“Look out that war service doesn’t bring you disgrace, instead of honor or glory,” warned Cantor, darkly.
“What do you mean, sir?”
“You have made me your enemy, and I am a good hater,” retorted Lieutenant Cantor.
“You will be under my orders, and I may find a chance-----”
Lieutenant Cantor finished only with an expressive shrug of his shoulders.
Though Dave Darrin felt a tremor of uneasiness, his eyes flashed back honest indignation and contempt for so unworthy a superior officer.
WATCHING AND WAITING—–BEHIND BIG GUNS
April, in the tropics!
Four miles off the coast of Mexico, east of the historic port of Vera Cruz, the United States dreadnought, “Long Island,” moved along at slow cruising speed.
The few days out from New York had brought marked changes in climate. While people in New York found the weather still cold, here in Mexican waters, officers and men alike were in the white uniforms of the tropics—–all save those whose work below compelled them to wear dungarees.
On the bridge forward, two officers paced at a time. During the night hours there were always three there.
Aft, on the quarter-deck, marines were going through the rifle gymnastic drill. In some of the divisions officers and men were busy at the big gun drills. Others were cleaning a ship that always seemed spotless. The few that were off duty gathered wherever they could find room, for a battleship at sea, with her full complement of officers and men on board, is a crowded affair.
No other ship of the American fleet was in sight, but two operators, constantly on duty in the wireless room, kept the “Long Island” in constant touch with a score of vessels of the United States Navy.
“Have you any idea what we’re doing here?” asked Danny Grin, as he and Dave met on the superstructure.
“No idea whatever,” Ensign Darrin admitted. “I have noticed, though, that the officers on the bridge keep a constant lookout ashore. See; two of them, even now, have their binoculars trained on the shore.”
“I don’t see anything over there,” replied Dalzell, “except a house or a small village here and there. I looked through the binoculars a little while ago, and to me it appeared a country that was about nine-tenths swamp.”
“In the event of sending landing parties ashore,” Dave hinted, “we might have to fight in one of those swamps. When it comes to fighting in the tangles and mazes of a swamp, I fancy the Mexicans have had a whole lot more experience than we have had.”
“Why should we have to send landing parties so far from Vera Cruz?” Dan demanded, opening his eyes.
“We’re only forty or fifty miles east of Vera Cruz,” Darrin went on. “Danny boy, Vera Cruz is supposed to have a garrison, at present, of only about eight hundred of General Huerta’s Mexican Federals. But suppose it was rumored that the Americans intended to land at Vera Cruz. Isn’t it likely that the garrison would be greatly increased?”