Durand was on the Olympia’s crew, and Durand’s shoulders were worth considerable to any crew.
Nicholas was on the “Old Chi,” Ralph on the Olympia, so the forces were about equally divided, and the girls were nearly distracted over the issue, for if they could have had the decision both would have been victorious.
The following morning dawned as sparkling and clear as the previous one. “Regular Harold weather,” the boys pronounced it, owing to the fact that rarely had Mrs. Harold planned a frolic of any sort back yonder in Annapolis without the weather clerk smiling upon it.
When “Colors” came singing across the water at eight o’clock, up went the squadron’s bunting in honor of the day, and a pretty picture the ships presented dressed from stem to stern in their gay, varicolored flags.
The race would take place at three o’clock in the afternoon but a preliminary pull over the course was in order for the morning, and Captain Boynton of the Olympia and Captain Star of the Chicago were as eager to have all conditions favorable, and the lads “fit to a finish,” as though their ages, like those of the contestants were within the first score of life’s journey. So their launches were ordered out to watch that morning practice and they ran and jeered each other like a couple of schoolboys out for a lark, and that attitude did more to put spirit in the boys, to establish good feeling and the determination to “Put up a showing for the Old Chi” or “that fighting machine of the old man’s,” the “old man” being their term of affection for Admiral Dewey, than all the “cussing out” in the English vocabulary could have done.
YOU’VE SPOILED THEIR TEA PARTY
So absolutely confident of winning were the people, officers, midshipmen and crew on board the Chicago that they had made all their plans for the elaborate tea and dance to be given on board the ship of the winning crew.
Boatloads of Jackies had been sent ashore for evergreens, and a force of men had been put to work decorating the quarter-deck, the wardroom and the steerage until the ship presented a wonderful picture. The dance was to be held on the quarter-deck of the ship of the victorious crew immediately after the race, so the preparations were elaborate and hopes more than sanguine. Already the Chicago’s officers mentally pictured the gay gathering upon her tastefully decorated decks; saw the handsomely gowned chaperones and the daintily clad girls in all the bravery of summer gowns dancing to the strains of the ship’s band. Oh, it was the prettiest mental vision imaginable!
And on the old Olympia? That stately veteran of Manila Bay upon whose bridge his loyal, devoted admirers had outlined in brass-headed nails the very spot where Commodore Dewey’s feet had rested as he spoke the memorable words:
“When you are ready you may fire, Gridley.”