FIRE MOUNTAIN IS "A THRILLING SEA STORY
BY "NORMAN SPRINGER", AUTHOR OF "THE BLOOD SHIP"
Years. Bright, aslant eyes, and a suave and ever-ready smile that broke immediately Martin met his gaze.
"You will be so good as to inform the honorable that Dr. Ichi is here?" he asked in precise and stilted voice.
Ever the same—the noiseless entry, the quietly spoken request for the lawyer. Martin repressed a flash of irritation; the little Japanese, with his uncanny soft-footedness and stereotyped address, got upon his nerves. However, his orders were explicit; Mr. Smatt would see Dr. Ichi without delay or preliminary, whenever Dr. Ichi favored the office with a visit. It was already the third visit that day, but orders were orders.
So, Martin inclined his head toward the door of Smatt's private office. The Japanese crossed the room. He bowed to Martin, as stately a bow as if Martin were also an "honorable," instead of a poor devil of a law clerk; then, noiselessly as he had entered the outer office, Dr. Ichi disappeared within Smatt's sanctum.
Martin turned to his window again. But his bright day dream was fled, and he could not conjure it back again. The view was without charm. His thoughts, despite himself, persisted in centering upon the dapper little figure now closeted with his employer. The dandified Jap aroused Martin's interest.
What manner of client was this Dr. Ichi? Martin had not seen a single scrap of paper, nor had Smatt dropped a single hint, concerning the case. It was mysterious! Martin was not an overly curious chap, but he was human.
It was another of Smatt's secret cases, thought Martin. Another token of those hidden activities of the old vulture, which he sensed, but did not know about. For, though Martin attended to the routine work, though his duties were responsible—Smatt specialized and was prominent in maritime law—still Martin knew he did not enjoy his employer's complete confidence.
Much of Smatt's time was taken up with cases Martin knew nothing about, with clients who appeared to shun the daylight of the courts.
The Nippon Trading Company, for instance! Martin knew Smatt was interested in a company of that name—a strange company, that apparently conducted business without using the mails. And there was business between Ichi and Smatt—money, or Smatt would have nothing to do with it. The mystery aroused Martin's dormant curiosity.
But all his speculation was pointless. Martin bethought himself of the marine affidavit lying uncompleted upon his desk. He turned from the window with the intention of applying himself to that task—and he discovered the office to have a second visitor. Another unusual figure who possessed the penchant for surreptitious entry.
He observed the fellow in the very act of closing the office door.