There was one more formation yet—–one more meal to be eaten under good old Bancroft Hall.
But right after breakfast the graduates, each one now in brand-new cit. attire, began to depart in droves.
Some went to the earliest train; others stopped at the hotels and boarding houses in town to pick up relatives and friends with whom the gladsome home journey was to be made.
“I don’t like you as well in cits.,” declared Belle, surveying Dave critically in the hotel parlor.
“In the years to come,” smiled Dave, “you’ll see quite enough of me in uniform.”
“I don’t know about that,” Belle declared, her honest soul shining in her eyes. “Do you feel that you’ll ever see enough of me?”
“I know that I won’t,” Dave rejoined. “You have one great relief in prospect,” smiled Belle. “Whenever you do grow tired of me you can seek orders to some ship on the other side of the world.”
“The fact that I can’t be at home regularly,” answered Midshipman Darrin, “is going to be the one cloud on our happiness. Never fear my seeking orders that take me from home—–unless in war time. Then, of course, every Naval officer must burn the wires with messages begging for a fighting appointment.”
“I’m not afraid of your fighting record, if the need ever comes,” replied Belle proudly. “And, Dave, though my heart breaks, I’ll never show you a tear in my eyes if you’re starting on a fighting cruise.”
Mrs. Meade and Dave’s parents now entered the room, and soon after Danny Grin, who had gone in search of his own father and mother, returned with them.
“What are we going to do now?” asked Mr. Darrin. “I understand that we have hours to wait for the next train.”
“We can’t do much, sir,” replied Dave. “Within another hour this will be the deadest town in the United States.”
“I should think you young men would want to spend most of the intervening time down at the Naval Academy, looking over the familiar spots once more,” suggested Mrs. Dalzell.
“Then I’m afraid, mother, that you don’t realize much of the way that a midshipman feels. The Naval Academy is our alma mater, and a beloved spot. Yet, after what I’ve been through there during the last few years I don’t want to see the Naval Academy again. At least, not until I’ve won a solid step or two in the way of promotion.”
“That’s the feeling of all the graduates, I reckon,” nodded Dave Darrin. “For one, I know I don’t want to go back there to-day.”
“Some day you will go back there, though,” observed Danny Grin.
“Why are you so sure?” Dave asked.
“Well, you were always such a stickler for observing the rules that the Navy Department will have to send you there for some post or other. Probably you’ll go back as a discipline officer.”