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Down the Rhine

Posted by ploymeesin in Books & Reference | March 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

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If the runaways had not learned wisdom from their failure, they had acquired discretion. The leaders in the mad scheme could now see just why and wherefore they had failed; and they believed—if they were to have the opportunity to do the deed over again—they could make a success of it. The machinery of the secret organization was now disgusting to them, though it had enabled them to make the capture of the vessel. They were disposed to cast it all aside, and resort to new methods for future occasions. As a general rule, they were wise enough to keep still, and only among themselves did they express their chagrin and disappointment, or suggest that they were not entirely cured of their tendency to run away. The strict discipline of the squadron could not be evaded, and they were compelled to perform all their duties.

It was the beginning of a new term in the school. New officers had succeeded the old ones, or the position of the latter had been materially changed. The members of the order of the Knights of the Golden Fleece found themselves scattered by the new arrangement. Not less than a dozen of them had been transferred to the consort, while Tom Perth, the leading spirit of the runaways, had attained to the dignity of second master of the ship, more by his natural abilities than by any efforts he had made to win a high place. As yet he had found no opportunity to arrange a plan for further operations with his confederates, for Mr. Fluxion, the vice-principal, was in the charge of the schooner, and his eyes and ears were always open. The return of the tourists from their excursion restored the routine on board of the vessels.

Everything was changed, and at first hardly an officer knew where he belonged, or what his duty was. Confusion reigned on board the ship and her consort, while the students were finding and preparing their new berths. Happily, the changes were all made before dinner time, and everything settled down into its wonted order and regularity. After the midday meal was served, all hands were piped to muster, in order that the officers and seamen might be exercised in their new situations. The details of sea duty were well understood by all. Those alone who had been promoted from the steerage to the after cabin were in the dark in regard to their duty, though in these instances the parties had a general idea of what was required of them. But it was necessary to have the crew ready to work together, for the seaman who had hauled on the weather-brace in tacking was now an officer, and the stations of many were new and strange to them.

Shuffles in the ship, and Terrill in the consort, proceeded to execute all the manœuvres required in handling the vessel, from getting under way to coming to anchor again. Nearly all the officers and crew were zealous to perform their several parts correctly; but there were enough of the discontented ones, who shirked as much as possible, to create considerable confusion. The captain of the Young America was not satisfied with the manner in which the various evolutions were performed; so he began at the beginning, and went over all the ground again, to the great disgust of the runaways in his crew, who had been doing this sort of thing for four weeks, while the others were enjoying the beauties of the mountain scenery.

“What’s the matter, Captain Shuffles?” asked Commodore Kendall, when the commander finished the routine a second time, and was still dissatisfied with the result.


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