The midshipmen fell in by classes in front of Bancroft Hall. After muster the classes marched away by sections.
Each section contained an average of ten men, under command of one of their number, who was known as the section leader.
It was the section leader’s duty to march his section to the proper recitation room in Academic Hall, to preserve discipline while marching, and to report his section to the instructor.
At the beginning of the academic year the fourth class men were divided into sections in alphabetical order. Afterwards the sections would be reorganized according to order of merit.
So, at the outset, Darrin and Dalzell were in the same section, and Dave, as it happened, had been appointed section leader.
When the command rang out Dave marched away with his section, feeling somewhat proud that he had attained even to so small a degree of command.
It was an interesting sight to see hundreds of midshipmen, split up into so many sections, marching across the grounds in so many different directions, for not all the sections were headed for Academic Hall.
Dave knew the number of the room to which his section was bound, and knew also the location of the room.
Sections march, in step, at a brisk gait, the clicking of so many heels against the pavements making a rhythmic, inspiring sound.
Some of the midshipmen in Dave’s section however, felt low-spirited that morning. They had been looking through their text-books, and felt a dread that they would not be able to keep up the stiff pace of learning long enough to get past the semi-annual examinations in the coming January.
Dave and Dan, however, both felt in good spirits. They had looked through the first lessons in algebra, and felt that they would not have much trouble at the outset, anyway. They believed that they had been well grounded back in their High School days.
On their way Darrin’s section was passed by three officers of the Navy. Midshipmen must always salute officers of the Navy. While marching in sections, however, the only midshipman who salutes is the section leader.
Three times Dave’s hand came smartly up to the visor of his cap in salute, while the other men in his section looked straight ahead.
Reaching Academic Hall Dave marched his section mates into the recitation room.
Lieutenant Bradshaw, the instructor, was already present, standing by his desk.
Darrin saluted the lieutenant as soon as he had halted the section.
“Sir, I report all members of the section present.”
Five of the midshipmen were directed by Lieutenant Bradshaw to go to their seats. The rest were ordered to blackboards, Dave and Dan among the latter number.
Those at the blackboards were each given a problem to lay out on the blackboard. Then the instructor turned to the fourth class men who remained in their seats.