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It was like extra rocker arms and idler gears in a machine, to click and spin and bob and make a show, and do nothing except soak up power that should go to the machine’s real work. Well, at least it’s a show for them coolies, Holman thought. Thank Christ it’s over. It was not over. A quartermaster came on from port, with a seaman and a Chinese trailing him. The seaman held the colors in their triangular fold, breast high in two hands, and the Chinese had a shiny bugle under his arm. The quartermaster stepped up on the grating and saluted the captain.

It’s almost time for battle drills, sir. ” “Repel boarders. Starboard,” Lt. Collins said. Sew Sew ducked back down the hatch and Holman started forward. A bugle blasted and he heard Chief Franks’ voice from the boat deck, “All hands! Repel boarders, starboard! ” Sailors exploded out of the compartment and all over the ship feet thudded as they ran The Sand Pebbles 46 to their stations. Holman tried to get into the engine room to get out of the way and he met Burgoyne coming out, dragging a steam hose.

Lynch had a pistol in his left hand and a shiny cutlass in his right. He frowned and motioned with his cutlass for Holman to face outboard. Holman did, and noticed that the other men’s faces were keen and tense and their eyes were scanning back and forth. In addition to Burgoyne there were the pleasant-faced kid, Wilsey, with a riot gun, and the old electrician, Harris, scowling down the barrel of an automatic rifle, his coarse white hair bristling. Holman sighted along his riot gun and felt stupid.

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