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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 126 pages of information about Navy Boys Behind the Big Guns.

There was nobody in sight as far as the young fellow could see.  He moved back into the shelter of a clump of brush.  He heard an automobile chugging up from the village and believed Al and the others were approaching the bridge where he had asked his chum to wait for him.

But he lingered a bit.  He was deeply moved by his discovery.  This was no boy’s plaything.  The mechanism was the effort of a mature mind, perhaps the result of inventive genius of high quality.

Some inventor might be secretly experimenting with water power here; and if Whistler told of his discovery he might be doing the unknown a grave wrong.

Yet Blake’s peculiar actions and the fact that the foot of the dam had been chosen for the experiment troubled the young fellow vastly.

There was nothing along the wall, as far as he could see, or upon its face, that excited Whistler’s further suspicion.  Just that little water wheel under the rock whirling and splashing by the power of the falling stream.  It was perfectly innocent in itself; yet Philip Morgan had never been more excited and troubled in his life.

He went slowly back to the road and found the car waiting on the bridge.  The other boys were loud in their demands as to what he had been doing, and Frenchy and Ikey did their best to pump information out of him.

“What for did you go up there to the dam yet?” demanded Ikey.

“Cat’s fur, to make kittens’ breeches,” declared Whistler.  “Because I couldn’t get any dog fur.  Now do you know?”

And this was all the satisfaction there was to be got out of their leader at this particular time.

CHAPTER IV

S. P. 888

The result of the boys’ campaign for recruits to the Navy was very encouraging.  They had been to places besides Elmvale; and several of their old friends in Seacove were getting into one branch or another of the service.

Many of the young men in the neighborhood, of course, were of draft age; but, being longshore bred, they naturally preferred salt water service.  So they enlisted before the time came for them to answer the call of their several draft boards.

The interest of our four friends, and of Seven Knott even, was not entirely centered in this patriotic duty of urging others into the service.  Their release from duty might end any day.  Under ordinary circumstances the chum would have been assigned before this to some patrol vessel, or the like, until their own ship, the Colodia, made port.

Mr. Minnette, however, was trying to place them on the Kennebunk, the new superdreadnaught, for a short cruise.  If he succeeded the friends might be obliged to pack their kits and leave home again at almost any hour.  The Kennebunk was fitting out in a port not fifty miles from Seacove.

Meanwhile the chums were “having the time of their young sweet lives,” Al Torrance observed more than once.  The home folks had never before considered these rather harum-scarum boys of so much importance as now that they were in the Navy and becoming real “Old Salts.”  From Doctor Morgan down to Ikey’s youngest brother the relatives and friends of the quartette treated them with much consideration.

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