“The rascally greaser!”
“That means me,” Dave muttered under his breath. “I won’t take it up now, or in any hurry. I’ll wait until Pen has had time to see things straight.”
As soon as the launch lay alongside, the young midshipmen clambered nimbly up the side gangway, each raising his cap to the flag at the stern as he passed through the opening in the rail.
Here stood an officer with an open book in his hand. To him each midshipman reported, saluting, stated his name, and received his berthing.
“Hurry away to find your berthings, and get acquainted with the location,” ordered this officer. “Every midshipman will report on the quarter-deck promptly at five p.m. In the meantime, after locating your berthings, you are at liberty to range over the ship, avoiding the ward room and the staterooms of officers.”
The latest arrivals saluted. Then, under the guidance of messengers chosen from among the apprentice members of the crew, the young men located their berthings.
“I’m going to get mine changed, if I can,” growled Pennington, wheeling upon Dave Darrin. “I’m much too close to a greaser. I’m afraid I may get my uniforms spotted, as well as my character.”
“Stop that, Pen!” warned Dave, stationing himself squarely before the angry Pennington. “I don’t know just how far you’re responsible for what you’re saying now. To-morrow, if you make any such remarks to me, you’ll have to pay a mighty big penalty for them.”
“You’ll make me pay by going to the commandant and telling him all you know, I suppose?” sneered Pennington.
“You know better, Pen! Now, begin to practise keeping a civil tongue behind your teeth!”
With that, Darrin turned on his heel, seeking the deck.
This left “Pen” to conjecture as to whether he should report his misadventure, and, if so, how best to go about it.
“See here, Hallam,” began the worried midshipman, “I begin to feel that it will be safer to turn in some kind of report on myself.”
“Much safer,” agreed Hallam. “It will show good faith on your part if you report yourself.”
“And get me broken from the service, too, I suppose,” growled the unhappy one.
“I hardly think it will, if you report yourself first,” urged Hallam. “But you’ll be about certain to get your walking papers if you wait for the first information to come from other sources.”
“Hang it,” groaned Pennington, “I wish I could think, but my head aches as though it would split and my tooth is putting up more trouble than I ever knew there was in the world. And, in this racked condition, I’m to go and put myself on the pap-sheet. In what way shall I do it, Hallam? Can’t you suggest something?”
“Yes,” retorted Hallam with great energy. “Go to the medical officer and tell him how your tooth troubles you. Tell him what you tried on shore. I’ll go with you, if you want.”