“Or a colored gem’man smelling po’k chops on the frypan,” suggested Frenchy, chuckling.
“Say, Mister,” asked Whistler, turning to the skipper of the smack, “is there a tank ship in here?”
“An oil tanker? No! Nothing like it.”
“I smell it, too!” exclaimed Ikey suddenly.
“What you boys smell is the Sarah Coville that came in just ahead of us. She’s anchored here somewhere,” said the fisherman.
“What sort is she?” Whistler demanded. Then he described swiftly the oil tender he had marked that afternoon passing the Blue Reef fishing grounds.
“That’s her,” said the man. “She often slips in here. Don’t know who owns her now. Used to belong to the Texarcana Oil Company before the war. She’s only a lighter.”
“Is she laden?” asked Whistler.
“Didn’t look so to me,” was the reply.
Whistler Morgan said no more, and he warned his friends to have no further talk upon the matter. After they got ashore, however, all four were much excited by the incident.
“She was loaded to the Plimsoll mark when she passed us,” Torry said. “What could she have done with her cargo in so short a time?”
“I’d like to know,” agreed Whistler thoughtfully.
“We ought to tell somebody,” declared Frenchy.
“Let’s be sure we tell the right person,” Whistler advised. “Come on now and get some supper. We’ve an hour to wait for a train to Seacove.”
They marched up the main street of the port. The fog was not so thick inshore here. Just before they reached the restaurant they usually patronized when they were in the town, Whistler uttered an exclamation and held his friends back.
“See those two men going into Yancey’s Restaurant?” he queried.
“What about ’em?” Frenchy asked.
“The fellow ahead,” said Whistler Morgan deeply in earnest, “is that man Blake. The other I bet is the captain of the Sarah Coville.”
“Well,” asked Torry, after a moment, “what are you waiting for? Their eating at Yancey’s won’t stop us from going there too, will it?”
Whistler Morgan’s three chums had by this time become somewhat interested in the bearded man, who called himself Blake and who worked in the laboratory of the Elmvale munition factory.
They were not at all as sure as Whistler seemed to be that the man was an alien enemy, and dangerous; for one reason they did not know all that Whistler had discovered up by the dam. It was only to Ensign MacMasters that their leader had told of the water wheel under the rock.
Frenchy began to grin when he saw how Whistler hesitated about entering the restaurant in Rivermouth.
“What’s the matter? You so mad with that fellow that you won’t eat at Yancey’s because he does?” he asked.