“Lumber market’s up and down, down and up, and we never know where we stand. Give you that at two-fifty a share. Want it?”
“I should say I do!” Skinner gasped.
“Then you owe me sixty-five thousand dollars. I’ll take your promissory note for it at five per cent., and you can pay the note out of your salary and the dividends. You’ll be in the clear in ten years at the very latest; the stock I’m selling you now will be worth a hundred thousand—with your management. Here’s the contract, which embodies a promissory note. Sign it, endorse the stock to me to secure the payment of the note, and then clear out of here. Not a peep out of you, sir, not a peep. If you say ‘Thank you’ I’ll change my mind about selling.”
Mr. Skinner’s hand trembled a little as he wrote his name across the backs of the stock certificates and appended the same clear, concise signature to the note. Silently he wrung Cappy’s hand.
“Get out,” rasped Cappy. Mr. Skinner got out.
CAPPY’S PLANS DEMOLISHED
Four more months passed, and peace reigned in the offices of the Blue Star Navigation Company. Matt Peasley’s name had never been mentioned in Mr. Skinner’s presence since that dark day when he had ventured, for the first time in his career, to lay down the law to Cappy Ricks. The pick-handle still reposed behind Skinner’s desk, but that was merely because he had forgotten all about it, and nobody ever touched any of his property without his permission. Not once had Matt Peasley’s cheerful countenance darkened the Skinner horizon.
This, then, was the condition of affairs when the office boy carried to Mr. Skinner a piece of disquieting information—to wit, that Captain Matt Peasley was without and desired to hold speech with Mr. Ricks.
“Tell him Mr. Ricks is too busy to see him,” Skinner ordered. Not having heard anything of Matt for six months he concluded that the latter’s affair with the boss’ daughter had languished and died a natural death; hence he felt that he could defy Matt with impunity. Judge of his surprise, therefore, when a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder later and Matt Peasley stood glaring down at him.
“Well, sir!” said Skinner coolly.
“I heard you had a pick-handle waiting here for me,” Matt replied evenly, “so I just dropped in to tell you that if you ever pull a pick-handle on me I’ll take it away from you and ram it down your throat. That’s all I have to say to you, Mr. Skinner. If, the next time I call, at Mr. Ricks’ invitation, to see him, you intercept my message and try to block my game—”
The great Peasley hand closed over Mr. Skinner’s neck and felt of it tentatively.
“Ouch!” gasped Mr. Skinner.
“Admit the brother,” Matt called to an imaginary sentry behind Cappy’s door. “He has given the password. The lodge has been duly opened and we are now ready for business.”