More time passed, then suddenly the young people spotted the vague outline of a large freighter. It was too dark to see its name or country of origin.
“I wonder if The Whisper is going to rendezvous with that ship,” Nancy said. She took the binoculars out of their case and scanned the area. “They’re both running without lights. Danny, I think we’d better turn ours off, too.”
Danny complied and said, “I wonder if The Whisper and the freighter are still in motion.” He flicked on the Sampson’s sonar and detected the sound of The Whisper’s motor. “The freighter is standing still and The Whisper is idling alongside,” he said.
“Can we go any closer without being detected?” George asked.
“I think so,” he replied. “We’ll advance slowly. I’ll keep the engine as low as possible.”
“It’s getting very misty out here,” George observed. “I hope we’ll be able to see what’s going on.”
Danny chuckled. “At least they won’t see us!”
He drew up to within a hundred yards of The Whisper and cut his motor again. The four young people strained their eyes and ears, eager to find out why the two craft had met. Suddenly a bright searchlight was turned on, revealing the deck of the freighter and illuminating the smaller boat alongside it.
Nancy and her friends were terrified that they might be seen. Would the beam penetrate the mist far enough so the Sampson could be spotted?
The four watchers in the Sampson held their breath. Would they be kidnapped and taken aboard the freighter?
Although the brilliant searchlight showed up the Sampson clearly, the two men paid attention only to the freighter. The young people observed a large pine box being lowered from the freighter to The Whisper.
Bess gave a little low scream. “Let’s go!” she urged. “Somebody’s going to be buried at sea!”
The others disagreed. Nancy said, “If that box were a coffin, there would be no need for a secret transfer. The freighter could have lowered it into the sea.”
“Then what is it carrying?” Bess asked.
Nancy said she wished she knew that and where The Whisper would take the box.
Suddenly the great searchlight was turned off. Then the regular lights on the freighter beamed again and its engines began to roar. Within seconds the large craft started to move northward.
“Where do you suppose it’s going?” Danny asked.
“My guess,” Nancy replied, “is Bridgeport, Connecticut. Remember, that’s where the owners of The Whisper are from.”
“What do you think the freighter brought?” George asked.
Nancy shrugged. “Obviously something very secret. Maybe it’ll be buried on one of the keys, like pirate treasure.”
“I think the box contains something they need on Crocodile Island,” George suggested.
“I doubt that they need corpses,” Bess said dryly.
Danny laughed. “Let’s follow The Whisper, I’m sure it’ll go back to the island. Perhaps we can find out what’s in the pine box.”
The lights of The Whisper were still out, but they could hear its motor running. Danny listened carefully, then frowned. “It sounds as if they’re going out to sea!” he declared.
“Can we follow it?” Nancy asked, excited.
“We don’t have that much fuel. Also, with no lights it’s almost impossible. It’s so dark now we’d either lose The Whisper or run into it!”
“I have an idea,” George said. “Why don’t we return to Crocodile Island and wait? Perhaps The Whisper is only making a detour to throw off anyone who might follow it and will come back to the island later.”
“Good suggestion,” Nancy agreed. The young people turned around. After a while, Danny put the lights back on.
“I’m glad we’re getting away from that coffin,” Bess said. “I don’t ever want to see it again.”
George looked at her. “You’re probably right. There was a slain gangster in it, and The Whisper is going to dump him overboard into deep water so nobody will know where he’s buried!”
“You’re disgusting,” Bess exclaimed.
George defended herself. “You brought it up, not the rest of us.”
Danny and Nancy were laughing. “George,” the boy said, “you ought to write horror stories. You’d make a lot of money.”