“She’s faster than the Colodia,” observed Whistler, somewhat as though he felt pained by that fact. That any other craft should be a sweeter sailer than his beloved destroyer seemed to him almost a crime.
“She most certainly is,” agreed Ensign MacMasters. “She is some speed boat!”
“Why!” Frenchy cried, “she must be faster than the admiral’s hydroboat we saw at Newport.”
“No, no!” said the ensign. “Those hydroboats have got every other craft in the Navy beaten to a standstill. And about all they use ’em for is pleasure boats.”
“They’ll be dispatch carriers maybe?” suggested Whistler.
“What do they want of dispatch carriers in a day of wireless?” returned the ensign, and went about his duty of conning the S. P. 888 as she shot through the breach between the claw-like capes that defended the cove, and so straight out to sea in a southeasterly direction.
The “bone in her teeth,” as sailors call the white water under the ship’s bows, became a windrow of sea, foamed-streaked and agitated, parted by the knife-sharp bows, and rolling away on either hand. The S. P. 888 traveled so swiftly that at a distance “shark” really was the name for her.
She was not camouflaged, as were the hull and upperworks of many Navy vessels with which the four friends were familiar; but her dull coloring made her well nigh unobservable at a few miles’ distance when she lay at rest. When she was in action no amount of deceiving paint would hide her, because of the water she disturbed.
The motor boat Phil had suspected had more than an hour and half’s start. If she had kept straight ahead on the course she was going when last observed by the boys, she must now be twenty miles or more off shore.
The chaser, propelled by her powerful engines, could traverse that distance, and the oil boat’s additional miles, in less than two hours. If the pursued vessel did not change her course she could be easily overtaken before twilight.
Ensign MacMasters was too busy to talk further with the four chums; indeed it would not be conducive to discipline for the commissioned officer to give the apprentice seamen too much of his attention.
But Mr. MacMasters and the four Seacove boys had been through some warm incidents together; and there is always a particular bond between those who have been shoulder to shoulder in a good fight.
“Remember the rumpus we had, Mr. MacMasters and us fellows, when those Germans tried to recapture the Graf von Posen?” Ikey asked his mates.
“Are we likely to forget it?” retorted Al.
“What about it, Ikey?” asked Michael Donahue, complacently. “It was a lovely fight!”
“Do you s’pose the fellows on this oil tender we are chasin’ will fight?” asked Ikey.
“Not a chance. Here’s fifty men on this chaser. The Germans—if they are Germans—wouldn’t stand any show. There are only a few of them,” said Torry.