“That would have started a fight, as the least consequence,” replied Dave, more soberly.
“A fight, eh?” chuckled Dan. “Dave, I don’t know what has come over you lately. There was a time when you didn’t mind fights.”
“I have fought three times since coming here,” Darrin replied soberly.
“And I have fought seven times,” retorted Dan.
“Puzzle: Guess which one of us was found the fresher,” laughed Darrin.
“I never thought you’d stand anything such as you’ve endured at Annapolis, without pounding your way through thick ranks of fighters,” mused Dalzell aloud. “Dave, I can’t fathom your meekness.”
“Perhaps it isn’t meekness,” returned Darrin, wheeling and looking at his chum.
“If it isn’t meekness, then what is it? And, Dave, you used to be the hothead, the living firebrand of Dick & Co.!”
“Danny boy, if hazing has lived nearly seventy years at Annapolis, then it’s because hazing is a good thing for the seedling Naval officer. I believe in hazing. I believe in being forced to respect and obey my elders. I believe in a fellow having every grain of conceit driven out of him by heroic measures. And that’s hazing—long may the practice live and flourish!”
“Why, what good is hazing doing you?” insisted Dalzell.
“It’s teaching me how to submit and to obey, and how to forget my own vanity, before I am put in command of other men later on. Danny boy, do you suppose it has cost me no effort to keep my hands at my trousers-seams when I wanted to throw my fists out in front of me? Do you imagine I have just tamely submitted to a lot of abuse because my spirit was broken? Danny, I’m trying to train my spirit, instead of letting it boss me! Many and many a time, when the youngsters have started to guy me unmercifully I’ve fairly ached to jump in and thrash ’em all. But, instead, I’ve tried to conquer myself!”
“I reckon you’re the same old Dave—improved,” murmured Midshipman Dalzell, holding out his hand.
THE SPECTRE AT THE FIGHT PARTY
“On your head, mister. Now, let us have paragraph number four, with tragic, blank-verse effect.”
That was Jennison’s command
Brooks manifested a fondness for paragraph number one, to the air of “Yankee Doodle.”
Others dropped in on Dave, after release at 9.30, evenings, and called for other paragraph rendered in various ways. He was also overhauled, out of doors, in the brief recreation period after dinner, and made to do various stunts with the unfortunate paragraphs from the “Bazoo.”
By the time the first week of this was over Dave Darrin wished most heartily that Mr. Pollock had never founded the Gridley “Blade.”
It is rare that second class men take any part in hazing; it is almost unheard of for a first class man to take any really active part in running a plebe.