“Thirty-nine hundred dollars,” flashed Skinner, to the tremendous admiration of Matt Peasley, who now considered the manager an intellectual marvel.
“Being a saving of how much?” Cappy droned on.
“Twenty-four hundred dollars,” answered the efficient human machine without seeming to think for an instant.
“Being a saving of how many cents on a thousand shingles?”
Mr. Skinner closed one eye, cocked the other at the ceiling an instant and said:
“Thirteen and one-third cents a thousand.”
“Very well, then, Skinner. Now listen to my instructions: Wire all the best shingle mills on Grays Harbor for quotations on Extra Star A Stars in one to five million lots, delivery fifteen, thirty and forty-five days from date; and if the price is right buy ’em all. We have about ten millions on hand at our own mill. To-night send out a flock of night letters to all the wholesale jobbers and brokers in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and all points taking a sixty-cent tariff, and quote ’em ten cents under the market subject to prior acceptance.”
He turned to Matt Peasley.
“That clause—’subject to prior acceptance’—saves our faces in case we find ourselves unable to deliver the goods,” he explained, and turned again to Skinner.
“We can freight the shingles from Grays Harbor to San Francisco in the Unicorn; re-ship on cars from Long Wharf and beat the direct car shipments from the mills ten cents, and still make our regular profit. Besides, the cut in price will bring us in a raft of orders we could not get otherwise. We can thus keep the Unicorn busy for sixty days without losing a cent on her, and if we haven’t come to terms with the Mannheim people at the end of that time we’ll find something else for her. And, of course, if we succeed meantime in chartering the Lion at a satisfactory price, we can throw the Unicorn back on Hudner at the end of the sixty days.” And Cappy snickered malevolently as he pictured his enemy’s discomfiture under these circumstances.
Mr. Skinner nodded his comprehension and hastened away to prepare the charter parties.
THE CLEAN UP
Hudner, manager of the Black Butte Lumber Company, arched his eyebrows as Matt Peasley entered his office half an hour after he had left it and presented for Hudner’s signature a formal charter party, in duplicate, wherein the Blue Star Navigation Company chartered from J. B. Hudner, managing owner of record, the American Steamer Unicorn for sixty days from date, at the rate of three hundred and twenty-five dollars a day, said managing owner to pay all expenses of operating said Unicorn.
“Huh!” Mr. Hudner snorted. “I’d like to know what the devil Cappy Ricks wants of my Unicorn when he’s got her infernal sister squatting in the mud of Oakland Creek? There’s something rotten in Denmark, Mr. Peasley. There always is when that old scoundrel Ricks does incomprehensible things.”