Midshipman Henley, first class, proved an exception to this rule. Regularly, once a day, he met Darrin and ordered him to sing paragraph number one to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.”
If Dave resented any part of the torment, he was especially annoyed by Henley’s unusual conduct.
Naval needs brought a strange revenge.
Reports had reached the Navy Department from commanders of warships in commission that many of the graduates of the Naval Academy serving with the fleets did not possess sufficient knowledge of the command of boat crews.
In the past first class men had not been bothered with rowing drills, which they were supposed to have thoroughly mastered earlier in their course.
Acting on word from the Navy Department the superintendent of the Naval Academy had the first class men ordered out for rowing drills. All who showed sufficient skill were released from such drills. The others were sent to drill with the fourth class men.
Four of Dave’s boat crew of fourth class men were transferred to another crew, their places being taken by four first class men who had been found sadly deficient in rowing drill.
“Will one of the first class men serve as crew captain, sir?” asked Darrin.
“Certainly not,” replied Lieutenant Edgecombe. “You will still keep command of your crew, Mr. Darrin. And you will be expected to see that these first class men are most thoroughly grounded in the boat drill. Do no spare any of them in the least because they are upper class men.”
“Very good, sir,” Darrin answered, saluting.
Midshipman Henley was one of the four assigned to Dave’s crew.
There was a deep scowl on Henley’s face when he reported for the first boat drill under a plebe crew captain.
As the boat was pushed off, after the crew had embarked, Darrin was alert only to his duty as the man in charge of the boat.
Before the boat had gone a hundred yard Dave called crisply:
“Number four, handle your oar with more energy and precision!
“Don’t get too stiff, mister,” growled Midshipman Henley.
Darrin returned the black look coolly.
“Number four, when addressing the crew captain, you will employ the word, ‘sir.’ And you will pay strict attention to criticisms of your work.”
“Beats all how these plebes think they’re men!” growled Mr. Henley disgustedly, without looking at Dave.
“No talking in the crew,” called Dave
Henley subsided, for he had been trained to habits of obedience. Had the man in command been a member of his own class there would have been no trouble whatever, but Henley resented being at the orders of a fourth class man.
“Number four, you are lounging,” rebuked Darrin quietly, but firmly. “Correct your deportment, sir.”
Dave gazed so steadily at Midshipman Henley that the latter, though he colored, took a more seamanlike attitude for a while. Bitter thoughts, however, were seething in the mind of this first class man. After a few minutes Henley again struck his improper attitude.