It seemed to be part of a letter, and was closely written on both sides of the scrap. On one side was the beginning of the missive, and after a minute Whistler realized that it was written in German script.
At the head of the letter was a line that not alone amazed, but startled the boy. Coincidence often has a long arm, and in this case the adage proved true. The letter was addressed to
“Herr Franz Linder.”
THE WITCH’S WARNING
Whistler had been assured when he attended the session in the sheriff’s office at home, before joining the crew of the Kennebunk, that the enemy alien named Franz Linder, who was supposed to have blown up the Elmvale dam, was an influential member of that band of spies that were doing so much harm in the United States.
It was surprising to find this scrap of a letter addressed to the spy in this island cabin off the coast of North Carolina. Yet it smacked of no improbability.
Whistler had heard the spy tell the skipper of the oil carrier, the Sarah Coville, that his work was done in that vicinity. Linder, or Blake as he was known at Elmvale, had naturally got well away from the neighborhood of the dam after it was blown up.
That he was on this island at the present time was not so likely; but that he had been here, and in this cabin, was very possible. Perhaps had the castaways from the wrecked yawl arrived a few hours before at the cabin of Mag they might have seen the German spy.
The old woman who tried to make Whistler believe she possessed second sight, or some gift quite as uncanny, was in league with or had some knowledge of Franz Linder. The boy was confident on this point.
She was of German descent at least, and she showed bitterness toward “the Yankees.” However, she proved herself to be a hospitable hostess. It was her southern, not her Teutonic, training probably that led to this.
Whistler could not read German, and he did not know that any member of his party could do so. Nevertheless, he crumpled the bit of paper in his hand and thrust it into his pocket, biding his time until he could show it to Mr. MacMasters.
It was ten o’clock before the stew was ready to be dished up. The aroma of it awakened the hungry men.
“This must be heaven, for it smells like mother’s cooking!” declared Slim. “Oh, yum, yum! Oh, boy!”
“The old lady ain’t no angel,” put in Jemmy; “but she sure can cook.”
“And angels can’t, I guess,” added Torrance, grinning.
“Say, boy!” grinned Rosy, “didn’t you ever eat angel cake?”
Whistler found his chance to speak to Mr. MacMasters when the others crowded around the table. Mag put the steaming kettle of stew in the middle of the bare board and ladled it out into brown earthen bowls.
“See what I found on the floor here, Mr. MacMasters,” Whistler said quietly, and thrusting the paper into the ensign’s hand. “Don’t let the old woman see it, sir.”