MoboReader > Literature > Dave Darrin's Second Year at Annapolis / Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy Youngsters""

   Chapter 20 CONCLUSION

Dave Darrin's Second Year at Annapolis / Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy Youngsters"" By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10208

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Christmas came and went, and soon after this the semi-annual examinations were on in earnest. Some of the midshipmen failed and sadly turned their faces homeward to make a place for themselves in some other lane of life. Dan Dalzell, however, made good his promise, and by a better margin than he had dared hope. Dave came through the examination somewhat better than his chum. Both felt assured now that they would round out the year with fair credit to themselves.

Marian Stevens came to Annapolis several times during the latter half of the year, and as it is expected that the future officer shall have social as well as Naval training, Dave Darrin met her often.

Exasperation that she could draw the young midshipman on only so far soon changed in Miss Stevens to anger and chagrin. Still Dave, giving prolonged thought to no girl except Belle Meade, saw in her only a lively companion. Sometimes he was her dinner partner. Always at a dance he danced with her more than once.

It was at one such dance that she looked up as they circled the room to say:

"I wonder if you know, Mr. Darrin, how much I enjoy dancing with you."

"Not as much as I enjoy dancing with you," he replied smilingly. Just then the music stopped suddenly and an officer called in a voice that carried over the great floor of the gymnasium and over all the chatter:

"Ladies and gentlemen, one moment's attention, please!"

In an instant all was still.

"Ladies and gentlemen," continued the officer, "official permission has been granted for taking a flashlight photograph of the scene to-night. Will everybody please remain where he is until after the exposure has been made?"

Dave and Marian had paused directly in front of the lens of the camera. Maid Marian looked up and made a light, jesting remark, gazing straight into the midshipman's eyes. Dave, smiling, bent forward to hear what she said.

Just then came the flash, and the photographer, his work finished for the time, gathered his paraphernalia together and left. The music recommenced and the dancing proceeded.

Three weeks later that photograph was reproduced as a double-page illustration in one of the prominent pictorial weeklies.

The day the magazine was on the newsstands Dan Dalzell bought a copy. Entering their quarters with it in his hand he opened it at the illustration and handed it to Dave.

"You and Miss Stevens show up better than any one else, Dave," remarked Dan.

"The photograph is a good piece of work," was Dave's only comment. He did not wish to express the annoyance he felt when he noted the appearance of intimacy between him and Marian, whose beauty showed, even in this reproduction. "I'd a bit rather Belle shouldn't see this paper," he admitted to himself.

"David, old boy, this picture would make a good exhibit in a breach-of-promise suit."

"That's an unkind remark to make about a fine girl like Miss Stevens," said Dave coldly.

Dan stared, then went off, pondering.

Belle Meade, in her Gridley home, received one day a large, square, thin package. She saw the mark of the Annapolis express office, and hastily snatched up scissors to cut the string. Out came a huge photograph.

"A picture of an Annapolis dance! How thoughtful of Dave to send it to me!" Then her eyes fell on two figures around which a ring had been drawn in ink. They were Dave Darrin and a pretty girl. On the margin of the card had been scrawled in bold letters:

"Your affair of the heart will bear close watching if you still cherish!"

This was signed, contemptibly and untruthfully, "A Friend."

"Uh!" murmured Belle in hurt pride and loyalty. Then she said resolutely to herself: "I will pay no attention to this. An anonymous communication is always meant to hurt and to give a false impression."

But there was the picture before her eyes of Dave and the pretty girl in seemingly great intimacy. So though she continued to write to the midshipman and tried hard to make her letters sound as usual, in spite of herself a coldness crept into them that Dave felt.

"She must have seen that pictorial weekly," thought the boy miserably. But as Belle said nothing of this, he could not write of it.

The season was well along. Dave and Dan sent Belle Meade and Laura Bentley invitations to one of the later spring dances.

"I wonder if she'll come or if she's tiring of me," thought Dave Darrin bitterly.

But Belle answered, accepting the invitation for Laura and herself.

When Saturday afternoon came both midshipmen hurried to the hotel in the town and sent up their cards. Mrs. Meade soon appeared, saying the girls would be down shortly.

"Are they both well?" asked Dave. His tone was as one giving a meaningless greeting, but in his heart he waited anxiously to hear what her mother should say of Belle.

"Well, yes. But Belle has been moping around the house a great deal, Dave, rather unlike her usual self," replied Mrs. Meade slowly.

If Mrs. Meade deplored this, Dave Darrin did not. It showed him at least that the girl's apparent coldness was not caused by her inte

rest in some other young man.

But when the girls came in and Belle greeted him cordially, to be sure, but with something of restraint, his heart sank again.

"What's the matter, Belle? Has something gone wrong?" asked Dave when Dan was engaging the attention of Mrs. Meade and Laura.

"Nothing. Is all right with you?"

"Surely!"

"Dave, when we're alone I have something to show you. I fear you have an enemy here."

"An enemy! Oh, no. But I shall be glad to see what you have to show me."

It was not long before, at a word from Dave, Dan took Mrs. Meade and Laura out for a walk. It was then that Belle got the large photograph with the two figures ringed in ink and showed it to Dave.

"Why, what does this mean? Some one must have taken a good deal of trouble to secure this photograph. The picture was taken for a pictorial weekly. One can get a photograph from which the cut is made, but it is troublesome and possibly expensive!"

"You have an enemy, then; some one bent on hurting you?"

"I don't know who it could be. My, how angry Miss Stevens would be if she knew of this!"

"Miss Stevens? Is that the girl?"

"Yes. She's visited here often this year. She knows a number of the officers' wives. She's vivacious and always has a good time, but she's nothing to me, Belle. You know that, don't you?"

"I have never doubted you, Dave. Let us tear this up. I thought at first I'd not show it to you; then decided it was best not to begin concealing things from you. But let us not think of the thing again."

"Belle, you're a thoroughbred!" and here the matter dropped as far as it was between Dave Darrin and Belle Meade.

Miss Stevens was at the dance that evening. Though she tried hard to make that impossible, Dave did not dance with her, nor did he introduce her to Belle, though there again Marian tried to force this.

It would have been well for Marian if Dan Dalzell had been equally circumspect.

This time it was Belle who contrived and got the introduction to the other girl, but Marian was by no means reluctant, so it was that they managed to get a few moments alone together when they had sent their dance partners to get something for them.

"You are a friend of Dave's, aren't you?" asked Marian.

"Of Mr. Darrin's? Oh, yes, we've always known each other."

"Then you've been here to many of these dances?"

"Only two."

"Too bad you could not have been here oftener. This has been an unusually brilliant season. Really, many of the young people have lost their heads-or their hearts. I often wonder if these midshipmen have sweethearts at home." This daring-and impertinent-remark was made musingly but smilingly.

"These Annapolis affairs are never very serious, I imagine," Belle observed calmly.

"On the contrary, most of the Navy marriages date back to an Annapolis first meeting."

"Then you think it well to come often?"

"Unless one has other ways of keeping in touch," was the brazen reply.

"I have," said Belle sweetly. "I receive a good many souvenirs in the course of a year. One last winter was a photograph." With the words Belle gazed intently into Miss Stevens' eyes. Then she went on: "There was an anonymous message written on it. It was a lying message, of course, as anonymous messages always are, written in a coarse hand. Did you ever study handwriting, Miss Stevens?"

Marian gasped, realizing she was out-maneuvered.

"This writing had all the characteristics of a woman whose instincts are coarse, that of a treacherous though not dangerous person-"

"Here's Mr. Sanderson back. Will you excuse me, Miss Meade?" and Marian fairly fled.

Belle told Dave she had found out who had sent the photograph, but added:

"I wish you wouldn't ask me who it was, Dave. I can assure you that the person who did it will never trouble us again," and as Dave did not like to think evil of any one, he consented, and continued to think of Marian Stevens, when he thought of her at all, as a jolly girl.

The annual examinations were approaching. Dan Dalzell was buried deep in gloom. Dave Darrin kept cheerful outwardly, but doubts crept into his heart.

The examinations over, Dave felt reasonably safe. But Dan's gloom deepened, for he was sure he had failed in "skinny," as the boys termed chemistry and physics. So it was that when the grades were posted Dave scanned the D's in the list of third classmen who had passed. Dan, on the other hand, turned instantly to what he termed the "bust list."

"Why, why, I'm not there!" he muttered.

"Look at the passing list, Danny," laughed Dave.

Unbelieving, Dan turned his eyes on the list and to his utter astonishment found his name posted. True, in "skinny" he had a bare passing mark. But in other subjects he was somewhat above the minimum.

"So you see, old man, we'll both be here next year as second classmen," said Dave jubilantly.

This was as Dave Darrin said, and what happened during this time may be learned in a volume entitled, "DAVE DARRIN'S THIRD YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS; or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen."

THE END

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