.
Dan Dalzell favored his callers with a nod, but remained seated, both hands thrust deep in his pockets.
“Get up on your feet, mister!” ordered one of the midshipmen, so sternly that Dan obeyed like a shot.
“Excuse me,” he began hastily. “I didn’t know you came here in an official capacity. I thought—”
“Silence, mister!” commanded another of the visitors. Dan subsided.
“What’s your name, mister?” demanded the last speaker, as he favored Dave with his next glance.
“Why, my name is Dave Darrin,” replied that plebe pleasantly.
“Say ‘sir,’ mister, when you address an upper class man. When asked your name, reply, ‘Darrin, sir.’”
“Darrin, sir,” replied Dave promptly.
“Stand at attention, both of you!” commanded another visitor.
Both plebes obeyed. Now still another caller wheeled upon Dan.
“What’s your name, mister.”
“Dalzell—Sir!” thundered Dan’s questioner.
“Dalzell, sir,” Dan responded meekly enough.
“It is plain enough that both of you plebes need a good deal of practice in the use of the word, sir. Therefore, in your next answers, you will be careful to employ ‘sir’ after each word that you utter in your reply. Mister,” to Dave, “what did you come to the Naval Academy for?”
“To, sir, become, sir, a sir, Naval, sir, officer. Sir.”
“Very good, mister. Mister,” to Dalzell, “why did you come here?”
“For sir, the same pur—”
“Sir, sir, sir, sir!” interrupted the quizzer. “Now, try again, mister.”
“For, sir, the, sir, same, sir, purpose, sir.”
“Now, mister,” continued the quizzing visitor, transfixing Dalzell with a look of tremendous sternness, “can you talk French?”
Dan’s eyes twinkled briefly.
“I don’t know, sir. I never tried, sir,” replied Dalzell, in pretended embarrassment.
For a moment it looked as though Dan had turned the tables of mischief upon his tormentors. His reply was so absurd that all of the upper class men, for a moment, betrayed signs of twitching at the corners of their mouths. Then all of them conquered the desire to laugh and returned to the inquest with added severity. The late questioner turned to one of his classmates, remarking scornfully: