"You’d better hurry," remarked Commander Chip Morton. "You know how the Admiral hates it when people are late and he’s stuck waiting."
"I know, I’m going," answered Captain Lee Crane as he hopped out the passenger side door of Chip’s new car. "It’s your fault that I’m late anyway."
"Hey, you were the one that wanted to see the car, I was just obliging." Morton grabbed Lee’s hat from the back seat.
Lee could see that his friend was enjoying his predicament. "Well it was you who took us for a forty five minute ride, when you knew I had this appointment with the Admiral." Crane bent in through the window and snatched his hat from Morton’s hand.
Lee took about five steps from the car and turned back to face Chip. Cracking a little smile, he said, "Nice set of wheels though."
Chip gave a smile of his own and answered, "Thanks! I think so."
At that, Lee turned and fairly sprinted into the outer office where Angie, The Admiral’s personal secretary sat. As she caught sight of him, she put down the telephone receiver that was in her hand and called him over.
"You’re late you know, and he’s in a pretty sour mood. Been on the phone with Washington most of the morning." Angie was glad that she wasn’t the one about to head through the door. "He’s had me on the phone looking for you. Just give me a second and I’ll let him know you’re here."
"Don’t bother, Ang, I’ll knock. And thanks for the warning." Lee knew how much the Admiral couldn’t tolerate dealing with what he called ‘bureaucratic stupidity’.
Lee straightened his uniform and knocked lightly on the door to the inner office.
"Come in," barked the voice of Admiral Harriman Nelson.
Steeling himself for what was to come, Lee opened the door and entered the office. The first thing that caught his eye were two pencils lying on the carpet in front of the Admiral’s desk. Nelson had a habit of throwing down pencils, pens or anything else that was in his hands when he was really steamed about something. Seaview’s officers regularly looked for these things upon entering the Admiral’s office or cabin. It was usually a good indicator of his mood.
Looking up from the carpet, Lee spied the Admiral sitting behind his desk. Nelson glared at the Captain as he approached. Lee could almost feel the hair on the back of his neck standing straight up. Oh boy, I see that this is going to be fun. Crane hung his hat on the coat rack and moved to stand in front of the desk.
Putting on his best innocent face, Lee faced his boss, "Sorry I’m late. Chip was showing me his..."
Nelson cut him off, "Save it for later, right now we have more important things to talk about." Then pushing the button on the small intercom box atop his desk, Nelson announced, "Angie, give him the green light."
Lee wondered what that was all about, but he didn’t want to push the Admiral by asking questions that probably didn’t concern him. Instead he asked, "What did you want to talk to me about?"
"I’ve been on the phone with Admiral Baker, Washington wants to put Seaview in temporary service." Nelson rubbed his fingers firmly across his forehead. "Seaview is a private research vessel, I don’t know why they think that they can just yank us into the Navy anytime they feel like it!"
So, that’s it. Lee understood why the Admiral was so uptight. Every time that Seaview got mixed up with the Navy, the whole crew suffered. Nelson walked a fine line with the pentagon. They needed government funding, and so commissioned to take on various defense contracts. But every once in a while, Washington would decide that it owned Seaview.
"So tell me, what do they have in mind for us this time?"
Harry grumbled beneath his breath, "Let’s not go into that right now. I’m trying to nip this thing in the bud, but I need you to do something for me."
Lee walked over to the sofa and sat down. "What do you have in mind?"
"I’d like for you to take a drive up to Comsubpac. Jiggs has a package that I need you to pick up and bring back here.
"But wouldn’t it be faster to send the package by courier?" Lee did not relish the thought of a meeting with Admiral Jiggs Starke.
Nelson pursed his lip, " I’m not going to argue with you. I need that package, and I want you to get it." He paused, "Listen Lee, you know I wouldn’t ask you to go out of your way if it weren’t important. Besides, it won’t take you too long, and you’ll be back before dinner."
Before Lee could answer, Angie’s voice piped in over the intercom. "I’m sorry to interrupt Admiral, Chief Sharkey is on the line. He says that he needs to speak with you for a moment."
"Hold on a second, Angie. Lee, can you give me minute." As Lee picked a magazine from the table, Nelson continued, "All right, put him through."
Lee stared at the magazine in his hands, but he couldn’t help listening to Nelson’s phone conversation. Sharkey was supposed to be overseeing the wiring inspection in the circuitry room, and the Captain was curious if anything had gone wrong. Why else would Sharkey need to call the Admiral?
"Nelson here… yes Sharkey, what do you need?… Right. 1530 hours…L A X… red with gold trim… that’s right. Anything else?… All right. Thanks Chief." Nelson hung up the phone, jotted down a quick note, and stuck it in his shirt pocket.
What was that all about? Whatever it was, it definitely had nothing to do with the circuitry inspection. And what about 1530, Sharkey wasn’t due to go off duty until 1800. Lee put the magazine down casually. He didn’t want the Admiral to know that he had been listening.
Nelson turned back the Captain. "Sorry about that Lee. If you’re ready to leave, I’ll call Jiggs and let him know you’re coming."
"Yes, Sir. I’m on my way." Lee stood and headed for the door. Picking up his hat, he suddenly stopped, " I’d better give Chip a call, and let him know that I will be gone for a while."
Nelson jumped in, "I’ll take care of that, just get going."
Giving a nod to the Admiral, Lee excused himself from the office. He caught sight of Angie quickly shoving something purple into the top desk drawer. Slamming the drawer, she looked up at the Captain, and putting on a pretty smile, said, "See you later, Lee."
As soon as the door to his office closed. Nelson grabbed his briefcase, opened it and lifted out a large green envelope. Removing the contents, he wrote a short notation inside, then returned the contents to the envelope and sealed it. He replaced the envelope along with a small box, into his briefcase and locked it. Jumping up from his chair, he headed for the door.
Seaview’s Captain hopped behind the wheel of his red, two-seater convertible, and headed on his way. Things aren’t making a whole lot of sense today. First, this morning in the galley, everyone got totally quiet when I walked into the room. Then, Chip and Sharkey had their heads together about something, but denied it when I asked. Now, the Admiral and his package, and what about that phone call?"
Lee couldn’t understand why it was so important for him to retrieve the package from Starke. Nelson knew how well he and Admiral Starke got along. Starke detested the way that Lee commanded Seaview, and neither one cared for the other. The only reason he could come up with was that perhaps the Admiral needed someone he trusted to handle the package, perhaps for security reasons.
Lee laid his foot on the gas and sped down the highway.
"Stall! What do you mean, stall!… Just how do you expect me to… You’re asking for a lot…" bellowed Jiggs Starke. He glanced up as Lee Crane entered his office. "Listen, I’ve got to go… Yeah right here, right now." Jiggs put the phone down and stood to greet the Captain.
"Captain Crane, Nelson said you were on your way."
Taking Starke’s words as a kindly welcome, Crane returned, "Good afternoon, Admiral. It’s good to see you."
"Have a seat, Captain." responded Starke. He respected Crane as a good commander, but detested his style of command. Jiggs would always be a supporter of regulations and harsh naval discipline, but Crane depended more on respect and loyalty. Starke couldn’t understand why Nelson ever chose Crane to command Seaview. "I suppose you know why you’re here?"
Putting on his best military stance, Lee replied, "Yes, Sir. Admiral Nelson asked me to retrieve a package from you, and return it to him at the institute."
"Correct. But first, I want you to, ahh… accompany me on an inspection run."
Puzzled, Lee returned, "But, I believe that Admiral Nelson is waiting for me to return with the package."
"Are you going to stand there and argue with a superior officer?" Jigg’s voice raised in volume until it was near shouting. "Navy or no Navy, There are certain protocols that you are required to follow, and one of them is respect for your superiors! Am I right?"
Oh great! This day just keeps getting better. Lee stiffened his back, he had learned that the only way to deal with Jiggs Starke was to keep a cool head no matter how many buttons the Admiral pushed, then he lifted his chin and answered back, "Yes, Sir."
"Then I am ordering you to accompany me to the Erin, where you will assist in a preliminary inspection." Jiggs liked trying to shake Crane down. So far, he had not been able to get the edge up on him as he did with most junior officers, which is the one thing that he really liked about Crane, and the one thing he liked the least.
"As you wish, Sir," Lee snapped. Lee had heard about the Erin. She was the newest sub in the fleet. So new, in fact, she had yet to take her maiden voyage. The last Crane had heard, a crew was still being put together for her.
Starke had planned to visit the Erin later that day, but things had changed. The call from Harriman to stall Crane had given him little choice. Harriman better remember that he owes me for this one! Hollering to his aide, Jiggs commanded, "Bailey, call for a helicopter, I want them waiting to pick us up in ten minutes." Grabbing his coat, Starke left his office heading for the heli-pad with Crane at his side.
Terrific! Not only am I going to be late getting back to the institute, I have to spend the afternoon with Captain Bligh! Crane had decided shortly after meeting Starke several years ago that Bligh was a name that suited him perfectly, and today he was living up to his name.
The trip out to the Erin had been relatively brief. Neither man spoke more than an occasional word, but at least Lee could enjoy the view. He liked flying, but more so when he was piloting FS-1. The Flying Sub was his baby, and everyone on board Seaview knew it. FS-1 rarely left her berth without either the Admiral or the Captain in control, and more often than not, it was the Skipper.
The Erin waited for them approximately ten miles off the coast. As they approached, Lee saw her sitting at the surface, her new hull gleaming in the sunlight. The ocean too, picked up the rays of the sun, and the waves danced and sparkled with its light. Seeing sights like these were an open reminder of why Lee Crane had chosen to build his career around the sea. As the helicopter moved to hover above the sub, his mind drifted for a moment to his first memories of the sea. Once in position, the two officers were lowered by ladder to the top of the conning tower. After releasing the ladder, Lee followed Admiral Starke through the hatch and down into the control room.
Much of the instrumentation was the same as in any submarine, but she was tighter, narrower than the Seaview. Lee looked around at the cozy quarters and realized how spoiled he was on his Seaview. His Seaview, he had been gone only hours, but he missed her already. Seaview meant a lot to Crane, and he loved being her captain. There would never be another sub that could ever take the special place she had in his heart; he was sure of that.
"Admiral Starke, we have been looking forward to your visit," said one of the officers lined up in front of them.
Now this is the way to greet a superior officer, thought Starke. He contrasted it to his first entrance aboard Seaview. His greeting had been warm enough then, but there had been no formality to it, no ceremony. He hadn’t commented on it at the time because he knew that the crew was very worried about the then missing Nelson. This, however, was his kind of welcome. All of Erin’s officers were lined up side by side at attention, awaiting inspection.
A middle aged man with graying temples stepped forward and saluted the two newcomers. "Admiral, I am Captain John Ramos, and this is my Executive Officer, Bill Owens." Then pointing down the line he introduced the rest of his senior staff.
Starke saluted back, then answered, "It’s good to formally meet you, Captain. I’d like to introduce Captain Lee Crane of the Seaview."
Captain Ramos saluted Seaview’s Captain who quickly returned the salute. Ramos smiled and said, "It’s good to meet you, Captain. I’ve heard good things about you and the Seaview. What a lot of us wouldn’t give to have a look around inside of her."
"Thank you, Captain Ramos. It looks like you have a mighty fine boat here yourselves," responded Lee.
Jiggs interrupted, "I’d like to get on with the inspection. Our time is limited and I’d like to evaluate some maneuvers before we go."
"Of course Admiral, let me show you around and I can answer any questions you may have as we go." Ramos excused his officers, then turning, led Starke and Crane through the aft hatch.
The tour of the Erin had been fairly brief and pretty much routine. She was a good solid boat with a standard, straightforward design. Crane had served aboard subs like her before he had gone over to Seaview. He recognized, however, that she was still short on crew and that many key stations remained unmanned.
"Excuse me Captain Ramos, how long until you’re fully manned?" Lee Crane asked the question after returning to the control room.
"Well, our current crew complement is approximately sixty percent. It will be another week or two before we will have a full crew."
"But, doesn’t it bother you to have a new sub out with only a limited complement, especially before a complete shake down?" Lee frowned at the idea. "Right now is usually when everything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
Ramos began to feel a little defensive. "I can assure you, Captain, that with only a few exceptions, the Erin is proving to be in top notch shape. You can relax, we have more than enough crew to handle the limited maneuvering that we’re performing right now."
"It’s your boat, Captain. I’m sure that you know her better than anyone."
Starke was quickly becoming impatient. "Of course, it’s his boat, Captain Crane! Now can we get on with the test maneuvers?"
"We’re ready to begin now, Admiral." Ramos excused himself and began issuing orders to the crew.
Lee felt the sub begin to move, and watched as the control room came alive. They put her through standard maneuvers, diving, surfacing, turning, reversing, etc., checking off the list as they went. Crane felt like a fifth wheel, and his attention threatened to drift as time went on. He was about to suggest returning to the mainland, when Admiral Starke spoke up.
"All right, now I want to have her brought up to full speed and then we’ll see how she handles."
"Admiral, I…" Lee started to protest. Resigning himself to the fact that it would do no good, he bit down on his lip and turned his attention back to the activity around him. He could feel the vibration from the engines, through the deck, as the Erin increased speed. Lee noted the look of satisfaction on Ramos’ face as he sensed the life of his boat.
Suddenly, without warning, a loud grinding noise was heard and the deck seemed to surge under everyone’s feet. Lee was pushed forward a few steps, as Starke stumbled into him.
Ramos grabbed the nearest mike and hollered out, "Damage control, give me a report on sustained damage!"
Lee walked over and stood directly in front of Captain Ramos. "Something’s happened to the engines or to one of the propeller shafts. Can you feel it? We’re losing all speed."
The grinding noise continued to echo throughout the sub. The sound was so abrasive that Lee’s head was starting to hurt. He saw the creases in Starke’s brow and knew that the racket was getting to him also. It finally became impossible for Lee to just stand around any longer, he had to do something.
Grabbing hold of Ramos’ arm, Lee yelled over the din, "You have to stop the engines until you find out what’s gone wrong."
Officers and enlisted men turned questioningly toward their Captain. Ramos was angry at Crane’s interference, this was his ship. Glaring over at Crane, he remarked, "Captain Crane, I’ll ask you to stay out of this!" Then taking the mike once more, he shouted, "Damage control, respond immediately!"
"At least allow me to go down and take a look?" Lee was having a hard time figuring out Ramos’ stubborness.
The deck lurched twice more. Lee grabbed hold of the chart table with one hand and reached to steady Admiral Starke, as he nearly fell, with the other. The older man peered over at Crane and then back at Ramos.
Starke had enough, "Stop your engines, Captain!" he bellowed.
"Stop all engines!" ordered Ramos. As the order was received and the din subsided, he turned his attention over to Crane. "We can handle things without your help. In case you’ve forgotten, you are a guest here, I’m the Captain." His voice was so cold that icicles nearly hung from his words.
"Crane, Go! And report what you find," issued Starke. "Captain Ramos, you are short handed and in trouble. Crane is an experienced officer, and you could use his help. Don’t let your pride get before your job."
Crane started moving the moment he heard the word "Go". As he sprinted through the hatch, he could hardly believe what he was hearing, Admiral Starke actually defending him?
Where is Lee? I asked Jiggs to stall him, not to abduct him! What could be taking so long? Harriman paced back and forth in front of his desk Chief Frances Sharkey sat on the sofa and watched the Admiral pace, he too, was anxious for the Skipper to return.
"Hey, do you think that maybe something happened to the Skipper on his way back or something?" asked the Chief.
Nelson interrupted his pacing to address the other officer. "No, Jiggs is supposed to call and let us know when Lee leaves. So far no call, I assume that they’re still together."
"Well, maybe he, you know, forgot to call. Perhaps we could give his office a call."
"I already did that, Francis. His aide says that the both of them left together on an inspection run, and they haven’t returned yet. I don’t know what could possibly be taking this long." Upon answering, Harriman resumed his pacing. He had too much energy to sit still. "Today of all days," he muttered under his breath.
Suddenly the phone rang, Nelson and Sharkey both jumped toward it. The Admiral held up the receiver and spoke, "Nelson here."
"Admiral," came Chip’s voice, "Any word on Lee yet? Everything is ready on this end. We’re just waiting."
The Admiral had a hard time hiding the disappointment in his own voice, "No word yet, Chip. We’re waiting as well. He’s off somewhere with Jiggs Starke."
"Lee and Admiral Starke? Those two mix about as well as oil and water," Chip returned. "Lee will probably have some serious venting to do when he gets back."
"Which I hope will be soon," responded Nelson. "Listen Chip, I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything."
"Thanks, Admiral. We’ll be standing by to hear from you."
Almost two hours later, Lee found himself down inside the port propeller shaft housing. He had removed his uniform coat and tie, but the rest of his uniform now sported grease and oil in various places. His dark hair lay disheveled, and a rather large purple bruise rested on his cheek where a wrench had hit him as he crawled beneath the housing. Lee couldn’t believe that any sub would leave port with such a limited crew, without good reason. Certainly not just to take practice runs, before everything had been broken in and checked thoroughly. And on top of that, the Erin had plenty of operators on board, but hardly any mechanics or machinists. In addition, her radio wasn’t working correctly either. One of Captain Ramos’ few exceptions. Starke had blown up when he heard about the radio. Evidently, they could receive, but they couldn’t send messages. That meant they couldn’t call for assistance.
As a result, Lee and one of the few mechanical engineers, a seaman named Errols, were trying to repair damage to the main shaft bearings. Damage had been compounded when Ramos had delayed stopping the engines, and so all hands with any knowledge of the engines, were busy elsewhere.
They had been working for some time when Admiral Starke’s voice filtered down from above. "How are repairs coming, Captain?"
"Pretty good, Admiral. With luck, we should be done in another hour. How are the repairs to the radio proceeding?" called Lee in return.
"There are three men working on it, but they are less optimistic than you are. Hopefully, they will have gotten somewhere with it by the time you’re finished."
"That’s about par for this day," sighed Lee.
"I’m beginning to agree with you," returned Jiggs as he walked away.
An hour later, a sore, dirty and tired Captain Lee Crane dragged himself into the Erin’s control room. He had stopped off to wash his hands and face on the way, but the rest of him would have to wait. Now along with the one bruise, were a few others on his arms and a small burn on his right hand. He was ready to return to Santa Barbara and climb into bed and sleep until morning, but first he had to deliver the Admiral’s package. Nelson was going to have a flying fit when he got back, especially after the mood he had been in earlier.
Avoiding Captain Ramos, Lee strolled over to Admiral Starke. Clearing his throat, and speaking loud enough for Ramos to overhear, he said, "Work completed, Admiral. Any news yet on the radio repairs?"
"Huh? Oh yes. We were able to get off a brief message." Starke looked up from a paper in his hand. "An escort is on its way to accompany the Erin back to port. She should be ready by the time it gets here, as long as they take it slowly. Also, a helicopter is on the way to pick us up. That is, if you’re ready to leave, Captain?"
"Yes Sir!" piped back Lee. At last, he felt some life flowing back into him. Yes, he was very much ready to get going.
At 2030 hours, a small, red convertible pulled up and parked in front of the main office building of the Nelson Institute for Marine Research. Its driver climbed out and rubbed an aching shoulder. Normally, Lee would have stopped off at either his apartment or his cabin on Seaview and cleaned himself up before addressing Admiral Nelson, but he remembered how anxious Nelson had been about the package and he decided to go straight to his office. Picking up the box from the passenger seat, he headed for the front door.
With the hour being so late, Lee had to use his key to get into the building. The lights were still turned on, and the Captain made his way toward the office. On the door to Nelson’s inner office, an envelope was taped with Lee’s name on it. Removing the envelope, Lee opened it and removed the paper inside. Inside was a note from Admiral Nelson. It read:
Please bring the package down to the galley on board Seaview.
Oh, one more place to go. I guess, that’s what I get for being so late. Oh well, at least I’ll be on board the sub and I’ll just bunk down there for the night. Placing the note back in the envelope and sticking it to the box, Lee turned and headed back the way he came.
In a few minutes, Lee stepped into the galley, carrying the box under his left arm, and rubbing his tired eyes with his right hand. When he opened his eyes, he was stunned by the sight that greeted him. All of Seaview’s officers and much of her crew were crowded about the galley. The galley itself was overflowing with all manner of party decorations. The room was totally quiet as the whole assemblage stared at the disheveled condition of the Captain.
Finally, Sharkey yelled out, "All right everybody, one, two, three…"
"Happy Birthday, Skipper!" came the shouts from around the room.
Lee was completely shocked. "But, my birthday…"
"…Isn’t until this weekend. Yes, we know that." Nelson waved to the back of the crowd. "But we have arranged a special surprise for you that necessitated moving things up a little."
Lee was still staring in disbelief at the Admiral when Sharkey walked over beside him. "Ahem, Skipper, ahh, would you mind turning around for a minute?"
The Captain hesitated for a second, then glancing over at the Chief, he said, "Yeah, sure".
Turning back around to face the doorway he had just passed through, Lee was met by another surprise. In front of him stood a tall woman wearing a red jacket with gold trim. She smiled broadly and stepped forward.
"Happy Birthday, Lee!" she said.
Just then a horn blew from somewhere in the room and an explosion of colored confetti rained down on top of the Captain. The room came alive with music and the joyous voices of Seaview’s crew. Sharkey took the box from the Skipper and placed it on a table at the end of the room. Lee greeted his Mother with a huge hug and together they turned to the Admiral, Chip and Sharkey.
With his arm still around his Mother’s shoulder, Lee asked, "But how…?"
A huge grin crossed Nelson’s face, as he replied, "We’ve been planning this for some time, and when I called your Mother, she was more than happy to play along."
"Only, I couldn’t come this weekend because I have to fly out to Baltimore on business," chimed Mrs. Crane.
"But what about the box, and the Navy, and Admiral Starke?" Lee was completely bewildered.
"Oh, well, the Navy, uh…" started Nelson. "Well, I had to come up with something to get you moving and out of here without you asking too many questions. Pretty good acting job, don’t you think? Actually, I was on the phone this morning, arguing with Baker over the Navy’s use of Seaview, but…"
"You mean that the whole trip to see Starke was just to get me out of here?!"
Nelson saw the exasperation building on Lee’s countenance, "Yes, well…"
"Well nothing! Do you have any kind of idea of what this day has been like?!" creaked Crane. "And, if you were trying to get rid of me for a while, couldn’t you have come up with something more pleasant than spending the day with Admiral Starke?"
"I heard that, Crane," came a deep voice from behind.
Not another surprise! And this one sounds too familiar. This time Lee spun around to be greeted by the Stern face of Jiggs Starke.
"You see, Lee," said Nelson, "I really did need that package, and so it was a legitimate errand I sent you on."
Acknowledging Admiral Starke, Lee asked, "If you were coming down here anyway, why did I need to go and retrieve the package from your office, sir."
"Because this little shindig was supposed to take place earlier and I was scheduled to be on the Erin at the time. I had no intention of coming here." Jiggs paused briefly, "just before you arrived at my office, Harriman called and insisted I stall you. Something about your Mother having to catch a later flight. Anyway, you know the rest."
Lee was still a little puzzled, "So if you weren’t planning to come Admiral, why are you here?"
"The situation with the Erin today, you didn’t just sit there on your hands, like some of her officers did. You got right in there and pitched in. I like that, and I’m not ashamed to say ‘Thank you, good work’."
How could they have pulled all of this off without my having a clue? This is almost too much for one day. Though things still didn’t make complete sense, Lee decided to relax a little, after all, it was his birthday party.
As Lee began to turn, Jiggs called him back, "Just a minute, Captain. I don’t want you to think that anything’s changed. I still have my doubts about you as an officer. Especially looking at the condition you’re in, an officer should never appear before his crew like this." Then smiling, he added, "You could have at least combed your hair."
Nelson placed his arm around his Captain’s shoulder, and said, "Come on, Lee. Don’t listen to him. Let’s go and enjoy the party, shall we?" With that he led Lee into the crowd.
"Just one thing still bothers me, Admiral. What was so important about that package, if you don’t mind me asking?
"Well, come see for yourself." Nelson led the way over to the table. On it were several presents and the box that Lee had been carrying. One of the gifts caught Lee’s attention as he moved toward the box. It was wrapped with shiny purple paper. I know where that one came from. He remembered back to the office that morning, and a purple box being slipped into a drawer.
Chip squeezed in next to the Skipper, "Hurry up, Lee, open it. We’ve all been dying to have a look."
That last comment really stirred Crane’s curiosity. He ripped off the packaging tape and pulled open the box. Digging through the packaging material, he at last retrieved his prize. Inside the box was an antique ship’s bell. Holding it up in the light, Crane read the words inscribed along its front. It read:
Captain Lee Crane
‘Whose light and life, the Sea doth fill’
from Seaview and her Crew
All of the day’s stress instantly washed away as Lee read over the inscription. Yes, Seaview was special and her crew more so. After laying the bell carefully back in the box, Lee looked over the faces of the men watching him and thanked them for the wonderful gift. Then taking Chip by one arm and Nelson by the other, the three men joined the party.
"By the way, just how did you get so messed up anyway?" Nelson asked.
Chip chimed in, "Yes, Lee, I’ve been wondering that myself. What gives?"
Picking up a cup of punch, Lee answered, "That my friends, is a story for tomorrow. Tonight, we have some celebrating to do."
Usually, things couldn’t go on aboard Seaview without her Skipper knowing about it, but maybe, just this once, it was O.K.