“Brace!” quivered Dave. “Won’t I, though?”
“Good! Just stick to that.”
“Dan!” Darrin halted his chum before a store where dry goods and notions were sold. “Let’s go in here-----”
“What, for?” Midshipman Dalzell asked in astonishment.
“I want to make a purchase,” replied Dave soberly. “Danny boy, I’m going to buy you a hat pin—–one at least ten inches long. You’re to slip it in, somewhere in your togs. When you catch me lagging—–practice or game—–just jab that hat pin into me as far as you can send it.”
“Bosh!” retorted Dan impatiently. “Come along.”
Dave submitted, in patient silence, to being led away from the store. For some moments the chums strolled along together in silence.
“Now, speaking of Miss Preston,” began Dan, breaking the silence at last, “she-----”
“Drop that! Get back to football, Danny—–it’s safer,” warned Dave Darrin.
“Hold on, I tell you! You had almost recovered, Danny, in the short space of five minutes. Now, don’t bring on a relapse by opening up the old sore. I shall soon begin to believe it was your heart that was involved, instead of your vanity.”
“Oh, hang girls, then!” exploded Dan.
“Couldn’t think of it,” urged Dave gently. “That wouldn’t be chivalrous, and even a midshipman is required to be a gentleman at all times. So-----”
“Good evening, gentlemen,” spoke a pleasant voice. The midshipmen glanced up, then promptly brought up their hands in salute to an officer whom they would otherwise have passed without seeing.
That officer was Lieutenant Adams, discipline officer.
“Are you enjoying your stroll, Mr. Darrin?” asked Mr. Adams.
“Very much, sir; thank you.”
“And you, Mr. Dalzell. But let me see—–wasn’t your liberty for the purpose of paying a visit?”
“Yes, sir,” Dan answered, coloring.
“And you are strolling, instead?”
“Yes, sir; the person on whom I went to call was not there.”
“Then, Mr. Darrin, you should have returned to Bancroft Hall, and reported your return.”
“Yes, sir; I should have done that,” Dan confessed in confusion. “The truth is, sir, it hadn’t occurred to me.”
“Return at once, Mr. Dalzell, and place yourself on report for strolling without permission.”
Both midshipmen saluted, then turned for the shortest cut to Maryland Avenue, and thence to the gate at the end of that thoroughfare.
“Ragged!” muttered Dan. “And without the slightest intention of doing anything improper.”
“It was improper, though,” Dave replied quickly, “and both you and I should have thought of it in time.”
“I really forgot.”
“Forgot to think, you mean, Dan, and that’s no good excuse in bodies of men where discipline rules. Really, I should have gone on report, too.”