The officer in charge looked keenly at Darrin, who had turned almost deathly white. Certainly Dave had the appearance of one wholly guilty.
“Have you anything to say, Mr. Darrin?” continued the officer in charge.
“I have never, in my life, sir, smoked or used tobacco in any form,” Darrin truthfully answered.
“Then how did these articles come to be in your possession?”
“They were not in my possession, sir, were they?” Darrin asked, with the utmost respect.
Lieutenant Hall frowned perceptibly.
“Mr. Darrin, do not attempt any quibble. The circumstances under which these articles were found place them sufficiently in your possession. What have you to say that will clear you?”
“I can offer, sir, the testimony of my roommate, Mr. Dalzell, who will declare most positively that he has never known me to use tobacco.”
“Did Mr. Dalzell leave your room with you when you went to your last recitation?”
“No, sir; he left fifteen minutes before, by permission, to go to his locker in the gymnasium to look over certain articles there.”
“Then you are unable to call your roommate to support your assertion that you did not smoke before going with your section to recitation in English?”
“I have only my unsupported word, sir, as a midshipman and a gentleman, to offer.”
“Under almost all circumstances, Mr. Darrin, a midshipman’s word of honor should be sufficient. But you have been reported several times of late, and with apparent justice. You will make in writing, Mr. Darrin, at once, such report as you wish to hand in on this incident, and the report against you will be considered in the usual way.”
Dave returned to his room. Though he was discouraged his face looked grim, and his air was resolute.
Taking pen and paper he began to prepare his report on this latest charge.
Having finished and signed, Dave next picked up a bit of exercise paper and began to figure.
“What are you doing, old chap?” asked Dan sympathetically.
“My head is in too much of a whirl for me to trust myself to any mental arithmetic,” Darrin answered. “I have been figuring how much further I have to go. First offense of having tobacco in possession calls for twenty-five demerits. That brings the total up to one hundred and forty-five. Dave, I have a lease of life here amounting to fifty-four more demerits in this term. The fifty-fifth signs my ticket home!
“The next trick of this kind attempted,” cried Dalzell, his face glowing with anger, “must sign, instead, the home ticket of the rascal who is at the bottom of all this!”
“But how?” demanded Dave blankly. “He has been entirely too slick to allow himself to be caught.”
MIDSHIPMAN FARLEY’S ABOUT-FACE