MoboReader > Literature > The Submarine Boys' Trial Trip / Making Good" as Young Experts"

   Chapter 4 A SQUALL IN AN OFFICE

The Submarine Boys' Trial Trip / Making Good" as Young Experts" By Victor G. Durham Characters: 9532

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Jack Benson paled, clenching his hands tightly. Hal Hastings raised his eyebrows slightly; he, too, changed color swiftly. Eph's face reddened; he had all he could do to keep from shouting outright.

Jacob Farnum flushed, half rose from his chair, then seated himself again and turned to look at the boys.

But George Melville appeared to have eyes, at that moment, for no one but young Captain John Benson.

Don stood just beyond his father's chair, regarding the leader of the submarine boys with a supercilious stare.

There was such silence, for a few seconds, that the ticking of the big clock in the corner sounded almost like hammer-blows.

"You understand fully, do you not, Benson?" demanded George Melville, breaking the silence.

"I heard you, sir," Jack replied, not without an effort.

"And what have you to say, Captain Benson?" inquired Mr. Farnum, speaking with some effort.

Captain Jack turned around to face his employer; the other two submarine boys wheeled with him.

"Mr. Farnum, we have been in your employ, and we have always taken your orders. If you say we are to be dropped from the boat's crew, we bow to what we can't prevent."

"No one has spoken-definitely, that is-of dropping you boys from the 'Pollard's' crew," interposed Mr. Melville, slowly. "I have only announced that in the reorganization of this enterprise the group that I represent will require that my son, Don, be placed in command of the 'Pollard,' and of any other submarine boats that may be built. If you do not like to work aboard the submarines, very likely we can find work for you at something in this yard."

Jacob Farnum exchanged a few words in an undertone with David Pollard.

Now, the boat builder faced about.

"Mr. Melville," he began, "Mr. Pollard and I feel under a debt of deep obligation to Captain Benson and his mates. Boys though they are, they have done much to make the 'Pollard' as famous as it already is. Between an intelligent employer and a capable, honest employe there can be no question about gratitude. I speak for both Mr. Pollard and myself, therefore, when I say that it is our feeling that Captain Benson and his mates must continue in their present positions."

The color came back to Jack's face. Joy beamed out in his eyes. Hal looked as though he had been given a new lease of life.

"Hooray!" roared Eph. He gave two vigorous jig steps, then stopped, abashed.

"Excuse me, Mr. Farnum," he begged, shamefacedly.

"I do not think you quite understand," went on Mr. Melville, regarding the boatbuilder coldly. "The placing of my son as I have indicated is an absolute condition on the part of our group."

"And I have declined it," returned Mr. Farnum rising, and standing easily.

"Then you do not want our capital, Mr. Farnum?" sternly demanded Mr.

Melville.

"Not on your conditions, sir!" came, sharply, from the boatbuilder.

"Oh, you will come to your senses, soon," rejoined the capitalist, coolly. "You need a good deal of money for the extension of your business, and we stand ready to supply it. All that is needed is the conceding of certain conditions, and we are ready to pass our checks for all the money you need. My associates and myself ask for nothing that is unfair. Now, will you take our money into your business, or will you go on in the old, slow way?"

David Pollard had risen, in some agitation, and had walked to the further end of the private office.

"Pardon me a moment," begged Farnum, then followed his friend. The two conversed in low tones.

"You may leave the room, boys," announced Mr. Melville, turning to eye

Jack Benson.

Not one of the three stirred.

"Did you hear me?" insisted the capitalist, sharply.

"Yes, sir," answered Jack, quietly.

"Then why don't you go?"

"Mr. Farnum sent for us, and we are waiting to learn whether he is through with us for the present."

"You may take my word for it," snapped Mr. Melville. "Go!"

The submarine boys paid no heed to him.

"The impudent young beggars," sneered Don Melville. "Low-born, and no manners!"

Jack Benson turned, fixing his gaze upon Don's face Jack's look was full of contempt, though he spoke no word.

"Don't try any impudent airs on me," warned Don, flushing, then paling, as his fists doubled.

"Mr. Melville," broke in Jacob Farnum, returning, while David Pollard remained where he was, looking out of the window, "I think we can cut this scene very short. In the first place, in joining us, you demand that we treat with utter injustice bright young employees who have been extraordinarily faithful and devoted."

"You will soon come to see the need of that," replied the capitalist, with a light wave of his hand.

"We do not see it," replied F

arnum. "Nor do we intend to. Further, we are disturbed by what you have made only too plain, that you intend to get complete control of this business, and make Pollard and myself merely subordinates in the affairs here."

"Not as bad as that," protested the capitalist, with a smile. "Of course, in view of the very large amount of money we are offering, we must have some voice in the management of-"

"Not this business!" interjected the boatbuilder, with emphasis.

"But, man, you must have the money!"

"We'll do without it, or get it somewhere else," went on the boatbuilder, patiently. "We thank you, Mr. Melville, and those associated with you, but Mr. Pollard and I have decided to go no further in the present negotiations."

"What's that?" demanded George Melville, springing to his feet. "You don't want our money?"

"We won't take it-not at the price you set on it," responded Farnum, bluntly.

For the first time the capitalist appeared decidedly uneasy.

"You don't mean this, Farnum," he answered. "You're excited; perhaps alarmed over something that I have said, or which you thought I intimated."

"I mean just what I have said, take my word for it, sir," retorted the boatbuilder. "We do not intend to look to you for any money that we need. That is final, and, therefore, that is all."

"All this change of front because of these wretched boys?" demanded

George Melville, incredulously.

"Partly on account of your attitude toward these boys," admitted Mr. Farnum, "and also because Pollard and I now realize that you had intended to wrest control of this business from us."

"You're losing your senses," Stormed the capitalist, angrily. "Unless you at once come to a realization of it, all we can do is to wish you good morning."

Mr. Farnum bowed, silently, then moved toward the office door, opening it.

"Come on, gentlemen," cried Melville, stiffly, turning toward his own friends.

In silence the members of that group started across the floor. Mr.

Farnum, surveying them inscrutably, still held the door open.

"This is dramatic-and suicidal," said Mr. Melville, haughtily.

"You take it too seriously," replied the boatbuilder, with a slight smile. "It is only good morning."

"You're a fool, Farnum!" came the answer as Mr. Melville, in a rage, halted just inside the door. "And I warn you that, if we leave here, now, we shall not return, no matter how changed your attitude may become later. Have you any answer to that, sir?"

"Good morning," replied Jacob Farnum, with another courteous bow.

Stiffly, snorting but without words, George Melville walked out of the office, across the outer office, and out into the yard.

In the private office the three submarine boys stood as though riveted to the floor. They were astounded, and knew not what to say. They were overjoyed, but incapable of expressing any word of the gratitude that filled their young hearts.

David Pollard walked to a chair, dropping into it and studying the ceiling.

As for the boatbuilder, he stepped briskly across the room, pulling open the door of a cupboard. Taking out a broom, he began to sweep very carefully where the Melville group had sat or stood, and continued his sweeping across the threshold of the doorway. Then, returning, he tossed the broom into the cupboard. Stepping springily over, he dropped into his desk chair, letting out a hearty laugh.

"Well, that's over with, and a narrow escape," he announced.

"But you couldn't quite sweep all their dirt out after them," declared

David Pollard, looking up with a smile.

"What do you think of that crowd, boys?" asked Jacob Farnum, cheerily.

"I'm not giving much thought to them, sir," Jack replied, adding warmly: "But we fellows, Mr. Farnum, simply can't think of words that will express how we appreciate the splendid way Mr. Pollard and yourself have stood up for us."

Jacob Farnum eyed the boys quizzically, then turned to the young captain of the submarine to inquire:

"Wouldn't you stand by me in anything? Wouldn't you yell for this yard and its product with your last gasp? Answer me."

"Why, of course we would," Jack Benson admitted.

"Then I take just offense, if you expect me to be any less of a man than yourself," declared Farnum, with a pretense of anger.

"The same sentiment puts me on record," chuckled David Pollard:

"Then let us forget the low comedy, the melodrama, or whatever it was," proposed the boatbuilder. "Let us get down to the regular business of the day. We want more money here, if we can get it on a fair and square basis. If we can't, we'll do our best to go along as we've been going. And now, Jack, and the rest of you, Pollard and I have a few little things to whisper over."

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