“Arrah! D’ye hear that now?” whispered Irish Jemmy hoarsely. “’Tis as much as our lives are worth to stay here.”
Superstitious as he was, Jemmy was afraid to leave the cabin alone. Most of the castaways were glad to retire to the berths again and, blessed with full stomachs, it was not a great while before they fell asleep.
The two Seacove boys finished helping the old woman.
“You are a pair of good boys,” she said after looking at them for some time and muttering to herself the while. “Why don’t you run away? I’ll get you off the island yet, befo’ that officer man wakes up.”
“Why, Mother! we don’t want to run away,” Torry told her, laughing. “We belong to one of the Navy’s crack superdreadnaughts.”
“Aye, I know. The Kennebunk,” said Mag, nodding gloomily.
“Sure,” Torry rejoined. “We want to see some fighting.”
“’Tis not fighting you-uns’ll see,” croaked the woman. “Old Mag tells you, and she knows. Yo’ fine, big ship will go down in the midst of the seas and her crew with her. Better yo’ luck if it happens befo’ yo’ git back to her already.”
“You don’t mean that?” Whistler cried.
“I’m a-tellin’ yo’ so,” said the queer old woman. “Old Mag knows mo’ than other folks. Oh, yes! She’ll sink. Better yo’ boys stay ashore.”
“What do you know about ’the witch’s warning’?” whispered Torry to Whistler. “She thinks she’s got second sight. Knows more than anybody else. She’s like one of the Seven Sutherland Sisters—she prophesies.”
“Shucks!” chuckled Whistler in the same cautious tone, “they weren’t prophetesses; they sold hair restorer.”
But to himself Whistler muttered:
“Maybe she does know more than we do. But how does she know it? There’s something awfully queer about this whole business.”
Although Whistler was quite sure “Old Mag,” as she called herself, possessed no powers of divination, he knew she did have certain knowledge that he considered she had no moral right to have.
Here she was, an ignorant old creature living on a well nigh uninhabited island off an isolated coast, with some mysterious means of information upon subjects that she should know nothing about.
She claimed not to have seen the other party of castaways; yet she knew at once that Mr. MacMasters and his companions were from a craft that had been blown up miles away from her cabin, and completely out of sight and hearing of this island.
Whistler did not believe any fishing boat, or other craft, had brought this information to Mag. There had been no vessel in sight when the Kennebunk’s tender was blown up by the floating mine.
The scrap of a letter addressed to “Herr Franz Linder” he had found in the cabin connected the old crone, in Whistler’s mind, with the German spy system. She was of Teutonic extraction herself.