H. Irving Hancock.

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hands at my trousers-seams when I wanted to throw my fists out
in front of me? Do you imagine I have just tamely submitted to
a lot of abuse because my spirit was broken? Danny, I'm trying
to train my spirit, instead of letting it boss me! Many and many
a time, when the youngsters have started to guy me unmercifully
I've fairly ached to jump in and thrash 'em all. But, instead,
I've tried to conquer myself!"

"I reckon you're the same old Dave - improved," murmured Midshipman
Dalzell, holding out his hand.



"On your head, mister. Now, let us have paragraph number four,
with tragic, blank-verse effect."

That was Jennison's command

Brooks manifested a fondness for paragraph number one, to the
air of "Yankee Doodle."

Others dropped in on Dave, after release at 9.30, evenings, and
called for other paragraph rendered in various ways. He was also
overhauled, out of doors, in the brief recreation period after
dinner, and made to do various stunts with the unfortunate paragraphs
from the "Bazoo."

By the time the first week of this was over Dave Darrin wished
most heartily that Mr. Pollock had never founded the Gridley "Blade."

It is rare that second class men take any part in hazing; it is
almost unheard of for a first class man to take any really active
part in running a plebe.

Midshipman Henley, first class, proved an exception to this rule.
Regularly, once a day, he met Darrin and ordered him to sing
paragraph number one to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."

If Dave resented any part of the torment, he was especially annoyed
by Henley's unusual conduct.

Naval needs brought a strange revenge.

Reports had reached the Navy Department from commanders of warships
in commission that many of the graduates of the Naval Academy
serving with the fleets did not possess sufficient knowledge of
the command of boat crews.

In the past first class men had not been bothered with rowing
drills, which they were supposed to have thoroughly mastered earlier
in their course.

Acting on word from the Navy Department the superintendent of
the Naval Academy had the first class men ordered out for rowing
drills. All who showed sufficient skill were released from such
drills. The others were sent to drill with the fourth class men.

Four of Dave's boat crew of fourth class men were transferred to
another crew, their places being taken by four first class men who
had been found sadly deficient in rowing drill.

"Will one of the first class men serve as crew captain, sir?"
asked Darrin.

"Certainly not," replied Lieutenant Edgecombe. "You will still
keep command of your crew, Mr. Darrin. And you will be expected
to see that these first class men are most thoroughly grounded
in the boat drill. Do no spare any of them in the least because
they are upper class men."

"Very good, sir," Darrin answered, saluting.

Midshipman Henley was one of the four assigned to Dave's crew.

There was a deep scowl on Henley's face when he reported for the
first boat drill under a plebe crew captain.

As the boat was pushed off, after the crew had embarked, Darrin
was alert only to his duty as the man in charge of the boat.

Before the boat had gone a hundred yard Dave called crisply:

"Number four, handle your oar with more energy and precision!

"Don't get too stiff, mister," growled Midshipman Henley.

Darrin returned the black look coolly.

"Number four, when addressing the crew captain, you will employ
the word, 'sir.' And you will pay strict attention to criticisms
of your work."

"Beats all how these plebes think they're men!" growled Mr. Henley
disgustedly, without looking at Dave.

"No talking in the crew," called Dave

Henley subsided, for he had been trained to habits of obedience.
Had the man in command been a member of his own class there would
have been no trouble whatever, but Henley resented being at the
orders of a fourth class man.

"Number four, you are lounging," rebuked Darrin quietly, but firmly.
"Correct your deportment, sir."

Dave gazed so steadily at Midshipman Henley that the latter, though
he colored, took a more seamanlike attitude for a while. Bitter
thoughts, however, were seething in the mind of this first class
man. After a few minutes Henley again struck his improper attitude.

"Mr. Henley, upon your return put yourself on the report for taking
an unseamanlike attitude after having been once corrected," directed
Dave, in a businesslike tone.

The hot blood leaped to Henley's face and temples. He opened
his mouth, intent upon making a stinging retort.

But Dave was glancing at him so coolly, compellingly, that the
older midshipman now realized that he had gone as far as was safe.

During the rest of the drill Mr. Henley performed his work well
enough to escape further rebuke.

When the crew was dismissed, however, Henley wore a blacker look
than ever as he stalked along to the office of the officer in

Here Henley picked up one of the report blanks, filled it out
as briefly as possible, an signed his name, next turning in the

Immediately after supper that night, and before the signal sent
the midshipmen to their studies, Henley stepped up to Dave.

"Mister, I want a word in private with you."

"Certainly, sir," replied Dave. He was no longer crew captain
on duty, but a fourth class man answering a first class man.

Henley conducted Dave out of earshot of any one else before he
turned to say, hissingly:

"Mister, you used an upstart's privilege of abusing your authority
this afternoon."

"I think not, sir," replied Dave quietly.

"You put me on report for no other reason than that I had made you
sing extracts from the 'Bazoo,'" charged the first class man.

"That reason or thought never entered my head, sir."

"I say it did!"

"Then I am very sorry to have to reply that you are entirely in

"You tell me that I am making a false statement?" demanded Midshipman
Henley, more angrily.

"If you choose to consider it in that light, sir."

"Mister, you are touge, ratey, impudent and worthless!" declared
Henley hotly.

"Then I infer, sir, that you do not wish to waste any more time
upon me?"

"Oh, you will not get off as easily as that," sneered Midshipman
Henley. "You are a good-sized fellow, and you have some fourth
class reputation as a fighter. We shall not be so badly or unevenly
matched, mister, I shall send a friend to inform you that I have
called you out."

"Then, sir, your friend will save time by seeking Mr. Dalzell, of
the fourth class, who will be informed that he is to represent me."

"Very good, mister."

"That is all you wish to say to me, sir?"

"You may go, mister."

Dave Darrin walked away, his mind full of mighty serious thoughts.

In the first place, for a midshipman to call out another, for
reporting him for breach of discipline, is about as serious an
offense as a midshipman can ordinarily commit. It insures, if
detected, the instant dismissal of the challenger. And the challenged
midshipman, if he accepts, held to be equally guilty. So are
the seconds.

In accepting this challenge, which he had done instantly, Dave
Darrin well knew that he placed his chances of remaining at the
Naval Academy in great peril. He was also aware that he ran Dan's
head into equal danger.

Yet tradition and custom would not allow Darrin to dodge the fight
thus thrust upon him. It was equally true, that, if he failed
to ask Dan to act as his second, he would put a serious slight
on his chum.

Dave hurried to Dalzell, who listened with more glee than might
have been expected.

"Good enough, David, little giant!" approved Dalzell. "When you
meet Henley on the field just close in and pound off the whole
of his superstructure!

"Dan, I'm afraid I'm letting you in for a tough risk."

"You wouldn't be my friend if you kept me out of it," retorted
Dalzell significantly.

Rollins proved only too glad to have the privilege of being the
other second. He, too, ran a risk of being dismissed, if caught
at this fight; but in adventurous youth the love of risk is strong.

The time was set for Saturday evening at 8.30; the place as usual.

Darrin, as usual, was the first principal to show up. He always
liked to have plenty of time for stripping, and he also found
it to his advantage to look the ground over.

Mr. Bailey, of the second class, was to serve as referee, and
Mr. Clafflin, of the second class as time-keeper. It was against
custom to have any of the officials from the first class since
member of that class was to be one of the principals.

"I wonder what sort of fellow Henley is with his fists," mused
Rollins, after they had reached the ground.

"Darrin will find out for you," replied Dan.

"I'm not as afraid of seeing my principal thrashed as I might have
been earlier in the year," went on Rollins.

"Hm! Any fellow that thrashes Dave is almost certain to carry
away a few mementos himself!"

As soon as Henley and his seconds were seen to be approaching,
Dave slipped off his blouse.

Within five minutes after that both men were ready and faced each
other. The word was given.

"Now, Mr. Touge," warned Henley, "guard that striking face of

"Oh, I don't do any striking with my face," retorted Dave dryly.
"I do all my killing with my hands."

"Stop that one," urged Henley, feinting cleverly with his left,
then following it up with a right hand crusher.

Dave stopped both blows neatly enough, then sidestepped and passed
over a fist that grazed Mr. Henley's face.

"I just wanted to find out where your face is," mocked Darrin.

"Talk less and fight more, Mr. Touge!" warned the referee.

"Very good, sir," Dave retorted. "But it's going to be hard on
Mr. Henley."

"Bah!" sneered Henley. "Woof!"

The latter exclamation followed when Dave's fist cut Henley's
lip a bit. But that indignity stirred the first class man to
swifter, keener efforts. He failed to score heavily on the fourth
class man, however; but, just before the call time for the first
round Henley's nose stopped a blow from Darrin's fist, and first
class blood began to flow.

"Mr. Touge is a hard fighter," muttered the time-keeper to the
referee, while the seconds attended their men.

"We've plenty of fellows at Annapolis who can punish Darrin,"
replied Midshipman Bailey.

Time was called for the start-off of the second round. The two
principals were intent on their footwork around each other, when
there came hail that froze their blood.

"Halt! Remain as you are for inspection!"

It was the voice of Lieutenant Hall, one of the discipline officers,
and the fighters and their friends had been caught!



Blank dismay fell over the whole of the fight party.

Three first class men, two second class men and three members
of the fourth class stood on the brink of almost instant dismissal.

It was bitter for all of them, but it seemed especially hard to
the first class men, who had survived the four years of hard grilling
and were on the eve of graduation.

However, there was no thought of running. Though it was too dark
for the discipline officer to have recognized any of them at the
distance from which he had hailed them, yet, in a flight, it would
be easy enough for Lieutenant Hall, who was an athlete, to catch
one or two of them and then the names of all present could be

It was an instant of utter terror.

Then another voice broke in on the stillness.

"All hands to the fire apparatus! Fire in Bancroft Hall!"

The fight party felt another thrill. If the big Academy building
was in danger they must rush to do their share.

The officer's running footsteps were already heard. He had turned
and was speeding away.

"Get on your clothes, quickly, you two fellows!" ordered Midshipman
Bailey crisply "We've got to turn in with the rest for fast work!"

Just then another figure darted up to them. It turned out to be
Midshipman Farley.

"Yes; get on your clothes with some classy speed," chuckled Farley.
"Lieutenant Hall will be back here with a bunch of watchmen,
the marine guard, or any other old crowd, when he finds that he
has been lured on the reefs by false signals!

"Mister, did you give that call of fire?" demanded Midshipman
Bailey sternly.

"Yes, sir."

"And there's no fire?"

"None that I know of, sir."

"Mister, what's your name?"

"Farley, sir."

"Then, Farley, sir, come and get hugged."

In truth a lot of fuss was made over that young midshipman within
a few seconds.

"It can't do much harm to use you something like a human being
and a comrade, anyway," declared Time-keeper Clafflin, as he wrung
both of Farley's hands. "Within a few days you'll be a youngster

Farley explained that an itching interest in the fight had tempted
him to be close at hand, and this had given him his chance to save
the fight party.

Darrin and Henley were dressing like lightning, and the others
would not flee until the principals were ready to take part in
the flight.

"Henley," broke in Midshipman Bailey decisively, "you can't risk
your graduation again by resuming this fight at some other time. As
far as the mill had gone Mr. Darrin had the best of it. I award
the fight to him."

"I'm glad you do, Bailey," replied Henley heartily. "And, as
soon as I'm dressed, and my cap is set on square, I'm going to
apologize and ask Mr. Darrin to shake hands with me."

"Will you do me a favor, sir?" inquired Dave.

"A dozen," agreed Henley instantly.

"Then, sir, cut the apology and confine it to the hand-shake."

In another moment they were ready for hasty departure. But Dave
had to wait for a quick, hearty handclasp from each of the upper
class men. Then all divided into three groups, by classes, and
thirty seconds later found these midshipmen too far from the scene
to be identified with any fight party.

"It was a remarkably good and cheeky piece of work, sir," Lieutenant
Hall reported, twenty minutes later, to Commander Jephson, commandant
of midshipmen. "I had a fight party right under my hands when
that call of fire sounded. It was so natural that I bolted away
and lost my party before I discovered that it was a hoax."

"Did you recognize any of the fight party, Mr. Hall?

"No, sir; I was not close enough, and the night is dark."

"Did you recognize the voice of the man who gave the fire-call?"

"No, sir; at any rate, I believe that the voice was disguised."

"The young men have discovered a new one, and have tried it on
you, Mr. Hall."

"I realize that, sir," replied the lieutenant, in a voice of chagrin.

It was now the time of annual examinations, of daily dress parade
and the incoming of the first of the hosts of visitors who would
be on hand during graduation week.

Of the annual examinations the poor fourth class men thought they
had more than their share. Of the dress parades they had their
full share. In the graduating exercises they took no part; they
were not even present.

"What does a mere fourth class man know about the Navy, anyway?"
was the way Midshipman Trotter asked the question.

Twenty-two of the fourth class men stumbled in their annual examinations.
These went home promptly. They would not return again, unless
their Congressmen reappointed them for another try. In case that
happened to any of the young men they would return to take up
life with the new fourth class, and would henceforth be known as

A man who has been dropped is a "bilger," whether he comes back
or not. A "bilger" is further described as "one who used to be
in the game, and is now only on the outside looking in."

Dave Darrin's standing for the year was two-eighty-seven. Dan's
was two-eighty-two. Farley and Page came close to that figure.

None of these young men were in the "savvy" section, but all had
passed with sufficient credit for the first year.

While the graduating exercises were going on the fourth class
men were divided between drills on land and on water.

Dave and Dan were in a squad that marched up from the steam building
just in time to catch a distant glimpse of the crowds surging
out from the graduating exercises.

Both young men, and probably a lot of others in the same squad
throbbed with a swift flash of thought.

As soon as the ranks were broken Dalzell seized his chum's hand,
and began wringing it strenuously.

"David, little giant," murmured Dan ecstatically, "we are no longer
fourth class men. From the instant that the tail-ender of the
old first class received his diploma we became transformed into
third class men."

"Yes," smiled Dave. "We're youngsters. That's going some."

"Poor fourth class men!" sighed Dan. "I'm alluding to those who
will have to look up to and reverence me as a youngster!"

As soon as the chums had made a shift from their working clothes
to the uniform of the day, and had stepped outside, they saw Mr.
Henley coming their way, looking wholly proud and happy.

Then, of a sudden, Mr. Henley bent a keen look upon the new youngsters.

Just in the nick of time Dave Darrin recalled one of the regulations
to which he had hitherto paid little heed for lack of use.

Graduate midshipmen are entitled to be saluted by mere midshipmen
as though they were already officer.

Swiftly Darrin brought his heels together with a click, bringing
his hand smartly up to the visor of his uniform cap.

Henley gravely returned the salute with a new sense of existence.

Dan Dalzell caught the drift of the thing just in time, and saluted

"May we congratulate you, Mr. Henley?" asked Dave.

"I was hoping that you both would," replied the graduate. "And,
one of these days, I may have the pleasure of congratulating you,
as an officer, when you first come up over the side to start in with
your real sea life."

"I'm thinking, now, of our first taste of sea life," murmured
Darrin, a dreamy light coming into his eyes.

"Yes; just as soon as we graduates are gotten out of the way you
new youngsters will join the two upper classes on the big battleships
and start on your first summer practice cruise."

"I feel as if I couldn't wait," muttered Dan, as Henley moved

"You'll have to, however," laughed Dave. "Don't be impatient.
Think what a very small insect on shipboard a youngster midshipman is!"

The chums were through with their first year at Annapolis. But,
all in a moment, they had entered the next year. Many things
befell them on that summer practice cruise, and many more things
in the new academic year that followed. But these will be appropriately
reserved for the next volume, which will be entitled: "_Dave Darrin's
Second Year at Annapolis; Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy

Having left the fourth class behind Dave and Dan at last entered
fully into the life of the midshipmen. They "counted" now; they
were "somebodies," and a host of new and exciting experiences
were ahead of them.


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Online LibraryH. Irving HancockDave Darrin's First Year at Annapolis → online text (page 11 of 11)