“David, little giant,” retorted Dalzell, “your weak spot is arithmetic. It’s just seven times as hard here as the worst deal that we ever got in the High School.”
“Oh, well,” retorted Darrin doggedly, “other men have stood this racket before us, and have graduated into the Navy. If they did it, we can do it, too. Mr. Trotter was telling me, yesterday, that the plebe year is the hardest year of all here.”
“Mr. Trotter is a highly intelligent individual, then,” murmured Dan Dalzell.
“He explained that the first year is the hardest just because the new man has never before learned how to study. After our first year here, he says, we’ll have the gait so that we can go easily at the work given us.”
“If we ever live through the first year,” murmured Dan disconsolately. “As for me, I’m hovering at the ‘unsat.’ line all the time, and constantly fearing that I’m going to be unseated. If I could see myself actually getting through the first year here, with just enough of an average to save me, I’d be just as happy as ever a fourth class man can hope to be here.”
“Remember the old Gridley spirit, Danny boy,” coaxed Dave. “We can’t be licked—just because we don’t know how to take a licking. We’re going to get through here, Danny, and we’re going to become officers in the Navy. It’s tough on the way—that’s all.”
“And we green young idiots,” sighed Dalzell, “thought the life here was just a life of parading, with yachting thrown in on the side. We were going to feel swell in our gold lace, and puff out our chests under the approving smiles of the girls. We were going to lead the german—and, say, Dave, what were some of the other fool things we expected to find happiness in doing at Annapolis?
“It served us right,” grunted Darrin, “if we imagined that we were going to get through without real work. Danny boy, I don’t believe there’s a single thing in life—worth having—a fellow can get without working hard for it!”
“There goes the call for mathematics, Dave. We’ll tumble out and see whether we can get a two-six today.
“Or a two-seven,” suggested Darrin hopefully. “My, but how far away a full four seems!
“Did anyone ever get a full four?” asked Dan, opening his eyes very wide.
As each, with his uniform cap set squarely on, and his book and papers carried in left hand, turned out, he found the corridor to be swarming with midshipmen fully as anxious as were this pair.
A minute later hundreds of midshipmen were forming by classes. Then the classes parted into sections and the little groups marched away in many directions, all going at brisk military gait. Dave got through better, that forenoon, than usual. He made a three-one, while Dalzell scored a two-eight.
Then this section, one of many, marched back.
As Dave and Dan swung down the corridor, and into their own room, they halted, just inside the door, and came quickly to attention. Lieutenant Hall, the officer in charge for the day, stood there, and with him the midshipman who served as assistant cadet officer of the day.