There was not likely to be practice with the big guns until the weather changed. The Kennebunk roared on through the storm for all of that day; but her hull was so huge that she scarcely rolled while she remained under steam.
Most target shooting is arranged for ordinarily fair weather. Not often have battles at sea been fought in a storm. Besides, the Kennebunk must run off the coast, beyond the approved steamship lines, to a point where she could be joined by a naval vessel dragging the target.
There were lectures on gunnery that day to the gun captains, and the boys off duty who were interested in the subject might listen to this instruction. Phil Morgan and Torrance availed themselves of the privilege.
The two younger chums, Michael Donahue and Ikey Rosenmeyer, were not, it must be confessed, so well employed. During this first day aboard the Kennebunk there was bred between these youths a scheme which certainly would not have met with the approval of the executive officer.
In their quarters aboard the destroyer Colodia they would not have been able to stow the junk they now secured away from the watchful eyes of the master-at-arms. In the destroyer their ditty boxes had to hide any private property the boys wanted to stow away.
But a man could lose himself in the various decks of the superdreadnaught. Even the officers’ quarters were forward with the crew’s, the ship was so huge. There were unused rooms and compartments for which Ikey and Frenchy did not know the names, or their uses.
In one of these unoccupied compartments the two found a lot of lumber and rubbish amid which were some joints of two-inch galvanized pipe the plumbers and pipe fitters had left when the ship was being furnished.
“Gee, Ikey!” murmured the agile-minded Irish lad, “I’ve got an idea.”
“I bet you,” returned Ikey. “You always have ideas. But is this one worth anything?”
“Listen here!” and Frenchy, with dancing eyes, whispered into his friend’s ear the details of the new-born scheme.
“Oi, oi!” cried Ikey. “It is an idea, sure enough. But it is trouble you are looking for.”
“Not a bit of it. We needn’t tell anybody—not even Whistler or Al. Gee! it will be great.”
“Mebbe the old man won’t say so.” He was referring to Captain Trevor, but in no disrespectful way. “Old Man” is rather a term of admiration and affection applied to the commander of a ship.
“Lots he’ll be botherin’ about what we do,” sniffed Frenchy.
Ikey was already enamored of his friend’s plan. His objections were very weak.
“Ah, g’wan!” reiterated Frenchy. “You won’t get into the brig for it, that’s sure. I’ll do it alone. Only see that you keep your mouth shut about it, if you won’t help.”
But Ikey had no intention of seeing his friend have all the fun of the thing. He stopped objecting, and thereafter gave his hearty assistance in the plot.