“You know as well as I do, Miller, how dangerous it is to leave this Ribblevale business at loose ends. The Carlisle steel people and the Lake Shore road are after the Ribblevale Company, and we can’t afford to run any risk of their getting it. It’s logically a part of the Boyne interests, as Scherer says, and Dickinson is ready with the money for the reorganization. If the Carlisle people and the Lake Shore get it, the product will be shipped out by the L and G, and the Railroad will lose. What would Barbour say?”
Mr. Barbour, as I have perhaps mentioned, was the president of the Railroad, and had his residence in the other great city of the state. He was then, I knew, in the West.
“We’ve got to act now,” insisted Mr. Watling. “That’s open and shut. If you have any other plan, I wish you’d trot it out. If not, I want a letter to Paul Varney and the governor. I’m going to send Paret down with them on the night train.”
It was clear to me then, in the discussion following, that Mr. Watling’s gift of persuasion, though great, was not the determining factor in Mr. Gorse’s decision. He, too, possessed boldness, though he preferred caution. Nor did the friendship between the two enter into the transaction. I was impressed more strongly than ever with the fact that a lawsuit was seldom a mere private affair between two persons or corporations, but involved a chain of relationships and nine times out of ten that chain led up to the Railroad, which nearly always was vitally interested in these legal contests. Half an hour of masterly presentation of the situation was necessary before Mr. Gorse became convinced that the introduction of the bill was the only way out for all concerned.
“Well, I guess you’re right, Theodore,” he said at length. Whereupon he seized his pen and wrote off two notes with great rapidity. These he showed to Mr. Watling, who nodded and returned them. They were folded and sealed, and handed to me. One was addressed to Colonel Paul Varney, and the other to the Hon. W. W. Trulease, governor of the state.
“You can trust this young man?” demanded Mr. Gorse.
“I think so,” replied Mr. Watling, smiling at me. “The bill was his own idea.”
The railroad attorney wheeled about in his chair and looked at me; looked around me, would better express it, with his indefinite, encompassing yet inclusive glance. I had riveted his attention. And from henceforth, I knew, I should enter into his calculations. He had made for me a compartment in his mind.
“His own idea!” he repeated.
“I merely suggested it,” I was putting in, when he cut me short.
“Aren’t you the son of Matthew Paret?”
“Yes,” I said.
He gave me a queer glance, the significance of which I left untranslated. My excitement was too great to analyze what he meant by this mention of my father....
When we reached the sidewalk my chief gave me a few parting instructions.