Chapter XXII
 

Long after the British consul had departed Cappy Ricks sat alone in his office, dozing. Presently he roused and rang for Mr. Skinner.

"Skinner," he said, "Matt reports that the late Riggins made an allotment of his wages to his wife when he shipped aboard the Narcissus?"

"Yes, sir."

"Riggins's wages hereafter shall constitute a charge against the Narcissus while Mrs. Riggins lives and while the Blue Star Navigation Company can afford to give up seventy dollars every month. Attend to it, Skinner. Another thing, Skinner."

"Yes, sir."

"We ought to do something for Murphy and Reardon. Now then, Skinner, you've never had a chance to be a sport heretofore, but you're a stockholder in the Blue Star Navigation Company now, and as such I feel that I should not use my position, as owner of a controlling interest in the stock of the company, to give away the property of the company in an arbitrary fashion. So I'm going to leave it up to you, Skinner, to suggest what we shall do for them. I believe you will agree with me that we should do something very handsome by those two boys."

"Quite so, sir, quite so. Well, to start off with, Mr. Ricks, I think we ought to pay their hospital bills, if any. Then I think we ought to give each of them a handsome gold watch, suitably engraved and with a small blue star--sapphires, you know--set in the front of the case."

"You feel that would about fill the bill, eh, Skinner?"

"Well, next Christmas I think we ought to give them each a month's salary."

"Hum! You do?"

"Yes, sir. I think that would be a very delicate thing to do."

Cappy sighed. Poor Skinner! Victim of the saving habit! Decent devil--didn't mean to be small, but just couldn't help it. A bush-leaguer--Skinner. Never meant for big company--

"In addition--" Skinner began.

"Yes, Skinner, my boy. Go on, go on, old horse. Now then, in addition--"

"It seems like the wildest extravagance, Mr. Ricks, but those men have fought for their ship and I--remember, Mr. Ricks, this is only a suggestion--I think it would be a very--er--tactful thing to do to--er--"

"It'll choke him before he gets it out," Cappy soliloquized. Aloud he said: "Go on, Skinner, my dear boy. Don't be afraid."

"At a time like this, when freights are so good and vessel property pays so well, it seems to me--that is, if you and Matt have no objection--that we ought to give Mike and Terence a--er--a little piece of the Narcissus--the ship--er--they love--say--er--a--ten-thousand-dollar interest--each--"

"God bless you, Skinner! You came through at last, didn't you? The president emeritus agrees with you, Skinner, and it is so ordered.

"Now skip along and wireless the glad news to Mike and Terence. Tell them when they have the coal out to proceed to Rio and load manganese ore."