A FLEET IN BEING
'Not if you're anywhere in the crowd I won't,' was the retort, always n a cautious, 'don't-wake him' undertone. 'Wot are you doin' 'ere?'
'Never you mind. You go on up to the 'igh an' lofty bridge an' persecute your vocation. My Gawd! I wouldn't be a signalman, not for ever so.'
When I met my friend next morning 'persecuting his vocation' as sentry over the lifebuoy aft neither he nor I recognised each other; but I owe him some very nice tales.
WHEELING, CIRCLING, AND RETURNING
Next day both Fleets were exercised at steam tactics, which is a noble game; but I was too interested in the life of my own cruiser, unfolding hour by hour, to be intelligently interested in evolutions. All I remember is that we were eternally taking up positions at fifteen knots an hour amid a crowd of other cruisers, all precisely alike, all still as death, each with a wedge of white foam under her nose; wheeling, circling, and returning. The battleships danced stately quadrilles by themselves in another part of the deep. We of the light horse did barn-dances about the windy floors; and precisely as couples in the ball-room fling a word over their shoulders, so we and our friends, whirling past to take up fresh stations, snapped out an unofficial sentence or two by means of our bridge-semaphores. Cruisers are wondrous human. In the afternoon the battleships overtook us, their white upperworks showing like icebergs as they topped the sea-line. Then we sobered our faces, and the engineers had