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   Chapter 8 DAN TRIES HARD TO KEEP COOL

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8762

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


A surgeon and a hospital man were quickly on the spot, the others, anxious as they were, drawing back considerately to give the men of medicine room in which to work.

As Dave Darrin was gently turned over on his back it was seen that Damn's face was a mass of blood.

"Jetson's work," grunted two or three of the players.

"He did it on purpose!"

"If he didn't, then the fellow is too clumsy to be trusted on the gridiron, anyway."

"We must chase Jetson away from the squad."

"Silence!" remarked Head Coach Havens, very simply, though in a tone which meant that obedience must follow.

Jetson, however, was not ignorant of the comments that were passing. His dark face flushed hotly with anger.

"They'll blame anything on me, if I'm within a mile of the field," he told himself sullenly.

"Is Mr. Darrin badly injured, doctor!" inquired Lieutenant-Commander

Havens of the Naval surgeon.

"I think not, sir, beyond a possibly nasty mark on the face," replied the surgeon, as he examined and directed the hospital men. "Mr. Darrin is merely stunned, from too hard an impact of some sort. He'll soon have his eyes open-there they come now."

As if to back up the surgeon, Dave opened his eyes, staring curiously at the faces within his range of vision.

"What's all this fuss about?" Dave asked quietly.

"There isn't any fuss, Mr. Darrin," replied the surgeon. "You were stunned by the force of that scrimmage, and there's some blood on your face."

"Let me wipe it off then, please, sir?" Dave begged. "I want to get back in the game."

"You won't play again, Mr. Darrin," replied the surgeon.

"Not play this season?" demanded Dave in anguished amazement. "Please don't joke with me, sir."

"Oh, you'll play, after a few days," replied the surgeon, wetting a piece of gauze from the contents of a bottle that he had taken from his bag. With the gauze he wiped the blood away from Darrin's cheek, revealing a surface cut of more width than depth. Then a light bandage was put on over the cut.

"Now, I guess you can rise all right, Mr. Darrin. This hospital man will go over to hospital with you."

"I'm not ordered to stay there, I hope, sir?" murmured Dave anxiously.

"For two or three days, at any rate-yes," replied the Naval surgeon. "Not because you're going to be weak, but because we've got to have you under our eyes all the time if your face is to heal without a bad scar."

Midshipman Darrin brought his hand up in salute to the surgeon, and again to Lieutenant-Commander Havens.

"Darrin laid up for a few days!" growled Captain Hepson, of the Navy team, just after Dave had started. "Now, when every day's work counts!" Then wheeling suddenly:

"How did Darrin come to get cut in that fashion, anyway! Mr. Jetson, do you know anything about it?"

"What do you mean, sir?" demanded Jetson, bridling. "Do you insinuate that I tried to put a scar on Mr. Darrin's face?"

"I asked you what you knew about the accident-if it were an accident?"

Hepson pursued coldly.

"Your 'if,' sir, is insulting!"

Then there came to the spot a presence that could not be treated with anger. Lieutenant-Commander Havens was determined to know the truth.

"Mr. Jetson, had you anything in your possession, or did you wear anything, that could cut Mr. Damn's face like that?" demanded the head coach.

"Nothing, sir, unless the sole of one of my shoes was responsible," returned Jetson, barely concealing his anger under a mask of respect to an officer of the Navy.

"Let me see your shoes; sit down on the ground first, Mr. Jetson."

The midshipman obeyed, though with no very good grace, and held up his right shoe for the inspection of the head coach.

"Now the other shoe, Mr. Jetson. Hm! Yes; along the inner sole of this shoe there are signs of what looks very much like blood. See here, Mr. Hepson."

"Yes, sir; most certainly this is a streak of blood rubbed into the leather along this rather sharp edge of the sole."

"May I suggest, Mr. Havens," hinted Jetson, "that something else may have scratched Mr. Darrin's face, and that the blood trickled to my shoe? I was under Mr. Darrin, somewhat, sir, in the scrimmage when the bunch went down."

There was really nothing that could be proved, in any case, so the head coach could only say very quietly:

"Let the practice go on, Mr. Hepson. Put Mr

. Wardell temporarily in Mr.

Darrin's place on the line."

There was one in the group who had not said a word so far. But he had been looking on, his keen eyes studying Jetson's face. That looker-on was Midshipman Dan Dalzell, who, as the reader knows, sometimes displayed a good deal of temper.

"Jetson," muttered Dan, as the other midshipman came over by him, "I shall need a little talk with you at the early convenience of us both."

"Whenever you like," retorted Midshipman Jetson, flashing back a look of defiance.

Then the game went on. By supper time the men of the brigade knew that Darrin was getting along comfortably; that he was in no pain and that he was in hospital only in the hope that he might be saved the annoyance of wearing a disfiguring scar on his face throughout all his life.

"I'm afraid that some of the fellows think I purposely cut Darrin up in that fashion," remarked Jetson to his tablemates during the evening meal.

"Don't you know that you didn't?" inquired one of the midshipmen laconically. None of the other men at table took heed of Jetson's words.

At some of the other tables equal silence did not prevail. Midshipmen who did not accuse or suspect Jetson of intentional wickedness expressed the opinion that he was, at all events, careless and not a valuable member of the football squad.

Jetson himself was wholly aware that he was more or less suspected in the minds of many, and the knowledge made him savage.

During the few minutes recreation that followed the evening meal, Dan

Dalzell approached the sullen one, who was now standing quite alone.

"Mr. Jetson, I shall be glad to have a talk with you," announced Dan.

"Will you come to my room, or shall I go to yours?"

"Lead the way to your room, sir," replied Jetson stiffly.

Dan did so, and behind the door the two midshipmen faced each other.

"Well, sir!" demanded the visitor.

"Mr. Jetson, both times that you have played against Darrin something has happened to him."

"Don't insinuate, Mr. Dalzell. If you anything to say, speak out plainly, sir."

"I hardly know what to say," Midshipman Dan confessed. "As a midshipman, your honor should be above question."

"Do you wish to remark that it isn't?"

"Why, I don't know," Dan answered frankly. "It seems a fearful thing to say, or even to think, about a midshipman."

"Mr. Dalzell, either I did, or I didn't, intentionally injure Mr. Darrin. Yon must think one thing or the other. If you suspect that I did the thing intentionally, then why beat about the bush?"

"I don't want to beat about the bush, and, on the other hand, I don't want to do you any injustice, Mr. Jetson, I thought perhaps you would be willing to help me out by proffering your midshipman's word of honor-"

"And I," rejoined Jetson in cold anger, "consider it insulting, sir, that

I should be asked to pledge my word of honor."

"That is an extreme position to take," protested Dan. "No good man, when appearances are against him, should be afraid to offer his word of honor."

"Suppose," sneered Jetson, in suppressed fury, "I should go to the other extreme, and say that I did it on purpose?"

"Then I'd knock you down, like a dog," Dan answered directly and simply, "and next call on the men here to drive you forth from the brigade."

"If you think you could knock me down," quivered Midshipman Jetson, "you'd better go ahead and find out whether your guess is correct. Dalzell, you've been highly insulting, and I don't mind declaring that a fight with you would suit me, at present, better than anything that I can think of."

"Then you have your recourse, in a challenge," Dan hinted promptly.

"What's the need of a challenge, seconds-or of anything but fists? I don't need them."

"The brigade claims some supervision over fights between the men here," Dan replied. "I intend to demand that the class take up, as a class matter, the mishap to Darrin this afternoon."

"You-you hound!" panted Jetson, in a sudden flare-up of anger.

"Careful!" warned Dalzell, clenching his fists and facing his man squarely.

With a snort of rage Jetson launched himself forward, aiming two blows at Dan.

Dan parried the blows coolly, but his eyes flashed.

He had not lost control of himself, but he was warming up to the instinct of fighting when no other course seemed open.

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