“My baggage has not come aboard, sir,” Dave replied. “This is the only uniform I have.”
In his perturbed state of mind, it did not occur to the young ensign that he could draw dungarees—–the brown overall suit that is worn by officers and crew alike when doing rough work about the ship, from the stores, nor did Cantor appear to notice his reply.
The messenger came, and brought Riley, the coxswain of one of the gigs.
“Coxswain, Ensign Darrin will take charge of the shipping of the stores in number four hold,” Cantor announced. “Show him the way to the hold and receive his instructions.”
Dave was speedily engaged between decks, in charge of tire work of some twenty men of the crew. At the hatch above, a boatswain’s mate had charge of the lowering of the stores.
“It would be a pity to spoil your uniform, sir,” declared Coxswain Riley. “If you’ll allow me, sir, I’ll spare you all of the dirtiest work.”
“To shirk my duty would be a bad beginning of my service on this ship,” smiled Darrin. “Thank you, Coxswain, but I’ll take my share of the rough work.”
The hold was close and stifling. Although a cool breeze was blowing on deck, there was little air in number two hold. In ten minutes Darrin found himself bathed in perspiration. Dust from barrels and packing cases hung heavy in that confined space. The grime settled on his perspiring face and stuck there.
“Look out, sir, or you’ll get covered with pitch from some of these barrels,” Riley warned Dave, respectfully.
“One uniform spoiled is nothing,” Dave answered with a smile. “Do not be concerned about me.”
Officer and men were suffering alike in that close atmosphere. By the time the watch was ended Dave Darrin was truly a pitchy, soiled, perspiration-soaked sight.
Danny Grin, who reported to relieve his chum, looked rough and ready enough in a suit of dungarees that he had drawn.
“I should have had brains enough to remember that I, too, could have drawn dungarees,” Dave grunted, as he and his chum exchanged salutes. Then the relieved young officer hastened above to report the completion of his duty to his division commander, who would be furious if kept waiting.
Dave glanced toward Cantor’s quarters, then realized that the lieutenant must still be on the quarter deck.
In his haste to be punctual, Darrin forgot his sword and white gloves, which he had left in his own cabin on the way to duty between decks. Without these appurtenances of duty on the quarter-deck, Darrin made haste aft, found his division commander, saluted and reported his relief.
“Mr. Darrin,” boomed Cantor, in a tone of high displeasure, “don’t you know that an officer reporting to the quarter-deck when in any but dungaree clothes, should wear his gloves and sword. Go and get them, sir—–and don’t keep me waiting beyond my watch time when I have shore leave!”