“Almost in France, my boy!” Prescott cried eagerly. “Or England!”
“Near enough, yet we may never see either country,” returned Captain Holmes, suppressing a yawn, for the sea air, even after a night’s rest, made him drowsy.
“Croaker!” laughed Dick.
“I’m not,” Greg denied, “and I don’t want to croak, either, but who can tell? We are now in the waters where the sea wolves have been busy enough in finding prey.”
“So far they haven’t proved that they could do much to troopships,” Dick declared warmly.
“There always has to be a first time,” Holmes retorted.
“All right, then,” smiled Prescott. “We’re going to be torpedoed. Now, I hope that satisfies you.”
“You know it doesn’t,” Holmes rejoined. “This sea air makes me so sleepy, all the time, that I don’t feel as though I could stand any real excitement.”
“Being torpedoed would be something to look back upon in later years,” Dick observed thoughtfully.
“Yes, if we had any later years on earth in which to look back,” Captain Holmes responded.
“Who’s this strange-looking creature coming?” Dick suddenly demanded, as he stared aft.
“Captain Craig, the adjutant, of course,” Greg answered. “He has his life belt on, and he’s stopping to talk to others.”
“After he speaks they hurry away,” Dick went on. “I understand. All hands are ordered to put on life belts.”
And that, indeed, proved to be the message that Captain Craig brought forward with him. Dick and Greg did not have far to go to reach their cabin. In five minutes they reappeared on deck in the bulky contrivances intended to buoy them up in the water should they have the bad fortune to find themselves tossing on the waves.
“This makes the danger seem real,” Prescott observed.
“Too blamed real!” grumbled Greg. “We’re ordered not to take these belts off, either, until the order is passed, and are told that the order won’t be passed to-day, either. Imagine our trying to get close to the dining table to eat in comfort!”
“It may be in the plans that we’re not to eat to-day,” Captain Dick laughed.
Ahead, on either flank and at the rear, the torpedo-boat destroyers were scouting vigilantly, with gunners standing by ready to fire promptly at any periscope or conning tower of an enemy craft that might be sighted.
“I don’t suppose there’ll be any band concert this afternoon,” said Greg Holmes suddenly and ruefully. “And we have a mighty good band, too. And probably no band concert to-morrow forenoon, either.”
“We may not be at sea to-morrow forenoon,” Dick suggested.
“Have you been able to figure out at all where we are?” Captain Holmes asked.
“I haven’t. I don’t know either our course or the speed at which we are traveling. All I am sure of is that we are still out of sight of land. I was told that we are nearing the coast of Ireland, but Ireland is a town of some size, so the information isn’t very explicit.”