In accepting this challenge, which he had done instantly, Dave Darrin well knew that he placed his chances of remaining at the Naval Academy in great peril. He was also aware that he ran Dan’s head into equal danger.
Yet tradition and custom would not allow Darrin to dodge the fight thus thrust upon him. It was equally true, that, if he failed to ask Dan to act as his second, he would put a serious slight on his chum.
Dave hurried to Dalzell, who listened with more glee than might have been expected.
“Good enough, David, little giant!” approved Dalzell. “When you meet Henley on the field just close in and pound off the whole of his superstructure!
“Dan, I’m afraid I’m letting you in for a tough risk.”
“You wouldn’t be my friend if you kept me out of it,” retorted Dalzell significantly.
Rollins proved only too glad to have the privilege of being the other second. He, too, ran a risk of being dismissed, if caught at this fight; but in adventurous youth the love of risk is strong.
The time was set for Saturday evening at 8.30; the place as usual.
Darrin, as usual, was the first principal to show up. He always liked to have plenty of time for stripping, and he also found it to his advantage to look the ground over.
Mr. Bailey, of the second class, was to serve as referee, and Mr. Clafflin, of the second class as time-keeper. It was against custom to have any of the officials from the first class since member of that class was to be one of the principals.
“I wonder what sort of fellow Henley is with his fists,” mused Rollins, after they had reached the ground.
“Darrin will find out for you,” replied Dan.
“I’m not as afraid of seeing my principal thrashed as I might have been earlier in the year,” went on Rollins.
“Hm! Any fellow that thrashes Dave is almost certain to carry away a few mementos himself!”
As soon as Henley and his seconds were seen to be approaching, Dave slipped off his blouse.
Within five minutes after that both men were ready and faced each other. The word was given.
“Now, Mr. Touge,” warned Henley, “guard that striking face of yours!”
“Oh, I don’t do any striking with my face,” retorted Dave dryly. “I do all my killing with my hands.”
“Stop that one,” urged Henley, feinting cleverly with his left, then following it up with a right hand crusher.
Dave stopped both blows neatly enough, then sidestepped and passed over a fist that grazed Mr. Henley’s face.
“I just wanted to find out where your face is,” mocked Darrin.
“Talk less and fight more, Mr. Touge!” warned the referee.
“Very good, sir,” Dave retorted. “But it’s going to be hard on Mr. Henley.”
“Bah!” sneered Henley. “Woof!”
The latter exclamation followed when Dave’s fist cut Henley’s lip a bit. But that indignity stirred the first class man to swifter, keener efforts. He failed to score heavily on the fourth class man, however; but, just before the call time for the first round Henley’s nose stopped a blow from Darrin’s fist, and first class blood began to flow.