Love is one long sweet dream, and marriage is the alarm clock.


Tác giả: Sidney Sheldon
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ruger-Brent, Ltd. 1914-1945
They were in the library, where Jamie had once liked to sit with his brandy glass in front of him. David was arguing that there was no time for a real honeymoon. "Someone has to mind the store, Kate."
"Yes, Mr. Blackwell. But who's going to mind me?" She curled up in David's lap, and he felt the warmth of her through her thin dress. The documents he had been reading fell to the floor. Her arms were around him, and he felt her hands sliding flown his body. She pressed her hips against him, making slow, small circles, and the papers on the floor were forgotten. She felt him respond, and she rose and slipped out of her dress. David matched her, marveling at her loveliness. How could he have been so blind for so long? She was undressing him now, and there was a sudden urgency in him. They were both naked, and their bodies were pressed together. He stroked her, his fingers lightly touching her face and her neck, down to the swell of her breasts. She was moaning, and his hands moved down until he felt the velvety softness between her legs. His fingers stroked her and she whispered, "Take me, David," and they were on the deep, soft rug and she felt the strength of his body on top of her.
There was a long, sweet thrust and he was inside her, filling her, and she moved to his rhythm. It became a great tidal wave, sweeping her up higher and higher until she thought she could not bear the ecstasy of it. There was a sudden, glorious explosion deep inside her and another and another, and she thought, I've died and gone to heaven.
They traveled all over the world, to Paris and Zurich and Sydney and New York, taking care of company business, but wherever they went they carved out moments of time for themselves. They talked late into the night and made love and explored each other's minds and bodies. Kate was an inexhaustible delight to David. She would awaken him in the morning to make wild and pagan love to him, and a few hours later she would be at his side at a business conference, making more sense than anyone else there. She had a natural flair for business that was as rare as it was unexpected. Women were few in the top echelons of the business world. In the beginning Kate was treated with a tolerant condescension, but the attitude quickly changed to a wary respect. Kate took a delight in the maneuvering and machinations of the game. David watched her outwit men with much greater experience. She had the instincts of a winner. She knew what she wanted and how to get it. Power.
They ended their honeymoon with a glorious week in Cedar Hill House at Dark Harbor.
It was on June 28, 1914, that the first talk of war was heard. Kate and David were guests at a country estate in Sussex. It was the age of country-house living and weekend guests were expected to conform to a ritual. Men dressed for breakfast, changed for midmorning lounging, changed for lunch, changed for tea—to a velvet jacket with satin piping—and changed to a formal jacket for dinner.
'For God's sake," David protested to Kate. "I feel like a damned peacock."
"You're a very handsome peacock, my darling," Kate assured him. "When you get home, you can walk around naked."
He took her in his arms. "I can't wait."
At dinner, the news came that Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, had been slain by an assassin.
Their host, Lord Maney, said, "Nasty business, shooting a woman, what? But no one is going to war over some little Balkan country."
And the conversation moved on to cricket.
Later in bed, Kate said, "Do you think there's going to be a war, David?"
"Over some minor archduke being assassinated? No."
It proved to be a bad guess. Austria-Hungary, suspecting that to neighbor, Serbia, had instigated the plot to assassinate Ferdinand, declared war on Serbia, and by October, most of the world's major powers were at war. It was a new kind of warfare. For the first time, mechanized vehicles were used—airplanes, airships and submarines.
The day Germany declared war, Kate said, "This can be a wonderful opportunity for us, David." David frowned. "What are you talking about?" "Nations are going to need guns and ammunition and—" "They're not getting them from us," David interrupted firmly. 'We have enough business, Kate. We don't have to make profits from anyone's blood." "Aren't you being a bit dramatic? Someone has to make guns.'
"As long as I'm with this company, it won't be us. We won't discuss it again, Kate. The subject is closed." And Kate thought, The bloody hell it is. For the first time in their marriage, they slept apart. Kate thought, How can David be such an idealistic ninny?
And David thought, How can she be so cold-blooded? The business has changed her.
The days that followed were miserable
for both of them. David regretted the emotional chasm between them, but he did not know how to bridge it. Kate was too proud and headstrong to give in to him because she knew she was right.
President Woodrow Wilson had promised to keep the United States out of the war, but as German submarines began torpedoing unarmed passenger ships, and stories of German atrocities spread, pressure began to build up for America to help the Allies. "Make the world safe for democracy," was the slogan.
David had learned to fly in the bush country of South Africa, and when the Lafayette Escadrille was formed in France with American pilots, David went to Kate. "I've got to enlist."
She was appalled. "No! It's not your war!"
"It's going to be," David said quietly. "The United States can't stay out. I'm an American. I want to help now."
"You're forty-six years old!"
"I can still fly a plane, Kate. And they need all the help they can get."
There was no way Kate could dissuade him. They spent the last few days together quietly, their differences forgotten. Theyl loved each other, and that was all that mattered.
The night before David was to leave for France, he said, "You and Brad Rogers can run the business as well as I can, maybe
better." "What if something happens to you? I couldn't bear it." He held her close.
"Nothing will happen to me, Kate. I'll
come back to you with all kinds of medals." He left the following morning.
David's absence was death for Kate. It had taken her so long to win him, and now every second of her day there was the ugly. creeping fear of losing him. He was always with her.
She found him in the cadence of a stranger's voice, the sudden laughter or a quiet street, a phrase, a scent, a song. He was everywhere. She wrote him long letters every day.
Whenever she received a letter from him, she reread it until it was in tatters. He was well, he wrote. The Germans had air superiority, but that would change There were rumors that America would be helping soon. He would write again when he could. He loved her.
Don't let anything happen to you, my darling. I'll hate you forever if you do.
She tried to forget her loneliness and misery by plunging into work. At the beginning of the war, France and Germany had the best-equipped fighting forces in Europe, but the Allies had far greater manpower, resources and materials. Russia, with the largest army, was badly equipped and poorly commanded.
"They all need help," Kate told Brad Rogers. 'They need tanks and guns and ammunition."
Brad Rogers was uncomfortable. "Kate, David doesn't think—"
"David isn't here, Brad. It's up to you and me."
But Brad Rogers knew that what Kate meant was, It's up to me.
Kate could not understand David's attitude about manufacturing armaments. The Allies needed weapons, and Kate felt it was her patriotic duty to supply them. She conferred with the heads of half a dozen friendly nations, and within a year Kruger-Brent, Ltd., was manufacturing guns and tanks, bombs and ammunition. The company supplied trains and tanks and uniforms and guns. Kruger-Brent was rapidly becoming one of the fastest-growing conglomerates in the world. When Kate saw the most recent revenue figures, she said to Brad Rogers, "Have you seen these? David will have to admit he was mistaken."
South Africa, meanwhile, was in turmoil. The party leaders had pledged their support to the Allies and accepted responsibil-ity for defending South Africa against Germany, but the majority of Afrikaners opposed the country's support of Great Britain. They could not forget the past so quickly.
In Europe the war was going badly for the Allies. Fighting on the western front reached a standstill. Both sides dug in, protected by trenches that stretched across France and Belgium, and the soldiers were miserable. Rain filled the dugouts with water and mud, and rats swarmed through the vermin-infested
trenches. Kate was grateful that David was fighting his war in the air. On April 6, 1917, President Wilson declared war, and David's prediction came true. America began to mobilize.
The first American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing began landing in France on June 26, 1917. New place names became a part of everyone's vocabulary: Saint-Mihiel... Chateau-Thierry ... the Meuse-Argonne ... Belleau Wood ... Verdun ... The Allies had become an irresistible force, and on November 11, 1918, the war was finally over. The world was safe for democracy.
David was on his way home.
When David disembarked from the troop ship in New York, Kate was there to meet him.
They stood staring at each other for one eternal moment, ignoring the noise and the crowds around them, then Kate was in David's arms. He was thinner and tired-looking, and Kate thought, Oh, God. I've missed him so. She had a thousand questions to ask him, but they could wait "I'm taking you to Cedar Hill House," Kate told him. "It's a perfect place for you to rest"
Kate had done a great deal with the house in anticipation of David's arrival home. The large, airy living room had been furnished with twin sofas covered in old rose-and-green floral chintz. Matching down-filled armchairs were grouped around the fireplace. Over the fireplace was a Vlaminck floral canvas, and, on each side of it, dor6 sconces. Two sets of French doors opened out onto the veranda, which ran the entire length of the house on three sides, covered with a striped awning. The rooms were bright and airy, and the view of the harbor spectacular.
Kate led David through the house, chattering away happily. He seemed strangely quiet.
When they had completed the tour, Kate asked, "Do you like what I've done with it, darling?"
"It's beautiful, Kate. Now, sit down. I want to talk to you.
She had a sudden sinking feeling. "Is anything wrong?"
"We seem to have become a munitions supplier for half the world."
"Wait until you look at the books," Kate began. "Our profit has—"
"I'm talking about something else. As I recall, our profit was pretty good before I left. I thought we agreed we wouldn't get involved in manufacturing war supplies."
Kate felt an anger rising in her. "You agreed. I didn't." She fought to control it. 'Times change, David. We have to change with them."
He looked at her and asked quietly, "Have you changed?"
Lying in bed that night, Kate asked herself whether it was she who had changed, or David. Had she become stronger, or had David become weaker? She thought about his argument against manufacturing armaments. It was a weak argument. After all, someone was going to supply the merchandise to the Allies, and there was an enormous profit in it.
What had happened to David's business sense? She had always looked up to him as one of the cleverest men she knew. But now, she felt that she was more capable of running the business than David. She spent a sleepless night.
In the morning Kate and David had breakfast and walked around the grounds.
"It's really lovely," David told her. "I'm glad to be here."
Kate said, "About our conversation last night—"
"It's done. I was away, and you did what you thought was right.'
Would I have done the same thing if you had been here? Kate wondered. But she did not say the words aloud. She had done what she had for the sake of the company. Does the company mean more to me than my marriage? She was afraid to answer the question.
The next five years witnessed a period of incredible worldwide growth. Kruger-Brent, Ltd., had been founded on diamonds and gold, but it had diversified and expanded all over the world, so that its center was no longer South Africa. The company recently had acquired a publishing empire, an insurance company and half a million acres of timberland.
One night Kate nudged David awake. "Darling, let's move the company headquarters."
David sat up groggily. "W—what?"
'The business center of the world today is New York. That's where our headquarters should be. South Africa's too far away from everything. Besides, now that we have the telephone and cable, we can communicate with any of our offices in minutes.'
"Now why didn't I think of that?" David mumbled. And he went back to sleep.
New York was an exciting new world. On her previous visit there, Kate had felt the quick pulse of the city, but living there was like being caught up at the center of a matrix. The earth
seemed to spin faster, everything moved at a more rapid pace. Kate and David selected a site for the new company headquarters on Wall Street, and the architects went to work.
Kate chose another architect to design a sixteenth-century French Renaissance mansion on Fifth Avenue. 'This city is so damned noisy," David complained. And it was true. The chatter of riveters filled the air in every part of the city as skyscrapers began to soar into the heavens. New York had become the mecca for trade from all over the world, the headquarters for shipping, insurance, communica-tions and transportation. It was a city bursting with a unique vitality. Kate loved it, but she sensed David's unhappiness.
"David, this is the future. This place is growing, and we'll grow with it." "My God, Kate, how much more do you want?" And without thinking, she replied, "All there is." She could not understand why David had even asked the question. The name of the game was to win, and you won by beating everyone else. It seemed so obvious to her. Why couldn't David see it? David was a good businessman, but there was something missing in him, a hunger, a compulsion to con-quer, to be the biggest and the best. Her father had had that spirit, and she had it. Kate was not sure exactly when it had happened, but at some point in her life, the company had be-come the master, and she the slave. It owned her more than she owned it.
When she tried to explain her feelings to David, he laughed and said, "You're working too hard." She's so much like her fa-ther, David thought. And he was not sure why he found that vaguely disturbing.
How could one work too hard? Kate wondered. There was no Atater joy in life. It was when she felt most alive. Each day lought a new set of problems, and each problem was a chal-Bge, a puzzle to be solved, a new game to be won. And she was ooderful at it. She was caught up in something beyond imagi-ation. It had nothing to do with money or achievement; it had
to do with power. A power that controlled the lives of thousands of people in every corner of the earth. Just as her life had once been controlled. As long as she had power, she would never truly need anyone. It was a weapon that was awesome beyond belief.
Kate was invited to dine with kings and queens and presidents, all seeking her favor, her goodwill. A new Kruger-Brent factory could mean the difference between poverty and riches. Power. The company was alive, a growing giant that had to be fed, and sometimes sacrifices were necessary, for the giant could not be shackled. Kate understood that now.
It had a rhythm, a pulse, and it had become her own.
In March, a year after they had moved to New York, Kate fell unwell. David persuaded her to see a doctor. "His name is John Harley. He's a young doctor with a good reputation."
Reluctantly, Kate went to see him. John Harley was a thin, serious-looking young Bostonian about twenty-six, five yean younger than Kate.
"I warn you," Kate informed him, "I don't have time to be sick." "I'll bear that in mind, Mrs. Blackwell. Meanwhile, let's have a look at you."
Dr. Harley examined her, made some tests and said, "I'm sure it's nothing serious. I'll have the results in a day or two. Give me a call on Wednesday."
Early Wednesday morning Kate telephoned Dr. Harley. have good news for you, Mrs.
Blackwell," he said cheerfully "You're going to have a baby."
It was one of the most exciting moments of Kate's life. She could not wait to tell David.
She had never seen David so thrilled. He scooped her up in his strong arms and said,
"It's going to be a girl, and she'll look exactly like you." He was thinking, This is exactly what Kate needs. Now she'll stay home more. She'll be more of a wife.
And Kate was thinking, It will be a boy. One day he'll take over Kruger-Brent.
As the time for the birth of the baby drew nearer, Kate worked shorter hours, but she still went to the office every day.
"Forget about the business and relax," David advised her.
What he did not understand was that the business was Kate's relaxation.
The baby was due in December. 'I'll try for the twenty-fifth," Kate promised David. "He'll be our Christmas present."
It's going to be a perfect Christmas, Kate thought. She was head of a great conglomerate, she was married to the man she loved and she was going to have his baby.
If there was irony in the order of her priorities, Kate was not aware of it.
Her body had grown large and clumsy, and it was getting more and more difficult for Kate to go to the office, but whenever David or Brad Rogers suggested she stay home, her answer was, "My brain is still working." Two months before the baby was due, David was in South Africa on an inspection tour of the mine at Pniel. He was scheduled to return to New York the following week.
Kate was at her desk when Brad Rogers walked in unannounced. She looked at the grim expression on his face and said, "We lost the Shannon deal!"
"No. I— Kate, I just got word. There's been an accident. A mine explosion."
She felt a sharp pang. "Where? Was it bad? Was anyone killed?"
Brad took a deep breath. "Half a dozen. Kate— David was with them."
The words seemed to fill the room and reverberate against the paneled walls, growing louder and louder, until it was a scream-ing in her ears, a Niagara of sound that was drowning her, and she felt herself being sucked into its center, deeper and deeper, until she could no longer breathe.
And everything became dark and silent.
The baby was born one hour later, two months premature. Kate named him Anthony James Blackwell, after David's father. I'll love you, my son, for me, and I'll love you for your father. One month later the new Fifth Avenue mansion was ready, and Kate and the baby and a staff of servants moved into it. Two castles in Italy had been stripped to furnish the house. It was a showplace, with elaborately carved sixteenth-century Italian walnut furniture and rose-marble floors bordered with sienna-red marble. The paneled library boasted a magnificent eighteenth-century fireplace over which hung a rare Holbein. There was a trophy room with David's gun collection, and an art gallery that Kate filled with Rembrandts and Vermeers and Velazquezes and Bellinis. There was a ballroom and a sun room and a formal dining room and a nursery next to Kate's room, and uncounted bedrooms. In the large formal gardens were statues by Rodin, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Maillol. It was a palace fit for a king. And the king is growing up in it, Kate thought happily.
In 1928, when Tony was four, Kate sent him to nursery school. He was a handsome, solemn little boy, with bis mother's gray eyes and stubborn chin. He was given music lessons, and when he was five he attended dancing school. Some of the best times the two of them spent together were at Cedar Hill House in Dark Harbor. Kate bought a yacht, an eighty-foot motor sailer she named the Corsair, and she and Tony cruised the waters along the coast of Maine. Tony adored it. But it was the work that gave Kate her greatest pleasure.
There was something mystic about the company Jamie McGregor had founded. It was alive, consuming. It was her lover, and it would never die on a winter day and leave her alone. It would live forever. She would see to it. And one day she would give it to her son.
The only disturbing factor in Kate's life was her homeland. She cared deeply about South Africa. The racial problems there were growing, and Kate was troubled. There were two political
camps: the verkramptes—the narrow ones, the pro-segregationists—and the verligtes—the enlightened ones, who wanted to improve the position of the blacks. Prime Minister James Hert-zog and Jan Smuts had formed a coalition and combined their power to have the New Land Act passed. Blacks were removed from the rolls and were no longer able to vote or own land. Millions of people belonging to different minority groups were disrupted by the new law. The areas that had no minerals, industrial centers or ports were assigned to coloreds, blacks and Indians.
Kate arranged a meeting in South Africa with several high government officials. "This is a time bomb," Kate told them. "What you're doing is trying to keep eight million people in slavery."
"It's not slavery, Mrs. Blackwell. We're doing this for their own good."
"Really? How would you explain that?"
"Each race has something to contribute. If the blacks mingle with the whites, they'll lose their individuality. We're trying to protect them."
"That's bloody nonsense," Kate retorted. "South Africa has become a racist hell"
"That's not true. Blacks from other countries come thousands of miles in order to enter this country. They pay as much as fifty-six pounds for a forged pass. The black is better off here than anywhere else on earth."
"Then I pity them," Kate retorted.
"They're primitive children, Mrs. Blackwell. It's for their own good."
Kate left the meeting frustrated and deeply fearful for her country.
Kate was also concerned about Banda. He was in the news a good deal. The South African newspapers were calling him the scarlet pimpernel, and there was a grudging admiration in their stories. He escaped the police by disguising himself as a laborer, a chauffeur, a janitor.
He had organized a guerrilla army and he
headed the police's most-wanted list. One article in the Cape Times told of his being carried triumphantly through the streets of a black village on the shoulders of demonstrators. He went from village to village addressing crowds of students, but every time the police got wind of his presence, Banda disappeared. He was said to have a personal bodyguard of hundreds of friends and followers, and he slept at a different house every night. Kate knew that nothing would stop him but death.
She had to get in touch with him. She summoned one of her veteran black foremen, a man she trusted. "William, do you think you can find Banda?"
"Only if he wishes to be found."
"Try. I want to meet with him."
"I'll see what I can do."
The following morning the foreman said, "If you are free this evening, a car will be waiting to take you out to the country."
Kate was driven to a small village seventy miles north of Johannesburg. The driver stopped in front of a small frame house, and Kate went inside. Banda was waiting for her.
He looked exactly the same as when Kate had last seen him. And he must be sixty years old, Kate thought. He had been on the run from the police for years, and yet he appeared serene and calm.
He hugged Kate and said, "You look more beautiful every time I see you."
She laughed. "I'm getting old. I'm going to be forty in a few years."
'The years sit lightly on you, Kate."
They went into the kitchen, and while Banda fixed coffee, Kate said, "I don't like what's happening, Banda. Where is it going to lead?"
"It will get worse," Banda said simply. "The government will not allow us to speak with them. The whites have destroyed the bridges between us and them, and one day they will find they need those bridges to reach us. We have our heroes now, Kate. Nehemiah Tile, Mokone, Richard Msimang. The whites goad us and move us around like cattle to pasture."
"Not all whites think like that," Kate assured him. "You have friends who are fighting to change things. It will happen one day, Banda, but it will take time."
'Time is like sand in an hourglass. It runs out."
"Banda, what's happened to Ntame and to Magena?"
"My wife and son are in hiding," Banda said sadly. "The police are still very busy looking for me."
"What can I do to help? I can't just sit by and do nothing. Will money help?"
"Money always helps."
"I will arrange it. What else?"
'Pray. Pray for all of us."
The following morning, Kate returned to New York.
When Tony was old enough to travel, Kate took him on busi-ness trips during his school holidays. He was fond of museums, and he could stand for hours looking at the paintings and statues of the great masters. At home, Tony sketched copies of the paintings on the wall, but he was too self-conscious to let his Bother see his work.
He was sweet and bright and fun to be with, and there was a shyness about him that people found appealing. Kate was proud of her son. He was always first in his class. "You beat all of them, didn't you, darling?" And she would laugh and hold him fiercely in her arms.
And young Tony would try even harder to live up to his mother's expectations.
In 1936, on Tony's twelfth birthday, Kate returned from a trip to the Middle East. She had missed Tony and was eager to see him. He was at home waiting for her. She took him in her arms and hugged him. "Happy birthday, darling! Has it been a good day?" "Y-yes, m-ma'am. It's b-b-been wonderful." Kate pulled back and looked at him.
She had never noticed him stutter before. "Are you all right, Tony?" "F-fine, thank you, M-mother."
"You mustn't stammer," she told him. "Speak more slowly."
"Yes, M-mother."
Over the next few weeks, it got worse. Kate decided to talk to Dr. Harley. When he finished the examination, John Harley said, "Physically, there's nothing wrong with the boy, Kate. Is he under any kind of pressure?"
"My son? Of course not. How can you ask that?"
"Tony's a sensitive boy. Stuttering is very often a physical manifestation of frustration, an inability to cope."
"You're wrong, John. Tony is at the very top of all the achievement tests in school. Last term he won three awards. Best all-around athlete, best all-around scholar and best student in the arts. I'd hardly call that unable to cope."
"I see." He studied her. "What do you do when Tony stammers, Kate?"
"I correct him, of course."
"I would suggest that you don't. That will only make him more tense."
Kate was stung to anger. "If Tony has any psychological problems, as you seem to think, I can assure you it's not because of bis mother. I adore him. And he's aware that I think he's the most fantastic child on earth."
And that was the core of the problem. No child could live up to that. Dr. Harley glanced down at his chart. "Let's see now. Tony is twelve?"
"Perhaps it might be good for him if he went away for a while. Maybe a private school somewhere."
Kate just stared at him.
"Let him be on his own a bit. Just until he finishes high school. They have some excellent schools in Switzerland."
Switzerland! The idea of Tony being so far away from her was appalling. He was too young, he was not ready yet, he— Dr. Harley was watching her. "I'll think about it," Kate told him.
That afternoon she canceled a board meeting and went home early. Tony was in his room, doing homework.
Tony said, "I g-g-got all A's t-today, M-mother."
"What would you think of going to school in Switzerland, darling?" And his eyes lit up and he said, "M-m-may I?"
Six weeks later, Kate put Tony aboard a ship. He was on his way to the Institute Le Rosey in Rolle, a small town on the shore of Lake Geneva. Kate stood at the New York pier and watched until the huge liner cut loose from the tugboats. Bloody hell! I'm going to miss him. Then she turned and walked back to the limousine waiting to take her to the office.
Kate enjoyed working with Brad Rogers. He was forty-six, two years older than Kate.
They had become good friends through the years, and she loved him for his devotion to Kruger-Brent. Brad was unmarried and had a variety of attractive girl friends, but gradually Kate became aware that he was half in love with her. More than once he made studiously ambiguous remarks, but she chose to keep their relationship on an impersonal, business level. She broke that pattern only once.
Brad had started seeing someone regularly. He stayed out late every night and came into morning meetings tired and distracted, his mind elsewhere. It was bad for the company. When a month went by and his behavior was becoming more flagrant, Kate decided that something had to be done. She remembered how close David had come to quitting the company because of a woman. She would not let that happen with Brad.
Kate had planned to travel to Paris alone to acquire an import-export company, but at the last minute she asked Brad to accompany her. They spent the day of their arrival in meetings and that evening had dinner at the Grand Vefour. Afterward, Kate suggested that Brad join her in her suite at the George V to go over the reports on the new company.
When he arrived, Kate was waiting for him in a filmy negligee.
"I brought the revised offer with me," Brad began, "so we—"
"That can wait," Kate said softly. There was an invitation in her voice that made him look at her again. "I wanted us to be alone, Brad."
She moved into his arms and held him close.
"My God!" he said. "I've wanted you for so long."
"And I you, Brad."
And they moved into the bedroom.
Kate was a sensual woman, but all of her sexual energy had long since been harnessed into other channels. She was completely fulfilled by her work. She needed Brad for other reasons.
He was on top of her, and she moved her legs apart and felt his hardness in her, and it was neither pleasant nor unpleasant.
"Kate, I've loved you for so long ..."
He was pressing into her, moving in and out in an ancient, timeless rhythm, and she thought, They're asking too bloody much for the company. They're going to hold out because they know I really want it.
Brad was whispering words of endearment in her ear.
I could call off the negotiations and wait for them to come back to me. But what if they don't? Do I dare risk losing the deal?
His rhythm was faster now, and Kate moved her hips, thrusting against his body.
No. They could easily find another buyer. Better to pay them what they want. I'll make up for it by selling off one of their subsidiaries.
Brad was moaning, in a frenzy of delight, and Kate moved faster, bringing him to a climax.
I'll tell them I've decided to meet their terms.
There was a long, shuddering gasp, and Brad said, "Oh, God, Kate, it was wonderful.
Was it good for you, darling?"
"It was heaven."
She lay in Brad's arms all night, thinking and planning, while he slept. In the morning when he woke up, she said, "Brad, that woman you've been seeing—"
"My God! You're jealous!" He laughed happily. "Forget about her. I'll never see her again, I promise."
Kate never went to bed with Brad again. When he could not understand why she refused him, all she said was, "You don't
know how much I want to, Brad, but I'm afraid we wouldn't be able to work together any longer. We must both make a sacrifice." And he was forced to live with that.
As the company kept expanding, Kate set up charitable foundations that contributed to colleges, churches and schools. She kept adding to her art collection. She acquired the great Renaissance and post-Renaissance artists Raphael and Titian, Tintoretto and El Greco; and the baroque painters Rubens, Caravaggio and Vandyck.
The Blackwell collection was reputed to be the most valuable private collection in the world. Reputed, because no one outside of invited guests was permitted to see it. Kate would not allow it to be photographed, nor would she discuss it with the press. She had strict, inflexible rules about the press. The personal life of the Blackwell family was off limits. Neither servants nor employees of the company were permitted to discuss the Blackwell family. It was impossible, of course, to stop rumors and speculation, for Kate Blackwell was an intriguing enigma—one of the richest, most powerful women in the world.
There were a thousand questions about her, but few answers.
Kate telephoned the headmistress at Le Rosey. "I'm calling to find out how Tony is."
"Ah, he is doing very well, Mrs. Blackwell. Your son is a superb student. He—"
"I wasn't referring to that. I meant—" She hesitated, as though reluctant to admit there could be a weakness in the Blackwell family. "I meant his stammering."
"Madame, there is no sign of any stammering. He is perfectly fine.'
Kate heaved an inward sigh of relief. She had known all along that it was only temporary, a passing phase of some kind. So much for doctors!
Tony arrived home four weeks later, and Kate was at the aiport to meet him. He looked fit and handsome, and Kate
felt a surge of pride. "Hello, my love. How are you?" "I'm f-f-fine, M-m-mother. How are y-y-you?"
On his vacations at home, Tony eagerly looked forward to examining the new paintings his mother had acquired while he was away. He was awed by the masters, and enchanted by the French Impressionists: Monet, Renoir, Manet and Morisot. They evoked a magic world for Tony. He bought a set of paints and an easel and went to work. He thought his paintings were terrible, and he still refused to show them to anyone. How could they compare with the exquisite masterpieces?
Kate told him, "One day all these paintings will belong to you, darling."
The thought of it filled the thirteen-year-old boy with a sense of unease. His mother did not understand. They could never be truly his, because he had done nothing to earn them.
He had a fierce determination somehow to earn his own way. He had ambivalent feelings about being away from his mother, for everything around her was always exciting. She was at the center of a whirlwind, giving orders, making incredible deals, taking him to exotic places, introducing him to interesting people. She was an awesome figure, and Tony was inordinately proud of her. He thought she was the most fascinating woman in the world. He felt guilty because it was only in her presence that he stuttered.
Kate had no idea how deeply her son was in awe of her until one day when he was home on vacation he asked, "M-m-mother, do you r-r-run the world?"
And she had laughed and said, "Of course not. What made you ask such a silly question?"
"All my f-friends at school talk about you. Boy, you're really s-something."
"I am something," Kate said. "I'm your mother."
Tony wanted more than anything in the world to please Kate. He knew how much the company meant to her, how much she planned on his running it one day, and he was filled with regret, because he knew he could not. That was not what he intended to do with his life.
When he tried to explain this to his mother, she would laugh, "Nonsense, Tony. You're much too young to know what you want to do with your future."
And he would begin to stammer.
The idea of being a painter excited Tony. To be able to capture beauty and freeze it for all eternity; that was something worthwhile. He wanted to go abroad and study in Paris, but he knew he would have to broach the subject to his mother very carefully.
They had wonderful times together. Kate was the chatelaine of vast estates. She had acquired homes in Palm Beach and South Carolina, and a stud farm in Kentucky, and she and Tony visited all of them during his vacations. They watched the America's Cup races in Newport, and when they were in New York, they had lunch at Delmonico's and tea at the Plaza and Sunday dinner at Luchow's. Kate was interested in horse racing, and her stable became one of the finest in the world. When one of Kate's horses was running and Tony was home from school, Kate would take him to the track with her. They would sit in her box and Tony would watch in wonder as his mother cheered until she was hoarse. He knew her excitement had nothing to do with money.
"It's winning, Tony. Remember that. Winning is what's important."
They had quiet, lazy times at Dark Harbor. They shopped at Pendleton and Coffin, and had ice-cream sodas at the Dark Harbor Shop. In summer they went sailing and hiking and visaed art galleries. In the winter there was skiing and skating and Heigh riding. They would sit in front of a fire in the large fire-place in the library, and Kate would tell her son all the old fam-ily stories about his grandfather and Banda, and about the baby shower Madam Agnes and her girls gave for Tony's grand-mother. It was a colorful family, a family to be proud of, to
"Kruger-Brent, Limited, will be yours one day, Tony. You'll run it and—"
"I d-don't want to r-run it, Mother. I'm not interested in big business or p-power."
And Kate exploded. "You bloody fool! What do you know about big business or power?
Do you think I go around the world spreading evil? Hurting people? Do you think Kruger-Brent is some kind of ruthless money machine crushing anything that gets in its way? Well, let me tell you something, Son. It's the next best thing to Jesus Christ. We're the resurrection, Tony. We save lives by the hundreds of thousands. When we open a factory in a depressed community or country, those people can afford to build schools and libraries and churches, and give their children decent food and clothing and recreation facilities." She was breathing hard, carried away by her anger. "We build factories where people are hungry and out of work, and because of us they're able to live decent lives and hold up their heads. We become their saviors. Don't ever again let me hear you sneer at big business and power."
All Tony could say was, "I'm s-s-sorry, M-m-mother."
And he thought stubbornly: I'm going to be an artist.
When Tony was fifteen, Kate suggested he spend his summer vacation in South Africa.
He had never been there. "I can't get away just now, Tony, but you'll find it a fascinating place. I'll make all the arrangements for you."
"I was s-sort of h-hoping to spend my vacation at Dark Harbor, M-mother."
"Next summer," Kate said firmly. "This summer I would like you to go to Johannesburg."
Kate carefully briefed the company superintendent in Johan-nesburg, and together they laid out an itinerary for Tony. Each day was planned with one objective in view: to make this trip as exciting as possible for Tony, to make him realize his future lay with the company.
Kate received a daily report about her son. He had been taken into one of the gold mines. He had spent two days in the dia-mond fields. He had been on a guided tour of the Kruger-Brent plants, and had gone on a safari in Kenya.
A few days before Tony's vacation ended, Kate telephoned the company manager in Johannesburg. "How is Tony getting along?"
"Oh, he's having a great time, Mrs. Blackwell. In fact, this morning he asked if he couldn't stay on a little longer."
Kate felt a surge of pleasure. "That's wonderful! Thank you."
When Tony's vacation was over, he went to Southampton, England, where he boarded a Pan American Airways System plane for the United States. Kate flew Pan American whenever possible. It spoiled her for other airlines.
Kate left an important meeting to greet her son when he arrived at the Pan American terminal at the newly built La Guar-dia Airport in New York. His handsome face was filled with enthusiasm.
"Did you have a good time, darling?"
"South Africa's a f-fantastic country, M-mother. Did you know they f-flew me to the Namib Desert where grandfather s-stole those diamonds from Great-grandfather v-van der Merwe?"
"He didn't steal them, Tony," Kate corrected him. "He merely took what was his."
"Sure," Tony scoffed. "Anyway, I was th-there. There was no sea mis, but they s-still have the guards and dogs and everything." He grinned. "They wouldn't give me any s-samples."
Kate laughed happily. "They don't have to give you any samples, darling. One day they will all be yours."
"You t-tell them. They wouldn't l-listen to me."
She hugged him. "You did enjoy it, didn't you?" She was enormously pleased that at last Tony was excited about his heritage.
'You know what I loved m-most?"
Kate smiled lovingly. "What?"
'The colors. I p-painted a lot of landscapes th-there. I hated to leave. I want to go back there and p-paint."
"Paint?" Kate tried to sound enthusiastic. "That sounds like a wonderful hobby, Tony."
"No. I don't m-mean as a hobby, Mother. I want to be a p-painter. I've been thinking a lot about it. I'm going to P-paris to study. I really think I might have some talent."
Kate felt herself tensing. "You don't want to spend the rest of your life painting."
"Yes, I do, M-mother. It's the only thing I really c-care about."
And Kate knew she had lost.
He has a right to live his own life, Kate thought. But how can I let him make such a terrible mistake?
In September, the decision was taken out of both their hands Europe went to war.
"I want you to enroll in the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce," Kate informed Tony. "In two years if you still want to be an artist, you'll have my blessing." Kate was certain that by then Tony would change his mind. It was inconceivable that her son would choose to spend his life slapping daubs of color on bits of canvas when he could head the most exciting conglomerate in the world. He was, after all, her son.
To Kate Blackwell, World War II was another great opportunity. There were worldwide shortages of military supplies and materials, and Kruger-Brent was able to furnish them.
One division of the company provided equipment for the armed forces, while another division took care of civilian needs. The company factories were working twenty-four hours a day.
Kate was certain the United States was not going to be able to remain neutral. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called upon the country to be the great arsenal of democracy, and on March 11, 1941, the Lend-Lease Bill was pushed through Congress. Allied shipping across the Atlantic was menaced by the German blockade. U-boats, the German submarines, attacked and sank scores of Allied ships, fighting in wolf packs of eight.
Germany was a juggernaut that seemingly could not be stopped. In defiance of the Versailles Treaty, Adolf Hitler had built up one of the greatest war machines in history. In a new blitzkrieg technique, Germany attacked Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands, and in rapid succession, the German machine crushed Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg and France.
Kate went into action when she received word that Jews working in the Nazi-confiscated Kruger-Brent, Ltd., factories were being arrested and deported to concentration camps.
She made two telephone calls, and the following week she was on her way to Switzerland.
When she arrived at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, there was a message that Colonel Brinkmann wished to see her. Brinkmann had been a manager of the Berlin branch of Kruger-Brent, Ltd. When the factory had been taken over by the Nazi government, Brinkmann was given the rank of colonel and kept in charge.
He came to see Kate at the hotel. He was a thin, precise man with blond hair combed carefully over bis balding skull. "I am delighted to see you, Frau Blackwell. I have a message for you from my government. I am authorized to assure you that as soon as we have won the war, your factories will be returned to you. Germany is going to be the greatest industrial power the world has ever known, and we welcome the collaboration of people such as yourself."
"What if Germany loses?"
Colonel Brinkmann allowed a small smile to play on his lips. "We both know that cannot happen, Frau Blackwell. The United States is wise to stay out of Europe's business. I hope it continues to do so."
"I'm sure you do, Colonel." She leaned forward. 'I've heard rumors about Jews being sent to concentration camps and being exterminated. Is that true?"
"British propaganda, I assure you. It is true that die Juden are sent to work camps, but I give you my word as an officer that they are being treated as they should be."
Kate wondered exactly what those words meant. She intended to find out.
The following day Kate made an appointment with a promi-aent German merchant named Otto Bueller. Bueller was in his
fifties, a distinguished-looking man with a compassionate face and eyes that had known deep suffering. They met at a small cafe near the bahnhof. Herr Bueller selected a table in a deserted corner.
"I've been told," Kate said softly, "that you've started an underground to help smuggle Jews into neutral countries. Is that true?"
"It's not true, Mrs. Blackwell. Such an act would be treason against the Third Reich."
"I have also heard that you're in need of funds to run it."
Herr Bueller shrugged. "Since there is no underground, I have no need of funds to run it, is that not so?"
His eyes kept nervously darting around the cafe. This was a man who breathed and slept with danger each day of his life.
"I was hoping I might be of some help," Kate said carefully. "Kruger-Brent, Limited, has factories in many neutral and Allied countries. If someone could get the refugees there, I would arrange for them to have employment."
Herr Bueller sat there sipping a bitter coffee. Finally, he said, "I know nothing about these things. Politics are dangerous these days. But if you are interested in helping someone in distress, I have an uncle in England who suffers from a terrible, debilitating disease. His doctor bills are very high."
"How high?"
"Fifty thousand dollars a month. Arrangements would have to be made to deposit the money for his medical expenses in London and transfer the deposits to a Swiss bank."
"That can be arranged."
"My uncle would be very pleased."
Some eight weeks later, a small but steady stream of Jewish refugees began to arrive in Allied countries to go to work in Kruger-Brent factories.
Tony quit school at the end of two years. He went up to Kate's office to tell her the news.
"I t-tried, M-mother. I really d-did. But I've m-made up m-my mind. I want to s-study p-painting. When the w-war is over, I'm g-going to P-paris."
Each word was like a hammerblow.
"I kn-know you're d-disappointed, but I have to l-live my own life. I think I can be good—really good." He saw the look on Kate's face. "I've done what you've asked me to do.
Now you've got to g-give me my chance. They've accepted me at the Art I-institute in Chicago."
Kate's mind was in a turmoil. What Tony wanted to do was such a bloody waste. All she could say was, "When do you plan to leave?"
"Enrollment starts on the fifteenth."
"What's the date today?"
"D-december sixth."
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, squadrons of Nakajima bombers and Zero fighter planes from the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, and the following day, the United States was at war. That afternoon Tony enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was sent to Quantico, Virginia, where be was graduated from Officers' Training School and from there to the South Pacific.
Kate felt as though she were living on the edge of an abyss. Her working day was filled with the pressures of running the company, but every moment at the back of her mind was the fear that she would receive some dreaded news about Tony— that he had been wounded or killed.
The war with Japan was going badly. Japanese bombers struck at American bases on Guam, Midway and Wake islands. They took Singapore in February 1942, and quickly overran New Britain, New Ireland and the Admiralty and Solomon islands. General Douglas MacArthur was forced to withdraw from the Philippines. The powerful forces of the Axis were slowly conquering the world, and the shadows were darkening everywhere.
Kate was afraid that Tony might be taken prisoner of war and tortured. With all her power and influence, there was nothing she could do except pray. Every letter from Tony was a beacon of hope, a sign that, a few short weeks before, he had been alive. 'They keep us in the dark here," Tony wrote. "Are
the Russians still holding on? The Japanese soldier is brutal, but you have to respect him. He's not afraid to die ..."
"What's happening in the States? Are factory workers really striking for more money? ..."
'The PT boats are doing a wonderful job here. Those boys are all heroes ..."
"You have great connections, Mother. Send us a few hundred F4U's, the new Navy fighters. Miss you___"
On August 7, 1942, the Allies began their first offensive action in the Pacific. United States Marines landed on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, and from then on they kept moving to take back the islands the Japanese had conquered.
In Europe, the Allies were enjoying an almost unbroken string of victories. On June 6, 1944, the Allied invasion of Western Europe was launched with landings by American, British and Canadian troops on the Normandy beaches, and a year later, on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally.
In Japan, on August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb with a destructive force of more than twenty thousand tons of TNT was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later, another atomic bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki. On August 14, the Japanese surrendered. The long and bloody war was finally over.
Three months later, Tony returned home. He and Kate were at Dark Harbor, sitting on the terrace looking over the bay dotted with graceful white sails.
The war has changed him, Kate thought. There was a new maturity about Tony. He had grown a small mustache, and looked tanned and fit and handsome. There were lines about his eyes that had not been there before. Kate was sure the years overseas had given him time to reconsider his decision about not going into the company.
"What are your plans now, Son?" Kate asked.
Tony smiled. "As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted, Mother—I'm going to P-paris."
Master Of The Game Master Of The Game - Sidney Sheldon Master Of The Game