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   Chapter 21 MIDSHIPMAN JETSON HAS THE FLOOR

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12433

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It was Friday afternoon, and the last sections had been dismissed in front of Bancroft Hall. The balance of the afternoon belonged to the midshipmen, though most of them found it necessary to give the time to study.

Jetson was not one of the latter. Always well up in his studies, he had no occasion to worry about daily markings or semi-annual examinations.

He had not grown less sulky, but he found himself a victim of unusual restlessness. So he decided upon remaining out in the open air for the present.

Though actuated by a very different class of feelings, Darrin, also, felt disinclined for books. He tried to study, for a few minutes, but gave it up and caught up his cap. The winter day being mild, he did not trouble himself to don his uniform overcoat.

"Going to slip your cable?" inquired Dan, who was moored fast to a text-book.

"Yes; I feel the need of fresh air."

"Shove off, then!"

Dave went out quietly, Dan gazing curiously after his friend until the door had closed behind him.

"Poor chap," muttered Dan. "I reckon he has need enough of something to stop that restless feeling. The class meets to-night!"

Jetson, after some fifteen minutes of aimless wandering, felt himself attracted to the gymnasium. Going inside, he went to his locker, where, with feverish energy, he changed to gym costume.

For a few minutes the sulky one performed on the flying rings. He was an adept at this work, and something in the rapid motion soothed his troubled mind.

Tiring of the rings at last, Jetson stood with folded arms, looking about him, until his eyes lighted with interest on the trapezes. One was up higher than the rest. Drawn toward this one, Jetson took hold of the climbing rope and drew himself up, hand over hand. Seating himself on the bar, he sat looking about at the few other midshipmen who were exercising at that hour.

"There comes that Darrin fellow," thought Jetson, with a sudden burst of rage. "Wonder if he's going to work this afternoon? If he does, I'll put it all over him, even if I break my neck in the trying."

Back and forth swung Jetson, getting up speed on the trapeze. Then, suddenly, he threw his head downward, hanging on by his knees. An intentional slip, and he hung fully downward his ankles holding at the ends of the crossbar.

Folding his arms, Jetson again began to swing as he hung head downward. Among the midshipmen there were not so very many who were skillful at this form of exercise. Jetson was, and he was secretly proud of it.

"This will put the fellow Darrin to the bad if he came in with any notion of showing off," thought the sulky one exultantly.

Now the other midshipmen turned to leave the gym. In a moment more the only two left were Darrin and the man on the trapeze. In addition to the midshipmen there were two gym. attendants at some little distance.

"Who's doing that fine work?" wondered Dave, stepping closer. "Why, it's

Jetson! Well, he has one accomplishment that I really envy him!"

Midshipman Jetson was now going through some rapid evolutions, first hanging head downward, and then, after developing speed, raising himself and turning over the crossbar. It was really work of which any athlete might have been proud.

"Say, Jim," muttered one attendant to the other, "that middie has me nervous for fair."

"Forget it," advised the other attendant, "It's the middie's neck, not yours."

"But we took the net down that goes with that bar. Suppose the young man should fall. He'd break his neck, and what could we say with the net gone?"

"He's no business up there at this late hour in the afternoon," grumbled the other man.

"That talk won't save us, either, if anything happens."

Jetson, filled with the desire to show off before the comrade he hated, had increased the speed of his brilliant flying movements.

But suddenly he slipped. There was no regaining his grip. With a howl of fright he felt himself plunging head downward more than thirty feet to the hard floor of the gym. He was in a fair way of landing on his head, cracking his skull and breaking his neck. Worse, in his sudden dread, he seemed to have lost control of his muscles.

"Turn! Land on your feet!" called Dave.

It all happened in a second. Dave, brief as the instant was, realized that the other midshipman was not going to land on his feet. In the same fleeting moment that Darrin called he hurled himself into position.

Straight down shot Jetson. Dave waited, with outstretched arms, ready to risk his own neck in the effort to save his sulky comrade.

From their end of the gym. the two startled attendants had watched the impending disaster, but there was no time for them to do anything.

From the way that Jetson fell it looked as though he had made a straight dive for Dave Darrin's head. At all events, their heads met in sharp collision.

Down went Dave, as though shot, and Jetson went with him, but Darrin's outstretched arms had grasped the other's body, and Jetson was saved the worst of his fall.

Now the two midshipmen lay where they had fallen, Jetson lying somewhat across Dave's motionless body.

"They're killed!" yelled the attendant Jim hoarsely.

"We'll look 'em over first, before we give up," retorted the other attendant, stooping and gently rolling Jetson over on his back.

"Sure they're killed, Bob," protested Jim huskily. "They met head on.

You'll find that both middies have their skulls broken."

"Bring two pails of water, you chump," ordered Bob. "I tell you, we won't raise a row until we've done the best we can for 'em."

[Illustration: Straight Down Shot Jetson.]

The water was brought. Under liberal dashes of it over his face and neck

Jetson soon opened his eyes.

"I-I had a bad fall, didn't I?" he asked of the man nearest him.

"You'd have broken your neck, sir, if Mr. Darrin hadn't jumped forward and broken the force of your fall."

"I'd rather any other man had saved me," muttered the sullen one, slowly aiding himself to sit up. "How did Mr. Darrin do it?"

"Well, sir," responded Bob, "he stopped you partly with his head, and it would have been broken, only he had his hands out and gripped you

at the shoulders or trunk. It may be that his head was split as it was, but I hardly think so."

Two more liberal douses of water, and Dave, too, opened his eyes.

"Is Jetson all right?" was Darrin's first question.

"Yes," muttered Midshipman Jetson, "and thanks to you, as I understand it."

"Oh, if you're all right, then I'm glad," responded Dave. "Bob, have you time to help me to stand up?"

"How do you feel, sir?" asked Bob, after he had complied and stood supporting Midshipman Darrin on his feet.

"Just a bit dizzy, Bob; but that'll pass off in a moment. Jetson, I'm glad to see you alive. Not badly jolted, I hope?"

Jim was now aiding Jetson to his feet.

"Do you want a surgeon, either of you?" asked Bob.

Both midshipmen shook their heads.

"I think I'll go over to one of the side seats," remarked Darrin, and Bob piloted him there, while Jim aided Jetson out to the shower room and locker.

Dave Darrin soon conquered the dizzy feeling enough to stand up and walk without assistance.

"I think I'll go, now," he told Bob. "I don't believe there is anything that I can do for Mr. Jetson."

"There is, sir, if you don't mind," interposed Jim, striding up. "Mr.

Jetson has just asked if you mind waiting for him."

"My compliments to Mr. Jetson, and I shall be glad to wait for him."

The sulky midshipman soon hove in sight, having donned his uniform. He came up to Dave looking decidedly embarrassed.

"Mr. Darrin, I fear I must thank you for having stopped my course to the floor," admitted Jetson, with a sheepish grin.

"I won't make it too hard to thank me," replied Dave, with a smile.

"I'll just say that you're wholly welcome."

"But if you hadn't caught me in just the way that you did, your skull would have been smashed by the impact with my head. You risked your life for me, Mr. Darrin."

"I didn't stop to think of that, at the time. At any rate, risking one's life goes with the Naval service, doesn't it?"

"It was a splendid thing for you to do, Mr. Darrin! May I walk along with you?"

Dave nodded. It was dark, now, and that portion of the yard appeared clear of any moving beings but themselves.

"Darrin," continued Jetson, "when you risked Coventry in the effort to save me from it, I thought you were posing, though for the life of me I couldn't fathom your motive. But the risk that you took this afternoon wasn't in the line of posing. Do you mind telling me why you did it?"

"I'd have done as much for any man in the brigade," Dave answered frankly.

"Just the same it has touched me-touched me deeply."

"I'm glad of that, Jetson," Dave answered heartily. "And now I hope that we can bury the hatchet and be friends, as men in the brigade should always be."

"But why do you want to be friends with a fellow like me?"

"Because I want to know the real Jetson-not the one that you present outside of a sulky exterior. Jetson, I know there's gold in you, and I want to see it brought to the surface. I want your friendship because-well, it may be a selfish reason, but I think it's worth having."

"That's a funny notion to take," laughed Midshipman Jetson uneasily. "I have never been conceited enough to fancy that my friendship was worth having."

"Let yourself out and be natural, man!"

"How?"

Then indeed did Dave Darrin plunge into his subject. There was a lot to be said, but Dave said it briefly, tersely, candidly. Jetson listened with a flushing face, it is true, but at last he stopped and held out his hand.

"Will you take it, Darrin?"

"With all my heart!"

There was chance for but little more talk, as now the slowly moving midshipmen were close to the entrance to Bancroft Hall.

"You'll be at the class meeting this evening, won't you?" asked

Dave Darrin.

"You may be very sure that I shall!"

Then they entered the lobby of Bancroft Hall, parting and going their different ways.

In Darrin's eyes there was a strange flash as he turned down the "deck" on which he lived. But Dan, still absorbed in study, did not pay especial heed to his roommate.

Immediately after supper in the mess-hall, Dalzell caught his chum's arm.

"Let's get in early at the meeting, David, little giant. I'm afraid there's big trouble brewing, and we must both be on hand early. We may have some chance to talk a bit before the meeting is called to order."

"I don't believe I shall care to talk any, Danny boy, before the president raps."

"Don't be too stubborn, Davy! Your future will very likely be at stake to-night. Your most dependable friends will be on hand and under arms for you. Back 'em up!"

At least half of the class was gathered when the chums entered. Darrin looked about him, then took a seat. He watched the door until he saw Midshipman Jetson enter.

Rap, rap, rap! went the gavel at last.

"Gentlemen," announced the president, "there is some unfinished business before the meeting. At the last class meeting a motion was made and seconded that Midshipman Jetson be sent to Coventry. Any remarks that may be offered on that resolution will be in order now."

Dave Darrin was on his feet in an instant. Three or four men hissed, but

Dave appeared not to notice.

"Mr. President," Dave began in a slow, steady voice, "this motion more closely affects Mr. Jetson than it does any other member of the class. I understand that Mr. Jetson has a few remarks to make."

There was a murmur that ran around the room as Jetson rose to his feet, claiming the chair's recognition.

"Mr. President and gentlemen," began Jetson, his face pale and his words coming with effort, "I am not going to discuss the question of whether the class will or will not be justified in sending me to Coventry. I have a duty to perform to-night, and I assure you that it comes hard, for my temper and pride have been beyond my control for a long time. I wish to make a most earnest apology for remarks of mine that were construed as being insulting to the members of the brigade. I further desire to make any statement, or any admission that will most quickly banish any sense of wrong coming from me. In doing so, I am moved to this proper course by my friend, Mr. Darrin!"

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