“Cheap-looking lot, most of them, aren’t they?” asked Dalzell cheerfully.
“Probably they’re saying the same thing about us,” chuckled Dave dryly.
“Let ’em, then. Who cares?” muttered Dalzell.
“Dan, my boy, I reckon you’ll need to put the soft pedal on your critical tendencies,” warned Dave. “And, if you want my friendly opinion, I’ve a big idea that you’re going to talk your way into a lot of trouble here.”
“Trouble?” grinned Dalzell. “Well, I’m used to it.”
In truth Dan had been victor in many a hard-fought schoolboy disagreement, as readers of the High School Boys Series are aware.
As the young men in question drew nearer they eyed Darrin and Dalzell with a disapproval that was not wholly concealed. The truth was that Dave and Dan were recognized as not being boys who had studied at one of the Naval prep. schools in Annapolis. The assumption was, therefore, that Dave and Dan had not been able to afford such a luxury.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” was Dave’s pleasant greeting. “You are candidates, like ourselves, I take it?”
This fact being acknowledged, Dave introduced himself and his friend, and soon some pleasant new acquaintances were being formed, for Darrin had a way that always made him popular with strangers.
“Have you two got to go up before the June exams. here?” asked one of the young men, who had introduced himself as Grigsby.
“Part of it,” grinned Dan. “We’ve already gone through the primer tests and the catechism, and that sort of thing; but we still have to go before the barber and the toilet specialists and see whether our personal appearance suits.”
“You’re lucky, then,” replied Grigsby. “Our crowd all have to take the academic exams.”
“Cheer up,” begged Dan. “Any baby can go past the academic exams. Arithmetic is the hardest part. One funny chap on the Civil Service Commission nearly got me by asking me how much two and two are, but Darrin saved me, just in the nick of time, by holding up five fingers; so I knew the answer right off.”
Some of the candidates were already surveying Dan with a good deal of amusement. They had heard much of the severe way upper classmen at the Naval Academy have of taking all the freshness out of a new man, and, like Dave, these other candidates scented plenty of trouble ahead for cheerful, grinning Dan Dalzell.
“Gentlemen,” broke in Dave quietly, “do you see the time on the clock over on the academic building? It’s nine-fourteen. What do you say if we step promptly over to the administration building and plunge into what’s ahead of us?”
“Good enough,” nodded one of the new acquaintances. “Suppose you lead the way?”
So, with Dan by his side, Dave piloted the others over to the administration building, just beyond the chapel.
As they stepped inside, and found themselves in a hallway, a marine orderly confronted them.