San Francisco, Feb. 17th, 19—.
Peasley, you are hereby discharged.
Turn over command second
mate, call consignees your wages immediately.
Having dispatched this cablegram and ended it all, as it were, Mr. Skinner next cast his cold gray glance adown the duplicate crew list borrowed from the deputy shipping commissioner, and discovered that the second mate shipped at San Francisco was one Christian Swenson.
“I do hope he’s not a drinking man,” Skinner sighed. “The Retriever is quite a responsibility to entrust to a man we have never seen or heard of before, but the man Swenson can scarcely be as vicious and insubordinate as this fellow Peasley, and under the circumstances we’ll have to run the risk.”
And having wotted the which, Mr. Skinner cabled Christian Swenson to take charge of the Retriever, at master’s wages, until the arrival of his successor. Next he cabled The Harlow and Benton Company, Limited, requesting them to pay off Matt Peasley and, if necessary, invoke the authorities to remove him from the vessel.
“That fellow is a tough one to handle,” he remarked to Cappy Ricks, to whom he showed all the cablegrams, “but I guess this will about cut off his wind.”
“A sea lawyer is the curse of the Seven Seas!” Cappy declared waspishly. He was very bitter against Matt Peasley, whom he now regarded as an ally of the piratical cable company.
CAPPY RICKS MAKES BAD MEDICINE
That afternoon Mr. Skinner herded Captain McBride of the Nokomis and his Norwegian mate into Cappy Ricks’ office. Cappy brought them to terms very promptly, and the captain started for New York on the Overland the same night. From New York he was to take passage to Liverpool, thence via the A. D. line to Cape Town. Cappy almost had a bloody sweat when he reflected on the expense for provisions and wages for the crew during the weeks of idleness while McBride was on the way to join the Retriever. Both he and Mr. Skinner had decided that nothing could be gained by informing McBride, who was a little, mild-mannered gentleman with gold eyeglasses, of the potential ducking that awaited him at the hands of Matt Peasley; for just before McBride said good-bye and started for the train Cappy and Mr. Skinner discovered that their apple cart again had been upset. The following cablegram received from Matt Peasley knocked into a cocked hat all their high hopes of ridding themselves of the incubus.
Cape Town, Feb. 17, 19—.
Swenson fired before leaving San Francisco. Second mate Murphy declines take your orders, claiming me superior officer; I decline also, claiming captain en route my superior officer. Owner can fire captain but only captain can fire or disrate ship’s officers. Besides I shipped for the round trip.