Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/40

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The romantic stuff he discounted. That Caplain Ek claimed to have been a young man of twenty-one in 1789, and on his way north with MacKenzie via the Canadian northwest, he viewed as the wanderings of an aged man's mind.

He bade Captain Ek good-bye, and returned to sit on a corner of the table looking at Murphy.

"That check was drawn to my name, and for one and a half million dollars, on the First National Bank of San Francisco," Crayne said, then threw back his head and laughed. "For a bone-dry day, I have a dissipated feeling."

An hour later Commander Crayne was summoned to the telephone and heard a voice announce that the manager of the First National Bank was speaking. He informed Commander Crayne that Captain Christian Ek had placed one and a half million dollars to his credit, and the bank would honor drafts on sight, but requested three days' notice if the drafts were over thirty thousand cash.

Cralne's voice was husky as he thanked the manager and clicked the receiver on its hook.

"Bud," he said to Murphy. "it's true. Kick me, punch me, it'll be your last chance. Nobody is going to lay hands on me if I'm worth that much, after this minute."

"You gotta buy a plane, and get back here to enjoy it," said the unromantic Murphy. "How about sidesteppin' a lotta dinners and celebrations in our honor, and gettin' across after the plane? The sooner we find that bowl up north and the old man dips hisself in glory water, the sooner we come home and settle up. I owe a Post Street tailor for a pearl-gray suit."

Which was one reason the triumphal trip of Commander Crayne was suddenly canceled, and he and Lieutenant Murphy left for England, while Captain Ek's ship, a big auxiliary schooner, started her cruise through the Panama and via New York, where she received word from Crayne that he would be ready to proceed north in a fortnight.

Seven days later Crayne and Murphy watched Captain Ek's ship, the Aurora, dock, and went aboard her for the first time. It was not the build of the schooner, two hundred feet long by forty beam, her oak hull and double oak and pine planking, her thousand-horse-power engine, and canvas for her three masts, which interested Crayne so much as the charts and crude drawings spread on the cabin table. Over these he pored for a long time. Captain Ek had made many attempts to find the vast depression at the earth's northern tip where he said he had found the source of that beautiful and strange illumination known as the Aurora Borealis.

The two weeks stretched into three before the thousand-horse-power Birmingham airplane was stowed safely on the Aurora, and during that interval Murphy had gathered considerable gossip at clubs and gatherings, which he detailed to Crayne over a good-night cigar.

"Course, they smile at him some, but he's certainly got the dough and the oldest sea-captains along the docks admit that their grandfathers knew about