Wanted-7 Fearless Engineers! - Cover

Wanted-7 Fearless Engineers!

Public Domain

Chapter II: Out to Sea

The following morning an advertisement appeared in the papers, under the heading of help wanted: woman. It was the same address on Morgan Avenue. His heart sank! The man was advertising for a wife! Now Barrow knew he was in for a tough streak of luck. He read it carefully.

Opportunity for young lady. Must be of age, single, brilliant, with good family background. Higher education not necessary. Must be willing to travel long distance. Must not be averse to marriage with brilliant young man; give up all former associations, with no possibility of return; live life in small community of own race, with no possibility of communication with former home. Must be without close family ties, or relationship. Opportunity to live life of luxury and ease, with amiable group far from present home and civilization. Young lady who fits qualifications will not regret applying for position. Honor, love and security will be her reward. OPPORTUNITY! Room 36, 18 West Morgan Avenue, City.

While Dick was eating dinner on Tuesday evening, a young lady fell headlong in front of his table. A moment later she was seated in the chair opposite his own. Ten minutes later he was ordering her dinner.

Afterward, as they walked toward a movie, Dick felt as if he was committing a crime. He was supposed to meet his future wife--and instead was entertaining this young lady who had fallen into his life. When he learned that she was staying at the same hotel, they made a date for breakfast the next morning.

Dolores Dunbar was good company, and seemed willing to spend most of her time in Dick’s company. He learned that she was as friendless as himself, and wondered why they couldn’t have met before he made the strange bargain. But as the third day drew to a close she appeared apprehensive.

When she kept glancing around, as if expecting someone, Dick became curious, and felt rather hurt to think she was looking for someone else. Finally she spoke.

“I’m sorry, Dick, that I’ve made use of you the way I have, but I was ordered to do it. You see, my employer told me to meet you and spend every possible moment in your company. He also said that I would become acquainted with someone through you, and that you would know who he was, when I said I came from the large-headed man on Morgan Avenue--with a letter.”

For a moment Dick was stunned. Then he laughed, a sickly, half-hearted laugh. When he found his voice it squeaked.

“I think we had better go to my room. We have some very private things to say.”

The queer man had succeeded in their being together for three days before either knew they were the central figures in the drama. Now they felt farther apart than at any moment since they had met, but nervously admitted they had fared better than they expected.

They were married in the morning, to keep the agreement, but didn’t consider it part of the bargain to live as man and wife.

Dick found only one order in the letter, to be at the office at ten o’clock on Tuesday morning. That left five days to enjoy themselves.

In spite of the stiffness between them Dick noticed how the light caught in Dolores’ dark hair, and how her brown eyes sparkled at each new sight. Her head reached just above his shoulder, and he had never danced with a better partner. She enjoyed his company, and admitted to herself that he was a perfect gentleman.

During the five days they saw every good show, and visited every popular night club. Things they had always wanted to do were packed into the short time to themselves. Dick hired a car, and they drove for hours through the country. When Tuesday morning came they were tired, and it was hard to get up in time to keep the appointment.

When they opened the door, the big-headed man laughed at their yawns. “I see that you’ve either been enjoying yourselves, or have been trying mighty hard. You can make up your sleep from now on, as it will be a long time before we reach our destination. How do you like each other for permanent companions?”

Their faces grew crimson. Finally Dick found his voice. “I’m perfectly satisfied, Sir. I think Dolores is very pretty, and is very good company!”

He looked the other way to hide his embarrassment, as the girl spoke.

“I feel the same way. We have enjoyed being together, and perhaps when we are better acquainted the stiffness will disappear. We both feel odd, because we were required to marry!”

The strange man laughed out loud at this. “In other words you might have fallen in love, if you had been allowed time to do it. But having to marry creates an entirely different feeling. I believe it will work out well, even though you feel cheated at the moment. But we haven’t any time to lose. Everyone is at the dock and we sail in two hours.

“Here are your instructions, Dick. From now on you give the orders, and I remain in the background. They will all feel more comfortable under the command of one of their own race. Study everything carefully on the way to the dock, then give them as your own orders.”

Dick had little time for anything except to look through the sheaf of papers. On one sheet was a list of seven couples, with stateroom numbers beside each. His own was on the top, with number three room. This he dropped in a side pocket where it would be easy to find. The remainder was in connection with sailing.

Dick, Dolores and the big-headed man occupied one cab, while the baggage followed in another. Dolores had obtained quite a wardrobe, much to the amusement of her employer. But the man spoke only once during the trip.

“Everyone in the party must consider that they work for you, Dick. You must hear all complaints and settle all differences. They must not approach me for any reason. I am known as Morquil, of section one, which you will understand when we reach our destination.”

The crew was hurrying back and forth on the deck of the small ship, taking care of last-minute details. A group of people were gathered beside a huge stack of baggage, and Dick walked toward them without waiting for the others.

Dolores went up the gangplank beside Morquil, helping him slightly. He seemed to have difficulty in supporting his enormous head with the slight body.

As Dick reached the group, he read the names from the list in his hand. “Mr. and Mrs. John McCarthy. You are in stateroom number seven. Take what baggage you can carry, the rest will be put on board.” He called each name and stateroom; they headed for the ship. John McCarthy he found was the man he had met in the office, and he still had his perpetual grin. Evidently his fiancee had agreed to the pact for they were now man and wife.

When Dick started toward the ship, after watching the baggage put on board, he was stopped by a tap on the shoulder. The cab drivers were still waiting for their money. Morquil had left everything in his hands, even to paying for the motor trip to the dock.

It was a strange departure, with only a few people on the dock to say goodbye. Even they were just neighbors of the passengers. Most of the women on board were crying as the Primrose nosed out through the harbor toward the open sea.

Dick was still at the rail when the captain approached. “I’m sorry to bother you, Mr. Barrow, but I must know our destination so I can set the course.”

The young leader’s day dreaming was cut short, to jerk him back to his duties. He felt that the lives and hopes of everyone on the ship had been thrust into his hands.

Even the captain didn’t know where they were going. The ship had been chartered for a voyage of several months, to an unknown destination. He and the crew were well paid, and didn’t care where they went.

Dick drew a sealed envelope from his pocket, detached a slip of paper and handed it to the captain. He read the note, then repeated it. “You are to keep the destination to yourself. No one on the ship is to know where we are going, and you will not mention it to me again. I hope that we have good weather, Captain, and a fast trip.”

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.