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Adventure Jack London

Mr. Morgan And Mr. Raff

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"And how much do you need to carry on Berande for three years?" Joan hurried on.

"Two hundred boys at six pounds a year means thirty-six hundred pounds--that's the main item."

"My, how cheap labour does mount up! Thirty-six hundred pounds, eighteen thousand dollars, just for a lot of cannibals! Yet the place is good security. You could go down to Sydney and raise the money."

He shook his head.

"You can't get them to look at plantations down there. They've been taken in too often. But I do hate to give the place up--more for Hughie's sake, I swear, than my own. He was bound up in it. You see, he was a persistent chap, and hated to acknowledge defeat. It--it makes me uncomfortable to think of it myself. We were running slowly behind, but with the Jessie we hoped to muddle through in some fashion."

"You were muddlers, the pair of you, without doubt. But you needn't sell to Morgan and Raff. I shall go down to Sydney on the next steamer, and I'll come back in a second-hand schooner. I should be able to buy one for five or six thousand dollars--"

He held up his hand in protest, but she waved it aside.

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"I may manage to freight a cargo back as well. At any rate, the schooner will take over the Jessie's business. You can make your arrangements accordingly, and have plenty of work for her when I get back. I'm going to become a partner in Berande to the extent of my bag of sovereigns--I've got over fifteen hundred of them, you know. We'll draw up an agreement right now--that is, with your permission, and I know you won't refuse it."

He looked at her with good-natured amusement.

"You know I sailed here all the way from Tahiti in order to become a planter," she insisted. "You know what my plans were. Now I've changed them, that's all. I'd rather be a part owner of Berande and get my returns in three years, than break ground on Pari-Sulay and wait seven years."

"And this--er--this schooner. . . . " Sheldon changed his mind and stopped.

"Yes, go on."

"You won't be angry?" he queried.

"No, no; this is business. Go on."

"You--er--you would run her yourself?--be the captain, in short?-- and go recruiting on Malaita?"

"Certainly. We would save the cost of a skipper. Under an agreement you would be credited with a manager's salary, and I with a captain's. It's quite simple. Besides, if you won't let me be your partner, I shall buy Pari-Sulay, get a much smaller vessel, and run her myself. So what is the difference?"

"The difference?--why, all the difference in the world. In the case of Pari-Sulay you would be on an independent venture. You could turn cannibal for all I could interfere in the matter. But on Berande, you would be my partner, and then I would be responsible. And of course I couldn't permit you, as my partner, to be skipper of a recruiter. I tell you, the thing is what I would not permit any sister or wife of mine--"

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