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   Chapter 15 THE NAVY GOAT WEEPS

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12279

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Did you hear that Ella had a bad tumble down three stories?" asked

Midshipman Dan.

"Ella who?" questioned Dave, looking up.

"Elevator!" grinned Dalzell.

"Ugh!" grunted Dave disgustedly. "Say, do you know how that would strike the com.?"

"No," replied Dan innocently, looking away. "How would it strike him?"

"Hard!" Dave responded. Slam! The somewhat heavy book that Darrin, aimed went straight to the mark, landing against Dan's nearer ear with all the force of a sound boxing.

"I see you appreciate a good joke," muttered Dalzell grimly.

"Yes," Dave admitted. "Do you?"

"When I tell you another," growled Dan, "I'll be holding an axe hidden behind my back."

"Say, did I show you that letter of Dick's?" Dave asked, looking up presently.

"Appendix?" inquired Dan suspiciously.

"Oh, stow all that, little boy!" retorted Dave. "No; did I tell you that

I had a letter from Dick Prescott?"

"I think you mentioned something of the sort, last winter," Dalzell admitted still suspicious.

"No; I got one this morning from good old Dick," Darrin went on.

"All right," Dan agreed. "What's the answer?"

"I haven't had time to read it yet," Darrin responded. "But here's the letter. Maybe you'd like to look it over."

Across the study table Dan Dalzell received the envelope and its enclosure rather gingerly. Dan didn't like to be caught "biting" at a "sell," and he still expected some trick from his roommate.

It was, however, a letter written in Dick Prescott's well-remembered handwriting.

"I understand that you are both on the Navy team, and that you made good in the first game," wrote the West Point cadet. "I hope you'll both stay in to the finish, and improve with every game. Greg and I are plugging hard at the game in the little time that the West Point routine allows us for practice. From what I have heard of your game, I think it likely that you and good, but impish old Dan, are playing against the very position that Greg and I hope to hold in the annual Army-Navy game. Won't it be great?"

"Yes, it will be great, all right, if the Navy contrives to win," Dan muttered, looking up at his chum.

"Either the Army or Navy must lose," replied Dave quietly.

"And just think!" Cadet Dick Prescott's letter ran on. "When we meet, lined up for battle on Franklin Field, Philadelphia, it will be the first time we four have met since we wound up the good old High School days at Gridley. It seems an age to Greg and me. I wonder if the time seems as long to you two?"

"It seems to me," remarked Dan, glancing across at his chum, "that you and I, David, little giant, have been here at Annapolis almost ever since we first donned trousers to please the family."

"It is a long time back to Gridley days," assented Darrin.

Then Dan went on reading.

"Of course you and Dan are bound that the Navy shall win this year," Dick had written. "As for Greg and me, we are equally determined that the Army shall win. As if the resolutions on either side had much of anything to do with it! It will seem strange for us four, divided between the two sides, to be fighting frantically for the victory. However, if Greg and I go up against you two on the gridiron we won't show you any mercy, and we know that we shall receive none from you. Each man must do all that's possibly in him for the glory of his own side of the United Service! Here's to the better eleven-Army or Navy!"

"I'll bet Dick and Greg will give us all the tussle they know how, if they get near us in the fight," nodded Dan, passing the letter back.

"Well, they're bound to, aren't they?" demanded Darrin. "And now, Danny boy, we simply must stow all gab and get busy with our lessons. We've a recitation between now and the afternoon practice."

"And the game, to-morrow!" breathed Midshipman Dalzell fervently.

The morrow's game was to be against the University of Pennsylvania eleven. The opposition team being an unusually good one that year, the Navy's gridiron pets were preparing to strain every nerve in the hope of victory.

In that afternoon's practice Dave and Dan showed up better than ever.

Farley and Page, too, were coming along splendidly, while Midshipman

Joyce was proving himself all but a joy to exacting Hepson.

But when the morrow came U.P. carried away the game to the tune of five to nothing, and the Navy goat wept. Dave and Dan made several brilliant plays, but the Navy average both of size and skill was somewhat below that of the older, bigger college men.

Other games followed fast now, and the Navy eleven and its subs. had plenty of work cut out for them. Up to the time of the Army-Navy game, the middies had a bright slate of eighty per cent. of victories. Dave and Dan had the pleasure of reading, in the "Army and Navy Journal," that they were considered the strongest men on the left flank that the Navy had been, able to show in ten years.

"When we go up against the Army," Hepson informed Dave and Dan, "I don't know whether you'll play at left or right. It will all depend on where the Army puts Prescott and Holmes. Friends of ours who have watched the play at West Point tell me that Prescott and Holmes are armored terrors on the gridiron."

"They are, if they've gone forward in the game, instead of backward,"

Darrin replied honestly.

"But you and Dalzell can hold 'em, can't you?" demanded Hepson anxiously.

"I don't dare brag," Dave answered. "The truth, if anything, is that Danny boy and I can hardly hope to hold the Army pair back. You see, Hep, I know Prescott and Holmes pretty well, from the fact that we played together on the same High School eleven for two years. Prescott, in fact, was the boy who trained us all."

"Well, don't let the Navy fellows get the idea that you're afraid of that Army pair," begged Hepson. "It might get our men discouraged. Darry, we simply must wipe up the field with the Army! There isn't-there can't be any such word as 'defeat' for us."

As the time drew near for the greatest of all annual games the instructors at the Naval Academy began to record lower marks for nea

rly all of the men in the daily recitations. The midshipmen simply couldn't keep their minds from wandering to the gridiron. It meant so much-to beat the Army!

Then quickly enough the feverish day came. Early in the forenoon the entire brigade of midshipmen, in uniform, was marched into town behind the Naval Academy band. Scores of Navy officers, with their ladies, went along. A lot of the townspeople followed in the big rush to Odenton and Baltimore. From there two sections of a special train conveyed the Annapolis host to Philadelphia.

Franklin Field was reached, and one of the most brilliant athletic and social events of the year was on.

We shall not attempt to follow the course of the game here. The Navy eleven hurled itself into the fray with undying heroism, but the Army won the great game. It is all told in the third volume of "THE WEST POINT SERIES," entitled "DICK PRESSCOTT'S THIRD YEAR AT WEST POINT." In that volume, too, is described the meeting of the old-time High School chums, their first meeting since the old-time days back in the tome town of Gridley.

The game was over at last. The Navy was crestfallen, though not a sign of sorrow or humiliation showed in the jaunty step of the men of the brigade as they marched back to the railway station and took the train for the first stage of the journey home-the run between Philadelphia and Baltimore.

On the train Hepson hunted up Dave and Dan.

"You did your best, fellows, I know, that," murmured the defeated football captain. "And you gave me, in advance, a fair estimate of that Army pair, Prescott and Holmes. Say, but they're a pair of terrors! If we had that pair on the Navy eleven, along with you two, no team that the Army ever yet sent out could beat us. But we made a strong fight, at any rate. All of our friends say that."

"I'm glad I didn't do any bragging in advance," Darrin smiled wistfully.

"We were fairly eaten up, Hep."

"Oh, well, we'll hope for better luck next year, with the Navy under some other captain. Maybe you'll be captain next year, Darry."

"I don't want to be," Dave answered, with a shake of his head. "If you couldn't carry our team to victory I don't dare try."

"Then I'll be captain-if I'm asked," promised Dan, with the grin that always lurked close to the surface of his face. While hundreds of midshipmen felt desperately blue on the homeward journey, Dalzell had already nearly forgotten his disappointment.

"You'll never be asked," predicted Hepson good-humoredly. "Danny boy, the trouble with you would be that the fellows would never know when you were in earnest. As captain of the eleven, you might start to give an order, and then nothing but a pun would come forth. You're too full of mischief to win victories."

"I hope that won't be true if I ever have the luck to command a battleship in war time," sighed Dalzell, becoming serious for four or five seconds. Then he bent forward and dropped a cold nickel inside of Joyce's collar. The cold coin coursed down Joyce's spine? causing that tired and discouraged midshipman to jump up with a yell.

"Why does the com. ever allow that five-year-old imp to travel with men?" grunted Joyce disgustedly, as he sat down again and now realized that the nickel was under him next to the skin.

"Danny boy," groaned Dave, "will you ever grow up? Why do you go on making a pest of yourself?"

"Why, the fellows need some cheering up, don't they?" Dan inquired.

"If you don't look out, Danny boy, you'll rouse them to such a pitch of cheerfulness that they'll raise one of the car windows and drop you outside for sheer joy."

The joy that had been manifest in Annapolis that morning was utterly stilled when the brigade reached the home town once more. True, the band played as a matter of duty, but as the midshipmen marched down Maryland Avenue in brigade formation they passed many a heap of faggots and many a tar-barrel that had been placed there by the boys of the town to kindle into bonfires with which to welcome the returning victors. But to-night the faggot-piles and the tar-barrels lay unlighted. In the dark this material for bonfires that never were lighted looked like so many spectral reminders of their recent defeat.

It hurt! It always hurts-either the cadets or the midshipmen-to lose the Army-Navy game.

Once back at quarters in Bancroft Hall, it seemed to many of the midshipmen as though it would have been a relief to have to go to study tables to work. Yet, since no work was actually required on this night, none was done.

Midshipmen wandered about in their own rooms and visited. The more they realized the defeat, the bluer they became. From some rooms came sounds of laughter, but it was hollow.

Farley got out a banjo, breaking into a lively darky reel. Yet, somehow, the sound was mournful.

"Please stop that dirge and play something cheerful!" begged the voice of a passing midshipman.

"Put the lyre away, Farl," advised Page. "Nothing sounds happy to-night."

"We love to sing and dance. We're happy all the day-ha, ha!" wailed Dan Dalzell. He wasn't so very blue himself, but he was trying to keep in sympathy with the general tone of feeling.

"Well, Hep, you made as good a showing, after all, as could be expected with a dub team," spoke Joyce consolingly, when they met in a corridor.

"It wasn't a dub team," retorted Hepson dismally. "The eleven was all right. The only trouble lay in having a dub for a captain."

It was a relief to hundreds that night when taps sounded at last, and the master switch turned off the lights in midshipmen quarters. At least the young men were healthy and did not waste hours in wooing sleep and forgetfulness.

Then Sunday morning came, and the football season was over until the next year.

"From now on it's going to be like starting life all over again, after a fire," was the way Dan put it that Sunday morning, in an effort to make some of his comrades feel that all was not lost.

Had Dan been able to foresee events which he and Dave must soon encounter, even that grinning midshipman wouldn't have been happy.

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