“You surely have,” Darrin nodded. “But I don’t like to spring traps for my superior officers to fall into.”
“Not even in self-defence?” challenged Dalzell.
“Not even to save myself,” Darrin declared. At eight bells, in Lieutenant Cantor’s absence, Darrin took the watch trick alone as officer of the deck until six bells, or eleven o’clock that night.
There was not much to do. Now and then a shore leave man, sailor or marine, reported coming on board. Darrin made a note of the man’s return and entered the time. Twice, a messenger brought some small order from the executive officer. Yet it was a dull watch, with the ship docked and nothing of importance happening.
“Cantor will soon be back,” thought Dave, at last, slipping out his watch and glancing at it under the light that came from the cabin. His timepiece showed the time to be five minutes to eleven.
But a quarter of an hour passed, and no Lieutenant Cantor appeared. More time slipped by without the lieutenant’s return.
“That doesn’t sound much like the punctuality that is required of a naval officer,” Dave told himself, in some disquiet.
Then finally a step was heard on the gangplank. Lieutenant Cantor came briskly up over the side, halting on the deck and saluting toward the stern, where the colors flew until sundown.
“Mr. Darrin, I’ve come on board,” reported the lieutenant, turning in time to catch Dave’s salute.
He stepped closer, to add:
“You will enter a note that I came on board at 10.58.”
“The time is eleven-forty, sir,” Dave reminded his superior, at the same time displaying his watch.
“Note that I came on board at 10.58,” insisted Cantor, frowning.
“Sentry!” called Dave, briskly.
“Aye, aye, sir!”
“Note the time on the chronometer inside,” Darrin ordered.
“Aye, aye, sir.” Then, returning the marine sentry answered:
“It’s eleven-forty, sir.”
Dave made the entry of the lieutenant’s return.
“You infernal trouble-maker,” hissed Cantor, as the sentry paced on. “You dragged that sentry into it, just so you would have supporting testimony of the time I came aboard! I’ll pay you back for that! Look out for trouble, Mr. Darrin!”
THE WARD-ROOM HEARS REAL NEWS
Hurrying to the now empty office of the executive officer, Cantor made correct entry of his return to ship on the record, then hurried to his own quarters, and with almost the speed of magic, slipped into his undress uniform, belted on his sword, and appeared smartly on the quarter-deck.
For two minutes he paid no heed to Darrin, save to return the salute with which the young ensign greeted his superior’s return to command of the deck.
Presently, however, Lieutenant Cantor stepped over to say in an undertone: