For the attitude of Seacove had changed mightily since these boys had joined the Navy early in 1917. War had been declared between the United States and Germany and her allies, the drafted men were being called to the training camps, and some had already gone “over there” and were fighting in the trenches of northern France.
Philip Morgan, Alfred Torrance, Michael Donahue, Ikey Rosenmeyer, and their mates on the destroyer Colodia had already aided in convoying a large number of troop ships across the Atlantic, had chased submarines and destroyed at least one of the enemy U-boats, and had hunted for and captured the German raider, Graf von Posen, which had among the other loot in her hold the treasure of the Borgias which had been purchased from an Italian nobleman by the four Navy boys’ very good friend, Mr. Alonzo Minnette.
The four friends, Morgan, Torrance, Donahue, and Ikey Rosenmeyer, the son of the proprietor of the village delicatessen store, had been given a furlough since landing at Norfolk with the captured raider, of the prize crew of which they had been members. Coming north to Seacove by train, they had met their shipmate, Hans Hertig, known aboard the Colodia as Seven Knott, who had likewise been given a furlough after leaving the naval hospital where he had been convalescing from a wound.
The Colodia was still at sea—or across the Atlantic—or somewhere. The young seamen who belonged to her crew did not know where. They awaited her return to port in order to rejoin her.
They had another iron in the fire, too; but that they did not talk about much, even among themselves. Mr. Minnette, who was their very good friend, and who worked now in a War Department office at Washington in a lay capacity, had told them he would try his best to get them aboard a new superdreadnaught that was just out of the yard and was being fitted for her maiden cruise.
A number of Naval Reserves would be put aboard this new huge ship; and the Seacove boys, with their experience in the training school at Saugarack and aboard the Colodia, surely would be of some use as temporary members of the dreadnaught’s crew.
The boys had written Mr. Minnette about Seven Knott, for he was eager to get back into harness, too. And Seven Knott had held the rank of boatswain’s mate aboard the Colodia.
Naturally the friends were all eager to get behind the big guns. Almost every boy who joins the Navy desires to become a gunner. Whistler and Al Torrance were particularly striving for that position, and they studied the text-books and took every opportunity offered them to gain knowledge in that branch of the service.
“Hi, fellows!” called Torry, having stopped the car. “Going to stand there gassing all day?”
The three figures in seaman’s dress broke away from their admiring friends and approached the automobile. Frenchy Donahue was a little fellow with pink cheeks, bright eyes, and an Irish smile. Ikey Rosenmeyer was a shrewd looking lad who always had a fund of natural fun on tap. The older man, Hans Hertig, was round-faced and solemn looking, and seldom had much to say. He had had an adventurous experience both as a fisherman and naval seaman, and really attracted more attention in his home town than did the four boy chums.