“It seems reasonable. At least, I shall make a report as soon as we get away from the island. And the old woman should be watched, too.”
“Indeed she should!” cried Whistler. “What do you suppose she meant, Mr. MacMasters, about our Kennebunk being sunk?”
“The speech was fathered by the wish, perhaps.”
“But she seemed so certain—so assured,” murmured Whistler.
He was not satisfied by this explanation of Mr. MacMasters, and was silent all the way back to Mag’s cabin. They came in sight of the place just as the men poured out of the cabin in great excitement.
“What do you suppose is the matter with them now?” demanded the ensign.
But he spied the cause of the excitement as soon as Whistler did. Crossing the sound was a swift revenue cutter, and one of the seamen, under direction from Mr. Mudge, leaped upon a bowlder and began to signal, semaphore fashion.
The signals were returned and the cutter swung in shoreward and soon dropped a boat for the castaways. The shipwrecked seamen from the Kennebunk swarmed down to the strand.
Mr. MacMasters whispered to Whistler that they would have their breakfast aboard the Coast Guard boat. Then he went to the scowling old woman who, after all, had been a most hospitable hostess. Some of the sailors had given her money in small sums; but the ensign forced her to accept an amount that he thought generous payment for what she had done for them, and Mag seemed to agree.
“Yo’ Yankees air free-handed already,” she drawled. “But that won’t save you, Mr. Officer, from the trouble that’s heaped up for you-uns.”
“What is the nature of this trouble?” asked the ensign curiously.
“Death an’ destruction,” said the old woman. “Death and destruction. Yo’ fine big ship, the Kennebunk ship, will be blowed sky-high. It’s a comin’! Mark Old Mag’s prophecy, Mr. Officer.”
“We shall all have to go on and do our duty just the same, Mag,” said Mr. MacMasters, seriously. “And if a sailor does his duty, he’s done his all. The rest is in God’s hands.”
“Don’t blaspheme, Mr. Yankee!” warned the old woman. “The Lawd ain’t studyin’ ‘bout he’pin’ you-uns none. He’s on the other side already.”
The boat from the cutter had to return a second time before all the castaways were transferred to the revenue vessel. Whistler went in the last boat with Ensign MacMasters.
When they were on the cutter’s deck the young fellow heard Mr. MacMasters ask at once about the character of the old woman, and of any other people who might belong on the island.
“They’re under suspicion,” the commander of the cutter said briefly. “The Department has its eye on them. On that old woman, too.”
Mr. MacMasters asked if anything was known about the small cabin back in the forest. The revenue officer listened eagerly.
“Ah-ha! That is something of moment, Ensign. I shall surely be glad to hear all about that. But we must be brisk. Do you know that your Captain Trevor is combing the sea and the coast with wireless messages for you?”