“Skinner,” said Cappy Ricks impressively. “Look me square in the eye. Do you refuse orders?”
“I do, sir,” Skinner replied, and looked Cappy in the eye so fiercely that the old schemer quailed. “This is an unworthy business, Mr. Ricks. You’re trying to teach Matt Peasley some business tricks, and he’s taught you a few, so be a sport, sir, and pay for your education.”
“All right,” Cappy replied meekly. “When my own general manager goes back on me, I suppose there’s nothing to do but quit. The program appears to be impracticable, so we’ll say no more about it.”
“I am glad to hear you say that, Mr. Ricks,” Skinner answered feelingly, and forthwith repaired to his own office.
Cappy Ricks gazed after him almost affectionately, and as the door closed behind the general manager, Cappy murmured sotto voce:
“Skinner, I’ve been twenty-five years wondering why the devil I liked you, and now I know. Why, you cold-blooded, efficient, human automaton, you’ve actually got a heart! Bow! wow! Faithful Fido Skinner was just a-tugging at the chain and dragging the dog house after him in his efforts to eat me up! I hope I go bankrupt if I don’t raise his salary!”
He turned to a pigeonhole in his desk and drew forth the charter he had negotiated months before with Matt Peasley for the Tillicum. He read it over carefully, tucked it in his breast pocket and slipped quietly out the door. One hour later a suit against the Pacific Shipping Company was filed in the county clerk’s office, and at five minutes after ten a deputy-sheriff appeared at the paying-teller’s window in the Marine National Bank and filed a writ of attachment on the funds to their credit.
SKINNER DEVELOPS INTO A HUMAN BEING
Cappy Ricks was having his mid-afternoon siesta in his office when Captain Matt Peasley appeared at the counter of the general office and, without awaiting an invitation to enter, swung through the office gate and made straight for Cappy’s office. En route he had to pass through Mr. Skinner’s lair, and the general manager looked up as Matt entered.
“Well, Captain,” he said pleasantly, “how goes it?”
“Fine,” Matt answered with equal urbanity. “That was a slick piece of work tying up my bank account. I can’t get a bond to-day, the bank is closed, and I suppose you’re going to insist upon payment of that eighteen thousand dollars before midnight to-night or take the Tillicum and her cargo away from me.”
Mr. Skinner started in genuine amazement.
“Attached your bank account, Matt? I give you my word of honor I had nothing to do with it.”
“Well, it’s tied up by the Blue Star Navigation Company, and Cappy Ricks has served notice on me to call here and pay up or suffer cancellation of my charter. Of course, for all the good my bank account is to me this minute he might as well ask me to give him the moon.”