A sailor was AWOL as he tried to sneak on board his ship at about 3 A. M. but was caught by the Chief Petty Officer. Upon hearing the sailor's lame excuse for his tardiness, the officer ordered the sailor, "Take this broom and sweep every link on this anchor chain by morning or it's the brig for you!"
The sailor picked up the broom, As he began to sweep, a tern landed on the broom handle. The sailor yelled at the bird to leave, but it didn't. The lad picked the gull off the broom handle, giving the bird a toss. It left, only to return and land once again on the broom handle. The sailor went through the same routine all over again, with the same result.
He couldn't get any cleaning done because he could only sweep at the chain once or twice before the blasted gull returned. When morning came, the chief petty officer returned to check his wayward sailor's progress. "What have you been doing all night? This chain is no cleaner than when you started! What have you to say for yourself, sailor?"
"Honest, chief," came the reply, "I tossed a tern all night and couldn't sweep a link!"