No Moss The Career of a Rolling Stone

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"Four bells, sir!" reported the messenger-boy, to the officer who had charge of the deck of the Storm King.

"Very good. Quartermaster, make it so."

The silvery tones of the little bell rang through the vessel, and immediately there began a great noise and hubbub on the berth-deck, which, but a moment before, had been so quiet and orderly. Songs, shouts of laughter, and noises of every description, that can be made only by a lot of healthy boys just turned loose from their studies, arose through the hatchway, and presently the crew came tumbling up the ladder. The foremost held a guitar under his arm; the one that followed at his heels brought a checker-board; a third had a box of dominoes; and the boy who brought up the rear carried a single-stick in each hand, and went about challenging every one he met to a friendly trial of skill. Some of the crew walked aft to converse with their officers; the boys with the checkers and dominoes seated themselves on deck to engage in quiet games; he of the single-sticks very soon found an antagonist; and the sailor with the guitar perched himself upon the heel of the bowsprit, and, after tuning his instrument, cleared his throat, preparatory to treating his companions to a song containing the information that he had at one time "Sailed in the good ship Bessie."

The second dog-watch (the hours from six until eight in the evening) was a season of recreation with the students attached to the Storm King, and they never failed to make the most of it. A first-class boy, or an ordinary seaman, could then walk up to the executive officer and challenge him to a contest with broadswords, without committing any breach of discipline; and the first lieutenant could talk sociably with his men, with no fear of being brought before the principal and reprimanded for unofficer-like conduct. The boys played, sang, ran races through the rigging, swung Indian clubs and dumb-bells, and, of course, yelled all the while at the top of their lungs.

The Storm King had now been in possession of the principal of the academy about two months, and was every day growing in favor with the students. Indeed, the addition of a navy to the academy bid fair to cause some radical changes in the programme of studies, for military honors were at a heavy discount, and all the students were working for positions on board the yacht. No one cared for the colonel's silver eagle now, but every body cast longing eyes toward the anchors he wore in his naval shoulder-straps. The little vessel had had at least one good effect. She had put ambition into the boys, elevated the standard of scholarship, and convinced such lazy fellows as Martin, Rich, and Miller, that they must pay more attention to their books, or be left behind by every student in the academy.

The yacht was in commission now: the Stars and Stripes floated from her peak, and strict naval discipline had been established. She mounted a "Long Tom" amid-ships, in the shape of a six-pounder pivot gun; and on the berth-deck was an ample supply of small arms, consisting of cutlasses, pikes, pistols, and muskets....