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   Chapter 5 WHEN THE SECONDS WONDERED

Dave Darrin's Second Year at Annapolis / Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy Youngsters"" By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10806

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


One after another the launches sped ashore, carrying their swarms of distinguished looking young midshipmen.

The fight party managed to get off all in the same boat, and on one of the earliest trips.

Pennington was to have ordinary shore leave on the cruise, his fifty demerits to be paid for by loss of privileges on his return to the Naval Academy.

"Decker," proposed Dan, "you and I can skip away and find a good place in no time. Then we can come back after the others."

"That's agreeable to me," nodded Midshipman Decker.

In twenty minutes the two seconds were back.

"We've found just the place," announced Decker. "And it isn't more than three minutes' walk from here. Will you all hurry along?"

"The place" turned out to be a barn that had not been used for a year or more. The floor was almost immaculately clean. In consideration of two dollars handed him, the owner had agreed to display no curiosity, and not to mention the affair to any one.

"How do you like it, Darry?" asked Dan anxiously.

"It will suit me as well as any other place," responded Dave, slipping off his blouse, folding it neatly and putting it aside, his uniform cap following.

"And you?" asked Decker of his man.

"The floor's hard, but I don't expect to be the man to hit it," replied Pennington.

In five minutes both midshipmen were attired for their "affair." Between them the different members of the party had smuggled ashore shoes, old trousers and belts for the fighters.

It being a class affair, Remington, of the third class, had come along as referee, while Dawley; was to be the time-keeper.

"If the principals are ready, let them step forward," ordered Midshipman Remington, going to the middle of the floor. "Now, I understand that this is to be a finish fight; rounds, two minutes; rests, two minutes. I also understand that the principals do not care to shake hands before the call to mix up."

Darrin and Pennington nodded their assent.

"Take your places, gentlemen," ordered the referee quickly. "Are you ready, gentlemen?"

"Yes," came from both principals.

"Time!"

Both men had their guards up. As the word left the referee's lips each tried two or three passes which the other blocked. Midshipman Pennington was trying to take his opponent's "measure."

Then Dave ducked, darted, dodged and wheeled about. Pennington had to follow him, and it made the latter angry.

"Stand up and fight, can't you," hissed Pen.

"Silence during the rounds, Mr. Pennington," admonished the referee quietly. "Let the officials do all the talking that may be necessary."

Dave, as he dodged again, and came up unscathed, grinned broadly over this rebuke. That grin made Pen angrier than anything else could have done.

"I'll wipe that grin off his face!" muttered Pennington angrily.

And this very thing Pennington tried hard to do. He was quick on his own feet, and for a few seconds he followed the dodging Darrin about, raining in blows that required all of Dave's adroitness to escape.

Dave's very success, however, made his opponent all the angrier. From annoyance, followed by excessive irritation, Pennington went into almost blind rage-and the man who does that, anywhere in life, must always pay for it.

Suddenly Dave swung his right in on the point of Pen's chin with a force that jolted the larger midshipman. As part of the same movement, Darrin's left crashed against Pennington's nose.

Then, out of chivalry, Dave dropped back, to give Pen a few moments, in case he needed them, to get his wits back.

"Time!" roared Dawley, and Pennington's seconds pounced upon him and bore him away to his corner.

"Now I know how that fellow Darrin wins his fights," growled Pennington in an undertone. "He keeps on running away until he has the other man gasping for breath. Then Darrin jumps in and wins."

"The method doesn't much matter," commented Briggs dryly, as he and Decker worked over their man. "It's the result that counts. Rush Darry into a tight corner, Pen, and then slam him hard and sufficiently."

"Thanks, fellows; now I'm all right for the second round." muttered Midshipman Pennington.

In a few seconds more Dave and his opponent were hard at work.

Dave still used his footwork, and most cleverly. Yet, wherever he went, Pen followed him nimbly. It didn't look so one sided now.

Then Pennington, at last, managed to deliver one blow on Darrin's right short ribs. It took a lot of Dave's spare wind; he raced about, seeking to regain his wind before allowing close quarters. But at last Pennington closed in again, and, after a swift feint, tried to land the same short-rib blow.

Darrin was watching, and blocked. Then, his temples reddening with anger, Dave swung in a huge one that crashed in under Pennington's right ear.

"Time!" shouted Dawley, just as Pen went to the floor in a heap. That saved the larger midshipman from having to take the count. His seconds had him ready at the call for the third round.

Now, suddenly, Darrin seemed to change not only his tactics, but his whole personality. To his opponent Dave seemed suddenly transformed into a dancing demon.

It was about the same old footwork, but it was aggressive now, instead of being defensive.

First, Dave landed a light tap on the already suffering nose. A few seconds later he landed on the point of Pen's chin, though n

ot hard enough to send his man down. Then a rather light blow on the jaw, just under Pen's right ear again. The larger midshipman was now thoroughly alarmed. He feared that Darrin could do whatever he willed, and shivered with wonder as to when the knockout blow would come.

The truth was, Pennington was still putting up a better battle than he himself realized, and Darrin was not disposed to take any foolish chances through rushing the affair. Thus, the third round ended.

By the time that they came up for the fourth round, after both men had undergone some vigorous handling by their respective seconds, Pennington was a good deal revived and far more confident.

Dave's tactics were the same in the fourth round. Pennington didn't find time to develop much in the way of tactics for himself, save to defend himself.

During the first minute no important blows were landed on either side. Then, suddenly, Dave darted in and under, and brought a right-arm hook against Pen's nose in a way that started that member to bleeding again, and with a steady flow.

That jarred the larger midshipman. He plunged in, heavily and blindly, blocking one of Darrin's blows by wrapping both arms around him.

"None of that, Mr. Pennington! Break away fast!" ordered Midshipman Remington quickly.

Dave took a fair get away, not attempting to strike as the clinch was broken. But an instant later Dave came back, dancing all around his dazed opponent, landing on the short ribs, on the breast bone, under either ear and finally on the tip of the chin.

Pen was sure that none of these blows had been delivered with the force that Darrin could have sent in.

"Time!" shouted Midshipman Dawley.

The principals retired to their corners, Pennington almost wholly afraid from the conviction that his antagonist was now merely playing with him to keep the interest going.

So Pennington was still rather badly scared when the two came together for the fifth round.

"Get lively, now, gentlemen, if you can," begged Referee Remington. "Finish this one way or the other, and let us get some of the benefits of our shore leave."

Pen started by putting more steam behind every blow. Dave, who had used up so much of his wind by his brilliant footwork, began to find it harder to keep the upper hand.

Twice, however, he managed to land body blows. He was trying to drive in a third when Pennington blocked, following this with a left-arm jab on Darrin's left jaw that sent the lighter man to the floor.

Instantly Dawley began to count off the seconds.

"-seven, eight, nine, te--"

Dave was up on his feet. Pen tried to make a quick rush, but Darrin dodged cleverly, them wheeled and faced his opponent as the latter wheeled about.

After that there was less footwork. Both men stood up to it, as keenly alert as they could be, each trying to drive home heavy blows. While they were still at it the call of time sounded.

"Don't let him put it over you, David, little giant!" warned Dan, as the latter and Farley vigorously massaged Darrin's muscles. "He all but had you, and there isn't any need of making Pen a present of the meeting."

"I tried to get him," muttered Dave in an undertone, "and I shall go on trying to the last. But Pennington is pretty nearly superior to anyone in my class."

"Just waltz in and show him," whispered Dalzell, as the call sounded.

Pennington entered the sixth round with more confidence. He began, at the outset, to drive in heavy blows, nor did Dave do much dodging.

Bump! Twenty-five seconds only of this round had gone when Darrin landed his right fist with fearful force upon the high point of Pennington's jaw.

Down went the larger midshipman again. This time he moaned. His eyes were open, though they had a somewhat glassy look in them.

Dawley was counting off the seconds in measured tones.

"-seven, eight, nine-ten!"

Pen had struggled to rise to his feet, but sank back with a gasp of despair and rage.

"Mr. Pennington loses the count and the fight," announced Referee Remington coolly. "I don't believe we're needed here, Dawley. The seconds can handle the wreck. Come along."

As the two officials of the meeting hustled out of the barn, Dalzell gave his attention to helping his chum, while Farley went over to offer his services in getting the vanquished midshipman into shape.

"There were times when I could have closed both of Pennington's eyes," murmured Dave to Dan. "But I didn't want to give him any disfiguring marks that would start questions on board ship."

"You had him whipped from the start," murmured Dan confidently, as he sprayed, then rubbed Dave's chest and arms.

"Maybe, but I'm not so sure of that," rejoined Darrin. "That fellow isn't so easy a prize for any one in my class. There were times when I was all but convinced that he had me."

"Oh, fairy tales!" grunted Dan.

"Have it your own way, then, Danny boy!"

When Darrin and his seconds left the barn they went off to enjoy what remained of the shore leave. Pennington's seconds finally, at his own request, left him at an ice cream parlor, where he proposed to remain until he could return to the big, steel "Massachusetts" without exciting any wonder over the little time he had remained ashore. Pennington had strength to walk about, but he was far from being in really good shape, and preferred to keep quiet.

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