“Oh! Prescott of the Army team?”
“I think I heard something about his having been sent to Coventry at the Military Academy.”
“But, Mr. Darrin, you are not going to fail us just because the Army loses a worthy player or two?” exclaimed Lieutenant-Commander Parker in astonishment.
“Probably that isn’t what ails me, sir,” Dave answered flushing. “After all, sir, probably I’m just beginning to go stale. If I can’t shake it off no doubt I had better be retired from the Navy eleven.”
“Don’t you believe it!” almost shouted coach. “Mr. Darrin, you will simply have to brace! Give us all the best that’s in you, and don’t for one instant allow any personal disappointments to unfit you. You’ll do that, won’t you?”
Darrin certainly tried hard enough. Yet just as certainly the Navy’s boosters shook their heads when they watched Darrin’s work on the field.
“He has gone stale,” they said. “The very worst thing that could happen to the Navy this year!”
Then came the first game of the season—–with Lehigh. Darrin roused himself all he could, and his playing was very nearly up to what might have been expected of him—–though not quite.
The visitors got away with a score of eight to five against the Navy.
Next week the Lehighs went to West Point and suffered defeat at the hands of the Army.
The news sent gloom broadcast through the Naval Academy.
“We get beaten by one of the smaller colleges, that West Point can trim,” was the mournful comment.
It did, indeed, look bad for the Navy!
DAN HANDS HIMSELF BAD MONEY
As the season went on it was evident that Dave Darrin was slowly getting back to form.
Yet coach was not wholly satisfied, nor was anyone else who had the triumph of the Navy eleven at heart.
Three more games had been played, and two of them were won by the Navy. Next would come Stanford College, a hard lot to beat. The Navy tried to bolster up its own hopes; a loss to Stanford would mean the majority of games lost out of the first five.
True, the news from West Point was not wholly disconcerting to the Navy. The Army that year had some strong players, it was true; still, the loss of Prescott and Holmes was sorely felt. Word came, too, in indirect ways, that there was no likelihood whatever that the Coventry against Cadet Dick Prescott would be lifted. It was the evident purpose of the Corps of Cadets, for fancied wrongs, to ostracize Dick Prescott until he found himself forced to resign from the United States Military Academy.
November came in. Stanford came. Coach talked to Dave Darrin steadily for ten minutes before the Navy eleven trotted out on to the field. Stanford left Annapolis with small end of the score, in a six-to-two game, and the Navy was jubilant.