He retained only consciousness enough to fight like a dying wild beast.
With one of Darrin’s arms pinioned Page seemed fighting to get the other in an equal state of helplessness.
Dave fought to free himself. Yet he did not struggle too hard.
“If I free myself abruptly, I may lose Page!” was the thought that rushed through his brain.
To free himself of his comrade in order to get to the surface alone and safe was furthest from the young midshipman’s mind.
“It’s a tough fix, but I’m going to get Page to the surface, or stay down here with him!” throbbed Dave.
They were near enough to the surface to enable Darrin to see his comrade, though not with much clearness.
Down under the water all forms looked indistinct.
While Darrin struggled cautiously his mind worked fast.
It would have been easy enough to choke Page into insensibility, but that would cause the unreasoning midshipman to open his mouth, insuring his drowning.
Suddenly Dave saw his chance! He made up his mind at once.
Swiftly moving his free hand back, he struck Page on the forehead with his clenched fist.
At that moment, Page began to fight harder to keep
them both down.
But Darrin struck him again on the head with his fist.
The injured midshipman now collapsed, senseless.
Cautiously though swiftly Dave freed himself, got a left hand grip on the collar of Page’s blouse, and with his right hand struck out for the surface.
His feet aided. With joy Dave saw the water overhead growing lighter and lighter. Then his face shot up into the life-giving air.
Darrin took in a great gulp of it, then turned to make sure that the unconscious Page’s mouth was above water.
Close at hand one of the sailboats of the fleet was bearing down upon them.
“There are Mr. Darrin and Mr. Page!” shouted a voice.
Splash! splash! Two classmates were over in the water, swimming superbly toward the exhausted Dave.
“Keep up a moment or two longer, Mr. Darrin!” hailed the voice of Midshipman Hallam encouragingly.
All these young midshipmen were on duty. Therefore, throughout the mishap and its attendant circumstances the ceremonious use of “Mr.” had been followed.
“Won’t I keep up, though!” thrilled Dave, as he heard the cheering hail.
All but forgetting himself, Dave turned to make sure that Page’s mouth was kept above water.
“Let me have Mr. Page!” called out Midshipman Botkin, ranging up alongside and taking charge of Darrin’s burden.
“How are you, Mr. Darrin? Enjoy a little help?” queried Midshipman Hallam, throwing out a supporting arm to his classmate.
“I’m nearly all in,” confessed Dave, with a ghastly smile.
“But not all in? Good enough! Get hold of my arm, and don’t try to do much more than float. They’re gathering the men in fast, now.”