Presently Dan Dalzell, wearing his sword and pulling on his white gloves as he came, appeared, walking aft. There was time only for a smiling nod, for Dave suddenly remembered, with a start that it was time for him to report for change of watch.
Hastening down the passage-way Dave hung his sword on, then hastily rummaged the suit case for a pair of white gloves that he had previously tucked in there.
Hastening, he reached the deck just as the watch was being changed. With quick step Ensign Darrin took his momentary post. Then, when the old watch had gone off duty, Lieutenant Cantor turned to his subordinate with a frown.
“Ensign Darrin, you made a bad beginning, sir,” declared the new watch officer, crisply. “In the future, I trust you will be more mindful of the responsibility of an officer in setting his men an example in punctuality. If this occurs again, sir, I shall feel it my duty to turn in report of your negligence!”
Several men of the watch and two of the marine guard hoard this rebuke administered. Dave Darrin’s face flushed, then paled from the humiliation of the rebuke. Yet he had been guilty of an actual breach of discipline, minor though it was, and could not dispute Cantor’s right to reprove him.
“I very much regret my negligence, sir,” Dave answered, saluting, but he bit his lip in the same instant for he realized how thoroughly his superior officer enjoyed the privilege of administering the rebuke.
From inside Dan Dalzell heard the words.
At once, on the stroke of eight bells, the mess signal was hung to the breeze. While that flag flew no one was admitted to the battleship unless he belonged on board.
Then appeared a little Filipino mess servant, who asked Dave and Dan to follow him to their assigned seats.
“Am I permitted to go to mess, sir?” Dave asked of Lieutenant Cantor.
“Yes,” was the short answer.
While the signal flew the sergeant of the marine guard was in charge at the quarter-deck gang plank. There was no need of a commissioned officer there.
To their delight Darrin and Dalzell found themselves assigned to seats at the table together.
Lieutenant Trent stepped down, introducing the new arrivals to the officers beside whom, and opposite whom they sat.
“I was sorry to hear you get that calling down,” Dalzell whispered to his chum, as soon as that was possible under the cover of the conversation of others. “Why did Lieutenant Cantor seem to enjoy his privilege so much?”
After a covert glance, to make sure that he was not in danger of being overheard, Darrin replied, in an undertone:
“Lieutenant Cantor was the man of whom I told you last night.”
“Yes,” Dave nodded.
“But it seems incredible that an officer of our Navy could be guilty of any such conduct,” Dalzell gasped, his eyes large with amazement. “Are you sure?”