“Darrin has come back pretty close to his right form,” was the general comment.
For that Saturday evening Dan Dalzell, being now “on privilege” again, asked and received leave to visit in town—–this the more readily because his work on the team had prevented his going out of the Yard that afternoon.
Dave, too, requested and secured leave to go into town, though he stated frankly that he had no visit to make, and wanted only a stroll away from the Academy grounds.
Darrin went most of the way to the Prestons.
“Come right along through, and meet Miss Preston,” urged Dan.
“If you ask it as a favor I will, old chap,” Dave replied.
“No; I thought the favor would be to you.”
“So it would, ordinarily,” Darrin replied gallantly. “But to-night I just want to stroll by myself.”
“Ta-ta, then.” The grin on Dan Dalzell’s face as he turned away from his chum was broader than usual. Dan was thinking that, this time, though his call must be a short one, he would be in no danger on his return. He could report unconcernedly just before taps.
“No doughface need apply to-night,” chuckled Dan. “But Davy was surely one awfully good fellow to get me through that other scrape as he did.”
All thought of football fled from Dan Dalzell’s brain as he pulled the bellknob at the Preston house.
After all this was to be but the third meeting. Dan fancied, however, that absence had made his heart fonder. Since the night when he had Frenched it over the wall Dan had received two notes from Miss Preston, in answer to his own letters, but the last note was now ten days’ old.
“May I see Mrs. Preston?” asked Dan, as a colored servant opened the door and admitted him.
This was Dan’s correct idea of the way to call on a young woman to whom he was not engaged, but half hoped to be, some day.
The colored maid soon came back.
“Mrs. Preston is so very busy, sah, that she asks to be excused, sah,” reported the servant, coming into the parlor where Dan sat on the edge of a chair. “But Mistah Preston will be down right away, sah.”
A moment later a heavier step was heard on the stairway. Then May Preston’s uncle came into the parlor.
“You will pardon Mrs. Preston not coming down stairs to-night, I know, Mr. Dalzell,” said the man of the house, as he and the midshipman shook hands. “The truth is, we are very much occupied to-night.”
“I had not dreamed of it, or I would not have called,” murmured Dan reddening. “I trust you will pardon me.”
“There is no need of pardon, for you have not offended,” smiled Mr. Preston. “I shall be very glad to spare you half an hour, if I can interest, you.”
“You are very kind, sir,” murmured Dan. “And Miss Preston——”
“It is mainly on my niece’s account that we are so busy to-night,” smiled the host.