Chapter XXXIX

The practical theft from the West Coast Trading Company of the German steamer Valkyrie, had, to Cappy's mind, atoned for the loss and humiliation he had suffered in that grape stake deal. His honor was clean again and for weeks he taunted Redell with the latter's inefficiency, insufficiency and general business debility, until, having extracted the last shred of triumph from the affair, a vague sympathy for Redell commenced to surge up in Cappy's kindly heart and he commenced casting about for an opportunity to do the former a favor.

Redell had enjoyed his beating, for he was, indeed, a rare sport. However, he would have to retaliate. The feud must go on. Unless he could mix a modicum of fun with his profits, J. Augustus would not have regarded the fight worth while, so accordingly he kept his eyes and his ears open for a handy weapon with which to jab Cappy through that same old rift in his armor--his passion for a large profit through an adroit and ingenious deal in a commodity where even a very modest profit was not discernible to ordinary mortals.

Finally Redell found the opportunity he sought. He was so proud of his formula that he could not forbear remarking casually to Live Wire Luiz one bright day that, granted good health and the approval of Providence for one week, he would knock Cappy Ricks for a goal. And he narrated his scheme.

"Friend of my heart!" the little Peruvian cried excitedly, and held out his arms to Redell, inviting a fraternal embrace. "I love you! Damn eet! I say eet! You are one wezard weeth the money-making schemes!"

Mr. Redell cautiously compromised on a hearty handshake; to avoid a kiss he was careful to keep the table between himself and Live Wire Luiz.

"Shall we empty the corporate sock and climb aboard for every cent we can beg, borrow or steal?" he demanded.

"Sure, I bet you!" Live Wire Luiz cried; for, though a featherweight physically, he was possessed of the courage of an Alexander.

J. Augustus Redell put on his hat, took from a pigeonhole in his desk the last trial balance of the West Coast Trading Company's books and departed for a conference with his banker. Half an hour later he returned, and the expectant Luiz promptly noted a cloud on Mr. Redell's sunny countenance.

"I can't arrange for a loan," he reported disgustedly. "The limit, in view of our present obligations, has been reached."

"On the margin of ten cents," suggested Live Wire Luiz, "take a chance, amigo. Thees is not speculation. It ees what you call the ceench weeth the copper reevets."

"I figure it that way; nevertheless, copper-riveted cinches sometimes aren't properly cinched and Fortune backs out of the packsaddle. I dare not take a long chance on this, Luiz. If something went wrong we'd be sadly embarrassed. We dare not take a chance up to the limit of what money we have on hand, because we need those funds for other things."

Live Wire Luiz swore mournfully in Spanish. Redell nodded and retired to his own office, where for an hour he sat with his head in his hands, searching his agile brain for a bright idea that would lead him out of his dilemma. Suddenly he leaped to his feet, tossed his hat to the ceiling and caught it again as it came down.

"Cappy Ricks is my meat," he declared aloud. "Besides, I owe Cappy one for making a monkey out of me on that last deal. He hoisted me on my own petard. Now I'll hoist him, and incidentally annex a profit for the West Coast Trading Company."

He rushed out into California Street and for the major portion of the day was very busy among various shipping offices. When he returned, late in the afternoon, to the offices of the West Coast Trading Company, his alert young face wore a pleased and confident smile. Live Wire Luiz noted this and took heart of hope.