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   Chapter 7 DID JETSON DO IT

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10175

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


No sooner had release from studies sounded through big and handsome

Bancroft Hall, than there came a tap at Dave Darrin's door.

"Come in," called Dave.

Hepson came in first, followed by a score of other midshipmen.

"Say, I didn't hear assembly blow lately," remarked Dan Dalzell, closing a new text-book and looking up with a smile of welcome.

"Are we intruding-so many of us," inquired Hepson, halting.

"Not on me, anyway," answered Dave pleasantly. "As for Danny boy, don't mind the little chap. He really believes that study release sounds before supper-call. Come right in, all of you fellows. Dan barks, but won't bite."

"And take seats, all of you, do," urged Dan, with unnecessary hospitality. "After the table and the chairs are used up, we'll provide tacks for the rest."

"Does this little boy ever have a serious streak?" asked one of the callers, regarding Dan with feigned interest.

"Yes; whenever he finds himself marked down to 2.1 in more than three studies," laughed Dave.

"Oh, that's no laughing matter," grimaced another of the visiting midshipmen.

"I don't suppose you can guess what we came to talk about?" went on

Midshipman Hepson.

"At a wild guess it might be football," hazarded Darrin.

"Wonderful! Marvelous!" gasped another visitor.

"Darry, we've come in to tell you that we believe that you and your erratic roommate are going to save a desperate situation for us," resumed the captain of the Navy team. "Not that we were destitute of good players before. But we lacked enough of different kinds to make a strong, all-around eleven. Now we've a team that we're not afraid, after more work, to put up against anything that the Army can show us."

"Now, I wouldn't be too sure," urged Dave. "Confidence is all right, but don't let it rob us of a jot of practice and work."

"Are you afraid of the Army, Darry?" demanded Hepson.

"I'm not going to be too cock-sure, if the story is true that Prescott and Holmes are out with the Army team this year."

"Are they such great players!" demanded Hepson.

"They are," Dave responded solemnly, "or were. I know something about that pair, since I've played on the same eleven with Prescott and Holmes."

"Are they better than you two, Darry?" Hepson demanded.

"Yes," answered Dave unhesitatingly.

"Is that honesty or extreme modesty?"

"Extreme mod-" broke in Dan Dalzell, but he closed his mouth with a snap and ducked as he saw three of the visitors making for him.

"It's hard to believe," muttered Hepson, though he spoke uneasily. "Why do you rank Prescott and Holmes so high, Darry?"

"Well, for one reason, Dick Prescott taught Dalzell and myself the game. Anything that we know about the game we learned in the team that Prescott captained."

"Still, it's hard to believe," spoke up Midshipman Joyce. "Darrin, we look upon you as the best thing that ever happened to the Navy end of the gridiron."

"I don't know that I care about being 'kidded,'" responded Dave seriously.

"But we honestly do," contended the same speaker, "and we don't like to have you tell us that Prescott is a better man."

"But I believe he is."

"Are you afraid of him?"

"I'm not afraid of any one on the gridiron," Darrin retorted bluntly. "I'll work hard to beat any man that I have to go up against, and if work, this season, will do it, I'll beat Dick Prescott out!"

"Good! That's the way we like to hear you talk," glowed Hepson.

"And I'll bottle up Holmes and put the stopper in," promised Dan with solemn modesty.

Again two of the men made a rush for him to quiet him.

"It may be only a rumor that Prescott and Holmes are on the Army eleven," spoke up another midshipman.

"No," objected still another, "I had a letter, this afternoon, from a cousin who has been up to West Point and has seen the Army crowd at work. The Army is rejoicing over Prescott and Holmes as a pair of precious finds, and they're both nailed to the colors for this season."

"Then we're going to have a tough time in our game with the Army," Darrin declared thoughtfully. "And the Army will beat more college teams this year than usual."

"We won't die until the Army shoots, anyway," promised Hepson. "And now, Darry, there's another question we want to put to you, and we want an out-and-out answer. Do you believe that Jetson really meant to trip you this afternoon?"

"You heard his denial," Dave rejoined.

"Yes."

"Well, Jetson is a midshipman and a gentleman. There has never been any question here about his honor," Darrin replied. "I accepted his denial of intention at the time, and I still accept it."

"It's queer, then, how Jetson came to give you such a nasty trip," observed another caller.

"I'll tell you what I think really must have happened," Dave continued frankly. "I think Jet was crazy to stop me. It was on his mind, and he was determined to do it. He tripped me, of course, but I think he really acted on an unconscious impulse and without intention. So, at that rate, the trip was not really intended, since he had not

deliberately planned it."

"Would you be willing to play on the same team with him, Darry?" pursued

Midshipman Hepson.

"Yes, or with any other man in the brigade. I don't suspect any man here at the Naval Academy of anything intentionally and deliberately dishonorable."

"Good, Darry!" cried several midshipmen.

For a few minutes the talk grew fast and furious. Then some one looked at his watch and there was a prompt flight of visitors. Ten minutes later taps sounded and a master switch turned off the lights in midshipmen's quarters, with nearly eight hundred young men in their beds and already dropping asleep.

At eight the next morning the many sections marched off to recitations and for hours the grind of the day was on. At the Naval Academy, as at West Point, not even football is allowed to interfere in the least with studies or recitations. No football player is permitted to go into section room, after extra practice in the field, and announce himself unprepared to recite. Only midshipmen of a good grade of scholarship are permitted to join or remain in the football squad.

Late in the afternoon, when recreation time came, all was speedily changed. Every member of the squad hastily reported in togs. Scores of midshipmen not of the squad hastened over to see the practice work. The scores were presently increased to hundreds. Fifty or more Naval officers detailed at the yard were scattered along the side lines. Many of the wives and daughters of officers stationed at Annapolis turned out to view the work. Other young ladies came from Annapolis. There was also a big delegation of "St. Johnnies," as the gray-clad young men from St. John's College are called.

The news had evidently traveled far that the Navy had two new men on the team who were expected to prove "wonders."

"A big part of this crowd is out to see you and Danny boy," Hepson remarked to Darrin.

"Haven't they anything better to do with their time, then?" laughed Dave.

"Great Scott, man! Every one of the spectators wants to see the Navy beat the Army this year."

"But these spectators are a heap cheered up by what they've heard about you and Dalzell."

Dave, however, went about his work all but unconsciously. Never much of an egotist, he declined to believe himself the star man of the Navy eleven.

When Coach Havens called off the two teams that were to play that day,

Jetson observed that he was not called for either.

"It looks as though Darrin has queered me," muttered that midshipman gloomily to himself. "I didn't think Darrin was quite as bad as that."

After the practice game had started, and Dave had put through the most brilliant play that he had yet exhibited, the air rang with his name from hundreds of throats.

"That's the way!" grumbled Jetson. "It's all Darrin now! These idiots will forget that I was ever at Annapolis."

Jetson sulked about. After the rebuke he had received the day before from the head coach, he did not dare to carry his sulk so far as to go and un-tog without leave.

Towards the end of the first half of the practice game, a man on the second team was hurt enough to be retired, and Joyce was called.

"They might have given me a chance," quivered Jetson sulkily. "I'm a lot better player than the fool coach imagines. But, anyway, I suppose Darrin has turned the coach and Hepson against me. I owe Darrin for that one!"

Five minutes later another player of the second eleven was retired with an injured wrist.

"Howard!" called the coach briskly.

"Excused for to-day, sir," reported another player.

"Any one but me!" growled Jetson.

"Jetson!" sounded the head coach's heavy voice.

Midshipman Jetson started. His face flushed. Then, for an instant, a sulky impulse seized him to reply that he did not feel up to form to-day. But the midshipman smothered that desire and started forward.

"Here, sir," he reported.

"Take right guard on second," directed Coach Havens.

"Very good, sir."

The game was resumed. Jetson, however, had a face full of sulkiness. As he joined the line-up his eyes rested on Dave Darrin.

"I wonder if Jetson means me any harm?" flashed through Dave's mind. In an instant, however, he dismissed the suspicion.

"Jetson is a midshipman, a gentleman and a man of honor," thought Darrin generously.

The whistle sounded, the ball was snapped back and passed, Darrin received it and dashed forward to carry it past the opponents.

In a twinkling there was a staggering crash. Dave was down with the ball, with men of two teams piled above him.

At the sound of the referee's whistle the mass disentangled itself. Dave and Jetson were at the bottom of the heap. Jetson was the last man up, but Dave still lay there.

"Surgeon here?" called the coach's steady voice, devoid of excitement. But there was anxiety enough when it was seen that Midshipman Darrin still lay face downward.

"Has Darrin been hurt-our Darrin-the great Darrin?" flew from tongue to tongue.

"Did Jetson do it?" was another question that was instantly asked.

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