Chapter XXXVII
 

Ten minutes later Cappy dashed up to the entrance of Greenwich Street Pier and found Matt Peasley waiting for him, with Captain Murphy. Miss Keenan had already gone aboard the Moana, the huge funnel of which, as Cappy noted with a thrill, was still sticking up over the roof of the dock. He crooked his finger and Michael J. Murphy leaped up on the running board of his car.

"Mike," said Cappy solemnly, "listen to me! Here's a letter of credit in your name for twenty-five thousand dollars, and an advice to the bank in Papeete from our bank here stating that the letter of credit has been issued. Give this letter to the purser, together with a good-sized bill, and ask him to deliver it to the Papeete bank when the Moana arrives there. Here, also, is a letter of credit for Miss Keenan in the sum of fifty thousand--and the bank in Papeete has no notice of it! Remember that! It's important. Keep it to yourself. Miss Keenan has the expense money for both of you; tell her to split the roll with you. Tell her, also, that her name from now until she gets back is Matilda Keenan, and to sign her drafts that way.

"Here are the signature cards. You sign yours and have her sign hers; then you give both to Captain Porter, the pilot, when he leaves the ship, and ask him to deliver them to me. I, in turn, will deliver them to the bank. Tell Miss Keenan she is absolutely under your orders; that she's to forget she ever heard of the lumber and shipping business. Both of you are to keep away from a man by the name of J. Augustus Redell. He's aboard and he's our enemy, captain. He's going to bid forty thousand dollars on the German steamer Valkyrie; so you bid forty thousand and five dollars--and take her away from him. At the very last minute have Miss Keenan put in a bid for thirty thousand--in case--you know, Mike--we might catch it going and coming. It might pay to have you fall down on your bid--you know, Mike! She's the dark horse--the reserve capital. "Papeete--one-horse town, Mike. Everybody knows the other fellow's business--principal competitor for the steamer is an Australian steamship company. Considering condition world politics today, and no French bidders, naturally Frenchmen will pull for the Britisher. Expect bank will leak and tell 'em you only arrived with twenty-five thousand--you know, Mike! Can't be too careful. Trust nobody--and remember this man Redell is the smartest young man in the world and the trickiest scoundrel under heaven. Don't hold him cheap. He's a holy terror! He'd pinch the gold out of your wisdom teeth while you'd be laughing at him."

"How high am I to go--if it becomes necessary to bid more than--"

"Shoot the piece!" Cappy ordered. It is to be regretted that the Bilgewater Club, cut off from the house rules in a private dining room, had a habit of shooting craps occasionally after luncheon, and Cappy Ricks had picked up the patois of the game. "Seventy-five thousand is the limit; but satisfy yourself she's worth the limit before you go to it."

"And Redell is going to bid forty thousand, sir?"

"That's his limit. He told me so in confidence when he felt certain I couldn't possibly be a competitor--told it to me, and kidded me for a dead one at twenty minutes of one, when he knew I couldn't possibly have time to act. But he forgot the mail--it was delayed--"

"I get you, sir. There's more to this job than merely acquiring the ship," retorted the astute Murphy.

"There's a million dollars' worth of satisfaction in it for me if I can beat Gus Redell to that steamer. He says I've lost my punch."

But Captain Murphy was off down the dock, suit case in hand, while Cappy dismissed his borrowed car and climbed into the office car with Matt Peasley. Five minutes they waited at the head of the dock--and then four huge motor trucks, laden with mail, lumbered through the dock gate. Cappy beamed into Captain Matt Peasley's face.

"I guess this is a rotten day's work for the president emeritus, eh?" he chuckled. "President emeritus! By the Holy Pink-Toed Prophet, if I waited for you and Skinner to get wise to all the good things that are lying round loose, the Blue Star Navigation Company would be in the hands of a receiver within the year. Matt, if you expect to manage the Blue Star you'll have to wake up. You're slow, boy--s-l-o-w-w! For heaven's sake, don't force me back into the harness! You know I've been wanting to retire for years."

"Well, our messengers are aboard, so let's get out of here. I'm hungry; I haven't had any lunch," Matt replied.

"Come to think of it," Cappy answered cheerfully, "I believe I could eat a little something myself. However, I still have one small duty to perform, Matthew. I've got to send a wireless."

"To whom?"

"That scoundrel Redell, of course. Think I'm going to swat him and leave him in ignorance of the fact?"

Immediately upon arrival at the Commercial Club, Cappy sent the following message:

"J. Augustus Redell,

"Aboard S. S. Moana.

"Augustus, my dear young friend, I have known men who grew rich by keeping their mouths closed!

"CAPPY."

"There!" said Cappy, as he dispatched this simple declarative sentence. "I'll wager one small five-cent bag of smoking tobacco our friend Gus Redell will not sleep to-night. He'll just lie awake wondering what in Sam Hill I meant by that."

When he got back to his office he found an aerogram, which read as follows:

"Alden P. Ricks

"258 California Street

"San Francisco

"Everything lovely. After getting aboard decided to bluff; went to Redell, told him I was your representative. He went green clear back of the ears; said he had observed delay in sailing. Told him he'd better quit and go ashore with pilot; that I had bank roll choke hippopotamus. Your wireless handed him that moment! Would hesitate repeat his language. Have agreed pay him for his first-class ticket. All first-class cabins sold out; had to have it for Matilda. Steerage an awful place for a skipper, but will have to make the best of it.

"MUHPHY."

Mr. Skinner, alarmed at the shrill screams emanating from Cappy Ricks' office, rushed in and found the president emeritus rolling round in his swivel chair, beating the air and stamping on the floor.

"Good gracious, Mr. Ricks!" Skinner cried. "What's the matter? Are you hurt?"

"Hurt!" Cappy shrilled. "Hurt? Well, I should say so! Skinner, my boy, if you ever lose your punch you'll know just how much I'm suffering. As Live Wire Luiz would say: 'I die weeth dee-light!'"