“I’d like to get in there,” said Whistler, “without attracting his attention and that of the man with him. I know he’s the skipper of that oil boat.”
“How are you going to do that?” demanded Torry. “They’ll spot our blouses and caps in a minute.”
“That’s just it. Wish we didn’t have ’em on,” grumbled his friend.
“Good-night! We’d make a nice fumble, wouldn’t we, if we didn’t wear the uniform? What would it be—a month in the brig on hard tack and water?”
“Say!” murmured the eager Ikey Rosenmeyer, “there’s a side door. I’ll call Abe, the waiter, out there and tell him. If those fellows have gone into one of the booths——”
“Bully!” cried Torry. “Maybe he can sneak us into one next to ’em. How about it, Whistler?”
“Just the thing,” agreed Morgan, nodding his head emphatically.
Ikey ran down the alley beside the restaurant while his mates waited at the corner. The side door was not used save by the restaurant help; but Ikey insinuated himself in by that entrance and in half a minute poked his head out of the door again and beckoned furiously to the other boys.
“Oi, oi!” he chuckled in high feather, when they joined him. “We are in luck all right. Those fellows got a booth, and Abe is layin’ the table in the one next to it, this side, for us. Come on! They won’t see us.”
“If they take a look out of the curtains they will,” declared Torry.
“Have a care, now, about talking,” Whistler advised earnestly. “Say nothing about boats or the sea. No whispering, remember! Talk right out when you talk at all.”
“All right, me lud,” said Frenchy. “Anything else?”
“Yes,” said Whistler grimly. “This is a Dutch treat. Every fellow pays for his own eats. Last time we were in a restaurant you all wished the check on to me.”
At that his mates chuckled much. Each had excused himself and gone out “just for a minute,” and Whistler found himself, after waiting half an hour, expected by the waiter to pay the whole score.
The four got into the booth the waiter had prepared for them, and Whistler sat with his back against the partition dividing it from that in which Blake and his companion sat. Between the clatter of dishes, the waiter’s calls to the order man, and the talking of his own friends, Whistler could not hear much at first. But he knew the two men whom he suspected were talking in English.
Of course they would not be unwise enough to speak in German. By this time the German language when spoken in public places was beginning to cause remark. Wise Germans, whether friendly or enemy aliens, were not using it.
One of the voices Whistler heard in the other booth, however, was distinctly German in its accent. This he was quite sure was the skipper of the oil tender. The other man used perfect English.
“They would not be likely to select a man too obviously German for a big part in any plot,” thought Whistler. “And that Blake looks like a suave, well educated fellow.”