“Kelton,” he said, “the bank will not honor your check.”
Kelton looked desperate.
“Confound you!” he growled. “I stalled you until five minutes before the bank closed, thinking you would deposit it in your own bank to-morrow morning and I’d have a deposit to cover it by that time. It will be all right first thing in the morning, Peasley.”
“It had better be!” Matt told him bluntly. “Your charter provides for cancellation in the event that payments are not made as stipulated, and I’m not in a position to carry you or to take any chances on you—and I’m not going to.”
“I can’t blame you a bit,” Kelton answered regretfully. “I tell you, with the money market as tight as it is, we’re beating the devil round the stump these days. Confound it, Peasley, a man has to do some scheming and stalling when everybody is crowding him for money, doesn’t he?”
The check was not paid when Matt presented it the next morning. As he came out of the bank a newsboy, crying his daily sensation, accosted him with the first afternoon edition, and Matt’s glance caught a smear of red ink seven columns wide across the front page:
Shipping man A suicide!
It was Morrow!
For about a minute Matt Peasley stood on the corner, doing some of the fastest thinking he had ever done. Morrow had taken a short cut out of his financial worries, and Matt realized that the tragedy would undoubtedly bring an avalanche of creditors down on the unhappy Kelton and ruin the firm. At any rate, the concern would doubtless go into the hands of a receiver, and Matt Peasley might or might not hope for his in the sweet by and by, according to the amount of salvage reported. The Tillicum was seventy-six hours at sea!
“Matthew,” Matt Peasley murmured to himself, “’theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die’—and all in one thundering big hurry!”
WHEN PAIN AND ANGUISH WRING THE BROW
Cappy Ricks was having his siesta, with his feet on top of his desk, when Matt Peasley came bounding in, seized him by the shoulder and shook him wideawake.
“Well, young man,” Cappy snapped querulously, “what’s all the excitement about?”
“Morrow has committed suicide, and I know the firm is in financial difficulties. I’ll not be able to collect now—I’ll have to wait with the rest of the creditors; and meantime the Tillicum, fully loaded, is somewhere down off the Mexican coast. Good gracious, Mr. Ricks, there’s the very devil to pay!”
“We will, if you please, not include outsiders in this argument for the present, Matt,” Cappy retorted dryly. “The unfortunate devil does not pay! You do, Matt. I should worry!”
“But you can help me save something from the wreck!” Matt pleaded desperately. “It’s going to clean me of my last dollar to make good with you on my charter, even if Morrow & Company do not make good with me on theirs; and—”