When Philip Morgan announced his approach by an unusually cheerful strain, Al Torrance was already behind the steering wheel of his father’s car, with the engine purring smoothly.
“’Lo, Whistler,” Al said. “Thought you had forgotten where we planned to go this morning. What made you so late?”
“’Lo, Torry. Never hit the hay till after one. Just talking. My jaws ache,” Morgan broke off his whistling long enough to say.
“Sure it isn’t whistling that’s made your jaws ache?” queried his chum slyly. “Not having had much chance to pipe up while we were aboard ship, I guess you are making up for lost time.”
“Talking, I tell you,” returned Morgan. “Thought the girls never would let me stop. And father, too. Mother won’t own up she’s reconciled to my being in the Navy,” and Whistler grinned suddenly. “But she listened to all I told them, too. She was just as eager to hear about it as Phoebe and Alice.”
“Guess you made yourself out to be some tough garby,” chuckled Torrance, using the term the seamen themselves employ to designate a sailor.
“Oh, I gave ’em an earful,” Whistler agreed, and puckered his lips again.
“Come on and get in,” ordered Torry impatiently. “Pa’s got to use the car this afternoon. But he says we can have it to run over to Elmvale in, if we want.”
“Where are Frenchy and Ikey?” Whistler broke off in his tune again to ask.
“Going to wait for us down on High Street—and Seven Knott, too.”
“Did Hansie say he’d go?” cried the other sailor boy. “Bet he’s sore as he can be because he’s not with the Colodia and Lieutenant Lang.”
“He’d never ’ve taken this furlough, he says, if his mother hadn’t begged so hard. Did you ever see a garby so stuck on a gold stripe as Seven Knott is on Lieutenant Commander Lang?” said Torry, rather scornfully.
“I don’t know. Mr. Lang has been a good friend to Hans Hertig. This is his second hitch under Mr. Lang,” Whistler said.
“Wonder if we’ll enlist a second time, too, Whistler.”
“Bet you!” was the succinct reply.
The car started under Torry’s careful guidance, and they quickly whisked around the corner into the main street of Seacove, the small port in which the chums had been born and had lived all their lives until they had enlisted as seamen apprentices in the Navy not many months before.
They passed the little cottage in which Mrs. Hertig, Seven Knott’s mother, lived. Beyond that was the Donahue home, where Frenchy’s widowed mother lived with his younger brothers and sisters.
Then came the Rosenmeyer delicatessen shop, and there the car was pulled down by Torry, for there was a little group outside the shop, the center of which were three figures in blue.
“Look at those happy Jacks, will you?” ejaculated Torry in feigned disgust. “Got an audience, haven’t they? And even Seven Knott must be talking some, too. What do you know about that?”