Benton gathered all of the reports from Colin’s supervisors. He was missing the report from the radio room. He went there and told the Chief he need his report on Colin within the next 8 hours.
The next morning when Colin went to the radio room, he was told to report to Lieutenant Benton. Colin was afraid that the meeting in the library was going to get him in trouble. He approached the Lieutenant’s quarters, knocked and went in when he was told to enter.
“Ship Boy Colin reporting as directed sir”
“Relax Colin, you aren’t in trouble.” You could see Colin relaxing and a small smile appeared on his face. “Follow me”
Colin followed the Lieutenant to the Bridge. He never was on the Bridge before and he was wondering why was he being led to the Bridge. Arriving on the Bridge, Lieutenant Benton introduced Colin to the Captain. Colin came to attention and saluted the Captain.
“At ease, Ship Boy Colin. I have read your evaluations and at the request of Lieutenant Benton, you’ll be assign to him as Cabin Boy. You’ll move into his quarters.”
“Yes, sir” Colin saluted the Captain and followed Lieutenant Benton to his quarters.
“Colin, bring your things here. When that’s done, I’ll explain your duties to you.”
When Colin got back to his hammock and began to pack his duffle bag, one of the other boys asked him why he was packing his bag. “I have been assigned to Lieutenant Benton as his Cabin Boy.”
“What did you do to get that assignment?”
“I’m not sure. I’ve done all of my assignments. The Captain made the assignment.”
You could see the envy in some of the Ship Boy’s eyes. Colin was a little embarrassed, however, he was glad to move. A Cabin Boy was the next step up in the service.
With his duffle bag, Colin approached Lieutenant Benton’s quarters. He knocked on the door, “enter”.
Colin entered and stood at attention. “Colin, put you things in the drawer under that cot. That’llbe your sleeping quarters. Your duties are to keep the quarter clean, laundry and at times, you’ll need to go to the Cook and bring food here. I expect you to keep up with your studies, you’ll be with me when I’m assigned to the Bridge.”
Colin proceeded to store his duffle bag, make up the cot and then turned to change the sheets on the Lieutenant’s cot. He took the dirty linen’s to the laundry where he helped for a little while as the Lieutenant’s bed clothes were being cleaned.
“Colin I’m glad for you.”
“Thank you Billy.”Billy was a first year Ship Boy, the laundry was his second assignment. He boarded the ship at one of the ports on the eastern shore of Europa. He had just turned 14. He was a short blond hair boy with blue eyes that would sparkle when he was happy, I liked him.
I took the clean clothes back to the Lieutenants quarters, made the bed and waited for the Lieutenant to return. While I waited, I continued to read my school assignments that I had printed in the library.
“Colin, let’s go and eat.”Colin knew from working in the kitchen that he’d have to serve the Lieutenant. All of the Cabin Boys would serve their officer and then they would get their own food and sit on the right side of their officer. That way the officer could whisper in the Boy’s ears to get him what ever food or drink he wanted.
When every one was finished eating, the Cabin Boys would clean the officer’s mess. It wasn’t unusual for a Cabin Boy who was assigned to a particular officer to wait upon other officers who had not been assigned a Cabin Boy. For Colin, he assisted the Lieutenant’s friends and officers at mess.
The Lieutenant was very proud of Colin’s behavior. He offered to help other officers as well as making sure that the Lieutenant was being well served.
That evening when Colin accompanied the Lieutenant on the Bridge, the Lieutenant made sure to commend Colin on his esprit de corps. He told him that several of the officers mentioned thatthey hoped to get a Cabin Boy as good as Colin.
Colin was pleased with the commendation from the Lieutenant. He looked upon the Lieutenant as not only his superior officer, but also as an older brother. He couldn’t tell the Lieutenant that, but he could do things that would make him proud.
Over the next few months, Colin and Billy became very good friends. Often meeting in the library to study together. They would share experiences about the various assignments and as boys often do, they talked about the Lieutenants, who was smart, who was handsome, who was on their tail when they interfaced during work details. Colin realized early that not all the Lieutenants were nice guys, some seem to enjoy being strict with the boys.
It was hard for Colin to realize he has been on the ship for two years as he celebrated his 16th birthday. He had completed his primary division and was now ready to start his secondary division. Unlike the early 1900’s, the education process was divided into two divisions, theprimary division include schooling from the ages of 5 to 18 and the secondary division included schooling from 18 to 29 years old, depending on the course study selected. On-line education provided the ability to accelerate your education, that is what Colin took advantage of by completing his primary division when he was 16 years old.
Billy congratulated Colin and Colin knew that Billy would be celebrating his 16 year birthday in a few months. Under Colin tutelage, Billy hadn’t finished his primary division education but it would only be another 6 months before he took the completion exam.
Colin discussed with his Lieutenant about the various courses being offered by the secondary division. He wasn’t sure what to focus on but knew he wanted to stay in the Navy. The Lieutenant told him to discuss his choices with other officers as well as the Captain before making a decision. Colin as usual returned to the internet for information. He looked at all of the courses being offered by the second division, finally he put together a course program that would equip him to be a naval officer. Reviewing his selection with the Lieutenant, he noticed a smile on the Lieutenant’s face. His next step was to have his selection reviewed by the Captain. The Lieutenant volunteered to take Colin’s selections to the Captain for him.
A week later the Lieutenant handed Colin a letter from the Captain. When he opened it, he had a smile that stretched from ear to ear.The Captain had approved his choices and added one additional course. Colin had thought about that course but wasn’t sure, it was a course in radio technology. Basically the system used on ships for communication.
Billy had passed his exams and now he could start to select his courses for the second division. He also was selected as Cabin Boy by one of the Lieutenant’s close friend, Lieutenant John Bishop.
That evening at mess, the Captain informed the staff that the ship will be heading back to port for a refit. Colin looked at the Lieutenant with a question on his face. “We’ll discuss this later.”
After mess was finished, Colin and Billy headed to the library. “What’s going to happen to the crew? Will we be transferred to another ship?”
“I don’t know Billy. Lieutenant Benton said he’d tell me later. As soon as I find out anything, I’ll let you know and if Lieutenant Bishop tells you anything, you can let me know.” The boys nodded and went to their respective cabins.
Later that evening on the Bridge, Lieutenant Benton told Colin that while they were in port the crew would be staying at a sailor’s dormitory provided by the Service. “I’ll be staying with my uncle, who has a house in the area where we’ll dock.”
Colin told Billy what he learned the next day in the library. “Colin, if we stay at the dormitory, could we room together?”
“I’m not sure, I'd like for you to be my room mate.” Actually Colin would like Billy to be more than his room mate. Same sex pairings were accepted and considered natural, it was recognized that a person is born with certain likes and dislikes, as long as they did not adversely affect other people, they were accepted in society. That was the result of a hard won battle. Theology still was an important part of every citizens life, only now it was against the law to preach hatred or condemnation. The government thought that this was one of the causes of the wars that ended all wars. Of course, what people thought in their own mind was something else that the government couldn’t control. But actions could be monitored as well as words, spoken to written.
It was no surprise to Lieutenant Benton when Colin requested that Billy be his room mate at the dormitory. “Colin, how would you and Billy like to join me at my uncle’s rather than stay in the dormitory?”
“I’m not sure about Billy, but I’d love it. After being on a ship with those guys for over 2 1/2 years, I’d like the break. I’m sure Billy will agree.”
“Ok, let’s plan on doing that. My uncle owns a big house so there’ll be plenty of room.”