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Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11772

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Jetson's next blow grazed Midshipman Dalzell's chin. The follow-up blow landed on Dan's left ear.

Now Dalzell "sailed in" in earnest. He attacked forcefully and swiftly. Jetson was forced to give ground. Dan pursued him around the room. Being no coward, Jetson stood well up to the work, driving in for himself at least two out of every five blows that were landed.

Rap-tap-tap! sounded on the door, but neither combatant heard.

Smash! Dan's forceful right landed on Jetson's neck, sending that midshipman to the floor, whereupon Dalzell sprang back three paces.

"Take your time getting on to your feet," called Dan in a low voice.

"I don't want any time," snapped Jetson, leaping to his feet.

The words of both speakers were heard at the door, and the visitor who had knocked now promptly entered.

Fortunate it was for the combatants facing each other that the intruder was not one of the discipline officers. Had it been, both midshipmen would have been reported at once under charges that would have borne serious results.

Instead, it was Farley who entered, followed by Page, Hepson and Joyce.

"Wow!" uttered Midshipman Farley in a low voice. Then: "Stop this, fellows!"

At the order, which Dan knew to be intended for his own good, the latter turned away, letting his hands fall. Jetson, on the point of a rush, realized that he had better desist.

"Joyce, you stand outside," ordered Farley in a low voice. "Stand right at the door. If you see the O.C. (officer in charge) turning into this corridor, you rap as hard as you can on the door, and we'll understand."

Midshipman Joyce wanted most badly to be a spectator to what was likely to happen on the inner side of the door, but he had the good sense to realize that some one must do guard duty, so he stepped outside, closing the door after him.

"Now, gentlemen, what's this all about?" demanded Hepson in a low, smooth voice.

"It means," cried Jetson passionately, "that I'm not going to stand any more of this petty persecution. Everyone has been trying to pretend that he believes I've been trying to do Darrin up so that he can't play on the Navy football team. It's all just a mean scheme to keep me from making the Navy eleven."

"There's no such scheme afloat, or I'd know about it," returned Hepson coolly. "Fact is, there isn't any intention whatever of playing you on the Navy team."

"Ah, you admit it!" snapped Midshipman Jetson, first turning white, after which his face showed a deep crimson of humiliation. "You've already done the dirty work."

"Fellow, stop this talk!" commanded Hepson, almost at a white heat of resentment, "Among midshipmen and gentlemen there can be no thought of what you term 'dirty work.' The fact that you won't play with us is due to your uncontrollable temper. A fellow who can't control his nerves and temper isn't fitted to play football-a game that requires cool judgment at every moment of the game."

"Then, while you're telling me what to stop, you just stop addressing me as 'fellow,'" cried Jetson, his lip quivering with rage.

"I'll admit that was hasty on my part," agreed Midshipman Hepson, "but it seemed necessary to use some word to bring you to your senses. And now, this fight, which would get you both into serious trouble if a discipline officer came upon the scene, must cease."

"I'm afraid it can't," broke in Midshipman Dalzell with quiet dignity. "At least, I won't agree to stopping until Mr. Jetson admits himself satisfied. It was he who started the fight, and only his word can close it. But we don't want you other fellows pulled into this trouble as spectators, so we'll wait until you all withdraw."

"If you're determined to fight," rejoined Hepson, who was the only first classman present, "then we don't want to stop the fight. We'll stay and see it pulled off fairly. But, Dalzell, do you really want to fight?"

"I didn't want to," Dan answered. "But, now that Mr. Jetson has started it, it must go on until he's satisfied. Up with your hands, sir, and when you start in, I'll answer you."

The visitors skipped back, in order to leave the combatants plenty of room for footwork. Since Jetson had heard definite announcement of the fact that he could not hope to be called to the Navy eleven, his inward flame of passion had burned up high. He was now ready to fight with all the force that there was in him.

In the first few seconds his assault was so resolute that Dalzell was forced to give ground. As he slowly retreated and shifted, Jetson drove in more impetuously than ever.

Midshipman Dan found himself at last in a position of advantage.

"Now, hammer him, Danny boy!" advised; Farley, breathing deeply.

"Silence among the spectators," warned Hepson in a low, stern voice.

"Absolutely fair play, gentlemen, to both contestants!"

Again the showering exchange of blows. Jetson, after his late rapid expenditure of force and nerve-energy, was now just the least bit confused. Dan landed on one ear, and then against his enemy's chin. Both were hard, dazing blows, though neither left a mark.

Then an uppercut and Dalzell landed on Jetson's jugular. With, a gasp the fellow went down to the floor.

"One, two, three, four-" Hepson began counting.

"Don't bother with the count," begged Dalzell "I'll give him all the time he wants to get to his feet."

Rap-tap-tap-tap! came a banging summons on the door, followed by

Midshipman Joyce's voice demanding:

"Are you in, Danny boy?"

Swift as a flash Hepson and Farley leaped forward, fairly snatching

Jetson, who was still half dazed, to his feet.

In the same instant Page called out cheerily:

"Come in under full steam, whatever craft is outside!"

"Brace up? Jetson! Don't look silly or dazed,", warned Hepson, in a stern whisper. "That rap was the signal of the approach of the O.C."


arley was industriously brushing the signs of dust from Jetson's uniform.

"I tell you, fellows," boomed Hepson's tranquil, earnest voice, "we've got to hustle every minute of practice time. Nothing else will give us a chance to win."

"We haven't even a chance if Darry isn't soon back on the gridiron," argued Farley.

"Oh, he'll be all right soon," broke in Dan Dalzell eagerly.

Joyce had already stepped into the room, leaving the door open. Now, as though by instinct, the midshipmen seemed aware that the O.C., who to-day happened to be Lieutenant Cotton, U.S.N., was standing in front of the doorway gazing in.

Instantly the middies came to the position of attention, looking straight ahead of them.

"Good evening, gentlemen," greeted the O.C. "Is anything unusual going on?"

"We have been discussing the football situation, sir," announced

Midshipman Hepson quite truthfully.

Had Hepson been asked if there had recently been a fight in progress he would have answered truthfully, but he did not feel called upon to volunteer damaging information.

"I thought I heard sounds as of some disturbance," remarked the O.C., looking at the young men rather sharply. "That is to say, I was under the impression that there had been some unusual agility in operation. I heard something that sounded like scuffling."

"Yes, sir," replied Mr. Hepson; "I think it very likely. The men on this deck, sir, can't think of anything in these days but line-ups and scrimmage tactics."

"It occurred to me," went on the O.C., "that there was some sound of scuffling in this room."

"There was, sir," admitted Midshipman Hepson candidly. "There was a species of scrimmage."

"Was it in connection with football?" inquired Lieutenant Cotton.

"Yes, sir,"-which answer, again, was wholly truthful.

"Ah, I thought I heard something like a scrimmage in the room," assented Lieutenant Cotton. "Yet remember, gentlemen, that quarters is not the place for football practice."

"Very good, sir; thank you, sir," replied the unmovable Hepson.

"And remember that it is now very close to the time for study call," continued the O.C.

"Yes, sir; thank you, sir. We are just parting to our various quarters, sir."

"Good evening, gentlemen."

"Good evening, sir."

Lieutenant Cotton passed on down the corridor, and the midshipmen eased themselves from the rigid position of attention.

"That was a narrow squeak," grunted Hepson. "Now, Jetson, get out ahead."

"I'll renew this argument at another time," retorted Jetson slowly, as he crossed the floor.

"You don't need to, sir," Midshipman Hepson advised him. "Every gentleman here will agree with me that Mr. Dalzell had the best of the affair right up to the end. Nor is Mr. Dalzell under any obligation whatever to afford you another meeting on the score of to-night's disagreement."

"We'll see about that," snapped Jetson, as he passed through the doorway.

At that instant the study call sounded. The others hastened away to their quarters.

Dan Dalzell stepped over to the handbowl, washing his hands, after which he went to his study-table and began to arrange his books.

"It's kind of lonely to sit here without old Darry," sighed Dan dismally. "I hope he'll be here with me to-morrow evening. No; I don't either, though. I want him to stay over in hospital until there's no chance whatever that he'll have to wear an ugly scar through life."

It was three evenings later when Midshipman David Darrin returned to his own quarters in Bancroft Hall. By this time the surface wound on his face was healing nicely, and with ordinary care he would soon be without sign of scar.

"Pills (the surgeon) told me that I'll have to be careful and not let anything bump this face for days to come," remarked Dave, pointing to the strip of adhesive plaster that neatly covered his injury.

"Well, you don't need to bump anything," replied Dan quietly. "Hepson wants you on the gridiron the worst way, but he has told me that he won't even allow you to get into togs until Pills has certified that you're fit to play."

"It's tough," sighed Dave, then quietly began his studies.

It is a rare proceeding to send a midshipman to Coventry; a step that is never taken save for the gravest reasons. Dan, having fought, did not feel it necessary to bring Jetson's case before a class meeting, and Jetson escaped Coventry. He was not cut, yet he soon discovered that the average classmate paid no more heed to him than appeared to be necessary for courtesy's sake.

After another week "Pills" consented to Dave Darrin's going out for regular gridiron practice. Dave needed the work badly, for the Navy team was now on the eve of the first game of the season.

Jetson, with no hope now of making the eleven this year, avoided the field for a few days.

The first game of the season took place on a Saturday afternoon. The opponent was Hanniston College. Ordinarily, in the past, Hanniston had been an easy enough opponent, though there had been years in which Hanniston had carried the score away from the field.

"How many of the regular team do you want to throw into the game against Hanniston, Mr. Hepson?" inquired Lieutenant-Commander Havens the night before the game.

"Every one of them, sir," Hepson answered the head coach. "Until we get into a real game, we can't be sure that we've the strongest eleven. To-morrow's game will show us if we have made any mistakes in our selections."

Even though Hanniston was considered one of the lesser opponents, every man in the brigade speculated with great interest, that night, on the probable outcome of the morrow.

"Darrin will have a good chance to prove himself, a dub to-morrow," thought Midshipman Jetson darkly. "I hate to wish against the Navy, but I'll cheer if Darrin, individually, ties himself up in foozle knots!"

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