“Going into business this morning, I suppose?”
“Ship, freight and marine insurance broker.”
“Well, that’s a line that will keep you hustling for your wheatcakes until you get well acquainted. However, just to give you a shove in the right direction, you might scout round the market and see whether you can dig up a cargo for our steamer Tillicum. Usual commission of two and a half per cent.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ricks. I ought to be able to scare up something in the way of a foreign lumber cargo for her.”
“We’ve tried and failed. Moreover, her fuel-oil tankage isn’t sufficient to take her too far foreign and back; added to which she is under American registry, employing American seamen, and I’d rather lay her up than put a coolie crew aboard and compete with the British tramps, with their Lascar and Chinamen, at six and seven dollars a month. We’ve been running her in our own trade; but the lumber market is very dull and she has but one more cargo in sight; after that is freighted, unless we can find outside business for her, she’ll have to lay up in Oakland Inner Harbor until the Panama Canal opens—when, of course, we can load her for the Atlantic seaboard. She carries nearly two million feet, and that’s what makes it so hard for us to keep her busy coastwise.”
“How about some Mexican or Central American business—general cargo?” Matt suggested.
“Pretty hard stuff to get. The Pacific Mail has most of the Central American business; and, owing to the political situation in Mexico, that trade is practically killed. Every vessel that gets in there has trouble with one faction or the other; they’re liable to confiscate, and then we’d have to call on the navy to get our ship back for us.”
“I’ll look round for a grain charter to Honolulu and return with sugar or general cargo.”
“We might do that,” Cappy suggested, brightening. “Good luck to you, Matt—and don’t be a stranger.”
MATT PEASLEY BECOMES A SHIPOWNER
A youth thrust a wary nose into Cappy Ricks’ private office and announced Captain Matt Peasley was desirous of admittance.
“Show him in,” Cappy ordered, and Matt entered.
“Well, young man,” said Cappy briskly, “sit down and tell me of your adventures during your first week as a business man. Of course, I hear from Florry that you have opened a dink of an office somewhere—got desk space with the Alaskan Codfish Corporation, haven’t you, with the use of their telephone, stenographer and general office boy?”
“Yes, sir. The manager, Slade, is a native of Thomaston—never knew anything but fish all his life; and, inasmuch as I was raised on the Grand Banks, I got in the habit of drifting round there occasionally, and Slade offered me the privilege of making it my headquarters. Ten dollars a month—cheap enough.”