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They were the journalists of the tour, there on behalf of the people at home, that multitudinous "public" which, for lack of accommodation on the Renown, must see the Prince's tour in the convex mirror of the daily press. Gently the grey turrets slid out from the crowded wharf into the leaden expanse of harbour."Auld Lang Syne" rang into the chill wind that rocked the rowing-boats lining the fairway.It was the day before and already the function was in the quickened air.Scraps of coloured bunting fluttered and flew on the wharf sheds.She moved steadily at eighteen knots an hour from the time she left Portsmouth, a pace which, for this last word in fighting machines, is mere half-speed, though it is as fast as most suburban trains can travel.She is so big that surprisingly little motion is noticeable at sea, though waves wash freely over forecastle and quarter-deck, contracting the space available for the exercise and training of the large fighting crew she carries.
Immediately under the Captain are the Navigation Commander, the Administration Commander, the Engineer Commander, the Gunnery Lieutenant-Commander, the Torpedo Lieutenant-Commander, the Principal Medical Officer, and the Paymaster, each an expert in the particular branch he is responsible for.
Ant-like figures swarmed into the tall rigging of Nelson's flagship, which lay, bedecked all over, her old oak sides stiff in checkered squares of black and white, while her ancient muzzle-loaders banged off a smoky salvo—the senior ship of the British Navy wishing Godspeed to her fighting junior on Royal Service starting.
The hundred and twenty thousand horse-power steam turbines of the battle-cruiser quickened their rhythmic throb.
The still shouting crowds ashore faded to dark stains on the Southsea beach.
The red and gold of the Royal standard fluttered down from the main, and the Renown put out to sea, starting on this pleasant commission with the same certitude and the same cheeriness, the same discipline and the same lightness of heart, the same directness of purpose, and above all things the same absence of fuss, with which she had often gone upon errands perilous.