“What was the start of this feeling?” Kendrick asked.
“A woman,” Wingate replied shortly, “and that’s all there is to be said about it, Kendrick. I shall hate Peter Phipps as long as I live, for the sake of the girl he ruined, and he will hate me because of the thrashing I gave him. Ever noticed the scar on his right cheek, Kendrick?”
“Often,” the stockbroker replied. “He told me it was done in a saloon fight out in the Far West.”
“I did it in the Far East,” Wingate declared grimly, “as far east, at least, as the drawing-room of his Fifth Avenue house. He’ll never lose that scar. He’ll never lose his hatred of the man who gave it to him.—So he wants me to sell him wheat!”
“It’s a pretty dangerous thing to introduce feelings of this sort into business,” Kendrick remarked.
“You’re right,” Wingate admitted. “It makes one careful. I’m not selling any wheat to-day, Kendrick.”
“It will be a disappointment to the office,” the other remarked. “Personally, I’m glad.”
“Oh, I’ll keep your office busy,” Wingate promised. “I’m not coming into the City for nothing, I can assure you. There are five commissions for you,” he went on, drawing a sheet of paper from the rack and writing on it rapidly. “That will keep your office busy for a time. I’ll give you a cheque for fifty thousand pounds. Don’t ring me up unless you want more margin. Closing time prices are all I’m interested in, and I can get those on the tape anywhere.”
The stockbroker’s eyes glistened as he looked through the list.
“You’re a good judge, Wingate,” he said. “You’ll make money on most of these.”
“I expect I shall,” Wingate acknowledged. “Anyhow, it will keep you people busy and serve as a sort of visiting card here for me until—”
“Until what?” Kendrick asked, breaking a short pause.
“Until I can make up my mind how to deal with those fellows across the way. On paper it still looks a good thing to sell them wheat, you know. Peter Phipps has something up his sleeve for me, though. I’ve got to try and find out what it is.”
“You’ll excuse me for a moment?” Kendrick begged. “I’m only a human being, and I can’t hold a couple of million pounds’ worth of business in my hand and not set it going. I’ll be back directly.”
“Don’t hurry on my account,” Wingate replied. “I’m going to use your telephone, if I may.”
“Of course! You have a private line there. The others will be all buzzing away in a minute. I’ll send Jenkins and Poore along to the House. What about lunch?”
“To-morrow, one o’clock at the Milan,” Wingate appointed. “I’m busy to-day.”
Wingate made his way from the City to Shaftesbury Avenue, where he entered a block of offices, studied the direction board on the wall for a few minutes, and finally took the lift to the fourth floor. Exactly opposite to him across the uncarpeted corridor was a door from which half the varnish had peeled off, on which was painted in white letters—Mr. Andrew Slate. A knock on the panel resulted in an immediate invitation to enter. Wingate turned the handle, entered and closed the door behind him. The man who was the solitary occupant of the room half rose from behind his desk.