“Not by a long sight. Just go in for a commission as second lieutenant of marines. You can get that and hold it. A marine officer doesn’t have to know anything but the manual of arms and a few other little simple things.”
“But a marine officer isn’t a real sailor, Danny. He lives and works on a warship, to be sure, but he’s more of a soldier. Now, as it happens, my whole heart and soul are wrapped up in being a Naval officer—–a real Naval officer.”
“With that longing, and an Annapolis diploma,” teased Dalzell, “there is just one thing to do.”
“Beat your way to the realization of your dream. You’ve got a thundering good start.”
Midshipman Dave Darrin was not the kind to communicate his occasional doubts to anyone except his roommate. Had Darrin talked on the subject with other members of his class he would have found that many of his classmates were tortured by the same doubts that assailed him. With midshipmen who were destined to get their diplomas such doubts were to be charged only to modesty, and were therefore to their credit. Yet, every spring dozens of Annapolis first classmen are miserable, instead of feeling the joyous appeal of the budding season. They are assailed by just such fears as had reached Dave Darrin.
Dalzell, on the other hand, was tortured by no such dreads. He went hammering away with marvelous industry, and felt sure, in his own mind, that he would be retired, in his sixties, an honored rear admiral.
Had there been only book studies some of the first classmen would have broken down under the nervous strain. However, there was much to be done in the shops—–hard, physical labor, that had to be performed in dungaree clothing; toil of the kind that plastered the hard-worked midshipmen with grime and soot. There were drills, parades, cross-country marches. The day’s work at the Naval Academy, at any season of the year, is arranged so that hard mental work is always followed by lively physical exertion, much of it in the open air.
Dalzell, returning one afternoon from the library encountered Midshipman Farley, who was looking unaccountably gloomy.
“What’s the trouble, Farl—–dyspepsia?” grinned Dan, linking one arm through his friend’s. “Own up!”
“Danny, I’m in the dumps,” confessed Farley. “I hate to acknowledge it, but I’ve been fearfully tempted, for the last three days, to send in my resignation.”
“What’s her name?” grinningly demanded Dalzell, who had bravely recovered from his own two meetings with Venus.
“It isn’t a girl—–bosh!” jeered Farley. “There’s only one girl in the world I’m interested in—–and she’s my kid sister.”
“Then why this talk of resigning.”
“Danny, I’m simply afraid that I’m not made of the stuff to make a competent Naval officer. My markings are all right, but I know that I don’t know enough to take a sailboat out and bring it back.”