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   Chapter 12 JOYCE IS BITTEN BY THE TROUBLE BUG

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12625

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The game was over. The giant visitors had departed, and the Naval Academy atmosphere appeared to be rarefied.

Most of the members of the brigade were back in Bancroft Hall, and this being late Saturday afternoon, study was over save for those who felt the need of devoting extra time to their books.

Farley, Page and Joyce had dropped into the room occupied by Dave and

Dan.

"Hepson was nearly crazy this afternoon," remarked Joyce, laughing.

"Then he had an easy way of concealing the fact," Dave replied. "I call him a cool football captain, with plenty of judgment and patience."

"Yes; but I happen to know that he was badly upset," returned Joyce. "Twice he sent me the wrong signal about the numbers to call, and he admitted it afterward. He was afraid, before the game was twenty minutes' old, that we were up against a big walloping."

"Oh, well," Darrin replied, with a shrug of his shoulders, "the Navy is just as used as the Army is to being walloped in athletics. The trouble with the Army and Navy teams, in athletics, is that we're always pitted against college men who are bigger and older than we are. It's just about as unfair to us, as it would be unfair to High School teams if we played against High Schools instead of colleges. We could wallop High School outfits at either baseball or football, and the only wonder is that the Army and Navy win as many games as they do against the colleges. College teams have more time for training than the Army or Navy teams do."

"What are you going to do to-night, Darry?" Joyce asked presently.

"The hop?"

"No," Dave answered almost shortly. The truth was that he was no "hop-fiend" or "fusser." Except when Belle Meade was at Annapolis to go to a hop with him, Darrin had little liking for the ball.

"I don't intend to hop either," Joyce continued. "Now, are you well enough up in grease to get town leave for the evening?"

"Grease" means good standing on the conduct report.

"Yes," nodded Dave. "Danny and I could easily get town leave, if we had a good excuse. But, of course, it's out of the question to get leave merely to roam the streets. We'd have to explain where we were going, and then go there."

"There's a show on at the theatre," broke in Dalzell.

"Yes," nodded Dave. "But do you know what kind of show it is?"

"No."

"It's a burlesque show, brought here to win away the half dollars of the sailors on the ships here. We'd stand very little chance of getting leave to go to that kind of show."

"But I want to go somewhere, away from the Academy grounds, just for a couple of hours," sighed Joyce.

"I'd like to go also," agreed Dave. "But where could we go? That is, to what place or for what purpose could we go that would be approved by the O.C.?"

This proved to be a poser indeed.

"Fact is," Joyce went on, "I'm so desperate for a little change that I don't believe I'd funk at taking French over the Academy wall. What do you two say?"

"That dog won't bark," Dave retorted.

"Oh, you greaser!" Joyce shied at him.

"Well, I am greasing to the extent that I won't imperil my chances of keeping in the service by taking any French leave," Darrin replied steadily. "So, Joyce, I'm afraid a trip to town to-night is out of the question, unless you can think up some plan to get by the O.C."

"How are you on Frenching the wall, Danny boy?" queried Joyce.

"Just about as big a muff as Darry," Dan returned dryly.

Joyce remained for some moments in deep meditation. He wanted to go into Annapolis, and he didn't care about going on a lonesome expedition. The more he thought the better Joyce realized how hard it was to frame a request that would get past the O.C.

"I have it," spoke up Dalzell at last. "We'll ask leave to run up to

Baltimore to consult an oculist."

"You idiot!" cried Joyce impatiently. None of us need spectacles."

"Besides, there's no train running to Baltimore as late as this," added Dave.

"No good, then," sighed Dalzell, "and my inventiveness is gone."

"I'm afraid we'll have to French it over the wall," insisted Joyce.

"You'll French it alone, then," Dave declared. "I draw the line at leaving the grounds without official permission."

"Prig!" grunted Joyce under his breath. Then he started up, his eyes shining with the light of a new resolve.

"Got an idea?" asked Dan.

"Yes," said Joyce. "And you'll call me a fool if I let you in on it now.

Wait until I see how it works."

With that he hastened from the room. Darrin drew down a book from the bookshelf, and from between its pages extracted a letter from Belle, which he began to read for the dozenth time.

A few minutes passed. Then Joyce knocked, next entered the room with jubilation apparent in his face.

"I've fixed it," he cried. "All you fellows have to do is to go to the

O.C. and make your request in person."

"Request for what?" Dave asked, looking up as he folded the letter.

"I told the O.C., plumply, that we were so tired of being on this side of the wall that we felt desperate for a change. I reminded him that we are all three in the top grease grade, and told him that we wanted permission to take a short stroll through Annapolis to-night. O.C. hemmed and hawed, and said it was a most unusual request for the evening, though proper enough for Saturday afternoon. At last he called up the commandant of midshipmen, stated the case and asked if he might grant the permission. The com. was game and said all right. So all that remains is for you two to go to the O.C. and make your request in person. Scat! Get in motion! Start! I'll wait here until I hear that you've put it through."

"Of course, Joyce, you're not putting up a joke on us?" demanded Darrin, looking keenly at the Navy quarter-back.

"On my word I'm not."

"Come on, Danny boy," called Dave, starting, and Dalzell followed readily enough. They entered the office of the O. C., saluted and stated their case.

"It is, of course, a somewhat unusual request to grant for the evening," replied Lieutenant-Commander Denham. "However, I can grant it if you will both assure me that you will take extreme pains to keep out of trouble of any kind, and that you will not enter the theatre or any other resort that would be bad judgment for a midship

man to enter."

"As to that, sir," Darrin replied, "I long ago resolved not to take any chances whatever of breaking any disciplinary requirements that would bring me demerits. I am working hard to get through the academic requirements, sir, and I don't intend to pass the mental ordeals here and then find that I can't keep on as a midshipman just because I have too many demerits against me. I think, sir, you may feel assured I shall not allow myself to do anything that would bring me under discipline."

"Your resolution was and is a most excellent one, Mr. Darrin," replied the O.C. "Mr. Dalzell, do you share Mr. Darrin's determination as to keeping out of trouble in Annapolis this evening?"

"Emphatically, sir."

"Then the desired permission is granted. You will enter proper report as to the time of leaving and returning."

Thanking the O.C. and saluting, Dave and Dan hastened back to Joyce.

"Not so difficult, was it?" demanded the Navy quarter-back.

"It was a whole lot better than planning to French the trip," retorted Darrin. "Now, we shall leave here to-night feeling perfectly safe as to our place on the pap."

"Pap" is the sheet on which the day's report of midshipmen conduct is kept.

"I'll admit that caution is sometimes worth while," laughed Joyce.

Soon after the call for supper formation sounded. The meal hour was a merry one that evening. The afternoon's game was naturally the main subject for conversation.

Dave naturally came in for much praise for the way he had saved the Navy game, but this flattery bored him. Darrin did not in the least imagine that he was a wonder on the gridiron. In fact, the game being past and won, he did not take any further interest in it. Such thought as he now gave to football concerned the games still to come.

Immediately after the meal the three midshipmen reported their departure into Annapolis. Then they went to the main gate, passed through and strolled on up Maryland Avenue into State Circle.

"I'm sorry we promised not to go to the theatre," murmured

Midshipman Joyce.

"I'm not," retorted Dave. "Without that promise we wouldn't have secured the leave."

"But what are we going to do," demanded the dissatisfied one, "now that we are outside the grounds?"

"We can't do much, except what we came out to do," Dave reminded Joyce. "We can just walk about and stretch our legs, look in at a few store windows and make a few trifling purchases that won't exhaust our small store of pocket money."

"Exciting prospect!" remarked Joyce.

"Well, what ails you?" demanded Dalzell with unusual quietness. "What do you want to do? Something that will get us into big trouble with the O.C. and the com.?"

"Joyce can't tell you what he longs for, for he doesn't know himself," explained Dave.

"But I know. He wants to do something irregular; anything that is slightly in breach of the regulations-something that will get him hauled up before the O.C. and the pap."

"You're a wonderful guesser," laughed Joyce. "Well, I'll admit that I'm simply restless, and that anything that will stir my blood and my liver will fill the bill. I'm afraid I'm so depraved to-night that even a street-fight wouldn't go against the grain."

"You'd better forget it," advised Darrin quietly. "It's a dangerous frame of mind for a future officer and gentleman, who must acquire control over himself before he can be fit to command men."

"You talk like a padre!" (chaplain) uttered Joyce in disgust "Can't you forget, for one evening, that you're a midshipman?"

"No; I don't want to," Dave returned quietly.

"Prig!" uttered Joyce again, and this time he did not take the pains to speak under his breath. But Darrin only smiled indulgently.

By way of simple dissipation the three midshipmen went to a drug store, enjoying themselves with ice cream sodas. Soon after they found themselves in a Main Street bookstore, looking over post cards. They could, however, find no new ones, and so left without buying.

"And there's the theatre right over there!" sighed Joyce.

"It would be against our word as midshipmen and gentlemen to visit it," Dave urged. "Come on, Joyce; we'll turn into one of the very quiet side streets and stroll along. Then we'll be out of temptation."

Accordingly they went to one of the all but deserted side streets of the better sort.

"There's a comrade ahead of us," said Dave in an undertone presently, as he made out the uniform half a block away.

Hardly had he spoken when a door opened and a young man in evening clothes came lightly down the steps. At once the unknown midshipman wheeled and sprang at the young civilian. There was a swift interchange of blows, over almost as soon as it started, for the unknown midshipman speedily knocked down the man he had assaulted. Nor did the civilian get up at once. Instead, he bawled lustily for help.

Joyce made a move to spring forward, but Dave caught him by the arm.

"Don't get forward, Joyce. If you do, you'll probably recognize the midshipman. Then you'll have to report his name."

Answering the calls for help five other young men ran out of the same house. The midshipman disdained to flee and stood his ground.

"We'll teach you!" snarled one of the newly arrived civilians, raising his cane as though to bring it down on the midshipman's shoulders.

The midshipman, like a flash, wrenched the cane from the other's hands and began to lay it lustily about him. The whole crowd, therefore, including the young man who had first been knocked down, joined in the attack.

"That's too much like cowardice, and we're bound to go to the rescue of a comrade!" muttered Dave Darrin, his eyes blazing. "Come on, fellows-and be sure not to recognize that comrade!"

In a moment the fight was somewhat more equal. Darrin, Dalzell and Joyce were all accomplished and disciplined boxers. They closed with the crowd around the midshipman.

Crack! thump! bump! Midshipman blows landed heavily and rapidly. The civilians were soon worsted and scattered.

"Whoever you are, comrade," muttered Dave in a low tone, wheeling the unknown midshipman around, "don't look our way and don't give us any chance to recognize you. Scoot!"

"Po-o-o-lice!" lustily yelled one of the crowd of defeated civilians.

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