For some minutes there was silence in the room, save for the rustling of paper as Captain Gales turned a page.
At last he glanced up from the reading.
“I note, Lieutenant Cantor, that you are still of the opinion that the fight could have been avoided.”
“That is my unalterable opinion, sir,” replied the lieutenant.
“You are aware, of course, Mr. Cantor, that your report will form a part of the record that will go to the Navy Department, through the usual official channels?”
“I am well aware of that, sir.”
“Have you any other papers to submit in connection with Ensign Darrin?”
For the barest instant Lieutenant Cantor hesitated.
Then he rose, as he replied:
“No other papers, sir.”
“That is all, Lieutenant,” nodded the captain, and returned his subordinate officer’s salute.
THE MAN OF THE EVIL EYE
“The captain’s compliments, sir, and will Ensign Darrin report to him immediately?”
Darrin had dressed for breakfast the morning after, but there were yet some minutes to spare before the call would come to the ward-room mess.
“My compliments to the captain, and I will report immediately,” Ensign Dave replied.
Turning, he put on his sword and drew on his white gloves. Then, with a glance over himself, he left his quarters, walking briskly toward the commanding officer’s quarters.
Captain Gales, at his desk, received the young ensign’s salute. On the desk lay the papers in the matter of the night before.
“Ensign, I have gone over the papers in last night’s affair,” began the “Old Man,” as a naval vessel’s commander is called, when not present.
The captain’s face was inexpressive; it was impossible to tell what was going on in his mind.
“I have given careful attention to your report, and also to that of Lieutenant Cantor. I have talked with Mr. Carmody, and have asked Coxswain Riley and Corporal Ross some questions. And so I have come to the decision-----”
Here the captain paused for an instant.
How Dave Darrin’s heart thumped under his ribs. The next few words would convey either censure, criticism or exoneration!
“-----that Lieutenant Cantor’s charges are not well sustained,” continued, Captain Gales.
Dave Darrin could not repress the gleam of joy that flashed into his eyes. The memory of the men killed under his command and the present sufferings of the wounded had preyed upon him through a long, wakeful night.
But here was a veteran in the service, prepared, after hearing all possible testimony, to declare that he, Darrin, was not blamable!