She felt that the battle could end only one way. The might of the Skandinavia was too great for anything but its complete victory. She was sure, quite sure. Oh, yes. And she knew she would not have it otherwise. But the pity of it. This creature of splendid manhood. To think that he must go down—smashed. That was the word they used—smashed.
How she hated the word. The big soul of him with his ready kindliness. Oh, it was a pity. It was a distracting thought. And why should it be? For the life of her she could see no need. A little yielding on his part. Just a shade less iron stubbornness. The whole thing could have been avoided she was sure. The olive branch had been held out by the Skandinavia. But he had deliberately refused it.
No. He had made himself their enemy. Then surely there could be no complaint at the disaster that would overtake him. He was clearly to blame. So why let the contemplation of it distract her?
She strove a hundred times to dismiss the whole thing from her mind. She courted sleep in every conceivable way. But it was all useless. The man’s fine eyes and great body haunted her. They pursued her to her last waking thought. And, at last, she fell asleep, thinking of the strong supporting arms that had held her safe from the fury of Atlantic waves.
THE PLANNING OF CAMPAIGN
Nathaniel Hellbeam sat ominously calm and unruffled while Elas Peterman told of his meeting with Bull Sternford. He gave no sign whatever. There was just the flicker of a smile of appreciation of Bull’s effrontery when he heard of his response to Peterman’s invitation to sell. That alone of the whole story seemed to afford him interest. For the rest, it had only been the sort of thing he expected.
He waited until the other had finished. Then he stirred in his chair. It was an expression of relief that his long, silent sitting had ended.
“So,” he said. “We do not buy him. No. We smash him.”
There was obvious satisfaction that the more peaceful process was to be set aside.
He sat blinking at his subordinate in the fashion of a man who is thinking hard, and has no interest in the object upon which he is gazing.
“It is as I think—all the time,” he said at last. “That is all right. I make no cry out. It is easy to fight. I would fight always with an enemy. It is good. Now my friend, you have acted so. You bring the man from Sachigo to tell you to go to hell. Eh? Well you have thought much? You have planned for the fight? How is it you make this fight?”
Elas was standing before the desk. He had, yielded his place to this man who was master of the Skandinavia. Now he looked down at the square-headed creature with his gross, squat body. It was a figure and face bristling with venom and purpose; and somehow he was conscious of a sudden lack of his usual assurance.