Then, though he did not realize it, three or four passers-by turned to look at the unsteady young man in a midshipman’s uniform.
Two men passing in an auto runabout glanced quickly at Dan.
“Look at that fool midshipman, throwing away a great future for a few glasses of strong drink,” he remarked to his companion. Then the auto sped on.
As for Dan Dalzell, he no longer understood clearly what was happening.
At this lower end of Main Street, on which he was now moving, there were not many people astir. One there was behind him, however—Tony, the Greek, following stealthily on his trail.
At last, as Dalzell reached the head of a short, narrow alleyway Tony caught up with him in the darkness that had now fallen.
A quick shove Tony gave the midshipman, and Dan, helpless, staggered into the alleyway, tripped and fell.
Tony passed on as though he had merely accidentally jostled another.
Then, in an instant he wheeled, went back the head of the alley and glanced in.
Dan Dalzell was lying still, in a complete stupor.
With a chuckle the Greek drew a small bottle from one of his pockets, taking out the stopper and throwing it away. Then he began sprinkling the contents on Dan’s uniform coat with energy.
At that instant there was a quick step outside. Then Dave Darrin, tall, handsome, and even distinguished-looking in the uniform that he wore so well, bounded in, gripping the Greek’s right arm in a tight grasp.
“You rascal!” vibrated Dave’s angry voice. “What are you doing here?”
It being darker in the alleyway than it was outside, Tony did not recognize his captor. Dave towered so in his wrath that the Greek took him to be an officer of the Navy.
“Speak up, before I shake the truth out of you!” warned Darrin. “Do you understand that this is a crime, you knave, and that I can place you under arrest and have you sent to the penitentiary for years?”
Tony was now sure that he was in the clutch of a Naval officer. Moreover, Darrin’s grip was one that spoke of more muscular strength held in reserve.
“Let me go, sare!” begged the Greek, squirming. “This ees all one joke. I do ze man no harm.”
For answer, Dave used his left hand to snatch away the bottle that Tony still held.
“Alcohol!” detected Dave, and hurled the bottle to the other end of the alleyway. “And you have been sprinkling it on this midshipman’s uniform? You are the fellow who runs the temperance drinks place? A nice business for you to be in—drugging midshipmen and trying to ruin them! To prison you go, unless you limber up your tongue. Who put you up to this miserable business? Talk quickly—or off to a cell you go!”
This was pure bluff, as Dave, being under twenty-one, had no right to make an arrest, even as a citizen. But he saw that he had the Greek scared, and he resolved to push his advantage to the limit.