As the boys came on board, they had taken the berths as they pleased. Shuffles had selected a room, and invited his “cronies” to occupy the bunks it contained with him. The berths were now to be distributed by lot. Professor Mapps had provided seventy-two slips of paper, on each of which he had written a number. The boys were mustered into line, and drew out these numbers from the package. As each student drew his slip, the purser wrote down his name in a book, with the number he had drawn.
In the steerage, each berth had its own number, which was also applied to a locker, and a seat at one of the mess tables. When the drawing was completed each student had his berth, his clothes locker, and his seat at meals. Many of them were extremely dissatisfied when they found that they had been separated from their “cronies;” but the principal was firm, and would not allow a single change to be made.
By this time it was twelve o’clock, and Boatswain Peaks piped all hands to muster. The ensign was hoisted, and saluted with three cheers, in which all hands, young and old, joined. When this ceremony was finished, the crew were piped to dinner, and the officers went to their cabin, where the steward had set the table for them for the first time. They dined like lords, though upon the same fare as their companions in the steerage.
OFFICERS AND SEAMEN.
After dinner the organization of the crew was continued. All hands were “piped to muster,” and by this time most of those who had been disaffected at the drawing of berths had recovered their natural equanimity, and all were intensely interested in the arrangement of the details. None of the boys knew what was coming, and their curiosity kept them in a continuous state of excitement.
“All who have drawn even numbers will take the starboard side of the ship,” said Mr. Lowington from his perch on the hatch. “All who have drawn odd numbers will take the port side.”
“This is the starboard side, my lads,” added Mr. Fluxion, the instructor in mathematics—who, like the principal, had been a naval officer,—as he pointed to the right, looking forward.
Some had already forgotten their numbers, and there was considerable confusion before the order could be obeyed.
“Young gentlemen, the books will be opened to-day; and a student who forgets his number again will lose a mark,” said Mr. Lowington. “Are they all in their places, Mr. Fluxion?”
“They are, sir,” replied the instructor, who had just counted them.
“Young gentlemen, you are thus divided into two equal parts—the starboard and the port watches. Now form a straight line, toe the crack, and call your numbers in order, beginning with the starboard watch.”
The boys eagerly followed this direction, though some assistance was required from the instructors in repressing their superfluous enthusiasm.