MoboReader> Literature > Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen

   Chapter 1 WHY THE MIDSHIPMEN BALKED

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 24840

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"So Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton have been here?" demanded Midshipman

Dave Darrin.

That handsome young member of the brigade of midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis was now in mufti, or cits,-meaning, in other words, that he was out of his Naval uniform and attired in the conventional clothing of a young American when calling on his sweetheart.

It will make the situation even clearer to the reader to explain that Dave was back in the home town, on his September leave, after just having completed his second summer practice cruise with the three upper classes from Annapolis.

Dave was now a fine looking and "husky" second classman. He was just a shade more than half way through his course of instruction at Annapolis.

Being back in the home town, where would Midshipman Darrin be more naturally found than in the parlor at the home of his sweetheart, Miss Belle Meade?

The first greetings had been exchanged fifteen minutes before.

Since that time the young people, being sweethearts as they were, had naturally talked about themselves.

And Dave, who, in the Naval service, was fast learning to become a good listener, had been content to have Belle do most of the talking, while he sat back watching the motions of her pretty lips and catching glimpses of two rows of pearly teeth.

But now Belle had just mentioned two of Dave's former High School chums.

"So Tom and Harry were really here?" he repeated.

"Yes; they came up from Arizona on leave."

"I wonder why they couldn't have remained here longer?" mused Dave.

"They both told me that they were very young in their profession as civil engineers, and that they had to spend nearly all of their time 'on the job,' as Tom phrased it," replied Belle.

"How did they look?" asked Dave.

"A shade older, of course, than when they were in the High School."

"Are they much taller?" asked Darrin.

"Somewhat; but they have not shot up in height, the way you and Dan, and

Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes have done," Belle continued.

"Brown as berries, I suppose, after working down in the alkali deserts?" asked Dave, who felt that he could not hear enough of those dear old chums.

"Meaning Tom and Harry?" smiled Belle. "Or Dick and Greg?"

"Tom and Harry, that time, of course," laughed Dave. "But I'm waiting to hear a whole lot about Dick and Greg as well."

"No; I wouldn't call Tom and Harry exactly as brown as berries," went on Belle, laughing, "for I am not acquainted with many kinds of brown berries."

"Coffee berries?" hinted Darrin.

"I would call Tom and Harry fully as bronzed as Indians," Belle ventured.

"Have you ever seen any Indians?" asked Midshipman Darrin, looking at his sweetheart rather quizzically.

"Oh, haven't I?" laughed Belle Meade, her eyes sparkling. "We had Indians here the early part of this summer. There was a medicine show here, with Indians and cowboys, and that sort of thing. One day the Indians and cowboys got intoxicated and they went through Main Street like a tornado. They were yelling and shooting, and had people all along the street running for cover. Even the chief of police, though he wasn't a coward, ran into safety.

"In the midst of it all Dick Prescott, Greg Holmes, Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton came out of an ice cream parlor. Tom and Harry got a glimpse of the very Wild West looking company of yellers and shooters. Tom and Harry have seen enough Indians and cowboys to know the real thing-and that these were only poor imitations. All of a sudden Tom and Harry and Dick and Greg charged into that howling, shooting crowd and knocked them right and left. Your four old-time chums simply disarmed the 'bad' ones and turned the weapons over to the chief of police."

Belle went on, describing the famous incident, while Dave leaned back, laughing heartily.

"How I wish I had been on hand! I'd like to have helped, too," he added.

"Those four youngsters didn't need any help," laughed Belle.

"Which was the most surprised crowd-the 'bad' Western outfit or the police department?" chuckled Dave.

Readers of our "WEST POINT SERIES" will find the "Wild West" scene fully narrated in "DICK PRESCOTT'S THIRD YEAR AT WEST POINT."

"Isn't it outrageous," demanded Dave, "that the West Point and the Annapolis leave of absence should be so arranged that midshipmen and cadets who are old, old friends never get a chance to meet each other on furlough!"

"I don't suppose," replied Belle, "that it often happens that one little city often has the honor of furnishing, at the same time, two midshipmen for Annapolis and two cadets for West Point."

"Very likely not," nodded Dave. "But it seems too bad, just the same.

What wouldn't I give to see Tom or Harry? Or Greg or Dick? And now that

I'm here Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes are but just barely gone."

"Yes; they have been but four days gone," assented Belle. "It does seem too bad that you and your West Point chums couldn't have been one day together."

"I haven't seen a blessed one of the good old four since I left for Annapolis, more than two years ago," muttered Dave complainingly. "What wouldn't I give-just to see what they look like in these days?"

"Well, what would you give?" demanded Belle, rising and hesitating.

"They've given you their photos, then!" asked Dave Darrin guessing.

"Please be quick-let me see the photos."

Belle glided from the room, to return with a large card.

"They were taken altogether," she explained, handing the card over to

Darrin. "There they are-all in one group."

Dave seized the card, studying eagerly the print mounted thereon.

"Whew! What a change two years make in a High School boy, doesn't it?" demanded Darrin.

"Of course," answered Belle Meade. "Do you imagine that you and Dan

Dalzell haven't changed any, either?"

Readers of our "HIGH SCHOOL SERIES" will well remember Dick Prescott, Greg Holmes, Tom Reade, Harry Hazelton, Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, a famous sextette of young High School athletes, who, in their High School days, were known as Dick & Co.

Readers of the four volumes of that series will recall that Dick Prescott received the congressman's nomination to West Point, and that Greg Holmes was appointed a cadet at the same big government Army school by one of the state's senators. Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, a little later, secured nominations to Annapolis from the same gentlemen; and Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton, who had thrown their lot with civil engineering, had gone West to engage with an engineering firm of railroad builders.

From that passing of the old High School days the experiences and adventures of Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes are told in the volumes of "THE WEST POINT SERIES."

Those of Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton are set forth fully in "THE YOUNG

ENGINEERS' SERIES."

As for Dave Darrin and Dan, their life, since leaving the High School, and casting their lot with the Navy, has been fully told in the two preceding volumes of the present series, "DAVE DARRIN'S FIRST YEAR AT AKNAPOLIS" and "DAVE DARRIN'S SECOND YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS."

"Well, I'll meet Dick and Greg this coming Thanksgiving, at any rate," predicted Midshipman Darrin. "You know what happens the Saturday after Thanksgiving on Franklin Field, don't you, Belle?"

"You young men of Annapolis and West Point play football, don't you!" asked Belle.

"Do we?" demanded Dave, his eyes aglow with enthusiasm. "Don't we, though. And, mark me, Belle, the Navy is going to carry away the Army's scalp this year."

"Are you going to join the team?" asked Belle.

"I can't say, until I get back. But I've been training. I hope to be called to the team. So does Dan."

"I hope you and Dan both make the eleven," cried Belle, "so that you can get away to see the game."

"Why, we can see the game better," retorted Dave, "if we don't make the team."

"Why, are midshipmen who don't belong to the eleven allowed to see the game?" asked Belle in some surprise.

"Are we?" demanded Dave. "Belle, don't you know what the Army-Navy game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day is like? The entire brigade of midshipmen and the whole corps of cadets travel over to Philadelphia. There, on Franklin Field, before an average of thirty thousand yelling spectators, the great annual game of the two great national academies is fought out."

"You haven't gone to see the annual game at Philadelphia before this, have you?" asked Miss Meade.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because, Belle, both years, at Thanksgiving time, Danny boy and I have found ourselves so far behind in our studies that we just took the time to stay behind and bone, bone, bone over our books."

"And you think this year will be different?"

"Oh, yes; when a man is half way through Annapolis the studies become easier to him. You see, in two years of the awful grind a fellow, if he lasts that long, has learned how to study in the right way. I'm going to get two tickets, Belle, so that you and your mother can go to see the game. And of course good old Dick can do as much for Laura Bentley and her mother. You'll come, of course, to root your hardest for the Navy, just as Laura will go and root for the Army. By the way, have you heard whether Dick and Greg expect to play on the Army eleven?"

"When they were here this summer they said they hoped to play football with the Army. That's all I know, Dave, about the plans of Dick and Greg."

"I hope they do play," cried Midshipman Darrin cheerily. "Even with two such old gridiron war horses as Dick and Greg against us, I believe that the Navy team, this year, has some fellows who can take the Army scalp with neatness and despatch."

Dave rambled on, for some time now, with of the athletic doings at the

Naval Academy. It was not that he was so much interested in the

subject-at that particular moment-but it was certainly fine to have

Belle Meade for an interested listener.

"Well, you're half way through your course," put in Belle at last. "You passed your last annual examinations in June."

"Yes."

"How did you stand in your exams?"

"I came through with honors," Dave declared unblushingly.

"Honors?" repeated Belle delightedly. "Oh, Dave, I didn't know you were one of the honor men of your class."

"Yes," laughed Midshipman Dave, though there was a decidedly serious look in his fine face. "Belle, I consider that any fellow who gets by the examiners has passed with honors. So we're all honor men that are now left in the class. Several of the poor fellows had to write home last June asking their parents for the price of a ticket homeward."

"But, now that you've got half way through, you're pretty sure to go the rest of the way safely," Belle insisted.

"That's almost too much of a brag to make, Belle. The truth is, no fellow is safe until he has been commissioned as an ensign, and that's at least two years after he has graduated from the Naval Academy. Why even after examination, you know, a fellow has to go to sea for two years, as a midshipman, and then take another and final examination at sea. A whole lot of fellows who managed to get through the Academy find themselves going to pieces on that examination at sea."

"And then-" went on Belle.

"Why, if a fellow can't pass his exams, he's dropped from the service."

"After he has already graduated from Academy? That isn't fair," cried

Belle Meade.

"No, it isn't quite fair," assented Midshipman Dave, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Yet what is one going to do about it? It's all in the game-to take or leave."

"Who ever made the Naval Academy and the service so hard as that?" the girl wanted to know.

"Congress, I guess," laughed Dave, "but acting, very likely, on the advice of a lot of old admirals who are through themselves, and who expect the youngsters to know as much as the very admirals. Why, Belle, when I was a few years younger, and first began to dream about going to the Naval Academy I had a mental picture of a very jolly life, in which we sailed the seas and absorbed our knowledge. I had an idea that the midshipman's life was made up mainly of jolly larks ashore and afloat, with plenty of athletics to keep us from ever feeling dull. Of course, I knew we had to do some studying, but I didn't imagine the studies would be hard for a chap who had

already gone through a good High School."

"Your High School studies did help, didn't they?" demanded Belle.

"They helped somewhat in the exams, to enter Annapolis, but they've never helped me with any of the studies that I've had to tackle as a midshipman."

"Oh, well, you'll get through," the girl predicted with cheery confidence.

"I shall, if it's really in me," Dave promised. "But I'm not going to do any bragging, Belle, until I'm safely through and have been out of the woods for a long time."

"And you won't do any bragging then, either. It isn't in your line.

What's Dan Dalzell going to do while he's home on leave?"

"Sleep, he says."

"The lazy boy!"

"No, he's a tired boy, Belle. I think the past year has been even just a little harder on him than it has on me. However, of course Dan won't really sleep. He'll be out by this afternoon. Just now I imagine that he's talking like wildfire with his mother."

It was a wrong guess, however. Just then the telephone sounded in the next room, and Belle went to answer it.

"It's your shipmate, Dan," she called laughingly. "He wants to talk with you, Dave."

"I wonder how the fellow ever guessed that I was here," smiled Darrin, as he hastily joined Belle at the 'phone.

"Hello," hailed Dalzell at the other end of the wire. "Going to do anything in particular this afternoon, David, little giant?"

"Yes; I hope to make myself more or less agreeable to Miss Meade."

"A small crowd won't be any bar to that, eh?" Dan wanted to know.

"Not if the crowd and the occasion are agreeable to Miss Meade."

"Well, you know Foss and Canty?"

"Two of our old High School boys? Yes."

"Foss has a new gasoline launch; he says it's a beauty, and he wants us to invite Miss Meade and Miss Bentley, to join them and a couple of the former High School girls for a couple of hours' cruise on the river. What say you?"

"What does Belle say, you mean. Wait a moment, and I'll ask her."

Darrin explained the invitation.

"Why, if it will be pleasant for you, Dave, I shall be delighted to go,"

Belle answered.

"It's all right," Dave called back over the 'phone. "What's the hour for the start!"

"Two o'clock," Dan answered.

"All right, then; will you ask Laura Bentley, or shall we, from here?"

"I've already asked Laura," Dalzell replied. "She accepted on condition that Belie did. Now I'll ring up Laura and tell her that it's all arranged."

"It'll be a pleasant trip for you, won't it!" inquired Belle, half-anxiously. "Or do you get too much of boats in your working year?"

"I shall be glad to be anywhere that you are," Dave replied gallantly. "The form of entertainment doesn't matter to me as long as it appeals to you."

At two o'clock the young people met at the float of the Boat Club house on the river's bank.

On the way across town Dave had been noting the direction and force of the wind. He didn't altogether like it, but didn't say anything. At the float he found Tom Foss, Ab Canty, Ella Wright and Susie Danes awaiting the midshipmen and their fair companions.

"All ready and waiting for you amateur sailors," called Foss laughingly.

"And here's the boat. Say, isn't she really a beauty?"

"Good lines," nodded Dave Darrin. "And she looks speedy. But you've changed your mind about going out this afternoon, haven't you, Foss?"

"Why?" demanded the young fellow, in very evident astonishment.

"Look at the water," responded Dave, pointing to the white-caps, which were running rather high for an inland stream.

"Pooh! You're not afraid of a little foam on top of the water, are you?" demanded Foss.

"The waves are running pretty high for the inches of freeboard that your boat has," remarked Darrin quietly. "And look at the sky to windward. There's a bit more blow coming out of those clouds yet."

"Say, what do they teach you at Annapolis?" grinned Foss. "To go sailing only in calm weather?"

"Since you ask," Dave replied as quietly as before, though a slight flush mounted to his face, "one of the things they teach us at the Naval Academy is consideration for women. Now, if just we four fellows were going out, I wouldn't say a word."

"Don't think we girls are afraid," broke in Belle with spirit.

"I'm well aware that you're not afraid," Darrin replied turning and looking at her. "But I'm afraid, Belle of what I might think of myself afterwards, if I were a party to taking you out in this boat when the river is running so much to whitecaps."

"Do you think the boat is one of the kind that will turn turtle and sink the crowd?" demanded Tom Foss, flushing in turn. "I tell you, Darrin, the craft is as tight and sound, and as manageable, as any boat of her length to be found anywhere on fresh water."

"She is a fine boat," Dave assented; "but I don't feel like being responsible for what may happen to the young lady who is more especially under my escort and care. There's too big a chance of danger this afternoon, Foss."

"Pooh, Mr. Sailor!" laughed Ella Wright. "I'll show you that some folks who don't know what Annapolis looks like are not frightened by toy waves."

Miss Ella thereupon stepped into the launch and seated herself. Miss

Susie followed.

"Aren't you people going?" asked Ab Canty.

"I'm not going if Dave considers it so unwise that he'd be worried about our safety," Belle answered promptly.

"Going, Laura?" called Foss.

"No, though I thank you," Miss Bentley replied. "If Mr. Darrin objects on the score of safety I'm not going to torment him by disregarding his opinion."

"I'm of about the same opinion as Darrin, if anyone cares to know," broke in Dan Dalzell.

Tom Foss looked at the other half of his party quizzically, then called to Canty.

"Cast off, Ab. Ha, ha! I never thought to see United States sailors and embryo Naval officers so much afraid of a little tossing water."

Chug-chug! Ella and Susie were laughing a bit teasingly as the motor started and the little craft darted away from the float and took to the waves beyond.

Dave did not answer. Instead, he gripped Dan's nearer wrist, muttering:

"Don't you say it, Danny!"

"Say what?"

"Whatever hot words were coming to your lips. As long as we feel that we're right in not risking Belle and Laura, never mind what the others think and say."

"This breeze is so fine," suggested Laura, "what do you say if we seat ourselves here and watch the river for a while?"

Accordingly the four young people seated themselves. The launch was the only craft in sight that was away from her moorings. A sailboat and three canoes lay tied to the lee side of the float, that is the off-side from the weather. Even they rocked a good deal.

"What kind of weather is coming?" asked Belle.

"It's going to be pretty squally, in all probability," spoke up

Midshipman Dan. "Do you see the big puffs of wind in the clouds yonder?"

"It must take a sailor to see that sort of thing," remarked Belle. "What I see in the cloud looks like big, fluffy masses of cotton, streaked with something darker."

"That's the wind," nodded Dave Darrin. "Now, girls, I don't want you to think me a muff. That wind may swerve, and not come this way, although in all probability the wind will get this way and the water will be rougher. If it does get rougher on the river, and if we had taken you two out, and the boat had capsized, then by some chance we might not have been able to get you to shore. What would your folks then say to us if we had had the miserable luck to survive you?"

"You did just right," Laura declared promptly. "To tell the truth, I didn't want to disappoint either of you boys this afternoon, but I didn't believe the wind was quiet enough for boating on the river. But mother reminded me that I was going with two young men who had been trained as sailors, and that I ought to be as safe as I would in the home parlor."

"Well, aren't you?" smiled Belle Meade.

"Did you really want to go out on the river, Belle?" Dave asked.

"Not when you don't believe it to be safe."

"I suppose Foss will be joking around town about our being afraid of the water," muttered; Dan.

"What do you care!" asked Dave quietly. "You're responsible to the United States Government-not to a few private citizens on the streets of Gridley."

"You'll take us out on the water before your leave is over, won't you?" urged Belle.

"A dozen of times, if you care to go," Dave; replied quickly.

"In a sailboat?" quizzed Belle. "It must; be great fun to sail, and I've never been in a sailboat."

"I'd rather take you out in a good, solid rowboat," Dave answered slowly.

"Why, haven't you had much sailboat practice at Annapolis yet?"

"We've had some," Darrin nodded. "But I'm afraid I don't believe much in small sailboats for girls' parties."

"Oh, very well."

"Now, Belle, you will begin to believe that I'm a muff at heart," Darrin remonstrated.

"I won't anyway, Dave," Laura broke in. "I can see that you're merely determined that we shall take no risks when we go out with you. I shall feel very safe in whatever you propose for water sports."

"It's a good deal better to be safe, than sorry, when you have girls under your care," Dan Dalzell added.

The motor boat, a fast though a low-hulled craft, had been long out of sight up the river. Presently there came a new turn to the wind. Dan wet a forefinger and held it up to the breeze.

"I hope Foss has sense enough to run in somewhere and tie up until the coming squall blows over," Dalzell remarked.

"Are we going to have a storm?" Belle asked quickly.

"Not rain, if that's what you mean," Darrin replied. "But I believe the river is going to be pretty rough before long."

Ere two minutes more had passed Dave suddenly rose and straightened himself.

"Look downstream, girls," he cried. "Do you see the big rollers coming?"

In truth the surface of the river was now beginning to behave in an unusual way. Where, heretofore, the water had been choppy and whitecapped, the water now broke in longer, foam-crested waves. Owing to the course of the wind the waves were rolling upstream. Within five minutes from the time when Dave first called attention to the rougher water the waves had considerably increased in size.

"Oh, I'm glad I'm not out on the water," shivered Laura.

"So am I," Belle admitted candidly.

"Do you believe Tom Foss can bring his boat down against such waves!"

Laura inquired.

"Oh, no doubt, he has had sense enough to run in somewhere and tie up," predicted Midshipman Dan charitably.

"I hope so," murmured Belle. "But Tom is an awfully stubborn fellow."

Toot! too-oo-oot! sounded a whistle up the river.

"By ginger, there comes Foss's boat now!" muttered Dan, standing up and staring. "Why doesn't the idiot make land?"

"He's got his craft away on the other side of the river, looking for quieter water," muttered Dave uneasily.

"Well, isn't that right?" asked Belle.

"Right, yes, unless he makes the mistake of trying to cross the stream," nodded Darrin. "Then he'll run his craft into the trough of the sea, and-"

"Well, what?" demanded Belle as Dave paused.

"Then, when he's in the trough, a big wave may roll his small boat over," Dan finished for his comrade.

"Do you really think there's danger of that?" demanded Laura, looking anxious.

"I don't know," murmured Dave. "But I wish I had some way of signaling

Foss, some way so that he could understand the signals."

"What good would it do?" demanded Midshipman Dalzell, grimly. "Tom would only laugh and say it was more old maidishness on the part of Navy men."

"There-confound the idiot!" suddenly blazed Dave Darrin. "He is crossing. Look at that boat wallow in the trough. Jupiter! There she goes over-nearly!"

All four young people on the float held their breath for an instant. The motor launch, after almost having turned turtle, righted itself.

"I wish I were at the wheel of the boat for about three minutes," muttered Darrin hoarsely.

At that moment Laura and Belle both screamed, while Dan Dalzell shouted:

"There she goes-for sure, this time!"

A bigger wave than usual had half filled the launch and caused it to careen. Before the little craft could right itself a second and a third wave, rolling along, had completed the work. The launch had sunk!

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares