Then Dave drove in under Cantor’s guard with his left hand, while with his right fist he struck the lieutenant a blow full on the face that sent him reeling backward.
Clutching wildly, Cantor seized a chair, carrying it over with himself as he landed on the floor.
In an instant Lieutenant Cantor was on his feet, brandishing the chair aloft.
“Ensign Darrin,” he cried, “you have made the error of striking a superior officer when on duty!”
A BROTHER OFFICER’S WHISPER
“I know it,” Dave returned, huskily.
“You have committed a serious breach of discipline,” blazed the lieutenant.
“I have struck down a fellow who demeaned himself by insulting his subordinate,” Darrin returned, his voice now clear and steady. “Lieutenant Cantor, do you consider yourself fit to command others?”
“Never mind what I think about myself,” sneered the lieutenant. “Go to your quarters!”
“In arrest?” demanded Dave Darrin, mockingly.
“No; but go to your quarters and remain there for the present. You are likely to be summoned very soon.”
Saluting, Ensign Dave turned ironically on his heel, going back to his quarters.
In an instant Danny Grin came bounding in.
“There’s something up, isn’t there?” Ensign Dalzell asked, anxiously.
“A moment ago there was something down,” retorted Dave, grimly. “It was Cantor, if any one asks you about it.”
“You knocked him down?” asked Dan, eagerly.
“Then you must have had an excellent reason.”
“I did have a very fair reason,” Darrin went on, “the fellow passed the lie.”
“Called you a liar?”
“That was the purport of his insult,” Dave nodded.
“I’m glad you knocked him down,” Dalzell went on, fervently. “Yet I see danger ahead.”
“What danger?” Dave asked, dryly.
“Cantor will report your knock-down feat to Captain Gales.”
“Let him. When he hears of the provocation Captain Gales will exonerate me. Cantor will have to admit that he deliberately insulted me.”
“If Cantor does admit it,” muttered Danny Grin, doubtfully. “I haven’t any faith in Cantor’s honor.”
“Why, he’ll have to do it,” Dave contended, proudly. “Cantor is an officer in the United States Navy. Can you picture an officer as telling a deliberate falsehood?”
“It wouldn’t be extremely difficult to picture Cantor as doing anything unmanly,” Dan replied, slowly.
“Oh, but he couldn’t tell a falsehood,” Darrin protested. “That would be impossible—–against all the traditions of the service.”
“My infant,” Dan retorted, “I am afraid that, some day, you will have a rude awakening.”
While these events were happening Captain Gales was closely questioning John Carmody. Coxswain Riley and Corporal Ross of the marines had already been before him.