“You questioned Mr. Henkel as to his reason for being in the room?” asked Commander Jephson.
“I did, sir.”
“Did he deny guilty intention in being there?”
“He did, sir, other than admitting that he had broken the regulations by entering another midshipman’s room in that midshipman’s absence.”
Tapping his right temple with the eye-glasses that he held in his hand, the commandant of midshipmen turned to look more directly at the startled culprit.
“Mr. Henkel, did you arrange any or all of the disorder which Lieutenant Nettleson reported having found in Mr. Darrin’s room?”
“I did not, sir.”
Henkel’s voice was clear, firm—almost convincing.
“Have you, at any time, committed any offense in Mr. Darrin’s room, by tampering with his equipment or belongings, or with the furniture of the room?”
“Never, sir,” declared Midshipman Henkel positively.
“You are aware that Mr. Darrin has been punished by the imposition of a great many demerits for untidiness in the care of his equipment?”
“But you were not responsible for any of these seeming delinquencies on Mr. Darrin’s part?”
“You did not turn down, disarrange and soil his bed this forenoon, or create the appearance of untidiness in connection with Mr. Darrin washbowl?”
“You make these denials on your word of honor, as a midshipman and gentleman?” persisted Commander Jephson.
“I do, sir, and most earnestly and solemnly, sir,” replied Midshipman Henkel.
“One word, more, Mr. Henkel,” went on the commandant of midshipmen. “When you improperly entered Mr. Darrin’s room this morning, did you then observe the signs of disorder which Lieutenant Nettleson subsequently discovered and reported?”
“I did, sir, as to the bed. The washbowl I did not notice.”
“That will do, for the present, Mr. Henkel. Mr. Farley, will you now state just what you saw, while watching this forenoon?”
Midshipmen Farley told, simply, how he and Page had commenced their watch.
“In the first place, sir,” declared Farley, “as soon as Mr. Darrin and Mr. Dalzell had left their room, and the corridor was empty, Mr. Page and I, acting by permission and direction of this office, went at once to Mr. Darrin’s room. We made an inspection. At that time there were no such signs of disorder as those which Lieutenant Nettleson subsequently found. Then, sir, Mr. Page and I went back to our room. I held our door very slightly ajar, and stood in such a position that I could glance down the corridor and keep Mr. Darrin’s room door constantly within my range of vision.”