“Very touge, indeed” replied the one addressed.
A “touge” plebe, in Naval Academy parlance, is one who is wholly “fresh.”
“Mister,” continued Dan’s quizzer, “we find you too full of levity for one who intends to embrace the profession of quarter-deck lounger. In our belief it will be necessary for you to let some new ideas soak into your head. Mister, get your wash basin and fill it exactly half full of water. Remember, mister—neither a drop nor less than exactly half full.”
Dan’s first impulse was to grin, his second to laugh. Yet something in the tone and look of the last speaker made “touge” Dalzell feel that the simplest way out of difficulty would be for him to obey as carefully and speedily as he could. So, with a hurried “very good, sir,” Dalzell turned in quest of his basin. He brought it, just about half full, for the inspection of his imperious visitor.
“Place it there on the floor, beside the wall,” ordered the tormentor
“Now, mister, stand on your head in that water!”
Dan flushed hotly, for an instant. He even clenched his fists. Then, with a sudden rush of good sense to the head, he bent over to carry out the order that he had received.
It was not as easy a feat as might be supposed, even for a rather well trained and hardened athlete like Dan Dalzell.
He got his head into the bowl all right, and rested his hands on the floor on either side of the bowl. It was when he tried to throw his feet up against the wall that he came to grief. His feet slid along the wall and came down to the floor again.
Dan fell out of the bowl with a good deal of splash.
“If, at first, you don’t succeed, mister,” began Midshipman Trotter, who had constituted himself chief of the tormentors, “try, try some more.”
“I’ll make it, sir,” responded Dan cheerily, and his very manner, now, inclined his tormentors to go a little more lightly with him.
At the third trial, with his eyes closed, just below the level of the water, Dalzell succeeded in standing very solidly on his head.
The upper class men, who were all third class men, or “youngsters” as they are unofficially termed, watched the performance with interest.
“Rather well done, for a beginner,” commented Midshipman Trotter. “As you were, mister.”
Dan, unfortunately, tried to be a bit “smart.” He made a half somersault forward, trying to spring up on his feet. He fell back, however, and sat down squarely in what was left of the water.
“Never mind a little wet, mister,” advised Midshipman Trotter, with a very serious face. “We always rate a man as highly awkward, however, if he breaks the washbowl.”
“Which one of you is the better athlete?” suddenly asked Midshipman Harris.
Neither chum intended to be caught, by this crowd, as wanting in modesty.