“Well, I guess that’s just about what Cappy has done,” Matt admitted, and handed his mate Cappy’s cablegram.
“Hah-hah!” Mr. Murphy commented. “That threat got past the general manager, right up to headquarters. Why, the old man signed this cablegram and they do say that when Cappy takes personal charge the fur begins to fly. Matt, if I was a drinking man I’d offer to bet you a scuttle of grog it’s a case of die dog, or eat the meat-axe. Your bluff has been called, my son.”
“Then,” Matt averred impudently, “the only thing for me to do is to call Cappy’s.”
“Why, give his messenger a good trouncing, of course. You don’t suppose I’m going to stand by and take a thrashing or let the other fellow heave me overboard, do you? I should say not!”
Mr. Murphy puffed at his pipe, in silence for several minutes, the while he pondered the situation. Presently he arrived at a solution.
“He wouldn’t send a prize-fighter down here, just to lick you,” he announced. “The old man is the wildest spendthrift on earth when you get him started, but as a general rule his middle name is Tight Wad. He would select a combination of scrapper and skipper, and there are any number of such combinations on the beach of ’Frisco town. I could name you a dozen off-hand, and any one of the dozen would make you mind your P’s and Q’s, big as you are. Still, they all fight alike—rough and tumble, catch-as-catch-can. They come wading in, swinging both arms and you could sail the Retriever through the openings they leave. Know anything about boxing, Matt?”
“Not a thing, Mike. I’ve always had to climb the big fellows.”
“Then I’ll teach you,” Mr. Murphy announced with conviction. “You’re in fine shape now—as right as a fox and fit to tackle the finest, but there isn’t any sense in getting mauled up when you don’t have to. I’ll go ashore and buy a set of six-ounce gloves, a set of two-ounce gloves and a punching bag. For the next three weeks you won’t have anything to do except prepare for the battle, and I can teach you a lot of good stuff in three weeks. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed, Matt, and if Cappy has sent a Holy Terror to clean you, give him a regular fight, even if he licks you.”
Matt Peasley nodded. He entertained a profound respect for Mr. Murphy’s judgment.
THE BATTLE OF TABLE BAY
In due course Captain Ole Peterson arrived at Cape Town. As the steamer which bore him slipped up Table Bay to her pier All Hands And Feet saw a big barkentine, flying the American flag, at anchor just inside the breakwater and rightly conjectured she was his future command. Three hours ashore proved ample time to consummate all of the Retriever’s neglected business. He discovered that the man to whom he was to administer a good, sound, commercial