“Why, yes—that is—er—ingenuity,” admitted Henkel.
“Trickery isn’t the practice of a gentleman, is it?” insisted Farley.
“It has to be, sometimes, when we are fighting a rascal,” retorted Midshipman Henkel.
“I’m afraid I don’t see that,” rejoined Page, shaking his head. “Dirty work is never excusable. I’d sooner let a fellow seem to win over me, for the time being, than to resort to trickery or anything like underhanded methods for getting even with him.”
“Good for you, Page!” nodded Farley “That’s the whole game for a gentleman—and that’s what either a midshipman or a Naval officer is required to be. Henkel, old fellow, you are a little too hot under your blouse collar tonight. Wait until you’ve cooled off, and you’ll sign in with us on our position.”
“Then you fellows are going to play the meek waiting game with Darrin, are you?” sneered Henkel.
“We’re going to play the only kind of game that a gentleman may play,” put in Page incisively, “and we are not going to dally with any game about which a gentleman need feel the least doubt.”
“You’ve spoken for me, Page, old chap,” added Farley.
Midshipman Henkel took his leg off the desk, stood there for a moment, eyeing his two comrades half sneeringly, then turned on his heel and left the room. Just before he closed the door after him Henkel called back:
“Good night, fellows.”
“Well, what do you think of that?” demanded Farley, a moment later.
“I think,” replied Midshipman Page, “just as you do, that Darrin, in his desire to bone grease somewhere, played a dirty trick on us. I consider Darrin to be no better than a dog, and I apologize to the dog. But we’re not going to make dogs of ourselves in order to even up matters.”
“We’re certainly not,” replied Farley, with a nod. “Oh, well, Henkel is a mighty good fellow, at heart. He’ll cool down and come around all right.”
At that instant, however, Midshipman Henkel, with a deep scowl on his face, was whispering mysteriously with his roommate Brimmer.
A CHRONIC PAP FRAPPER
Another week had passed.
By this time all of the new midshipmen had had a very strong taste of what the “grind” is like at the U.S. Naval Academy.
If the lessons had seemed hard at the outset, the young men now regarded the tax demanded on their brains as little short of inhuman.
The lessons were long and hard. No excuse of “unprepared” or otherwise was ever accepted in a section room.
The midshipman who had to admit himself “unprepared” immediately struck “zip,” or absolute zero as a marking for the day. Many such marks would swiftly result in dragging even a bright man’s average down to a point where he would fall below two-five and be “unsat.”
“I thought we plugged along pretty steadily when we were in the High School,” sighed Dave Darrin, looking up from a book. “Danny boy, a day’s work here is fully three times as hard as the severest day back at the High School.