“That is to say, Mr. Darrin, that the advice you might otherwise wish to ask of me might be taken in the light of a complaint against an officer who is one of my subordinates, and against whom you would not wish to carry tales? In that case, you would, by all means, show good judgment consulting a younger officer. But remember, Darrin, that not all men are equally wise. Be very careful whom you select at any time as adviser. And remember that, for any advice that you may properly ask of me, you may come to me without hesitation.”
“Thank you, sir. I trust you realize how deeply grateful I am to you,” Dave protested earnestly.
As other officers came up, Commander Bainbridge cut the discussion short by turning to greet the arrivals.
Dinner in the ward-room was the formal meal of the day. The table, covered with snowy damask, glittered with crystal and silver. Silent, soft-moving little Filipinos, in their white mess suits, glided about, serving noiselessly.
At the head of the table sat Commander Bainbridge, the executive officer, for the captain of a battleship dines in solitary state in his own apartments. On either side of the executive officer sat the other officers, in two long rows, according to their rank. On either side of the Commander were seated the officers with rank of lieutenant commander. Next to them were the lieutenants, senior grade. After them came the lieutenants, junior grade. At the foot of the table was a group of ensigns, the lowest in rank of commissioned officers of the Navy.
Course followed course, and good humor prevailed at the officers’ table. Now and then a good joke or a witty sally called forth hearty laughter. Here and there officers, dismissing laughter for the time being, talked of graver matters.
Danny Grin soon found time to murmur the question:
“How did you get along with your tyrant this afternoon?”
“No better,” Dave answered, moodily.
“Did he rake you over the coals again?”
“Yes.” Then Darrin detailed the circumstances.
“I am afraid he has it in for you, all right,” muttered Danny Grin, scowling.
“He’ll report me as often as he can, I don’t doubt,” Dave replied. “If he can bring me up before a general court-martial, all the better.”
“I’m sorry you’re not in Trent’s division,” Dan sighed. “He’s a gentleman—–a regular, sea-going officer.”
“Sea-going” is the highest praise that can be given in Navy circles.
“If I were in Trent’s division, probably you’d have fallen under Cantor,” Darrin suggested.
“That would have been all right,” nodded Dalzell, cheerily. “Cantor has no direct cause to hate me, as he has in your case. Besides, I’d do a good many things to a mean superior that you wouldn’t. If I had to stand watch with Cantor, and he tried any queer treatment of me, I’d find a way to make his life miserable. I believe I’ve shown some skill in that line in the past.”