He paused and eyed Matt meditatively for fully a minute.
“And you kicked my barkentine ashore with the quick water from your tug’s propeller,” he mused aloud. “Got her where you wanted her—and Murphy didn’t suspect! He laid it to the current!” Cappy shook his head. “A dirty Yankee trick,” he continued, “and I love you for it—in fact, it breaks my heart not to make good that grandstand play you just pulled on Skinner, but I’ve changed my mind about hiring you yet. I’m just going to sit back and have some fun watching you defend that little old twenty-thousand dollars I just gave you. Do you know, Matt, that I never knew a man to save up a thousand dollars, by denying himself many things, that he didn’t invest the thousand in a wild-cat mine or a dry oil well? Ah, Matt, it’s those first few dollars that come so hard and go so easy that break most men’s hearts; but here you are with twenty thousand that came so easy I’ve just naturally got to see how hard they go! You’ll be worth more money to me, Matt, and you’ll be a safer man to handle this business when I’m gone, if you go out and play the game for a while by yourself. You have a secret itching to do it anyhow, Matt, and in surrendering to me just now you went down with your colors flying. You just wanted to be kind to the old man, didn’t you? Well, I appreciate it, Matt, because I’m an old man, and I know how hard it is for a boy to yield to an old man’s wishes; but youth must be served, and God forbid that I should rob you of the joy of the conflict, my boy. When you’re busted flat and need some more money, you may have it up to the amount to your credit on our books. And when that’s gone I guess you’ll make a better port captain than you will this morning. Does that program suit you better than the one I originally outlined?”
Matt flushed and hung his head in embarrassment, but answered truthfully: “Yes, sir.”
“Very well,” said Cappy, relapsing into one of his frequent colloquialisms, “go to it, boy. Eat it up.”
CAPPY FORBIDS THE BANS—YET
Cappy Ricks sat at breakfast, tapping meditatively on the apex of a boiled egg, when his daughter swished into the room, saluted her interesting parent by depositing a light kiss on his bald and ingenuous head, and took her place at the table.
Florence Ricks was a radiant vision in a filmy pink breakfast gown and cap, and as she smiled perkily at Cappy he returned her bright look with one a trifle sad and yearning.
“Florence, my love,” said Cappy gently, “have you, by any chance, talked with that big, two-fisted sailor of yours within the past twelve hours?”
She shook her head negatively, tilting her nose and pursing her lips in an adorable grimace of disapproval.
“Since Matt Peasley has been master of that tug I see him only when his owners cannot find something more important for him to do. Why do you pop that question at me so suddenly? Did you want to see him about something?”