But the wondering and excited Torrance could not answer these questions.
AN OLD FRIEND
Fishing rather palled upon both Whistler and Torry after sighting the other boat. The younger boys had not paid much attention to the passing of the craft which Whistler was confident was an oil lighter of some kind.
“You’re so plaguy suspicious, Whistler,” muttered Al Torrance, as they heaved up the anchor and the younger boys hoisted the big sail.
“For all you know, that Blake may be as harmless as a baby.”
“Sure,” agreed Morgan. “But what’s he doing out in that boat, and what is the boat itself doing out here? She’s headed off shore—and you saw she was loaded. The water almost lapped over her rail.”
“She surely isn’t headed for the other side of the Atlantic,” Whistler declared. “Yet she’s aiming straight out to sea right now. She isn’t following the coast any longer.”
It was a fact. Although the strange power launch was now at a great distance, it was plain she was leaving the land behind her. There was no land in that direction save the European coast.
“You believe she’s a supply ship for German subs?” asked Torry.
“Or taking out gasoline or oil to put aboard some Swedish or Norwegian ship that expects to give the cargo to the Germans at some rendezvous in the North Sea. That isn’t impossible, Torry.”
“Just the same I fancy you are hunting a mare’s nest,” his chum declared.
Torry—nor the other Navy boys—was not apt to call in question Whistler’s judgment. But on this occasion it seemed to him as though Morgan was shooting wild.
Frenchy Donahue and Ikey Rosenmeyer had caught several fish and were satisfied; but soon they began to notice that their companions had something on their minds besides the catch of channel bass.
“What’s bitin’ you fellows?” demanded Frenchy. “Had a spat?”
“I bet they’ve had a lover’s quarrel,” grinned Ikey. “Ain’t you going to speak to us, ever again, Torry?”
“Oh, my eye!” growled Torry.
But he and Whistler really had very little to say while the boat was running back into the cove. The wind was not so favorable, so it took a much longer time for the trip than it had to come out to the fishing grounds.
“But if we use a drop of his gas, old Cap Bridger will know it,” grumbled Frenchy. “Maybe we’ll have to row her in.”
A little flicker of breeze helped after a while, however; but it was just then, too, and after they had rounded one of the crab-claw capes that defended the cove from the ocean, that Ikey sang out:
“What’s this coming? Oi, oi! D’you see it, Whistler? It’s a streak of light!”
The other boys turned to look seaward. Rushing in from that watery world was a gray shape—narrow, low-decked, with slight upperworks and a single stack.