The Road Of Danger – Snippet 29


          Daniel got up from the console. He braced himself in the doorway of the office and pushed hard against both jambs. His muscles had stiffened while he went over the Calpurnius Trading files.


          It might have been useful to have Cazelet with him–or for that matter, to have Cazelet in his place–but Daniel was confident that he would have spotted a problem if there were one; at least he would have spotted the fact that there was a problem. His sister Deirdre handled the Leary family’s extensive investments, but Daniel himself wasn’t a babe in the woods when faced with a ledger.


          Bremington must have heard the movement, because he came out of the adjacent office where he’d been working since he unlocked all files on his personal console and left Daniel alone with it. Obviously he was making a point–but it was precisely the point an innocent man would want to emphasize.


          “Are you satisfied, Pensett?” he asked.


          “I am,” said Daniel, looking over his shoulder as he shifted and thrust against the doorway in the other direction. “Both with your good faith toward Master Sattler and with the good business judgment with which Calpurnius Trading is run.”


          Daniel had the impression that Bremington made sure that the shipping side went smoothly while Mistress Sysco ran the front office and was the partnership’s public face. He hadn’t seen Sysco since starting work on the files: an earnest looking young man was still at the reception desk which he had taken over when Sysco offered to show Hogg some nearby establishments where he could relax.


          Daniel grinned. How relaxing Hogg had found the afternoon was another matter–and none of the young master’s business.


          “Well, give my regards to Bernhard when you next see him,” Bremington said. “Is there anything more we can help you with?”


          Will you please get out of here and let me do my job! Daniel translated mentally. He smiled. Aloud he said, “There is, sir, but I hope it won’t be a burden. Master Sattler wants me to follow a shipment of his goods to Sunbright. I’m a spacer, of course, so I’m more than happy to work my passage.”


          “To Sunbright?” Bremington said with a rising inflection. “Why in the name of the infernal does he want to do that? Our sales are Free Alongside at Ashe Haven. If the buyers want to dump the goods into the sea after they pay for delivery, that’s no skin off our noses–us or Bernhard either one.”


          “I didn’t figure it was my business to ask,” Daniel said, shrugging and spreading his hands. “I’m being paid and paid pretty well. Besides which–“


          He grinned engagingly at Bremington.


          “–it occurred to me that when I get to Sunbright, there might be a more interesting job than supercargo available for an RCN-trained astrogator. At any rate, I can ask around.”


          Hogg came in the front door and bowed as he held it open for Mistress Sysco. Both looked flushed but cheerful. Hogg seemed to have had more than a little to drink, but Daniel had never seen his servant too drunk to function.


          Of course it might have happened when Daniel himself was passed out drunk. That had happened a few times; or maybe more than a few. But not recently.


          Not very recently.


          “Good afternoon, young master!” Hogg said, straightening with pie-eyed care. “And if I may say so, it has been a very good afternoon, an afternoon of great exceptionableness!”


          Bremington seemed to be taken aback to see his business partner leaning across the reception desk, bracing her weight on her arms. The boy seated there stared at her with a horrified expression.


          “Ah, Madge…?” Bremington said. “Lieutenant Pensett wants to travel to Sunbright on an interloping trader. I was thinking of sending him to the Savoy?”


          “That’s a bloody good idea, Picque,” Sysco mumbled to the desktop. “Whatever you say is a bloody good idea. You go on and do it, why don’t you?”


          “Yes, of course,” Bremington said. He was beginning to smile.


          Turning to Daniel, he said, “The Savoy has a load of solar-charging lasers which we provided. She’ll stage from here to Cremona, then make the jump to Sunbright. I’ll call the owner, Kiki Lindstrom, and tell her you’re coming.”


          “Thank you indeed,” Daniel said, dipping his head in something between a nod and a bow. “Is Lindstrom the captain as well as owner?”


          “No, she’s got somebody from Novy Sverdlovsk for astrogation,” Bremington said. “I guess she knows a console well enough that she could probably find her way to a planet by herself if she had to.”


          He pursed his lips, then added, “I haven’t met the captain. I’ve never had much use for folks from Sverdlovsk, though.”


          Daniel shrugged. “I’ve sailed with them,” he said. “They can be all right. Still, any help you can provide in getting us places would be appreciated.”


          “It’s Berth 54,” Bremington said. He looked at Hogg, leaning against the doorframe. “Ah, would you like me to call you a surface car? That’s about a kilometer north of here.”


          “The walk will do us good,” Daniel said with a laugh. “Come along, Hogg. Duty calls.”


          “Faithful to the last, young master!” Hogg said, straightening. He immediately began to wobble, but with Daniel’s touch to steady him he started out onto the Harborfront.


          “But one bloody minute,” he added. He turned and bowed again.


          “My red-haired lovely,” Hogg said. “I will never forget you. Never, never, never.”


          They marched northward along the Esplanade. Daniel glanced back. Mistress Sysco was still bent over the desk.


          It wasn’t a bad view, given that she was much older than Daniel’s tastes lay.