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   Chapter 19 DAVE STANDS ON PRINCIPLE

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11466

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


A motion to adjourn being always "in order," the class president put it.

"Aye!" came a thundering response.

"Contrary minded?"

"No."

The ayes appeared to have it, but the chair called for a showing of hands. Then the chair declared the class meeting adjourned.

"Hustle along with us, Darry. I want to talk with you!" sputtered Farley. He thrust an arm inside of Dave's and carried him along, Dalzell and Page following. Straight to Darrin's quarters they went.

"Now, then," demanded Farley, almost savagely, "what's the meaning of the very remarkable exhibition that you gave the class?"

"How was it remarkable?" questioned Dave.

"In your asking the class to send you to Coventry along with Jetson."

"It wasn't just to Jetson, just because he made a slip, that he should be shunned by the whole class."

"Couldn't the class decide that better than one man?" insisted Farley, his eyes gleaming.

"Without a doubt," Dave admitted. "I didn't attempt to do the deciding for the class. All I did was to try to throw my personal weight against it."

"And you compelled the class to adjourn without attending to

Jetson's case."

"You're wrong, there, Farl"

"Didn't you?"

"I certainly didn't."

"Darry, you knew the class wouldn't vote to send you to Coventry just because you had ventured to give your opinion. Now, the only way the class could escape from the consequences of your action was to adjourn without action on Jetson."

"It was you, Farl, who moved to adjourn."

"Just to save a lot of hot-bloods from jumping on you, Darry. They'd have done it in another minute. The motion to adjourn was the only thing we could do."

"That's just it," nodded Midshipman Page.

"But there'll have to be another meeting called right away," Farley went on. "The brigade will expect it-will have a right to demand it. A member of our class has insulted the whole brigade, and under our old traditions only the second class can administer discipline."

"Well, then," pursued Darrin calmly, "when the new meeting is held Jetson and myself can be punished, if that be the wish of the entire class."

"Darry," stormed Farley, "you've simply got to withdraw your fool remarks when the class comes together again."

"Do you expect that I'll do that?" Dave inquired.

"If you don't," retorted Farley warmly, "you won't be worth the further concern of your friends. What do you say, Danny boy?"

"From what I know of Dave Darrin," replied Dalzell, "the class will be wasting its time if it expects Darry to retract."

"But what do you want to be sent to Coventry for?" demanded Farley.

"I don't," Dave answered. "I know how it hurts. I wouldn't see any midshipman here sent to Coventry for anything except positive and undeniable dishonor. Jetson hasn't been guilty of anything worse than a mean, quick temper and a fit of sulks afterwards. That's why, with my experience here at Annapolis, if Jetson is to be sent to Coventry, I decline to be bound by the class action."

"But you can't refuse to be bound by class action," retorted

Farley aghast.

"Try me and see," smiled Dave stubbornly.

"Don't be an idiot, Darry!"

"It would be a contemptible thing," Dave went on, as calmly as before. "Coventry would mean the chasing of Jetson out of the brigade. You would ruin a man for a defect of temper that some of you others don't possess in quite the same degree. Is it fair to ruin any man because he has the misfortune to have a fit of sulks? That's why I won't heed the class action if it cuts Jetson. I'll bow to him whenever I meet him. I'll talk to him if he'll let me."

"But he won't," insisted Farley triumphantly. "No such sulky fellow as

Jetson will let you make up to him."

"If he refuses," Dave contended, "then I can't help it. But I won't be a party to ruining the man. It would be far more to the purpose if the fellows would help the fellow to see that his sulkiness is his worst barrier here. Then a good student and naturally honorable fellow would develop into a capable Naval officer.

"That's the kind of talk for the padre" (chaplain), sniffed Farley.

"Glad you mentioned the padre," Dave retorted. "He's just the man to settle the case. Farley, I'll go with you to the padre at any time. You state one side of the case, and I'll state the other. If the padre doesn't back me, then I'll retract all I've said in open class meeting, and abide by whatever action the class may take."

"Oh, bother the padre!" snorted Farley angrily.

"All right, then," answered Dave good-humoredly. "If the class has a matter of ethics and morals that it doesn't dare submit to an expert in morals, then the class action is weak and wrong."

"There's no use talking to you, I'm afraid," sighed Farley ruefully.

"But if you-"

Here the call to study interrupted further discussion. Farley, shaking his head gravely, left the room, followed by Page, who was shaking his head with equal force.

"If you think you're all right, David, little giant, go ahead," remarked

Dalzell as he passed to his study desk.

"I think I'm right," Dave answered. "If not, I can be made to see the light. I don't claim to know everything, but what I've done I did in an effort to see and do the right thing."

When release from study came Dalzell expected to see several members of the class drop in. To his astonishment the minutes sped by without any knock at the door.

"You've gotten yourself in badly, Dave," Dan remarked at last. "The fellows don't even think it worth while to come here and remonstrate with you."

"For which I'm thankful," Darrin smiled. "Danny boy, I'm going to bed without waiting for taps."

By morning the news of Dave's ac

tion at the class meeting was known throughout the brigade. As he strolled about for a few minutes, after breakfast, while Dan went back to his room to do some hurried study, Darrin noted that many once friendly faces were turned away from him.

"Good morning, Hepson," was Dave's greeting as his friend went by.

"Good morning," muttered Hepson, and was gone.

"Good morning, Watson," said Dave to one of his own classmates.

"'Morning,' replied that midshipman briefly, and turned away. Joyce, Page and several other second classmen were standing in a group when Dave strolled in their direction.

"Good morning, fellows," from Dave. Joyce and Page answered; some of the others merely nodded coldly. Presently all had strolled away except Joyce and Page.

"You see how it is, Darry," murmured Joyce. "You've hurt the fellows."

"Are they going to cut me after this?" Dave asked. His smile was friendly, though the look in his eyes was cool.

"No-o-o," hesitated Midshipman Joyce. "I don't believe the fellows will exactly cut you; at least, not unless the situation grows more acute. But many of the fellows are sore on you for your words last night."

"My words were only my words. My opinion doesn't have to govern anyone else, Joyce."

"But, hang it, Darry, the class doesn't want to cut you out! Can't you get that through your head?"

"The class doesn't have to cut me."

"But it will, if it puts Jetson in Coventry and you break the Coventry. That's what the fellows hate to do to you, and that's why they're all so sore at you."

"I see," nodded Dave.

"Come, now, Darry, you're going to be reasonable, aren't you?" begged

Joyce. "Don't break your friends all up with your stubbornness."

"I note that two of the fellows are talking with Jetson," continued Dave, letting his glance wander to another group.

"They have a right to," contended Joyce. "The class hasn't yet committed itself as to Jetson."

"Darry, if you don't look out," warned Page, "you'll precipitate matters. You may bring the storm down on Jetson if you test the temper and stubbornness of an offended class."

"I see that I was wrong in at least one particular," nodded Dave thoughtfully. "I shouldn't have made any remark about my intentions. I should have confined myself to a plea for Jetson. Then, if the class had gone against my view I could have ignored the class action and have taken the consequences just the same."

"Oh, hang you!" cried Page impulsively.

"Barry," begged Midshipman Joyce, resting a hand on his friend's arm, "don't do any more talking about this. Just let things quiet down."

"I'm perfectly willing to stop talking about it," agreed Dave. "In fact, since the class adjourned its meeting I haven't said a word on the subject except in answer to some other fellow's remarks."

Page and Joyce strolled away, leaving Dave by himself to think matters over. As it happened, the two second classmen with whom Jetson had been talking had now left the sulky midshipman, who, at this moment, was coming down the walk in Dave's direction.

"Good morning, Jetson," nodded Dave pleasantly, though not too cordially.

Midshipman Jetson paused a moment, looked Darrin full in the eyes, and then passed on.

"Not promising material to work with, at first," Dave told himself, laughingly.

There was no time for further thought, for it was within two or three minutes for the first formation for morning recitations. Dave ran back to his room, picked up a book and a writing pad.

"How have the fellows been treating you, chum?" asked Dalzell, looking up anxiously.

"To a most liberal dose of advice," laughed Darrin.

Dan sighed.

"Do you wish I'd take some of the advice, old fellow?"

"I don't know that I do," Dan answered slowly and with unwonted gravity for him. "I'm not one of the padre's star young men, and I don't often discourse on morality. Yet I'm inclined to believe that, when a fellow goes contrary to the spirit of the crowd, and is satisfied that he is doing so from generous and manly motives, he is pretty likely to be pursuing the right course. After a fellow has made a real effort to listen to his conscience, I don't believe he is ever wrong in following it."

"Thank you, Danny boy. That's always been the way it has struck me. I don't want to do any injustice to Jetson-or to the class, either."

"If you have to go to Coventry," announced Dalzell, giving a final brushing to his hair and fitting on his cap, "I'm going with you."

"But you don't have to, Dan! A fellow's roommate doesn't have to observe a Coventry."

"If it comes to Coventry," muttered Dalzell, "I shall invite it by speaking to Jetson, too."

Dave Darrin was aghast. He hadn't contemplated dragging Dan into such a scrape.

"There's formation now," announced Dan.

Out in front of the entrance, and along the terrace the many sections were falling in. Dan had occasion to pass the now very unpopular Jetson.

"Good morning, Jetson," was Dan's greeting.

Jetson started slightly, then replied, with a sulky frown:

"Good morning, Dalzell."

"Glad he'll speak to me," thought Dan with an inward grimace, "for I'm afraid that, before long, I'll be in the way of feeling mighty lonely a good deal of the time."

In another moment or two the sections were marching away, with the steady, rhythmic, tread peculiar to bodies of military in motion.

"I wonder how it is all going to come out?" sighed Dan, as he seated himself at his desk in the section room in the Academic Building.

"I wonder what sort of crazy or calculating grandstand play Darrin is trying to make just now?" pondered Midshipman Jetson, when informed of Dave's action at the meeting.

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