“Here,” he cried, with that command so natural to him. “Just don’t say another word. Let me talk. I guess I can tell you the things it’s up to you to hand me. It’ll save you a deal, and it’ll hand me a chance to blow off the hot air that’s mostly my way. This is the position. Peterman’s wise to the things doing right here. The Skandinavia’s up against years of cutting on the Shagaunty. The Shagaunty’s played right out. You folks have got to open new stuff. It’s my job to know all this. Very well. As I said, Peterman’s at last got wise to us. He knows we look like flooding the market, and jumping right in on him. So—you’re a mighty wealthy corporation—he figures to recognise us, and embrace us—with a business arrangement. That so?”
“Yes. A business arrangement.”
The girl’s relief was almost pathetic. Bull smiled.
“That’s so. A business arrangement. Should I entertain one, eh? That’s the question you’re right here to ask. And you want to take back my answer.” He paused. “Well, you’re going to take back my answer. And I kind of feel it’s the answer you’ll like taking back. Say, Miss McDonald, I’m only a youngster, myself, but I guess I know what it means to set out on a work hoping and yearning to make good. Will it make good for you to go back to Elas Peterman and say the feller at Sachigo is coming right along down by the Myra to-morrow, and would be pleased to death to talk this proposition right out in the offices of the Skandinavia? Will it?”
Nancy’s eyes lit. Their hazel depths were wells of thankfulness.
“Why, surely,” she said. “You mean you’re going to sail to-morrow?”
Bull laughed and his laugh was infectious. The girl was smiling her delight.
“That’s so. I need to cross the Atlantic. I wasn’t going till the Myra’s next trip. I’ll go to-morrow an’ stop over in Quebec to see your people. It just means hurrying my choreman packing my stuff while I show you around to-morrow. That kind of fixes things, and if you’ll hand me that pleasure I’d just love to show you around some this afternoon. There’s a heap to see, and I don’t fancy you missing any of it.” He passed round the desk, and picked up the girl’s coat and held it out invitingly. “Will you come right along?”
There was no denying him. Nancy looked up into his smiling eyes. She felt there was a lot she wanted to say, ought to say, on the business matter in hand. But it was impossible. And in her heart she was thankful.
“Why, I’d just love to,” she said, and stood up from her chair.
Very tenderly, very carefully the man’s hands helped her into her coat. And somehow Nancy was very glad the hands were big, and strong, and—yes—clumsy.
ON THE OPEN SEA
The Myra laboured heavily. With every rise and fall of her high bows a whipping spray lashed the faces of those on deck. The bitter north-easterly gale churned the ocean into a white fury, and the sky was a-race with leaden masses of cloud. There was no break anywhere. Sky and sea alike were fiercely threatening, and the wind howled through the vessel’s top gear.