“Yep. The mail,” he said. “And I’d hate to set that feller to work on a seaman’s job. He’s about as unhandy as a doped Chinaman. I’d say Masters is playing safe keeping him from messing up the running gear while we’re discharging. Say, get a look at it.”
A great laugh accompanied the old man’s words as the foreign-looking creature tripped on the gangway, and only saved himself from a bad fall by precipitating his burden upon the quay. There was no responsive laughter in Standing. And Bat Harker’s features remained rigidly unsmiling. Standing turned sharply.
“Maybe you can spare that boy to run those mails up to my office,” he said. “It’s a good healthy pull up the hill for him, and my folks are full to the neck with things. I’d be glad.”
“Sure he can.” Captain Hardy was only too delighted to be able to oblige so important a customer of his company. He promptly shouted at the landing officer.
“Ho, you! Masters! Just let that darn Dago tote them mails right up to Mr. Standing’s office. He ain’t no sort of use out of hell down here—anyway.”
The mate’s reply came back with an appreciative grin.
“Ay, sir,” he cried, and forthwith hurled the order at the mail carrier with a plentiful accompaniment of appropriate adjectives.
“Thanks,” Standing turned away. His smiling luminous eyes were shining. “I’ll get right along up, Captain. There’s liable to be things need seeing to in that mail before you pull out. You’d best come along, too, Bat,” he added pointedly.
Standing hurried away. A sudden fierce passion was surging through his veins. Nisson was right. He knew it—now. And in a fever of impatience he was yearning to come to grips with those who would rob him of the hopes in which his whole being was bound up.
The two men reached the office on the hillside minutes before the mail carrier. They took the hill direct, passing hurriedly through the aisles of scented woods which shadowed its face. The other, the stranger, was left with no alternative but the roadway, zigzagging at an easier incline.
Standing passed into the house. His confidential man of many races looked up from his work. The quick, black eyes were questioning. He was perhaps startled at the swift return of the man whom he regarded above all others.
Standing spoke coldly, emphatically.
“There’s a man coming along up. He’s a sailorman, and he’s dressed in dirty dungaree, and he’s carrying a sack of mail. Now see and get this clearly, Loale. It’s important. It’s so important I can’t stand for any sort of mistake. When he comes you’ve got to send him right into my room with the mail-bag. I want him to take it in himself. You get that?”
The half-breed’s eyes blinked. It was rather the curious attitude of an attentive dog. But that was always his way when the master of the Sachigo Mill spoke to him.