The news had spread, of course, and the first class was in a fury of resentment against one of its own members.
Meanwhile Midshipman Clairy sat at his desk out in the corridor, clearly calm and indifferent to all the turmoil that his acts had stirred up in the brigade.
THE WHOLE CLASS TAKES A HAND
“Then, Mr. Darrin, you admit the use of impertinent language to Mr. Clairy, when the midshipman was in charge of the floor?”
This question was put to Dave, the following morning, by the commandant of midshipmen.
“It would have been an impertinence, sir, under ordinary conditions,” Darrin answered. “Under the circumstances I believed, sir, that I had been provoked into righteous anger.”
“You still assert that Mr. Clairy’s charge that your shoes were unlaced when you approached him was false?”
“Absolutely false, sir.”
“Do you wish any time to reflect over that answer, Mr. Darrin?”
“You are willing your answer should go on record, then?”
“My denial of the charge of having my shoes unlaced is the only answer that I can possibly make, sir.”
The commandant reflected. Then he directed that Midshipman Clairy be ordered to report to him. Clairy came, almost immediately. The commandant questioned him closely. Clairy still stuck resolutely to his story that Dave Darrin had been passing through the corridor with his shoes unlaced; and, furthermore, that Darrin, when rebuked and ordered to place himself on report, had used impertinent language.
During this examination the midshipmen did not glance toward each other. Both stood at attention, their glances on the commandant’s face.
“I do not know what to say,” the officer admitted at last. “I will take the matter under advisement. You may both go.”
Outside, well away from the office, Dave Darrin halted, swinging and confronting Clairy sternly.
“You lying scoundrel!” vibrated Darrin, his voice shaking with anger.
“It constitutes another offense, Mr. Darrin, to use such language for the purpose of intimidating a midshipman in the performance of his duty,” returned Midshipman Clairy, looking back steadily into Dave’s eyes.
“An offense? Fighting is another, under a strict interpretation of the rules,” Dave replied coldly.
“And I do not intend to fight you,” replied Clairy, still speaking smoothly.
“Perhaps I should know better than to challenge you,” replied Midshipman Darrin. “The spirit of the brigade prohibits my fighting any one who is not a gentleman.”
“If that is all you have to say, Mr. Darrin, I will leave you. You cannot provoke me into any breach of the regulations.”
Clairy walked away calmly, leaving Dave Darrin fuming with anger.
Page was sent for next, then Dalzell. Both denied utterly the charges on which Clairy had ordered them to report themselves. Again Mr. Clairy was sent for, and once more he asserted the complete truthfulness of his charges.