Archie blushed, and assured the admiral that he didn’t do very much, that it was all owing to Bill Hickson’s bravery. “Oh, yes, I know,” laughed the admiral, “you lay it to him, and he will most likely give you the credit. I’ve seen your kind before. But I like you all the better for your modesty, lad. Of course you and your friend can have a berth aboard ship, and aboard the flag-ship, too, where I can see you both very often. You can come aboard whenever you wish, and stay as long as you like.”
Archie could hardly thank the good officer for his kindness, and hurried back to Manila. He found Bill Hickson waiting for him at the wharf, and they rejoiced together over the good news.
AROUND THE ISLAND ON A WAR-SHIP— BOMBARDING A FILIPINO TOWN.
It was early one morning that Bill Hickson and Archie went aboard the flag-ship, but all hands were on duty there, and the gallant cruiser was raising anchor preparatory to sailing off on her errand of pacification by means of shell and shot, The two newcomers were assigned a pleasant stateroom where they would not be far from the cabin of the admiral himself, and where they could step out of their door upon the quarter-deck, and get all the fresh air they needed. It was a very comfortable place, with two soft bunks, and every convenience usually found aboard the fastest ocean liner. When the fellows saw it first, they could hardly believe it could all be for them, but the officer assured them that it had been given them by the admiral’s own orders. So there was nothing for them to do but accept the kindness, and to settle themselves down to having just as pleasant a time as possible during the coming weeks at sea.
It was generally understood that the cruiser was to make a complete tour around the island of Luzon, investigating every suspicious port, and shelling towns when such action proved necessary to convince the rebels of Uncle Sam’s superiority. The voyage was expected to occupy nearly a month, for there was no reason for them to hurry, and the admiral said he would like to take things easy.
Neither Hickson nor Archie had ever before been aboard a war-ship, and they both found much to interest them during the first few days at sea. Every movement of the crew, every action of the ship, was of great moment to them, and they found no lack of entertainment in examining the great guns and the equipment of the vessel in the way of firearms and ammunition. Archie became much interested, too, in the science of navigation, and spent much time with the captain on the bridge, or with the pilot in the lookout, learning as much as possible about how the movement of the vessel is controlled. Before long he had mastered the rudiments of the art, and the captain told him that he might some day make an excellent navigator if he continued to take as much interest in the charts as he did now. And Archie told him that he was determined to master as much as possible of the business during the voyage. Before he returned to Manila he knew more about it all than even the captain would believe he knew, and the knowledge was very valuable to him in days to come.