“You stole ship. If you value
your ticket bring her back with
cargo agent provides.”
Naturally this somewhat cryptic cablegram roused Matt Peasley’s curiosity. He could not rest until be had interviewed the agent—and after that sop to his inquisitiveness he returned to the Retriever a broken man. The loyal and disgusted Murphy read the trouble in the master’s face.
“What new deviltry’s afoot now, Matt?” he demanded, in his eagerness and sympathy forgetting the respect due his superior.
“Green hides, Mike!” the skipper answered, in his distress failing to notice the mate’s faux pas and making one himself. “Green hides, old pal; and they stink something horrible. Back to Seattle with the dirty mess, and then another cargo of creosoted—”
“King’s X!” yelled Mr. Murphy. “I crossed my fingers the minute your face appeared over the rail. I quit—and I quit as soon as this piling is out. I tell you I won’t keep company with green hides. No, sir; I won’t. I tell you I will—not—do it! Why, we might as well have a dead hog in the hold! Captain Matt, I hate to throw you down in a foreign port; but this—is absolutely—the finish!”
“Do you value your ticket, Mike?” the captain queried ominously.
“What’s a ticket when a man’s lost his self-respect?” Mr. Murphy raved.
Matt handed him Cappy’s cablegram and the mate read it.
“I think that bet goes double, Mike,” the skipper warned him. “You signed for the round trip. I’ve got to go through—and there’s strength in numbers.”
“Well,” said Mr. Murphy reluctantly, “I suppose I do attach a certain—er—sentimental value to my ticket.”
“I thought you would. Cappy’s got us by the short hair, Mike; and the only thing to do is to fly to it, with all sails set. We must never let on he’s given us anything out of the ordinary.”
Mr. Murphy shivered; for, as Cappy had remarked to Mr. Skinner, the mate was Irish, hence imaginative. He imagined he smelled the green hides already, and quite suddenly he gagged and sprang for the rail. Poor fellow! He had stood much of late and his stomach was a trifle sensitive from a diet of creosote straight.
Somehow they got the awful cargo aboard, though, at that, there were not sufficient hides to half load her; in consequence of which all hands realized that Cappy had merely given them this dab of freight to sicken them. They cursed him all the way back to Seattle, where the crew quit the minute the vessel was made fast to the dock.
CAPPY SEEKS PEACE
“Here’s a telegram for you, sir,” Mr. Murphy remarked when Matt Peasley came aboard after cashing a draft on the Blue Star Navigation Company to pay off his crew. It proved to be from Cappy Ricks and said merely:
“Discharge that cargo of hides or take the consequences!”