“A hit! A hit!” yelled the men in turret two.
A cheer burst from the throats of the whole ship’s company. Those who had not seen it, realized that the first gun fired in earnest by the Kennebunk had reached its target.
“The old ship’s bound to have good luck!” shouted a boatswain. “This is only the beginning! We’ll sweep the seas of every Hun!”
The officers did not try to quell the cheering. The satisfaction and pride of all was something too fine to be quenched.
The battleship swerved again and ran across the track of the sunken U-boat. Bubbling up from the depths were blobs of black oil which lazily spread and broke upon the sea’s surface.
The German submarine was done for. Her crew were buried with her at the bottom of the sea. The cheering ceased when this fact was realized.
“The poor square-heads!” muttered one fellow near Frenchy and Ikey Rosenmeyer. “They couldn’t help it, I s’pose. They say they are driven into the subs. Aren’t no volunteers called for.”
“Where’s that other sub?” demanded another. “Has she sunk, too?”
Frenchy and Ikey began to grin again. One of the boatswains said: “I bet that warn’t no submarine ship at all. She’s a joke. There! We’re going to circle around and hunt her up.”
“Do you think the Fritzies set something afloat to fool us?” demanded another man in surprise. “They’re cute rascals, aren’t they?”
“Not very cute just now,” returned somebody, dryly. “They’re food for the fishes.”
“Just the same, if we’d got our attention completely fixed upon this here floating joker, the real sub might have sneaked up within range and sent us a lover’s note in the shape of a torpedo.”
Frenchy and Ikey began to look at each other with some worriment of countenance. Later it was reported that the first “periscope” could not be found. The two mischief-makers were greatly relieved.
“Say! that wasn’t any joke,” Ikey whispered to the Irish lad. “Oi, oi! S’pose they had grappled for it and brought it aboard and found “Kennebunk” stamped on those iron belayin’ pins we used for weights?”
“Don’t say a word!” urged Frenchy.
“You bet I won’t!” agreed Ikey. “Not even to Whistler and Al. We come pretty near putting our foot in it that time, Frenchy.”
The Irish lad agreed warmly: “By St. Patrick’s piper that played the last snake out of Ireland!” he reiterated, “no more practical jokes, Ikey. This is a lesson. And say!”
“What is it?”
“I left my knife down there in that room. I’ve got to go down after it before it’s found and the master-at-arms asks questions.”
“All right. I’ll go down and watch out for you,” declared the loyal Ikey.
The target ship was being signaled again and she was coming back. At the first alarm of a submarine in the vicinity she had started coastward.