“Well, I’ll bet I’d do something,” he rasped. “I’d make that bucko suffer or I’d know the reason why.”
“Skinner, that’s just what we’re going to do—just what we’re doing, in fact. One of my ancestors sailed with the late John Paul Jones and ever since the Ricks’ family motto has been: ’I have not yet begun to fight.’ Now listen to reason, Skinner. The Retriever just came off dry-dock, didn’t she? Well, it stands to reason she was dirty after that last cargo of creosoted piling; and it stands to reason, also, that the man Peasley slicked her up with white paint until she looked like an Easter bride. A Scandinavian doesn’t give a hoot if his vessel is tight, well found and ready for sea; but a Yankee takes a tremendous pride in his ship and likes to keep her looking like a yacht. And just think, Skinner, how the man Peasley must have felt when he came off dry dock, all clean and nice, and then had to slop her up with another cargo of creosoted piling? Just think of that, Skinner!” and again he commenced his insane cackle.
“I have other, and more important things to think about,” Mr. Skinner retorted icily. As a business man he was opposed to levity in the office. “What are your plans with reference to the Retriever? Do you wish to bring her back from Antofagasta in ballast?”
“Why, certainly not. Hunt a cargo for her, Skinner. We might just as well let the man Peasley know that though he’s gone he’s not forgotten. Use the cable freely and see if you can’t pick up something for the return trip that will make those two firebrands sick at the stomach.”
A month later Mr. Skinner stepped into Cappy’s sanctum.
“Well,” he announced. “I’ve got a return cargo for the Retriever.”
“What have you got?” Cappy demanded anxiously; and Mr. Skinner told him.
“No?” said Cappy incredulously.
“Yes!” Mr. Skinner assured him.
Cappy’s laughter testified to his hearty approval.
“Skinner, my dear boy,” he cried. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
And then he laid his wicked old head on his desk and laughed until he wept. Indeed, Mr. Skinner so far forgot his code as to laugh with him.
“We’ll stink those two vagabonds—those maritime outlaws—out of the ship,” he declared.
THE WAR IS RENEWED
The belief that they had come off victorious in their skirmish with Cappy Ricks cheered Matt Peasley and his mate for the first two weeks out from Puget Sound; after which the creosote commenced to season their food, and then the victory began to take on the general appearance of a vacuum. However, thanks to a clean keel and fair winds, they made a smashing passage and their sufferings were not unduly prolonged.
Immediately on his arrival at Antofagasta the young skipper reported by cable to his owners, thereby eliciting the following reply from Cappy Ricks: