“Why do you do this?”
Cait looked up from the chart.
“You do it every damn time,” Banjax said, with an emphatic shake of the head. Cait eyed the squirrel suspiciously.
“Why,” she asked, “Do I do what?”
“Seriously,” Banjax persisted, “Every single time. How long’ve you been a trader?”
Cait jabbed a key – she wasn’t entirely sure which key, but on the whole the gesture seemed more important – and turned to face him.
“Explain yourself, rodent,” she demanded. Banjax sat up.
“I will,” he said. “I’m looking at the manifest. We’re currently hauling a load of industrial diamond – total cost eight thousand seven hundred denarii – on a speculative expedition to Evermire.”
“We are. What of it?”
“The operative word there is ‘speculative’, Cait. And currently all our available operating capital is tied up in the said diamonds, sitting in our hold.”
“And you’re worried about what happens if we get to Evermire and nobody wants our diamonds and we have to jettison all our money into space?”
“The thought had occurred to me.”
Cait stood up, wandered over to the galley and flicked the water boiler on. She dug out a mug from the cupboard and set about finding the coffee pouches.
“You don’t need to worry,” she said. “I’m very confident.”
“Yeah, well, you’ve been confident before,” Banjax pointed out. “Remember Begger’s End? You were confident then. And we were eating vacuum noodles for three weeks afterwards.”
“That was one time.”
“All right, then,” Banjax went on. “So what about that woman of yours at the Boomtown Orbiter? Felt pretty confident then, too, didn’t you?”
“Hold your tongue, ratbag,” Cait snapped. “Mistakes are things we all make. You’re not immune yourself, I seem to remember. Might I remind you of the Acorn Incident?” Banjax winced.
“You may not, if I have my way of it,” he replied.
“So be it,” said Cait. “As I said, I am confident. There are several promising buyers in Evermire, and an established supply route. We stand to make a reasonable return, and even if we don’t break even we’ve enough to keep you off the noodles for a while yet. Coffee?”