“All the same,” continued Nares, “you went into the opium-smuggling with your head down; and a good deal of fussing I've listened to, that you hadn't more of it to smuggle. Now, maybe your partner's not quite fixed the same as you are; maybe he sees precious little difference between the one thing and the other.”
“You could not say truer: he sees none, I do believe,” cried I; “and though I see one, I could never tell you how.”
“We never can,” said the oracular Nares; “taste is all a matter of opinion. But the point is, how will your friend take it? You refuse a favour, and you take the high horse at the same time; you disappoint him, and you rap him over the knuckles. It won't do, Mr. Dodd; no friendship can stand that. You must be as good as your friend, or as bad as your friend, or start on a fresh deal without him.”
“I don't see it!” said I. “You don't know Jim!”
“Well, you will see,” said Nares. “And now, here's another point. This bit of money looks mighty big to Mr. Pinkerton; it may spell life or health to him; but among all your creditors, I don't see that it amounts to a hill of beans—I don't believe it'll pay their car-fares all round. And don't you think you'll ever get thanked. You were known to pay a long price for the chance of rummaging that wreck; you do the rummaging, you come home, and you hand over ten thousand—or twenty, if you like—a part of which you'll have to own up you made by smuggling; and, mind! you'll never get Billy Fowler to stick his name to a receipt. Now just glance at the transaction from the outside, and see what a clear case it makes. Your ten thousand is a sop; and people will only wonder you were so damned impudent as to offer such a small one! Whichever way you take it, Mr. Dodd, the bottom's out of your character; so there's one thing less to be considered.”
“I daresay you'll scarce believe me,” said I, “but I feel that a positive relief.”
“You must be made some way different from me, then,” returned Nares. “And, talking about me, I might just mention how I stand. You'll have no trouble from me—you've trouble enough of your own; and I'm friend enough, when a friend's in need, to shut my eyes and go right where he tells me. All the same, I'm rather queerly fixed. My owners'll have to rank with the rest on their charter-party. Here am I, their representative! and I have to look over the ship's side while the bankrupt walks his assets ashore in Mr. Speedy's hat-box. It's a thing I wouldn't do for James G. Blaine; but I'll do it for you, Mr. Dodd, and only sorry I can't do more.”
“Thank you, captain; my mind is made up,” said I. “I'll go straight, ruat cœlum! I never understood that old tag before to-night.”
“I hope it isn't my business that decides you?” asked the captain.
This is an excerpt from the chapter "In Which I Turn Smuggler, And The Captain Casuist". This detail in bold is somewhat petty, you could say a bagatelle, but I would like to understand it properly. I take 'rank with' to mean 'draw level with sth. /so'.. With the word 'charter-party' I have an issue, though: it could mean either a 'charter company/corporation' or a 'charter contract'. But my main issue is to contextualize this sentence within the whole story or chapter. What does this sentence 'My owners'll have to rank with the rest on their charter-party' refer to? I can't realize what the speaker wants to say with this sentence. Maybe there is a user in this forum who has read this book. Thank you very much for helping.