“Mr. Touge is a hard fighter,” muttered the time-keeper to the referee, while the seconds attended their men.
“We’ve plenty of fellows at Annapolis who can punish Darrin,” replied Midshipman Bailey.
Time was called for the start-off of the second round. The two principals were intent on their footwork around each other, when there came hail that froze their blood.
“Halt! Remain as you are for inspection!”
It was the voice of Lieutenant Hall, one of the discipline officers, and the fighters and their friends had been caught!
Blank dismay fell over the whole of the fight party.
Three first class men, two second class men and three members of the fourth class stood on the brink of almost instant dismissal.
It was bitter for all of them, but it seemed especially hard to the first class men, who had survived the four years of hard grilling and were on the eve of graduation.
However, there was no thought of running. Though it was too dark for the discipline officer to have recognized any of them at the distance from which he had hailed them, yet, in a flight, it would be easy enough for Lieutenant Hall, who was an athlete, to catch one or two of them and then the names of all present could be obtained.
It was an instant of utter terror.
Then another voice broke in on the stillness.
“All hands to the fire apparatus! Fire in Bancroft Hall!”
The fight party felt another thrill. If the big Academy building was in danger they must rush to do their share.
The officer’s running footsteps were already heard. He had turned and was speeding away.
“Get on your clothes, quickly, you two fellows!” ordered Midshipman Bailey crisply “We’ve got to turn in with the rest for fast work!”
Just then another figure darted up to them. It turned out to be Midshipman Farley.
“Yes; get on your clothes with some classy speed,” chuckled Farley. “Lieutenant Hall will be back here with a bunch of watchmen, the marine guard, or any other old crowd, when he finds that he has been lured on the reefs by false signals!
“Mister, did you give that call of fire?” demanded Midshipman Bailey sternly.
“And there’s no fire?”
“None that I know of, sir.”
“Mister, what’s your name?”
“Then, Farley, sir, come and get hugged.”
In truth a lot of fuss was made over that young midshipman within a few seconds.
“It can’t do much harm to use you something like a human being and a comrade, anyway,” declared Time-keeper Clafflin, as he wrung both of Farley’s hands. “Within a few days you’ll be a youngster now.”
Farley explained that an itching interest in the fight had tempted him to be close at hand, and this had given him his chance to save the fight party.