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   Chapter 23 BAGGED, AND NO MISTAKE

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12889

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Plebes Flint and Austin are having a good many callers," remarked Dave

Darrin, halting by the door of quarters before he and Dan entered.

"Sure! Aren't you wise?" inquired Dan, with a wink.

"I think so," murmured Dave. "The callers all seem to be third classmen."

"Of course; they're putting the rookies through their paces."

"Surest thing!" murmured Dalzell without excitement.

"But this is March. Isn't it a rather late time in the year to be still hounding the poor new men?"

"I don't know," mused Dalzell. "It may be that Mr. Flint and Mr. Austin are unusually touge."

"Touge" is Annapolis slang for "fresh." It corresponds closely to the "b j" of West Point.

A sound as of protest came from behind a closed door at the further end of the deck.

"I hope our youngsters aren't going too far," Dave remarked, "youngster" being the accepted term for the third classmen, and the same as "yearling" at West Point.

"Well, it's none of our business," replied Dan, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Study call will be along in fifteen minutes. Going to get an early start with the books to-night?"

"I guess that will be wise," Darrin nodded.

"It surely will."

The rest of the winter had gone along rather uneventfully, save for the inevitable, overpowering amount of grind through which a midshipman must pass. It was now spring, and midshipmen thoughts were divided between two topics-annual exams, and summer cruise.

Dan had started into the room, and Dave was about to follow, when he heard an unusually loud thud at the further end of the deck.

"Danny boy, the plebes must be getting it hard to-night."

"I'd like to see the fun," muttered Dalzell, his eyes snapping with mischief. "But it doesn't seem to be any of our business. Hazing work is left in charge of the youngster crowd."

"Yes; a second classman shouldn't interfere," assented Dave. "Well, study for ours."

"I'm afraid I'm not as studious as I was a minute ago," contended Dan, with a grin.

Dave looked almost startled as he seized his chum by the arm.

"Inside with you, Danny boy!"

"Not under compulsion," laughed Midshipman Dalzell.

"I'll condescend to coaxing, then. But don't anger the youngsters by butting in."

"And why not? An upper classman has a right to step in, if he wishes."

"It is, at least, against the rules of good taste to interfere," argued Darrin.

"Well, hang you, I don't want to interfere. All I want to do is to look on. Can't an upper classman do that?"

"I won't," returned Dave.

Yet almost immediately he changed his mind, for two hard bumps and a gust of laughter swept up the deck.

"They're making so much racket," murmured Dave, lingering by his own door, "that, the first thing we know, a duty officer will swoop down and rag the bunch."

"Let's go in, then, as grave and dignified second classmen, and warn the youngsters like daddies," proposed Dan, but his eyes were twinkling with the spirit of mischief.

A good deal against his own inclination Darrin allowed himself to be coaxed into the thing.

Nine youngsters were found in Midshipmen Flint and Austin's room when

Dave and Dan entered after rapping.

"We're not intruding, I hope?" inquired Dalzell, with his most inviting grin.

"Not at all, gentlemen," responded Midshipman Eaton, of the third class.

"These fourth classmen seemed unwontedly popular to-night," insinuated Dan.

"They've been most uncommonly touge all through the year, sir," replied

Eaton, tacking on the "sir" in order to impress Midshipmen Flint and

Austin with the tremendous dignity or all upper classmen.

"What form does their tougeness take?" Dan wanted to know.

"They have not yet learned the respect that is due to upper classmen, sir."

"And especially to third classmen?" inquired Dan, now without the flicker of a smile.

"They are especially touge, sir, with third classmen."

"And you are showing them the error of their ways?"

"We are trying to do so, sir."

"I thought so, from the noise we heard," pursued Dalzell.

"If you have any better ways, Mr. Dalzell, we shall be glad to profit from your riper experience, sir," suggested Midshipman Eaton.

"No; I've forgotten almost everything that I ever knew in that line," remarked Dan.

"Mr. Darrin, sir?" suggested Eaton, turning to the other second classman present.

"I have nothing to suggest," replied Dave slowly, "unless-" Then he paused.

"Unless-sir?" followed up Midshipman Eaton.

"No; I won't say it. It might give offense," Darrin responded.

"Have no fear of that, Mr. Darrin," urged Eaton.

"All I was going to suggest, Eaton, was that this is the month of March."

"Yes, sir?" inquired Eaton wonderingly.

"When Dalzell and I were fourth classmen we weren't troubled at all by the youngsters after Christmas. Last year, Eaton, our class didn't bother yours at any later date, either."

Some of the youngsters present began to look embarrassed, though Dave's tone had been quiet and free from rebuke.

"But, sir, don't imagine that we're doing anything to the plebes for our own amusement," protested Eaton. "This is the only pair of the fourth class left that need any attention from our class. These two young misters are the tougest lot we've had to deal with. In fact, sir, they're ratey!"

"Still," rejoined Dan Dalzell, "I think you are keeping it up pretty late in the year, even if they are ratey."

A midshipman who is "ratey," as has been explained in an earlier volume, is a much greater offender than a midshipman who is merely touge. For a ratey fourth classman makes the foolish blunder of considering himself as good as an upper classman.

"Of course," suggested Dan, making haste to smooth over any astonishment that his own and his chum's remarks might have caused, "we don't propose to instruct the members of the third class in the way they shall perform their duties toward the members of the fourth. Don't let us interfere with you, Mr. Eaton."

"By no means," murmured Dave Darrin, smiling. "We don't wish to intrude."

"But wait just one moment gentlemen," begged Eaton. "We want you to see for yourselves how effectively we are smoothing the touge creases out of these baby midshipmen."

During the discussion Flint and Austin had been standing at one side of the room, looking decidedly sheepish. Both had their blouses off, though neither had been required to

take off his collar. The trousers of the two fourth classmen were rather liberally overlaid with dust, showing that they must have been performing some rough stunts on the floor.

"Step over to that, basin, mister," ordered Youngster Eaton, eyeing

Flint, who promptly obeyed.

"Now, mister, stand on your head in that bowl," commanded

Midshipman Eaton.

Looking doubly red and uncomfortable, with these two grave-looking second classmen present, Flint bent down, attempting to stand on his head in the bowl of water, while he tried, at the same time to push his feet up the wall, thus standing on his head. Twice Flint essayed the feat and failed, splashing a good deal of water over the floor. Then, for the third time, Flint tried the performance. This time he succeeded, but his two previous failures had provoked such a storm of laughter that no man present heard a cautious rap on the door. The next instant that door was flung open and Lieutenant Preston stepped into the room.

With the entrance of that discipline officer half of the midshipmen present wheeled about, then, startled as they were, did not forget to come to attention.

"Hm!" said Lieutenant Preston, at which the other half heard and came to attention. Flint, whether too scared, or perhaps enjoying the discomfiture of his tormentors, made no effort to return to normal position.

"What's your name, sir?" thundered the discipline officer, glaring fiercely at Midshipman Flint.

"Flint, sir," replied the fourth classman in a gasp.

"Bring your feet down and come to attention, sir!"

Flint obeyed.

During this time Lieutenant Preston had stood so that no midshipman in the room could slip by him into the corridor.

"I will now take the names of the gentlemen present," went on the discipline officer, drawing a notebook and pencil from an inner pocket and commencing to write.

"All except the fourth classmen present will at once fall in by twos outside," commanded Lieutenant Preston, closing the notebook and slipping it away. "Midshipmen Flint and Austin will mend their appearances as speedily as possible and then form the last file outside."

"Wow!" whispered Dan in his chum's ear outside. "Talk about the fifty-seven varieties! We're in all the pickles!"

"Yes," murmured Dave.

"What are you going to do about it, Davy?"

"Take my medicine," Dave replied.

"But we weren't really in the thing."

"Danny boy, never get out of a thing, or try to, by playing cry baby!"

"No danger," retorted Dalzell. "David, little giant, we'll just console ourselves with the realization that we're in the worst scrape we ever struck yet."

"Yes," nodded Dave.

Fourth classmen Flint and Austin were not long in making themselves presentable. Then they fell in at the rear of the line.

"Squad, forward march!" commanded the discipline officer dryly.

Through the corridor and off that deck the little squad of thirteen midshipmen marched. Never had thirteen been more unlucky, for the present superintendent was known to be a man determined to stamp out hazing.

Nor did the affair remain a secret for more than a moment Midshipmen returning to their own decks stepped to the wall to let the squad pass. Nor was more than a look at the two rear fourth classmen needed to enable any wondering midshipmen to guess the nature of the offense with which the remaining eleven upper classmen were to be charged.

"Our Darry in that!" gasped Farley, as the squad went by. "Did you see him?"

"Yes," Page mournfully admitted.

"Then my eyes didn't play me any trick, as I had hoped. Darry and

Dalzell! What evil spirit tempted them to be in that scrape?"

In the meantime Lieutenant Preston was arraigning the captured delinquents before the officer in charge, and the commandant of midshipmen had already been telephoned for and was on the way.

Study call cut short a good deal of excited discussion on the different decks. The commandant of midshipmen arrived, heard the evidence of the discipline officer, looked over the offenders, entered their names on his own record, and then spoke briefly, but in the voice of fate itself:

"The accused midshipmen will go to their rooms. They will, until further orders, remain in their quarters, except for recitations and meal formation. They will forego all privileges until the superintendent or higher authority has acted finally in this matter. That is all, young gentlemen. Go to your rooms, except Midshipmen Flint and Austin, who will remain."

As soon as the upper classmen had departed, the commandant took Flint and Austin in hand, questioning them keenly and making notes of the more important answers.

Back in their own rooms, Midshipman Dan Dalzell was at first overwhelmed with horror.

"We're dished, Davy! We walk the plank! The super won't forgive a single man who is caught at the royal pastime of hazing! I'm going to write, now, for the money to get home with. You know, in the last two affairs, the hazers have been dismissed from the Naval Academy."

"Yes," Dave nodded. "It looks black for us. But keep a stiff tipper lip,

Danny boy."

"It's all my own miserable fault!" uttered Dalzell, clenching his fists, while tears tried to get into his eyes. "You've got me to blame for this, Davy! It was all my doing. I insisted on dragging you down to that room, and now you've got to walk the plank, all because of my foolishness! Oh, I'm a hoodoo!"

"Stop that, Danny!" warned Dave, resting a hand on his chum's arm. "I didn't have to go, and you couldn't have made me do it. I wouldn't have gone if I hadn't wanted to. I'm not going to let even you rest the blame for my conduct on your shoulders."

Finally the chums went to study table.

"What's the use!" demanded Dan, closing a book after he had opened it. "We don't need to study. We've got to walk the plank, at any rate, and all the study we do here for the next day or two is so much time wasted!"

"We may walk the plank," retorted Dave. "In fact, I feel rather certain that we shall. But it hasn't happened yet Danny boy, open that book again, and open it at the right page. Study until recall, and work harder than you ever did before. You know all about that old-time Navy man who said, 'Don't give up the ship!'"

They studied, or manfully pretended to, until release sounded. How much they learned from their books that night may have been a different matter.

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