Pushing aside a dress uniform and a raincoat that hung like curtains, Lieutenant Nettleson gazed into the face of—Midshipman Henkel!
Henkel had been caught so suddenly, had realized it so tardily, that the grin of exultation had not quite faded from his face by the time that he stood exposed.
In another second, however, that midshipman’s face had turned as white as dirty chalk.
“Stand forth, sir!” ordered the O.C. sternly.
Henkel obeyed, his legs shaking under him.
“What is your name?”
“Mr. Henkel, what are you doing in the room of another midshipman, in the absence of both occupants?
“I—I—just dropped in, sir!” stammered affrighted midshipman.
“Mr. Henkel, sir,” continued Lieutenant Nettleson sternly, “it has long been a puzzle to the discipline officers why Mr. Darrin should so deliberately and senselessly invite demerits for lack of care of his equipment. You may now be certain that you will be accused of all breaches of good order and discipline that have been laid at Mr. Darrin’s door. Have you anything to say, sir.”
Midshipman Henkel, who had been doing some swift thinking, had had time enough to realize that no one had seen him doing any mischief in the room. The offense, merely, of visiting another midshipman’s room improperly would call but for ten demerits. Pooh! The scrape was such a simple one that he would lie valiantly out of the graver charge and escape with ten demerits.
“I admit being here, sir, without propriety. I am innocent of any further wrongdoing, sir,” lied the culprit.
Lieutenant Nettleson studied the young man’s face keenly.
“Mr. Henkel, was Mr. Darrin’s bed turned down and in its present disordered state when you entered the room?”
“You declare this on your honor as a midshipman and gentleman?”
“Yes, sir,” lied the unabashed Henkel.
“Was Mr. Darrin’s washbowl in its present untidy state?”
“I don’t know, sir. I didn’t notice that.”
“Very good, Mr. Henkel. Go to your room and remain there in close arrest. Do not leave your room, except by orders or proper permission, sir.”
“Very good, sir,” replied Henkel, saluting. Then, his face still a ghastly hue, he turned and marched from the room, not venturing, under the eyes of the O.C., to look at either Farley or Page.
When the sections came marching back from math. Lieutenant Nettleson stood outside the door of his office.
“Mr. Darrin!” called the O.C. And, a moment later, “Mr. Dalzell!”
Both wondering midshipmen approached the officer in charge for the day at Bancroft Hall, and saluted.
“Mr. Darrin,” stated Lieutenant Nettleson, “you and your roommate may go to your room to leave your books. In the room you will find some evidences of disorder. Do not attempt to set them straight. As soon as you have left your books return to me.”