“I may get through here, and out of here, and in another couple of years be a line or engineer officer,” Midshipman Darrin confided to his chum and roommate one day. “But I shall be only a half-baked sort of officer.”
“Well, are cubs ever anything more?” demanded Dan.
“Yes; Wolgast, for instance, is going to be something more. So will Fenton and Day, and several others whom I could name.”
“And so is Darrin,” confidently predicted Midshipman Dalzell.
But Dave shook his head.
“No, no, Danny boy. The time was when I might have believed extremely well of myself, but that day has gone by. When I entered the Naval Academy I probably thought pretty well of myself. I’ve tried to keep up with the pace here-----”
“And you’ve done it, and are going to do it right along,” interjected Midshipman Dalzell.
“No; it almost scares me when I look over the subjects that I’m not really fit in. It’s spring, now, and I’m only a few weeks away from graduation, only something like two years this side of a commission as ensign, and—–and—–Dan, I wonder if I’m honestly fit to command a rowboat.”
“You’ve got a brief grouch against yourself, Davy,” muttered Dan.
“No; but I think I know what a Naval officer should be, and I also know how far short I fall of what I should be.”
“If you get your diploma,” argued Midshipman Dalzell, “the faculty of the Naval Academy will testify on the face of it that you’re a competent midshipman and on your way to being fit to hold an ensign’s commission presently.”
“But that’s just the point, Danny. I shall know, myself, that I’m only a poor, dub sort of Naval officer. I tell you, Danny, I don’t know enough to be a good Naval officer.”
“Then that’s a reflection on your senior officers who have had your training on hand,” grinned Dalzell. “If you talk in the same vein after you’ve gotten your diploma, it will amount to a criticism of the intelligence of your superior officers. And that’s something that’s wisely forbidden by the regulations.”
Dan picked up a text-book and opened it, as though he believed that he had triumphantly closed the discussion. Midshipman Darrin, however, was not to be so easily silenced.
“Then, if you’re not fitted to be a Naval officer,” blurted Dalzell, “what on earth can be said of me?”
“You may not stand quite as high as I do, on mere markings,” Dave assented. “But there are a lot of things, Danny, that you know much better than I do.”
“Name one of them,” challenged Dalzell.
“Well, steam engineering, for instance. Now, I’m marked higher in that than you are, Danny. Yet, when the engine on one of the steamers goes wrong you can hunt around until you get the engine to running smoothly. You’re twice as clever at that as I am.”
“Not all Naval officers are intended to be engineer officers,” grunted Midshipman Dalzell. “If you don’t feel clever enough in that line, just put in your application for watch officer’s work.”