It was ordained that Gordon should anticipate his appointment by meeting his man at the dinner-table in the Marlboro cafe; and it was accident or design, as you like to believe, that Dyckman should be sitting two tables away, choking over his food and listening only by the road of the eye, since he was unhappily out of ear range. When the two had lighted their cigars and passed out to the elevator, the bookkeeper rose hastily and made for the nearest telephone. This, at least, was not accidental.
The conference in Suite 32 lasted until nearly midnight, with Dyckman painfully shadowing the corridor and sweating like a furnace laborer, though the night was more than autumn cool. The door was thick, the transom was closed, and the keyhole commanded nothing but a square of blank wall opposite in the electric-lighted sitting-room of the suite. Hence the bookkeeper could only guess what we may know.
“You have let in a flood of light on Mr. Farley’s proposition, Mr. Gordon,” said the representative of American Aqueduct, when the ground had been thoroughly gone over. “I don’t mind telling you now that he made his first overtures to us on his arrival from Europe, giving us to understand that he owned or controlled the pipe-making patents absolutely.”
“At that time he controlled nothing, as I have explained,” said Tom, “not even his majority stock in Chiawassee Consolidated. Of course, he resumed control as soon as he reached home, and his next move was to have me quietly sandbagged while he froze my father out. But father did not transfer the patents, for the simple reason that he couldn’t. They are my personal property, made over to me before the firm of Gordon and Gordon came into existence.”
The pipe-trust promoter nodded.
“You are the man we’ll have to do business with, Mr. Gordon,” he said promptly. “Are you quite sure of your legal status in the case?”
“I have good advice. Hanchett, Goodloe and Tryson, Richmond Building, are my attorneys. They will put you in the way of finding out anything you’d like to know.”
There was a pause while the New Yorker was making a memorandum of the address. Then he went straight to the point.
“As I have said, I’m here to do business. We don’t need the plant. Will you sell us your patents?”
“Yes; on one condition.”
“And that is—?”
“That you first put us out of business. You’ll have to smash Chiawassee Limited painstakingly and permanently before you can buy my holdings.”
The shrewd-eyed gentleman who had unified practically all of the pipe foundries in the United States smiled a gentle negative.
“That would be rather out of our line. If Mr Farley owned the patents, and was disposed to fight us—as, indeed, he is not—we might try to convince him. But we are not out for vengeance—another man’s vengeance, at that.”
“Very well, then; you won’t get what you’ve come after. The patents go with the plant. You can’t have one without the other,” said Tom, eyeing his opponent through half-closed lids.