CH. III 31
A FLEET IN BEING
ordered on that spot, for the rest of the cruisers, and remained in a deferential attitude, while the Flagship maintained her horrible composure.
OUR FATAL MISTAKE
Thinking no harm, we drifted some two miles to leeward, which was our fatal mistake, though we kept a skinned eye on her. Presently we saw a signal, but end on, as flags are apt to be when the signaller is dead upwind and the signallee down. We hung our answering pennant at the dip to show that we saw but could not understand, and scuttled up to the Flagship as fast as might be. The first part of the signal was an order to close, and the second expressed a desire to speak to us by semaphore. (Our signalmen's faces were studies in gloom about this crisis; and the sad moaning of the guns went on afar.) We learned that the Flag had been trying to attract our attention for some time, and did not appreciate our, or words to that effect. There is no excuse in the Navy, and we took what was served out to us by the gibbering semaphore in silence, standing at attention. To tell the truth, we had been rather pleased with our target-practice, and this sudden dash of cold water chilled us. But there is a reason for all things. Now, we must signal the name of the officer of the watch (frantic searchings of heart among the officers) and the signalman (the signalmen had got beyond even despair), on duty on Friday morning last. What the nature of their crime was we knew not, and it was not ours to ask; but later we heard it had something to do with