“And I also, sir?” queried Dan, saluting.
“You, also, Mr. Dalzell,” replied the officer.
“Now, has this thing broken loose again?” groaned Dave Darrin, as the two chums hurried below.
“It seems as if it ought to stop some time,” gasped Dalzell.
“It will, and soon,” gritted Darrin. “In a very short time, now, I shall certainly have the full course of two hundred demerits. Great—Scott!”
For now the two chums were in their room, and saw the full extent of the mischief there. “I guess I may as well wire home to Gridley for the price of my return ticket,” hinted Dave bitterly.
“Don’t do anything of the sort,” urged Dan, though with but little hope in his voice. “You may still have a margin of ten or fifteen dems. left to hold you on.”
“We’re under orders, Danny boy, to report back to the O.C.”
“Come along, then.”
In the office of the officer in charge stood Midshipmen Farley and Page. Just after Dave and Dan entered Henkel came in, accompanied Midshipman Hawkins, the cadet officer of day.
It was an actually ferocious gaze that Henkel turned upon Darrin. In that same instant Dave believed that a great light had broken in upon his mind.
“Mr. Hawkins,” requested the O.C., “ascertain whether the commandant of midshipmen can see us now.”
Saluting, the cadet officer of the day passed out of the room, very prim and erect, his white gloves of duty a very conspicuous part of his uniform.
In a few moments, he returned, raising his right, white-gloved hand to the visor of his cap.
“The commandant of midshipmen is ready, sir.”
“Come with me, then,” directed Lieutenant Nettleson, who had already risen to receive the cadet officer’s report.
The O.C. led the way into the office of Commander Jephson, U.S. Navy, the commandant of midshipmen.
“This, Mr. Nettleson, I understand, relates to Mr. Darrin’s late apparent course in matters of discipline?” inquired Commander Jephson.
The commandant of midshipmen, who was middle-aged and slightly bald, removed his eye-glasses, holding them poised in his right hand while he gazed calmly at Mr. Nettleson.
“Yes, sir. This is the matter,” replied the O.C., saluting his superior.
Commander Jephson had, usually, a manner of slow and gentle speech. He impressed one, at first sight, as being a man lacking in “ginger,” which was a great mistake, as many a midshipman had found to his cost.
The commandant of cadets, however, did not believe in becoming excited or excitable until the occasion arose.
“Be good enough to make your statement, Mr. Nettleson,” requested Commander Jephson.
Consulting a slip of paper that he held in his left hand the younger Naval officer recounted the previous instances in which Midshipman Darrin, fourth class, U.S. Naval Academy, had been found delinquent in that he had slighted the care of his equipment or of his room.