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   Chapter 20 DON'T BE A FOOL, DARRY!

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11254

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


A week went by without another class meeting.

For that reason Midshipman Jetson was still nominally in good fellowship.

The delay in action was by no means due to lack of class interest. The class seethed with interest in the affair, but with many of the midshipmen there was a belief that here was a case where slow and thoughtful consideration would be best for all concerned.

Darry was too good a fellow, and far too popular to be forced out of fellowship if it didn't have to be done to preserve the present feeling of ruffled class dignity.

Knowing that the matter hadn't been dropped, the first and third classes waited-in curiosity. The fourth class really had no standing in such weighty matters of the internal discipline of the brigade.

Every time that Dave Darrin passed Jetson he spoke pleasantly to the latter. The sulky one, however, did not respond.

"Some day, Darry, you'll tumble that you've been played for a fool," grumbled Farley.

"Then I'll have the satisfaction, won't I, of knowing that it's all my own fault?" smiled Dave Darrin.

"Yes; but I hate to see you go to pieces for a fellow like Jetson."

The following Saturday afternoon Darrin came in from a brisk walk, to find Dan poring over his books at the study desk.

"Letter there for you," said Dan, without looking up, as Dave, after glancing into the room, had turned with the intention of calling on Farley and Page.

"Thank you." Darrin crossed the room, picking up the letter. "From Belle," he remarked. "The second from her this week, and I haven't written her. Answering letters should be part of a man's honor, so instead of cruising about on the deck, I reckon I'd better sit down and write Belle."

"What are you going to tell her?" asked Dan quietly, without looking up.

"Hang it all!" grumbled Dave. "This is where the situation begins to be tough. Of course you understand how things are, Danny boy, and you are aware that I have asked Belle to take upon herself the right to be equally interested with me in my career."

"It is tough," assented Dan, with ready sympathy, and laying aside his book for the moment. "If my memory serves, Belle asked particularly, when she was here, that you let her know how the Jetson row turned out."

"Yes; she did."

"And now you've got to tell her-what?"

"Have I got to tell her?" wondered Darrin aloud. "Yes; any other course would be unfair. But another question is, have I a right to tell her just what took place in a class meeting?"

"I think so," spoke up Dalzell. "Of course, you needn't attempt to report the speeches, or anything like that, but it's rather clear to me that you have a right to tell Belle the exact news so far as it affects you-and therefore her."

"Thank you." Dave drew out stationery, picked up a pen and began to write. Dalzell returned to his text-book. When Dave had written the letter, he read to Dan the portion that related to a description of the Jetson matter before the class.

"I think it's all right to send that much of a statement," nodded Dan.

"Then I'm going to mail the letter at once, and it will go out to-night. Belle tells me that she is extremely anxious to know the outcome of the matter. Poor girl, I'm afraid my letter may be even worse than no news."

"Belle didn't betroth herself to the uniform or the Navy, if I know her," returned Dan quietly.

Dave went out and mailed the letter. It would not reach Belle until Monday morning. Wednesday afternoon, on returning from the last recitation, Dave found her answer on his study table.

"Want to hear a part of it, Dan?" questioned Midshipman Darrin.

"Of course I do," admitted that young man.

"Listen, then," and Dave read from Belle's letter as follows:

"'I won't attempt to say that I am not in the least worried or bothered over the turn the Jetson matter has taken,'" ran Belle's letter. "'I can't help feeling vitally interested in anything that concerns you. But you tell me that you have followed your own sense of honor and your own conscience in the matter. The best man that ever lived couldn't do better than that. I hope-oh, I do hope-that the whole affair will turn out in some way that will not be disagreeable to you. But remember, Dave, that the lightheaded little High School girl who plighted her faith to you is interested in you-not particularly in a future Naval officer, necessarily. If the affair should go to the worst ending, and you find it advisable to resign from the Naval Academy on account of any class feeling, there are plenty of bright prospects in life for an honorable and capable man. Don't ever imagine that I shall be disappointed over anything that you do, as long as you remain true to yourself and your manhood. And I will add, if you care to know it, that I approve of what you have done and am proud of you for your grit to do the right thing,'"

"A great girl!" cried Dan admiringly. "Just the kind of girl, too, that I was sure she is."

"Just the same," commented Dave musingly, "I know quite well that Belle has set her heart on seeing me serve in the Navy with credit."

"She wanted that because she knew you wanted it," Dan assured him.

Darrin was in the middle of his week's studies, where every minute's work counted, but he took the time to write an intense, if short, answer to Belle's letter. That finished, and dropped in the mail-box, he went back to his room and began to study.

Rap-tap! Farley slipped into the room.

"Thought I'd better come right away, Darry," explained the caller. "The news won't keep. A class meeting is called for Friday night righ

t after supper. You know what that means, don't you?"

"Yes," Dave answered steadily.

"Old fellow, we all hope to see you come back to yourself at the meeting," went on Farley earnestly, resting a hand on Dave's blue sleeve.

"Meaning that I should desert my convictions and bow to the class?"

"Yes; if you put it that way. Darry, old friend, don't feel that you know more than the entire brigade."

"I don't," Dave answered.

"Then you'll drop the line of talk you started the other night?"

"No."

"Darry, old friend!"

"I haven't changed my mind. Then, if I changed my attitude, wouldn't I be acting a false part?"

"Don't be, a prig, Darry!"

"Be a knave instead, eh?"

"Darry, you ought to have been born a Puritan!"

"I'm glad I wasn't," Dave smiled.

"And are you enjoying yourself?"

"No," Dave answered seriously. "I'm not. Neither is Jetson. It is likely that the class may do a great injustice to us both."

"Why are you so struck on a fellow like Jetson?" pursued the other midshipman.

"I'm not," Dave rejoined. "But I think, if he could be awakened, he has qualities that would make us all like him."

"And you're going to throw yourself away on such thankless missionary work, Darry?"

"Not at all. I'm acting on my best lights, as I see them for myself."

"I'm sorry," sighed Farley honestly.

"And so am I. Don't believe that I enjoy the situation that has been created."

"That you've created for yourself, you mean!"

"I see that you can't or you won't, understand it, Farley."

"I wish I could understand it!" quivered Farley, who felt far more unhappy than he was willing that Dave should see. In the end, Farley returned to his own room, pondering deeply and trying to think out some plan of speech or of action that would save Midshipman Dave Darrin from the class anger that seemed certain to come.

After supper and just before study time was due, Dave went to Jetson's door and knocked. As he entered he found Warner, the other midshipman quartered there, as well as Jetson.

"Good evening, gentlemen," began Dave, after he had stepped into the room and closed the door.

"Good evening, Darrin," responded Warner, while Jetson merely scowled and picked up a book.

"Warner," went on Dave, "I came here to have a brief talk with Mr.

Jetson. Would it be asking too much to ask you to step outside-unless

Mr. Jetson feels that he would prefer that you remain?"

"Mr. Jetson prefers that Mr. Warner remain, and that Mr. Darrin take himself away with great expedition," broke in Jetson decisively.

But Warner thought differently, and, with a murmured "certainly, Darrin," he left the room.

"I won't ask you to take a seat, Mr. Darrin," said Jetson, "because I'll be candid enough to say that I hope you won't remain long."

"I don't need a seat," laughed Dave easily, "for I've heard that the best Americans transact their business on their feet. Mr. Jetson, I've come on a somewhat embarrassing mission."

"Yes?"-sneeringly.

"You know quite well the snarl that is to be untied before the class meeting Friday evening."

"Quite well," replied Jetson sulkily. "It is a situation that I owe to the fact of having been acquainted with yourself, Mr. Darrin."

"Jetson," resumed Dave, dropping the formal "Mr.", "the situation is one that menaces you and your standing here. It menaces me equally. I could get myself out of the scrape quite easily by withdrawing from the stand that I took the other night."

"I either fail or refuse to understand why you went to the risk that you did the other night, Mr. Darrin."

"If I were to retract what I said," Darrin added, "it would cause me to violate whatever respect I may have for right and justice. On the other hand, Jetson, surely you do not consider yourself right in refusing an apology for a remark in which you thoughtlessly cast an unjust reflection upon the whole body of midshipmen."

"To what is this leading, Mr. Darrin?"

"Jetson, your own sense of honor and justice surely tells you that you owe it to yourself to go before the meeting Friday evening-"

"I shall not attend, Mr. Darrin. The class may take whatever action it chooses in my absence."

"Jetson, you owe it to yourself, as well as to the class, to offer your apology for a remark that reflected upon the whole brigade. You can violate no feeling of honor or proper pride by such an apology. In fact, I do not see how you can justify yourself in withholding such apology for having expressed a sentiment which you know you did not mean in the way that the brigade has taken it."

"My feelings on questions of honor cannot possibly concern you,

Mr. Darrin."

"On the contrary, your conduct does vitally concern me, Jetson. If you do not make your apology the class will-well, you know what will happen."

"Yes, I know," Jetson assented, his brow darkening.

"And possibly you know what it means to me. By my own statement-and I cannot, in honor retract it, I shall be compelled to share Coventry with you."

"No, you won't sir!" retorted Jetson, rising, his face ablaze with sulky anger. "You may go to Coventry, Mr. Darrin, and welcome, but you shall not share mine with me. You shall not share anything whatever with me-not even the air of this room if I can prevail upon you to take yourself out of a room where you are not wanted. Mr. Darrin, I indulge myself in the honor of wishing you-good evening!"

Jetson crossed the room, threw open the door and bowed low. Flushing, breathing quickly, Dave Darrin stepped out into the corridor and the door closed smartly behind him.

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