Her commander’s report would be made daily by wireless to Washington, and the working out of the new superdreadnaught would be watched by experts with the keenest anxiety.
There were several points regarding the Kennebunk’s construction different from any craft that had ever been built for similar work before; and if these matters did not prove satisfactory there would be bitter criticism of the board in charge. This was no time, Congress would say, for the trial of “new frills.” The country was at war, and it was believed that all our first line ships would soon be called into action. Germany was believed to be in such desperate straits that it was thought she would venture to send her fleet to sea after three and a half years of hiding in the Kiel Canal.
High hopes and some doubt went with the Kennebunk as she steamed out of the harbor and into the storm. Not alone were her officers and crew anxious to find out what she could do. The rulers of the United States Navy were deeply concerned as well.
AN UNEXPECTED TARGET
At quarters for muster and inspection that day the four Navy boys from Seacove were given their numbers and drill placements. These were, of course, not permanent assignments. Changes would quickly be made after the capabilities of the boys were established. Especially would this be so in assignments of duty relating to the ship when in action.
The four friends had Mr. MacMasters to say a good word for them. Their record, too, aboard the Colodia and with the prize crew on the captured German raider would be taken into consideration when permanent appointments were made upon the Kennebunk.
Hans Hertig immediately took his rightful position as boatswain’s mate. His rating was assured. But, after all, the apprentice seamen must prove themselves before the officers of the superdreadnaught were likely to give them much consideration.
The act of particular courage that had brought Whistler Morgan into prominence on the submarine chaser the night before would scarcely be taken public notice of by Captain Trevor of the Kennebunk until it was mentioned in orders from Washington. Ensign MacMasters, however, liked the boy too well not to take the first opportunity offered him to relate the happening on the S. P. 888 at officers’ mess. After this it of course quickly reached the captain’s ears.
Whistler and Torry immediately put in their claim for gunnery work. They had studied faithfully and had had considerable training with the secondary battery of the Colodia.
“Of course, these huge guns of the Kennebunk mean something else again,” declared Ikey. “You fellers have been playin’ with popguns yet. If you get in a turret gun crew you’ve got to show ’em.”
“We’ll do just that little thing,” answered Torry rather boastfully.