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 The Bronx had been three days on the station, Christy had made his report in full on her arrival, and the flag officer had visited the vessel in person, in order to ascertain her fitness for several enterprises he had in view. The Confederates were not sleepy or inactive, and resorted to every expedient within their means to counteract both morally and materially the efficiency of the blockade.  
The Bronx was admirably adapted to service in the shoal waters where the heavier vessels of the investing squadron could not go, and her arrival solved several problems then under consideration. Captain Blowitt and Christy had been sent for, and the late commander of the Bronx was questioned in regard to the steamer, her draught, her speed, and her ship's company. The damage done to her in the conflict with the Escambia had been 236 fully repaired by the carpenter and his gang, and the steamer was in as good condition as when she sailed from New York.
"In regard to the present officers, Mr. Passford, excepting present company, of course, they are excellent," said Captain McKeon, the flag officer. "For the service in which the Bronx is to be engaged, its success will depend upon the officers, though it is hardly exceptional in this respect. I understand that you sailed from New York rather short-handed abaft the mainmast."
"Yes, sir, we did; but fortunately we had most excellent material of which to make officers, and we made them," replied Christy.
"I should like to know something about them; I mean apart from Captain Blowitt and yourself, for you have already made your record, and yours, Mr. Passford, is rather a dazzling reputation for one so young."
"I am willing to apologize for it, sir," replied Christy, blushing like a maiden, as he was in duty bound to do, for he could not control the crimson that rose to his browned cheeks.
"Quite unnecessary," replied Captain McKeon, smiling. "As long as you do your duty nobody 237 will be jealous of you, and you will be a fit officer for all our young men to emulate. You were the acting commander on the voyage of the Bronx from New York. Your executive officer is the present second lieutenant. Is he qualified for the peculiar duty before you?"
"No one could be more so, sir," replied Christy with proper enthusiasm.
"I can fully indorse this opinion of Mr. Passford," added Captain Blowitt. "In the capture and bringing out of the Teaser, Mr. Flint was the right hand man of the leader of the enterprise."
"And I gave him the command of the Ocklockonee, after her capture, and she took an active part in the affair with the Escambia, sir," said Christy.
"Then we will consider him the right man in the right place," replied the flag officer. "Who is the present third lieutenant?"
"Mr. Amblen is acting in that capacity at present, and he is a very good officer, though he holds no rank," answered Christy.
"Then I can hardly confirm him as second lieutenant," added Captain McKeon.
"In my report of the affairs with the Ocklockonee 238 and the Escambia, I have strongly recommended him and three other officers for promotion, for all of them are fitted by education and experience at sea to do duty on board of such vessels as the Bronx."
"Have you any officer in mind who would acceptably fill the vacant place, Captain Blowitt?"
"I know of no one at present who holds the rank to entitle him to such a position, and I shall appeal to Mr. Passford," replied the new commander.
"You have named Mr. Amblen, Mr. Passford; is he just the officer you would select if the matter were left to you?" asked the flag officer.
"No, sir, though he would do very well. Mr. Baskirk, who served as executive officer while Mr. Flint was away in the Ocklockonee, is better adapted for the place," said Christy. "He commanded the first division of boarders on board of the Escambia, and he fought like a hero and is a man of excellent judgment. I am confident that he will make his mark as an officer. I am willing to admit that I wrote a letter to my father especially requesting him to do what he could for the immediate promotion of Mr. Baskirk."
239 "Then he will be immediately promoted," added Captain McKeon with an expressive smile.
"I may add also that I was presumptive enough to suggest his appointment as third lieutenant of the Bronx," continued Christy.
"Then he will be the third lieutenant of the Bronx; and what you say would have settled the matter in the first place as well as now," said the flag officer, as much pleased with the reticence of the young officer as with his modesty. "Amblen may remain on board till his commission comes, and you can retain him as third lieutenant, Captain Blowitt, if you are so disposed. I have ordered a draft of twelve seamen to the Bronx, which will give you a crew of thirty, and I cannot spare any more until more men are sent down. I may add that I have taken some of them from the Bellevite."
"I am quite satisfied, sir, with the number, though ten more would be acceptable," replied the commander of the Bronx.
The two officers were then dismissed and ordered on board of their ship. A little later the draft of seamen was sent on board, and among them Christy was not sorry to see Boxie, the old 240 sheet-anchor man of the Bellevite, who had made him a sort of pet, and had done a great deal to instruct him in matters of seamanship, naval customs, and traditions not found in any books.
The commander and the executive officer paid their final visit to the Bellevite the next day, and the order was............
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