“Why, I suppose, gentlemen, Dalzell and myself were very fair athletes in the High School sense of the word. But it’s a long jump from that to aspiring to the Navy football team. Of course we’ll turn out for practice, if you wish, but—”
At this moment, Lieutenant Bender, the “duty-crazy” one, thrust the door open.
Here Dave, on his way to the mirror, hairbrush and comb in hand, halted as though for the first time aware of the accusing presence of Bender, midshipman in charge of the floor for the day.
“Uh-hum!” choked Midshipman Bender more confused, even, than he had expected the others to be.
“Looks like rather good material, doesn’t he, Bender?” inquired Mr. Trotter. “Green, of course, and yet—”
“I didn’t come here to discuss Navy athletics,” replied Midshipman Bender.
“Oh, an official visit—is that it?” asked shipman Hayes, favoring the official visitor with a baby-stare. “As it is past graduation, and there are no evening study hours, there is no regulation against visiting in the rooms of other members of the brigade.”
“No,” snapped Mr. Bender, “there is not.”
Saying this the midshipman in charge turned on his heel and left the room.
An instant after the door had closed the lately scared youngsters expressed themselves by a broad grin, which deepened to a very decided chuckle as Mr. Bender’s footsteps died away.
“Mister,” cried Midshipman Trotter, favoring Darrin with a glance of frank friendliness, “do you know that you saved us from frapping the pap hard?”
“And that perhaps you’ve saved us from bilging?” added Midshipman Hayes.
“I’m such a greenhorn about the Navy, sir, that I am afraid I don’t follow you in the least, sir,” Darrin replied quietly.
Then they explained to him that the “pap” is the conduct report, and that “to frap” is to hit. To “frap the pap” means to “get stuck on” the conduct report for a breach of discipline. A “bilger” is one who is dropped from the service, or who is turned back to the class below.
“I judged that there was some trouble coming sir,” Dave confessed, “and I did the best that I could. It was good luck on my part that I was able to be of service to you.”
“Good luck, eh?” retorted Midshipman Trotter. “Third class men, fall in!”
As the “youngsters” lined up Mr. Trotter, standing at the right of the line, asked coaxingly:
“Mister, will you be condescending enough to pass down the line and shake hands with each of us?”
Flushing modestly, but grinning, Dave did as asked—or directed.
“Mister,” continued Midshipman Trotter impressively, “we find ourselves very close to being ‘spoons on’ you.”
For a youngster to be “spoons on” a new fourth classman means for the former to treat the latter very nearly as though he were a human being.
“Now, you green dandelions may go,” suggested Mr. Trotter, turning to the four “visiting” plebes.