The battleships were well in sight of Eastern King Point when the midshipmen’s call for supper formation sounded. Feeling that they would much have preferred to wait for their supper, the young men hastened below.
After the line was formed it seemed to the impatient young men as though it had never taken so long to read the orders.
Yet there came one welcome order, to the effect that, immediately after the morning meal, all midshipmen might go to the pay officer and draw ten dollars, to be charged against their pay accounts.
“That ten dollars apiece looms up large David, little giant,” murmured Dan Dalzell, while the evening meal was in progress.
“We ought to have a lot of fun on it,” replied Darrin, who was looking forward with greatest eagerness to his first visit to any foreign soil. “But how much shore leave are we to have?”
“Two days, the word is. We’ll get it straight in the morning, at breakfast formation.”
In defiance of regulations, Midshipman Pennington, whose father was wealthy, had several hundred dollars concealed in his baggage. He had already invited Hallam, Mossworth and Dickey to keep in his wake on shore, and these young men had gladly enough agreed.
“Say, but we’re slackening speed!” quivered Dalzell, when the meal was nearly finished.
“Headway has stopped,” declared Darrin a few moments later.
“Listen, everyone!” called Farley. “Don’t you hear the rattle of the anchor chains?”
“Gentlemen, as we’re forbidden to make too much racket,” proposed irrepressible Dan, “let us give three silent cheers for Old England!”
Rising in his place, Dan raised his hand aloft, and brought it down, as his lips silently formed a “hurrah!”
Three times this was done, each time the lips of the midshipmen forming a silent cheer.
Then Dan, with a mighty swoop of his right arm, let his lips form the word that everyone knew to be “tiger!”
“Ugh-h-h!” groaned Midshipman Reilly.
“Throw that irresponsible Fenian out!” directed Dan, grinning.
Then the midshipmen turned their attention to the remnants of the meal.
Boom! sounded sharply overhead.
“There goes the twenty-one-gunner,” announced Darrin.
When a foreign battleship enters a fortified port the visiting fleet, or rather, its flagship, fires a national salute of twenty-one guns. After a short interval following the discharge of the last gun, one of the forts on shore answers with twenty-one guns. This is one of the methods of observing the courtesies between nations by their respective fleets.
Ere all the guns had been fired from the flagship, the third classmen received the rising signal; the class marched out and was dismissed. Instantly a break was made for deck.
The midshipmen were in good time to see the smoke and hear the roar of guns from one of the forts on shore.