“Nothing but subs to fight over here, kid, if any,” the older boy said. “Stop your keening.”
“Say, how do we know where the big fight will be pulled off?” demanded Frenchy excitedly.
“What big fight?” queried Whistler, unpuckering his lips.
“The one they’ve been talking about for months. You know, everybody’s said the Huns would come out some time. They’re bound to give us a chance at their Navy.”
“Aw, they won’t! Will they, Whistler?” asked Ikey.
“I don’t really believe so myself,” Torry said, shaking his head. “No such luck.”
“I believe the Kennebunk has got new orders,” Whistler rejoined thoughtfully. “Whether or not they are for her to sail for the other side, I don’t know. I heard a hint about it when we came aboard the cutter.”
“Crickey! Let ’em hit it up, then,” urged Torry. “If this little old tub doesn’t go fast enough I’ll jump overboard and swim!”
“Oi, oi! Not me!” objected Ikey Rosenmeyer. “I’ve soaked in enough salt water. I don’t feel as though I should really need a bath again before I get to be twenty-one yet.”
“Tough on your messmates, Ikey,” observed Whistler. “Do think better of such a rash decision.”
The four boys from Seacove were not alone in being anxious regarding the Kennebunk and their chance of overtaking her. Every man of the crew of the wrecked auxiliary steamer desired to get aboard the superdreadnaught if there was to be any fresh excitement.
Whistler’s chums urged him to waylay Ensign MacMasters for information.
“G’wan, Whistler!” begged Frenchy. “You and him’s just like brothers. Ask him if the old Kennebunk is running away from us, or if it’s all bunk?” and he grinned at his pun.
“Of course she’s not running away,” Whistler returned.
“Just the same this cutter is sprinting like all get out,” put in Torry. “Be a good fellow, Whistler. Ask Mr. MacMasters what it means.”
His chum did not feel that he could do this. There is, after all, a gulf between the quarterdeck and the forecastle. But Whistler put himself in the ensign’s way and, saluting smartly, asked a question:
“Beg pardon, sir! Did you find anybody aboard who could translate that torn letter I picked up in the old witch’s cabin?”
“That letter addressed to Franz Linder? No, Morgan; there is nobody aboard the cutter who is familiar with German. But the moment we reach the Kennebunk I will put it into Captain Trevor’s hands—never fear.”
“Shall we really catch the battleship, sir?” asked Whistler eagerly.
“We’ve got to, Morgan;” declared Mr. MacMasters. “As you boys say, ‘there is something doing’ and we must be in it.”
“But the battleship has changed her course, has she not, sir?”
“She has received new orders; but we will meet her on this course, I have no doubt. Cheer up, my boy,” and the ensign laughed. “You may yet help work the big guns in a real battle.”