“That’s the queerest way of setting about building a factory I ever saw,” the man pointed out.
Norgate, who was not greatly interested, assented. The agent escorted him back to his taxicab.
“Of course, it’s not my business,” he admitted, “and you needn’t say anything about this to your principals, but I hope they don’t stop with laying down concrete floors. Of course, money for the property is the chief thing we want, but we do want factories and the employment of labour, and the sooner the better. This fellow—Reynolds, he said his name was—pays up for the property all right, has that concrete floor prepared, and clears off.”
“Raising the money to build, perhaps,” Norgate remarked. “I don’t think there’s any secret about my people’s intentions. They are going to build factories for the manufacture of crockery.”
The agent brightened up.
“Well, that’s a new industry, anyway. Crockery, eh?”
“It’s a big German firm in Cannon Street,” Norgate explained. “They are going to make the stuff here. That ought to be better for our people.”
The young man nodded.
“I expect they’re afraid of tariff reform,” he suggested. “Those Germans see a long way ahead sometimes.”
“I am beginning to believe that they do,” Norgate assented, as he stepped into the taxi.
Norgate walked into the club rather late that afternoon. Selingman and Prince Lenemaur were talking together in the little drawing-room. They called him in, and a few minutes later the Prince took his leave.
“Well, that’s all arranged,” Norgate reported. “I have bought the three sites. There was only one thing the fellow down at Golder’s Hill was anxious about.”
“He hoped you weren’t just going to put down a concrete floor and then shut the place up.”
Mr. Selingman’s amiable imperturbability was for once disturbed.
“What did the fellow mean?” he enquired.
“Haven’t an idea,” Norgate replied, “but he made me stand on a pile of bricks and look at a strip of land which some one else had bought upon a hill close by. I suppose they want the factories built as quickly as possible, and work-people around the place.”
“I shall have two hundred men at work to-morrow morning,” Selingman remarked. “If that agent had not been a very ignorant person, he would have known that a concrete floor is a necessity to any factory where heavy machinery is used.”
“Is it?” Norgate asked simply.
“Any other question?” Selingman demanded.
“None at all.”
“Then we will go and play bridge.”
They cut into the same rubber. Selingman, however, was not at first entirely himself. He played his cards in silence, and he once very nearly revoked. Mrs. Benedek took him to task.