“And they haven’t been unlaced, sir, since I first laced them on rising this morning.”
“Don’t toy with the truth, Mr. Darrin!” rang Clairy’s voice sternly.
“If my shoes had been unlaced, they would still be unlaced, wouldn’t they, sir?” demanded Dave.
“No; for you have laced them since I spoke to you about it!”
This was entirely too much for Darrin, who gulped, gasped, and then stared again at the midshipman in charge of the floor.
Then, suddenly, a light dawned on Dave. He grinned almost as broadly as Dan Dalzell could have done.
“Come, come, now, Clairy!” chided Dave. “What on earth is the joke—–and why?”
Midshipman Clairy straightened himself, his eyes flashing and his whole appearance one of intense dignity.
“Mr. Darrin, there is no joke about it, as you are certainly aware, sir. And I must call your attention to the fact that it is bad taste to address a midshipman familiarly when he is on official duty.”
“Why, hang you—–” Dave broke forth utterly aghast.
“Stop, sir!” commanded Mr. Clairy, rising. “Mr. Darrin, you will place yourself on report for strolling along the corridor with both shoes unlaced. You will also place yourself on report for impertinence in answering the midshipman in charge of the floor.”
“Go at once, sir, and place yourself on report”
Dave meditated, for two or three seconds, over the advisability of knocking Mr. Clairy down. But familiarity with the military discipline of the Naval Academy immediately showed Darrin that his only present course was to obey.
“I wonder who’s loony now?” hummed Dave to himself, as he marched briskly along on his way to the office of the officer in charge. There be picked up two of the report slips, dipping a pen in ink.
First, in writing, he reported himself on the charge of having his shoes unlaced. In the space for remarks Darrin wrote tersely:
Against the charge of unwarranted impertinence to the midshipman in charge of the floor Dave wrote the words:
“Impertinence admitted, but in my opinion entirely warranted.”
So utterly astounded was Darrin by this queer turn of affairs, that he forgot the matter that had taken him from his room. On his way back he met Midshipman Page. On the latter’s face was a look as black as a thundercloud.
“What on earth is wrong, Page?” Darrin asked.
“I’ve got the material for a first-class fight on my hands,” Page answered, his eyes flashing.
“Clairy has ordered me to report myself.”
“What does he say you were doing that you weren’t doing?” inquired Midshipman Darrin, a curious look in his eyes.
“Clairy has the nerve to state that I was coming along the corridor with my blouse unbuttoned. He ordered me to button it up, which I couldn’t do since it was already buttoned. But he declared that I buttoned it up while facing him, and so I’m on my way to place myself on report for an offense that I didn’t commit.”