“Never say die,” warned Ensign Eph Somers seriously, “until you know you’re really dead!”
This caused a laugh, and it eased them all.
“Well,” muttered Jetson, “as I know that I can’t be of any use here I’m going back into the cabin and sit down. I can at least keep quiet and make no fuss about it.”
One after another the other midshipmen silently followed Jetson’s example. They sat three on either side of the cabin, once in a while looking silently into the face of the others.
Not until many minutes more had passed did the three officers of the “Dodger” cease their efforts to find a duplicate plate for the motor.
Kellogg and another of the seamen, though they met their chance of death with grit enough, broke loose into mutterings that must have made the ears of ex-seaman Morton burn, wherever that worthy was.
“I wish I had that scoundrel here, under my heel,” raged Seaman Kellogg.
“It will be wiser and braver, my man,” broke in Lieutenant Jack quietly, “not to waste any needless thought on matters of violence. It will be better for us all if every man here goes to his death quietly and with a heart and head free from malice.”
“You’re right, sir,” admitted Kellogg. “And I wish to say, sir, that I never served under braver officers.”
“There won’t be divers sent after us—–at least, within the time that we’re going to be alive,” spoke Midshipman Farley soberly. “In the first place, Chesapeake Bay is a big place, and no Naval officer would know where to locate us.”
“Mr. Benson,” broke in Jetson suddenly, “I heard once that you submarine experts had invented a way of leaving a submarine boat by means of the torpedo tube. Why can’t you do that now?”
“We could,” smiled Lieutenant Jack Benson, “if our compressed air apparatus were working. We can’t do the trick without compressed air. If we had any of that which we could use, we wouldn’t need to leave the boat and swim to the top. We could take the boat to the surface instead.”
“Then it’s impossible, sir, to leave the boat?” questioned Jetson, his color again fading.
“Yes; if we opened the outer end of the torpedo tube, without being able to throw compressed air in there first, then the water would rush in and drown us.”
“I’m filled with wonder,” Dan Dalzell muttered to himself. “Staring certain death in the face, I can’t understand how it happens that I’m not going around blubbering and making a frantic jackanapes of myself. There’s not a chance of living more than an hour or two longer, and yet I’m calm. I wonder how it happens? It isn’t because I don’t know what is coming to me. I wonder if the other fellows feel just as I do?”
Dan glanced curiously around him at the other midshipmen faces.
“Do you know,” said Darrin quietly, “I’ve often wondered how other men have felt in just such a fix as we’re in now.”