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deserved that for my hot-headedness."

For just a moment Dave Darrin couldn't speak, but he held out his
hand.

"Thank you, old fellow," cried Farley, grasping it. "From now
on I hope we shall trust each other and be friends always."

Farley had been a good deal spoiled at home, and had a hasty,
impetuous temper. His career at Annapolis, however, was doing much
to make a man of him in short time.

Several of the other midshipmen spoke, expressing their pleasure
that the whole thing was cleared up, and that Dave had proved
to be above suspicion.

"And now I'm off to find the other fellows who were with me that
night," continued Farley. "I've told Page, already, but I've
got to find Scully and Oates, Henkel and Brimmer and put them
straight also."

Five minutes later Farley was explaining to Midshipman Henkel.

"Well, you are the softy!" said Henkel, in a sneering tone.

"Why?" demanded Farley stiffly.

"To fall for a frame-up like that."

"Do you mean that my cousin lied to me?"

"No; but Grierson certainly did."

"Old man Grierson is no liar," retorted Farley. "He is one of
most trusted employes in the yard. He has caught many a midshipman,
but Grierson is such a square old brick that the midshipmen of two
generations love him."

"You're too easy for this rough world," jeered Midshipman Henkel.

"Perhaps I am," retorted Farley. "But I'm going through it decently,
anyway."

"So you went and rubbed down Darrin's ruffled fur as gently as you
could," continued Henkel.

"I went to him and apologized - the only thing a man could do under
the circumstances."

"And now I suppose some of the fellows are trying to build up an
altar to Darrin as the class idol?"

"I don't know. I hope so, for I'm convinced that Dave Darrin is as
decent a fellow as ever signed papers at Annapolis."

"Go on out and buy some incense to burn before Darrin," laughed
Henkel harshly.

Perhaps Mr. Henkel might not have been as flippant had he known
that, all the time, Farley was studying him intently.

"So, in spite of all explanations, you still have no use for Darrin?"
asked Midshipman Farley.

"I have just as much use for him as I have for any other big sneak,"
retorted Mr. Henkel. "He betrayed us to the watchman, and I don't
care what explanations are offered to show that he didn't."

"And you won't be friendly with Darrin?" insisted Farley.

"I?" asked Henkel scornfully. "Not for an instant!

"Well, I hardly believe that Darrin will care much," replied Mr.
Farley, turning on his heel and walking out of the room.

"It's a mighty good thing that Darrin is going to be dropped out
of Annapolis," growled Henkel to himself. "He's altogether too
slick in playing a dirty trick on people and then swinging them
around so that they'll fawn upon him. When Farley first came
here he was a fellow of spirit. But he's been going bad for some
time, and now he's come out straight and clean for grease-mark!"

Saturday afternoon proved a dull time for Dave Darrin. The heavy
pile of demerits opposite his name prevented his getting leave
even to stroll out into the town of Annapolis. Dan could have
gone, but would not leave his chum.

Sunday morning there was chapel, but Dave, usually attentive,
heard hardly a word of the discourse. Sunday afternoon he turned
doggedly to his books. Dan, who was getting along better, and
who just now, stood three sections higher than Dave in math.,
went visiting among the members of his class.

Sunday evening all the cadets were again busy at their studies
until 9.30. As early as the regulations allowed Dave turned down
his bed, undressed and got into it, feeling utterly "blue."

"It's no use," he told himself, as he lay awake, thinking, thinking,
thinking. "Some one has it in for me, of course. But Dan and I
together can't find out who the rascal is. He may try nothing
against me again, for weeks, but sooner or later he'll turn another
demerit trick against me. Before January I shall be home again,
looking for some sort of job."

Before eight o'clock the following morning the class, after muster,
broke into sections which marched away to recitation in math.

Dan Dalzell was now section leader of one group. Dave marched in
the ranks of a much lower section.

This morning the section with which Dave marched was one man short.
Not until the members had taken their seats, or places at the
blackboards, did Darrin give heed enough to note that it was Farley
who was absent.

The section leader, however, had reported that Mr. Farley was
absent by permission of the head of the Department of Mathematics,
"for purposes of study." Unusual as this excuse was the instructor
had accepted it without making any inquiry.

If Farley was in his room for purposes of study, then what kind
of "study" could it be?

For at that precise moment, Midshipman Farley was standing close
to a tiny crack between the edge of his room door and the jamb.
He was "peeking" out attentively.

Curiously enough Midshipman Page, Farley's roommate, had also
been excused from attending section work. At this moment Mr.
Page sat tilted back in his chair, with his feet resting across
the corner of the study table.

A most unmilitary pose for Mr. Page, to be sure. Yet what need
was there to fear report with roommate Farley thus industriously
standing by the door?

So Mr. Page hummed softly to himself and stared out of the window.

Midshipman Farley remained by the door until he was becoming decidedly
wearied of his occupation, and Page had several times shifted his feet.

Then, all of a sudden, Midshipman Farley turned with a low, sharp hiss.

"It?" whispered Midshipman Page, rising swiftly.

"Yes," nodded Farley.

Midshipman Page walked swiftly out of the room, though his heels
did not make as much noise as usual.

Just after Page had left the room Midshipman Farley stole along
the corridor, halting before a door.

There he paused, as though on duty. It was not long before his
erect attitude was accounted for, for Lieutenant Nettleson, the
officer in charge, came down into the corridor, followed by the
cadet officer of the day.

Just a little way behind them walked Midshipman Page.

Farley stood quickly at attention, saluting the officer in charge,
who returned the salute.




CHAPTER XIV

THE TRAP IN MIDSHIPMEN'S QUARTERS


Tap-Tap! sounded Lieutenant Nettleson's knuckles on the door.

Just a shade longer than usual the lieutenant waited ere he turned
the door knob and entered the room.

Behind him, like a faithful orderly, stood Midshipman Hawkins, of
the first class, cadet officer of the day.

A quick look about the room Lieutenant Nettleson took, then turned
to the cadet officer of the day.

"Mr. Hawkins," spoke the O.C., "Mr. Darrin seems to be growing
worse in his breaches of duty."

"So it seems, sir," agreed the cadet officer the day.

"Mr. Darrin has left his bed turned down," continued the lieutenant,
inspecting that article of furniture. "And, judging by the looks
of the sheets, he has been abed with his boots on."

"Yes sir."

"You will put Mr. Darrin on the report for this latest offense,
Mr. Hawkins."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Lieutenant Nettleson made a further inspection of the room.

"And Mr. Darrin has neglected to empty his washbowl. He has also
thrown the towel on the floor. Put Mr. Darrin on the report for
that as well."

"Aye, aye, sir."

"That is all here, Mr Hawkins."

"Very good, sir."

O.C. and cadet officer of the day turned to leave the room. As they
were crossing the threshold Midshipman Farley, saluting, reported:

"I think, sir, if you search more closely, you will find some one
in this room."

"Very good," replied the officer in charge, turning back.

In truth, Lieutenant Nettleson was already aware that there was a
prowler in the room, for he had seen a pair of feet in a dark corner;
but he had purposely awaited Midshipman Farley's report.

Now, swift as a flash, Lieutenant Nettleson turned back, going
straight so the cupboard in which Dave Darrin's uniform equipment
hung.

Pushing aside a dress uniform and a raincoat that hung like curtains,
Lieutenant Nettleson gazed into the face of - Midshipman Henkel!

Henkel had been caught so suddenly, had realized it so tardily, that
the grin of exultation had not quite faded from his face by the time
that he stood exposed.

In another second, however, that midshipman's face had turned as
white as dirty chalk.

"Stand forth, sir!" ordered the O.C. sternly.

Henkel obeyed, his legs shaking under him.

"What is your name?"

"Henkel, sir."

"Mr. Henkel, what are you doing in the room of another midshipman,
in the absence of both occupants?

"I - I - just dropped in, sir!" stammered affrighted midshipman.

"Mr. Henkel, sir," continued Lieutenant Nettleson sternly, "it
has long been a puzzle to the discipline officers why Mr. Darrin
should so deliberately and senselessly invite demerits for lack
of care of his equipment. You may now be certain that you will
be accused of all breaches of good order and discipline that have
been laid at Mr. Darrin's door. Have you anything to say, sir."

Midshipman Henkel, who had been doing some swift thinking, had
had time enough to realize that no one had seen him doing any
mischief in the room. The offense, merely, of visiting another
midshipman's room improperly would call but for ten demerits.
Pooh! The scrape was such a simple one that he would lie valiantly
out of the graver charge and escape with ten demerits.

"I admit being here, sir, without propriety. I am innocent of
any further wrongdoing, sir," lied the culprit.

Lieutenant Nettleson studied the young man's face keenly.

"Mr. Henkel, was Mr. Darrin's bed turned down and in its present
disordered state when you entered the room?"

"Yes, sir."

"You declare this on your honor as a midshipman and gentleman?"

"Yes, sir," lied the unabashed Henkel.

"Was Mr. Darrin's washbowl in its present untidy state?"

"I don't know, sir. I didn't notice that."

"Very good, Mr. Henkel. Go to your room and remain there in close
arrest. Do not leave your room, except by orders or proper permission,
sir."

"Very good, sir," replied Henkel, saluting. Then, his face still
a ghastly hue, he turned and marched from the room, not venturing,
under the eyes of the O.C., to look at either Farley or Page.

When the sections came marching back from math. Lieutenant Nettleson
stood outside the door of his office.

"Mr. Darrin!" called the O.C. And, a moment later, "Mr. Dalzell!"

Both wondering midshipmen approached the officer in charge for the
day at Bancroft Hall, and saluted.

"Mr. Darrin," stated Lieutenant Nettleson, "you and your roommate
may go to your room to leave your books. In the room you will
find some evidences of disorder. Do not attempt to set them straight.
As soon as you have left your books return to me."

"And I also, sir?" queried Dan, saluting.

"You, also, Mr. Dalzell," replied the officer.

"Now, has this thing broken loose again?" groaned Dave Darrin, as the
two chums hurried below.

"It seems as if it ought to stop some time," gasped Dalzell.

"It will, and soon," gritted Darrin. "In a very short time, now,
I shall certainly have the full course of two hundred demerits.
Great - Scott!"

For now the two chums were in their room, and saw the full extent of
the mischief there. "I guess I may as well wire home to Gridley for
the price of my return ticket," hinted Dave bitterly.

"Don't do anything of the sort," urged Dan, though with but little
hope in his voice. "You may still have a margin of ten or fifteen
dems. left to hold you on."

"We're under orders, Danny boy, to report back to the O.C."

"O.K."

"Come along, then."

In the office of the officer in charge stood Midshipmen Farley and
Page. Just after Dave and Dan entered Henkel came in, accompanied
Midshipman Hawkins, the cadet officer of day.

It was an actually ferocious gaze that Henkel turned upon Darrin.
In that same instant Dave believed that a great light had broken in
upon his mind.

"Mr. Hawkins," requested the O.C., "ascertain whether the commandant
of midshipmen can see us now."

Saluting, the cadet officer of the day passed out of the room, very
prim and erect, his white gloves of duty a very conspicuous part of
his uniform.

In a few moments, he returned, raising his right, white-gloved hand
to the visor of his cap.

"The commandant of midshipmen is ready, sir."

"Come with me, then," directed Lieutenant Nettleson, who had already
risen to receive the cadet officer's report.

The O.C. led the way into the office of Commander Jephson, U.S. Navy,
the commandant of midshipmen.

"This, Mr. Nettleson, I understand, relates to Mr. Darrin's late
apparent course in matters of discipline?" inquired Commander
Jephson.

The commandant of midshipmen, who was middle-aged and slightly
bald, removed his eye-glasses, holding them poised in his right
hand while he gazed calmly at Mr. Nettleson.

"Yes, sir. This is the matter," replied the O.C., saluting his
superior.

Commander Jephson had, usually, a manner of slow and gentle speech.
He impressed one, at first sight, as being a man lacking in "ginger,"
which was a great mistake, as many a midshipman had found to his
cost.

The commandant of cadets, however, did not believe in becoming
excited or excitable until the occasion arose.

"Be good enough to make your statement, Mr. Nettleson," requested
Commander Jephson.

Consulting a slip of paper that he held in his left hand the younger
Naval officer recounted the previous instances in which Midshipman
Darrin, fourth class, U.S. Naval Academy, had been found delinquent
in that he had slighted the care of his equipment or of his room.

Having made this preliminary statement, the officer in charge now
came down to the doings of the present day.

Midshipman Henkel kept his gaze fixed on Lieutenant Nettleson's face.
Henkel's bearing was almost arrogant. He had fully decided upon
his course of lying himself out of his serious scrape.




CHAPTER XV

AIR "THE ROGUE'S MARCH"


"It is already, sir," spoke Lieutenant Nettleson, "a matter of
knowledge with you that Mr. Darrin denied his responsibility in
each case of disorder among his personal belongings. It is also
a matter within your knowledge, sir, that Mr. Darrin, finally,
in his desperation, informed you that he believed that some enemy
in the brigade of midshipmen was responsible for all the bad appearances
against him.

"The reply of this department, sir, to Mr. Darrin, was to the effect
that, while there was a possibility of his claim being correct, yet
it was nearly inconceivable. Mr. Darrin was given permission to
bring forward any evidence he could secure in support of his view.
As time passed, and he confessed himself unable to secure any such
evidence, one set of demerits after another accumulated against
Mr. Darrin.

"Yesterday, sir, so I am informed, Mr. Farley and Mr. Page approached
you, stating that they believed they had good reason for suspecting
a member of the brigade of seeking to injure Mr. Darrin. Midshipmen
Farley and Page also stated to you that they believed the offender
to be a member of the half of the fourth class which does not
recite in mathematics the same time as does the half of the class
to which Mr. Darrin and his roommate belong.

"As Midshipmen Farley and Page belong to the half of the class
that recites during the same periods as do Mr. Darrin and Dalzell,
Midshipmen Farley and Page requested permission to remain in their
room during the time when they would otherwise be reciting in
mathematics. They were thus to remain for two mornings, and other
members of the fourth class were then willing to stay on watch
for two mornings more, and so on, until the offender against Mr.
Darrin, if there was one, could be caught in the act."

What a baleful glare Midshipman Henkel shot at Farley and Page!
Then Henkel saw the eye of the commandant of midshipmen fixed
curiously on him, and glanced down at the floor.

"This very unusual permission, sir, you finally agreed to seek
from the head of the Department of Mathematics. So, this morning,
Mr. Farley and Mr. Page did not march off to recitation in mathematics,
but remained in their room. Presently Mr. Page reported to me,
in great haste, that a midshipman other than Mr. Darrin, or Mr.
Dalzell had just entered their room. I thereupon went down to
that room, knocked, waited a moment, and then entered, accompanied
by the cadet officer of the day. The condition of things that
I found in the room you already, sir, know from my written report.
While in the room I detected a pair of feet showing under the
bottom of Mr. Darrin's uniform equipment hanging in his cupboard.
I pretended, however not to see the feet, and turned to leave
the room when Mr. Farley, as prearranged, stepped forward and
informed me that he had seen some one enter the room a while before.
I then turned and compelled the prowler to step forth. That
prowler was Mr. Henkel."

"You questioned Mr. Henkel as to his reason for being in the room?"
asked Commander Jephson.

"I did, sir."

"Did he deny guilty intention in being there?"

"He did, sir, other than admitting that he had broken the regulations
by entering another midshipman's room in that midshipman's absence."

Tapping his right temple with the eye-glasses that he held in
his hand, the commandant of midshipmen turned to look more directly
at the startled culprit.

"Mr. Henkel, did you arrange any or all of the disorder which
Lieutenant Nettleson reported having found in Mr. Darrin's room?"

"I did not, sir."

Henkel's voice was clear, firm - almost convincing.

"Have you, at any time, committed any offense in Mr. Darrin's room,
by tampering with his equipment or belongings, or with the furniture
of the room?"

"Never, sir," declared Midshipman Henkel positively.

"You are aware that Mr. Darrin has been punished by the imposition
of a great many demerits for untidiness in the care of his equipment?"

"Yes, sir."

"But you were not responsible for any of these seeming delinquencies
on Mr. Darrin's part?"

"Never, sir."

"You did not turn down, disarrange and soil his bed this forenoon,
or create the appearance of untidiness in connection with Mr.
Darrin washbowl?"

"No, sir."

"You make these denials on your word of honor, as a midshipman
and gentleman?" persisted Commander Jephson.

"I do, sir, and most earnestly and solemnly, sir," replied Midshipman
Henkel.

"One word, more, Mr. Henkel," went on the commandant of midshipmen.
"When you improperly entered Mr. Darrin's room this morning,
did you then observe the signs of disorder which Lieutenant Nettleson
subsequently discovered and reported?"

"I did, sir, as to the bed. The washbowl I did not notice."

"That will do, for the present, Mr. Henkel. Mr. Farley, will you
now state just what you saw, while watching this forenoon?"

Midshipmen Farley told, simply, how he and Page had commenced
their watch.

"In the first place, sir," declared Farley, "as soon as Mr. Darrin
and Mr. Dalzell had left their room, and the corridor was empty,
Mr. Page and I, acting by permission and direction of this office,
went at once to Mr. Darrin's room. We made an inspection. At
that time there were no such signs of disorder as those which
Lieutenant Nettleson subsequently found. Then, sir, Mr. Page
and I went back to our room. I held our door very slightly ajar,
and stood in such a position that I could glance down the corridor
and keep Mr. Darrin's room door constantly within my range of
vision."

"As a matter of vital fact, Mr. Farley," interrupted the commandant
of midshipmen, "did you at any time relax such vigilance, even for a
few seconds?"

"Not even for a few seconds, sir."

"After the inspection that Mr. Page and yourself made, who was the
first person that you saw enter Mr. Darrin's room?"

"Mr. Henkel!

"Was he Alone?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you then immediately send Mr Page to the officer in charge?"

"I did, sir."

"And yourself?"

"Without allowing my glance to turn from Mr. Darrin's door, sir, I
stepped out into the corridor, walked close to Mr. Darrin's room
door, and then stood there until Lieutenant Nettleson and Mr.
Hawkins arrived."

"Then, Mr. Farley, you are certain that there was no disorder in
Mr. Darrin's room at the time when he and Mr. Dalzell left to
recite in mathematics?

"I am absolutely positive, sir."

"And you are also certain that none but Mr. Henkel entered that room
up to the time when the disorder was discovered by Lieutenant
Nettleson?"

"I am certain, sir."

Midshipman Page was then questioned. He bore out the testimony
just given by Farley in every particular.

The manner of the commandant of midshipmen was still gentle when he
turned again to Henkel.

"Mr. Henkel, do you wish to modify your previous statements in
any way?"

"No, sir," replied Henkel. "In all my answers I have told the
whole and exact truth, as I know it. I am eager, sir, to answer
any further questions that you may wish to put to me on the subject."

"Gentlemen, you may all withdraw, save Lieutenant Nettleson and
Mr. Henkel," announced the commandant, after a few moments of
seemingly mild thought. "Mr. Hawkins, of course you understand
that what you know of this matter you know officially, and that
you are not to mention or discuss it until such time as official
action shall have been taken. As for you other midshipmen, I
see no harm, gentlemen, in your discussing it among yourselves,
but you will see to it that information does not, for the present,
spread through the brigade. You may go, gentlemen."

Once outside Farley and Page walked so rapidly that Dave and Dan
did not attempt to overtake them in the corridors. But they found
Farley and Page waiting outside Dave's room door.

"May we come in?" asked Farley.

"If anyone on earth may," replied Dave heartily, throwing open the
door, then stepping back to allow the others to enter.

"I'm afraid we've cooked a goose for some one," cried Farley,
with grim satisfaction.

"Great Scott, yes," breathed Dan Dalzell, in devout thankfulness.

"Is it fair, Farley, for me to ask you whether you suspected Henkel
before you caught him?" queried Dave Darrin.

"Yes; and the commandant knows that. Henkel came here one night,
weeks ago, and mysteriously tried to interest us in putting up
a job to get you dropped from the Navy rolls. When Page and I
really tumbled that an enemy working against you, it didn't take
us two minutes to guess who that enemy was. Then we started on
the warpath."

"I wonder," asked Dave Darrin huskily, "whether it is really necessary
for me to assure you of the tremendous burden of obligation that
you've put upon me?"

"It isn't necessary, any way that you can look at the question,"
retorted Farley promptly. "What we did for you, Darrin, is no
more than we'd stand ready to do for any man in the brigade who
was being ground down and out by a mean trickster."

"Wouldn't I like to take peep in on Henkel, now, while the commandant
is grilling him in that gentle way the commandant has?" mocked
Midshipman Page.

"David, little giant, the matter is cleared and as good as squared,"
cried Dalzell. "And now I know this is the first time in my life
that I've ever been really and unutterably happy!"

During the nest two days it was known through the brigade at large
that Midshipman Henkel was in close arrest. The brigade did not
at once learn the cause. Yet, in such appearances as Henkel was
permitted to make, it was noted that he bore himself cheerfully
and confidently.

Then, one day, just before the dinner formation, Darrin was ordered
to report at the commandant's office.

"Mr. Darrin," announced Commander Jephson, when the midshipman
had reported and saluted, "I am glad to be able to announce that
we have been able to pile up so much evidence against Mr Henkel
that young man finally confessed that it was he, and he alone,
who created all the disorders with your equipment, and in your
room for which so many demerits have been inflicted upon you.
At the dinner formation. Therefore, when the orders of the day
are published by the brigade adjutant, you will again hear that
your demerits, given for the offenses unjustly charged against
you, have been remitted by order of the superintendent. You will
also learn that you have been restored to the first conduct grade,


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