“He was bung up and bilge free—and that’s why he’s chief kicker now. The hawser’s fast for’d, Mr. Murphy. Cast off your stern line.”
“All clear for’d, sir,” Matt Peasley’s shout came ranging down the wind, and the tug snatched the big barkentine out from the mill dock into the stream where she cast her off, put her big towing hawser aboard, paid it out and started for Grays Harbor bar.
BAD NEWS FROM CAPE TOWN
On a certain day in February Mr. Skinner, coming into Cappy Ricks’ office with a cablegram in his hand, found his employer doubled up at his desk and laughing in senile glee.
“I have a cablegram—” Mr. Skinner began.
“I have a good story,” Cappy interrupted. “Let me tell it to you, Skinner. Oh, dear! I believe this is about going to kill the boys up on ’Change when I tell them.” He wiped his eyes, controlled his mirth and turned to the general manager. “Skinner,” he said, “did you know I had gotten back into the harness while you were up at the Astoria mill? Well I did, Skinner. I had to, you know. If it was the last act of my life I had to square accounts with that man Hudner, of the Black Butte Lumber Company.”
Mr. Skinner nodded. He was aware of the feud that existed between Cappy and Hudner, and the reasons therefor. The latter had stolen from Cappy a stenographer, who had grown to spinsterhood in his employ—one of those rare stenographers who do half a man’s thinking for him. Cappy always paid a little more than the top of the market for clever service; and whenever, a competitor stole one of his favorite employees, sooner or later that competitor paid for his sins, “through the nose.”
“While you were away,” Cappy went on, “I met Hudner a luncheon. ‘Hudner,’ I said, ’It’s been my experience that nobody gets anything good in this world without paying for it—and you stole the finest stenographer I ever had. So I’m going to make you pay for her. See if I don’t.’ Well, sir, Skinner, he laughed at me and told me to go as far as I liked; and, a number of my youthful friends being present, they each bet Hudner a five-dollar hat I’d hang his hide on my fence within sixty days.
“We11, Skinner, you know me. Any time it’s raining duck soup you’ll never catch me out with a fork; and, of course, when the boys showed such faith in my ability to trim Hudner I had to make good. I have a letter from Hudner to prove it; and to-day at luncheon, when we’re all gathered at the Round Table, I’m going to read that letter and my reply to the same; and Hudner will have fifty dollars’ worth of hat bills to pay!”
“How did you tan his pelt?” Skinner queried.
“Easy! While you were away I chartered his steamer Chehalis for a load of redwood lumber from Humboldt Bay to San Francisco at three dollars and a half a thousand feet. Of course, you know a boat like the Chehalis, with a big pay-roll, will break just even on such a low freight rate; but inasmuch as he was going to lay the Chehalis up in Oakland Creek, owing to lack of business, when I offered him a load of redwood he concluded to take it, just to keep the vessel moving and pay expenses. I stipulated discharge in San Francisco Bay.