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   Chapter 2 DAVE'S PAP-SHEET ADVICE

Dave Darrin's Second Year at Annapolis / Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy Youngsters"" By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11363

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


When our party reached the landing a lively scene lay before them.

Fully a hundred midshipmen, belonging to the first, second and third classes, were waiting to be transported out to one or another of the great, gray battleships.

Several launches were darting back and forth over the water. The baggage of the midshipmen had already been taken aboard the battleships. Only the young men themselves were now awaited.

Near-by stood a lieutenant of the Navy, who was directing the embarkation of the midshipmen of the different classes.

Five minutes after our party arrived a launch from the "Massachusetts" lay in alongside the landing.

"Third classmen, this way!" shouted the lieutenant. "How many of you?"

Turning his eyes over the squad that had moved forward, the officer continued:

"Twenty-two. You can all crowd into this launch. Move quickly, young gentlemen!"

In another couple of minutes the puffing launch was steaming away to the massive battleship that lay out in the stream.

Dave stood well up in the bow. Once he barely overheard Pennington mutter to a comrade:

"The rascally greaser!"

"That means me," Dave muttered under his breath. "I won't take it up now, or in any hurry. I'll wait until Pen has had time to see things straight."

As soon as the launch lay alongside, the young midshipmen clambered nimbly up the side gangway, each raising his cap to the flag at the stern as he passed through the opening in the rail.

Here stood an officer with an open book in his hand. To him each midshipman reported, saluting, stated his name, and received his berthing.

"Hurry away to find your berthings, and get acquainted with the location," ordered this officer. "Every midshipman will report on the quarter-deck promptly at five p.m. In the meantime, after locating your berthings, you are at liberty to range over the ship, avoiding the ward room and the staterooms of officers."

The latest arrivals saluted. Then, under the guidance of messengers chosen from among the apprentice members of the crew, the young men located their berthings.

"I'm going to get mine changed, if I can," growled Pennington, wheeling upon Dave Darrin. "I'm much too close to a greaser. I'm afraid I may get my uniforms spotted, as well as my character."

"Stop that, Pen!" warned Dave, stationing himself squarely before the angry Pennington. "I don't know just how far you're responsible for what you're saying now. To-morrow, if you make any such remarks to me, you'll have to pay a mighty big penalty for them."

"You'll make me pay by going to the commandant and telling him all you know, I suppose?" sneered Pennington.

"You know better, Pen! Now, begin to practise keeping a civil tongue behind your teeth!"

With that, Darrin turned on his heel, seeking the deck.

This left "Pen" to conjecture as to whether he should report his misadventure, and, if so, how best to go about it.

"See here, Hallam," began the worried midshipman, "I begin to feel that it will be safer to turn in some kind of report on myself."

"Much safer," agreed Hallam. "It will show good faith on your part if you report yourself."

"And get me broken from the service, too, I suppose," growled the unhappy one.

"I hardly think it will, if you report yourself first," urged Hallam. "But you'll be about certain to get your walking papers if you wait for the first information to come from other sources."

"Hang it," groaned Pennington, "I wish I could think, but my head aches as though it would split and my tooth is putting up more trouble than I ever knew there was in the world. And, in this racked condition, I'm to go and put myself on the pap-sheet. In what way shall I do it, Hallam? Can't you suggest something?"

"Yes," retorted Hallam with great energy. "Go to the medical officer and tell him how your tooth troubles you. Tell him what you tried on shore. I'll go with you, if you want."

"Will you, old man? I'll be a thousand times obliged!"

So the pair went off in search of the sick-bay, as the hospital part of a battleship is called. The surgeon was not in his office adjoining, but the hospital steward called him over one of the ship telephones, informing him that a midshipman was suffering with an ulcerated tooth.

Dr. Mackenzie came at once, turned on a reflector light, and gazed into Midshipman Pennington's mouth.

"Have you tried to treat this tooth yourself, in any way?" queried the ship's surgeon.

"Yes, sir; I was so crazy with the pain, while in Annapolis, that I am afraid I did something that will get me into trouble," replied Pennington, with a quiver in his voice.

"What was that?" asked Dr. Mackenzie, glancing at him sharply. "Did you try the aid of liquor?"

"Worse, I'm afraid, sir."

"Worse?"

Pennington told of his experience with the opium pipe.

"That's no good whatever for a toothache, sir," growled Dr. Mackenzie. "Besides, it's a serious breach of discipline. I shall have to report you, Mr. Pennington."

"I expected it, sir," replied Pennington meekly.

"However, the report won't cure your toothache," continued Dr. Mackenzie in a milder tone. "We'll attend to that first."

The surgeon busied himself with dissolving a drug in a small quantity of water. This he took up in a hypodermic needle and injected into the lower jaw.

"The ache ought to stop in ten minutes, sir," continued the surgeon, turning to enter some memoranda in his record book.

After that the surgeon called up the ship's commander over the 'phone, and made known Pennington's report.

"Mr. Pennington, Captain Scott directs that you report at his office immediately," said th

e surgeon, as he turned away from the telephone.

"Very good, sir. Thank you, sir."

Both midshipmen saluted, then left the sick-bay.

"This is where you have to go up alone, I guess," hinted Midshipman Hallam.

"I'm afraid so," sighed Pennington.

"However, I'll be on the quarter-deck, and, if I'm wanted, you can send there for me."

"Thank you, old man. You're worth a brigade of Darrins-confound the greasing meddler!"

"Darrin acted according to his best lights on the subject of duty," remonstrated Mr. Hallam mildly.

"His best lights-bah!" snarled Pennington. "I'll take this all out of him before I'm through with him!"

Pennington reported to the battleship's commander. After some ten minutes a marine orderly found Hallam and directed him to go to Captain Scott's office. Here Hallam repeated as much as was asked of him concerning the doings of the afternoon. Incidentally, the fact of Midshipman Darrin's report to the police was brought out.

"Mr. Pennington, I shall send you at once, in a launch, over to the commandant of cadets to report this matter in person to him," said Captain Scott gravely. "Mr. Hallam, you will go with Mr. Pennington."

Then, after the two had departed, an apprentice messenger went through the ship calling Dave's name. That young man was summoned to Captain Scott's office.

"I am in possession of all the facts relating to the unfortunate affair of Midshipman Pennington, Mr. Darrin," began Captain Scott, after the interchange of salutes. "Will you tell me why you reported the affair to the police?"

"I went to the police, sir," Dave replied, "because I was aware that many members of the new fourth class are away from home for the first time in their lives. I was afraid, sir, that possibly some of the new midshipmen might, during one of their town-leaves, be tempted to try for a new experience."

"A very excellent reason, Mr. Darrin, and I commend you heartily for it. I shall also report your exemplary conduct to the commandant of midshipmen. You have, in my opinion, Mr. Darrin, displayed very good judgment, and you acted upon that judgment with promptness and decision. But I am afraid," continued the Navy captain dryly, "that you have done something that will make you highly unpopular, for a while, with some of the members of your class."

"I hope not, sir," replied Dave.

"So do I," smiled Captain Scott "I am willing to find myself a poor prophet. That is all, Mr. Darrin."

Once more saluting, Dave left the commanding officer's presence. Almost the first classmate into whom he stumbled was Dan Dalzell.

"Well, from what quarter does the wind blow!" murmured Dan.

Darrin repeated the interview that he had just had.

"I'm afraid, Dave, little giant, that you've planted something of a mine under yourself," murmured Dalzell.

"I feel as much convinced as ever, Danny boy, that I did just what I should have done," replied Darrin seriously.

"And so does Captain Scott, and so will the commandant," replied Dan. "But winning the commendation of your superior officers doesn't always imply that you'll get much praise from your classmates."

"Unfortunately, you are quite right," smiled Dave. "Still, I'd do the same thing over again."

"Oh, of course you would," assented Dan. "That's because you're Dave Darrin."

Here a voice like a bass horn was heard.

"All third classmen report to the quarter-deck immediately!"

This order was repeated in other parts of the ship. Midshipmen gathered with a rush, Pennington and Hallam being the only members absent. As soon as the third classmen, or "youngsters," as they are called in midshipman parlance, had formed, the orders were read off dividing them into sections for practical instruction aboard ship during the cruise.

Dave's name was one of the first read off. He was assigned to duty as section leader for the first section in electrical instruction. Dalzell, Farley, Hallam, Pennington and others were detailed as members of that section.

The same section was also designated for steam instruction, Dalzell being made leader of the section in this branch.

The class was then dismissed. Somewhat later Pennington and Hallam returned from their interview with the commandant.

Hallam at once sought out Dave.

"Darry, old man," murmured Hallam, "Pen is as crazy as a hornet against you. As he had taken the first step by sticking himself on the pap-sheet (placing himself on report), the commandant said he would make the punishment a lighter one."

"What did Pen get?" queried Dave.

"Fifty demerits, with all the loss of privileges that fifty carry."

"He's lucky," declared Dave promptly. "Had the report come from other sources, he would have been dismissed from the service."

"If Pen's lucky," rejoined Hallam, "he doesn't seem to realize the fact. He's calling you about everything."

"He can keep that up," flashed Dave, "until his toothache leaves him. Then, if he tries to carry it any further, Pen will collide with one of my fists!"

Not much later a call sounded summoning the youngsters to the midshipmen's mess. Dave was glad to note that Pennington sat at some distance from him at table.

While the meal was in progress the "Massachusetts" and the other battleships got under way. The midshipmen were on deck, an hour later, when the fleet came to anchor for the night, some miles down Chesapeake Bay.

Before the youngsters were ordered to their berths that night Third Classman Pennington had found opportunity to do a good deal of talking to a few comrades who would listen to him.

Pennington was determined to stir up a hornet's nest for Dave Darrin.

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