Poor Dave, his face flushed crimson, could have dropped in his humiliation at having thus fallen into the trap. But he started manfully for the washbowl, which he half filled with water. Meanwhile the other five plebes were choking. They could have screamed in their glee—had they dared!
Placing the bowl where ordered, Dave bent down to his knees, immersing the top of his head in the water.
With hands on opposite sides of the bowl he balanced his feet, preparatory to hoisting them into place against the wall.
“Up oars!” commanded Mr. Hayes dryly.
From one of the visiting plebes came an incautious giggle. Mr. Hayes turned and marked his man with a significant stare that made the unfortunate giggler turn red and white in turn with alarm.
At the order, “up oars,” Dave Darrin sent his feet aloft. By rare good luck he succeeded the first time trying.
There he remained, his head in the bowl of water, his feet resting against the wall.
Just at this moment, though, the sound of trouble was in the air, even if it reached interested ears but faintly.
A step was heard in the corridor outside. There was a faint knock.
The upper class midshipmen knew on the instant what the knock meant—and so indeed did Dave Darrin.
The “Youngsters” Who became “Spoons on”
It was a most critical moment in the life histories of several young men who had grown to consider themselves as future officers in the United States Navy!
Such a man as Midshipman Bender was certain to report any form of hazing he detected.
Now, the usual punishment meted out to hazers at either Annapolis or West Point is dismissal from the service!
True, this was not brutal hazing, but merely the light form of the sport known as “running” the new man.
Nevertheless, “all hazing looks alike” to the public, when posted by the newspapers, and the Naval Academy authorities deal severely with even “running.”
So, for all of the “youngsters,” or third class men, who had been conducting the evening’s festivities, all the elements of trouble, and perhaps of dismissal, were at hand.
But Dave Darrin had been the first to hear the soft approach of footsteps, and somehow, he had guessed at the meaning of it all.
Just in the fraction of a second before the knock had sounded at the door Dave had made a fine handspring that brought him from his topsy-turvy attitude to a position of standing on his feet. And, at the same time, he held the washbowl in his hand without having spilled a drop of the water. Like a flash Dave few across the room, depositing the bowl where it belonged. With a towel he wiped his hair, then swiftly mopped his face dry. Hair brush and comb in hand, he turned, saving: