In 1943 Lieutenant Alexander Barr was ordered into the Armed Guard aboard the merchant ship, like many other civilian officers with no real mechanical skills – teachers, writers, lawyers.
His men were the rag-tag' of merchant service and knew very little of it. Lieutenant Alec Barr had his crew well in hand except one particularly unpleasant character, a youngster called Zabinski. Every ship has its problem child, and Zabinski was Alec's cross. If anybody was drunk and in trouble ashore, it was Zabinski. If anybody was smoking on watch, or asleep on watch, it always was Zabinski. Discipline on board was hard to keep and Zabinski made it worse.
Alec called the boy to his cabin. "I've tried to reason with you'," he said. "I've punished you with everything from confinement to ship to extra duty. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing you may understand is force. I've got some boxing gloves. Navy Regulations say they should be used for recreation.
We are going to have some.
"That's all right", Zabinski said smiling.
Alec announced the exhibition of boxing skill. A lot of people gathered on deck to watch the match.
It didn't take Lieutenant Barr long to discover that he was in the ring with a semiprofessional. They were fighting two-minute rounds. But from the first five seconds of the first round Alec knew that Zabinski could knock him out with a single punch if he wanted to. But Zabinski didn't want to, he was toying with his commander, and the snickers' grew into laughter.
In the third round Alec held up a glove. "Time out!", he said. "I'm going to my cabin, I'll soon be back". He turned and ran up to his cabin. In the cabin there was a safe. Alec's duty was to pay wages to his personnel. Alec Barr opened the safe and took out a paper-wrapped roll of ten-cent coins. He put this roll of silver coins into his glove and returned on deck.
"Let's go!" he said and touched gloves with Zabinski. It had pleased Zabinski before to allow the officer to knock him from time to time because it gave him a chance for a short and painful punch. But now the silver-weighted glove crashed into the boy's chin and Zabinski was out. He was lying on the floor motionless.
Alec Barr looked briefly at the boy. "Somebody throw some water on him," he said coldly to the seamen. And he went up to his room to clean his cuts and put the roll of coins back to the safe. After that Lieutenant Alexander Barr had no more personnel trouble aboard ship.
Answer the questions
What the crew competent at navigating a ship?
Who was a trouble-maker on board?
Discipline on board was hard to keep and Zabinski made it worse, didn’t he?
What did the Lieutenant Alexander Barr decide to do to improve discipline on board ?
What kind of tricky way did Alec undertake to teach his opponent a lesson?
Did the winner feel satisfied or distressed after the fight?
Did Alec have any problems with seamen ever after?
True or false
Alec announced the exhibition of boxing skill.
It didn't take Lieutenant Barr long to discover that he was in the ring with an amateur.
In the third round Alec held up a glove and asked for time out as he needed a doctor’s help.
"Somebody call for a doctor," Alec said coldly to the seamen
After that Lieutenant Alexander Barr had one more personnel trouble aboard .