A quavering cough, and out it had come:
"Now--in a word--won't your 'Island Navigation Company' buy my ships?"
A pause, a twinkle, a puff of smoke. "Make it worth my while!" He had said it in jest; and then, in a flash, the idea had come to him. Rosamund and her youngsters! What a chance to put something between them and destitution when he had joined the majority! And so he said:" We don't want your silly ships."
That claw of a hand waved in deprecation. "They're very good ships-- doing quite well. It's only my wretched health. If I were a strong man I shouldn't dream...."
"What d'you want for'em?" Good Lord! how he jumped if you asked him a plain question. The chap was as nervous as a guinea-fowl!
"Here are the figures--for the last four years. I think you'll agree that I couldn't ask less than seventy thousand."
Through the smoke of his cigar old Heythorp had digested those figures slowly, Joe Pillin feeling his teeth and sucking lozenges the while; then he said:
"Sixty thousand! And out of that you pay me ten per cent., if I get it through for you. Take it or leave it."