As the brigade marched indifferently off, and left him there, Henkel gazed, for a few moments at the solid ranks of blue and gold, and a great sob welled up within him. In this supreme moment he realized all that he had lost—his place among honest men!
Then, crushing down any feeling of weakness, he turned on his heel, a sneer darkening his face.
Then, recalling himself, Henkel sprang up the steps and hastened to the room that had been partly his. Here he discarded his uniform substituting for it the citizen’s clothes which had been brought to him from the midshipmen’s store. His own few belongings that he cared about taking with him he packed hastily in a dress-suit case.
Yet the task required time. His roommate, Brimmer, was back before Henkel was ready to depart.
“You’d better wait, now, until the coast is clear,” whispered Brimmer. “Hosts of the fellows are hanging about outside.”
“They won’t see me,” jeered Henkel harshly. “I’ll wait until they’re off at afternoon duties. But see here, Brimmer, don’t you dare forget that I might have said much about you, and that I didn’t. Don’t dare forget that I leave to you the task of humbling that fellow, Darrin. If you fail me, Brimmer, it won’t be too late for me to do some talking.”
“Oh, I’ll get Darrin out of here,” grimaced Brimmer. “But I won’t try to do it the way you did. You went in for enmity. I’m going to undo Darrin by being his friend.”
“Well, I’m through and ready to leave,” muttered Henkel. “But I’m not going until the coast is clear.”
Seating himself by the window, he stared moodily out, thinking of the life which had strongly appealed to him, and from which he had exiled himself. While he was so occupied knock sounded at the door; then the cadet officer of the day stepped in:
“I see you are ready to go, Mr. Henkel,” announced the cadet officer. “The published order was to the effect that you leave the Naval Academy immediately. The officer in charge has sent me to see that you comply with the order at once.”
“Oh, well,” muttered Henkel bitterly. He turned, holding out his hand to his late roommate.
“Goodby, Brimmer; good luck!”
“The same to you,” replied Brimmer, as their hands met. That was all that was said with the cadet officer of the day looking on, but both of the late roommates understood the compact of dishonor that lay between them concerning Dave Darrin’s coming fate.
With his derby hat pulled low over his eyes and gripping his suit case, Henkel slunk through the corridors of Bancroft Hall. Now he faced the hardest ordeal of all in going out through the entrance of the great white building, beyond which stood many groups of midshipmen.
Now these young men of the Navy caught sight of Henkel. No goodbyes were called out to him. Instead, as his feet struck the flagging of the walk scores of lips were puckered. The midshipmen gave the departing one a whistled tune and furnished the drum part with their hands. That tune was—