'It may turn out to be just that,' said Ted Leach, 'if Peter Parfitt does succeed in becoming chahmmm'



'I'm sorry, gentlemen,' said Williami, 'to have caused so much consternation. If my appointment as chairman came as a surprise to you, I can assum you it was nothing less than a bolt from the blue for me. I imagined I would receive some minor personal memento of Matthew's from Charles Lester's will, not the responsibility of running the entire bank.'



'We understand the position you've been placed in, Mr Kane,' said Ted Leach, 'and you must trust us when we say we are here to help you. We are aware that you will find that difficult to believe after the treatment that has been meted out to you by Peter Parfitt and the tactics he has been using behind your back to try and secure the chair for himself!



'I have to believe you, Mr. Leach, because I have no choice but to place myself in your hand and seek your advice as to how you view the cunxmt situation!



'thank you,' said Leach. qbat situation is clear to me. Peter Parfitescarripaign is well organised, and he now feels he is acting from a position of strength. We, therefore. Mr. Kane~ must be entirely open with each other if we are to have any chance of beating him. I am assuming, of course, that you have the stomach for such a fight.'



'I wouldn't be here if I didn!t, Mr. Leach. And now that you have put the position so succinctly, perhaps you will allow me to suggest how we should go about defeating Mr. Pvtzmfitt.f 'Certainly,'said Ted Leach.



All three men listened intently.



'You are uDdoubtedly right in saying that Parfitt feels he is now in a strong position because to date he has always been the one on the attack, always knowing what is going to happen next. Might I suggest that the time has come for us to reverse that trend and take up the attack ourselves where and when he least expects it - in his own board room.'



'How do you propose we go about that, Mr. Kane?' enquired Winthrop Davies, looking somewhat surprised.



'I'll tell you if you will first permit me to ask you some questions. How many full - time executive directors are there with a vote on the board?'



'Sixteen,' said Ted Leach instantly.



'And with whom does their allegiance lie at ffitis momentV William asked.



'Not the easiest question to answer, Mr. Kane,' Winthrop Davies chipped in.



He took a crumpled envelope from his inside pocket and studied the back of it before he continued. 'I think we can count on six sure votes, and Peter Parfitt can be certain of five. It came as a shock for me to discover this morning that Rupert Cork - Smith, who was Charles Lester's closest friend, is unwilling to support you, Mr. Kane. Really strange, because I know he doesiet care for Parfitt. I think that may make the voting six apiece.'



That gives us until Thursday,' added Ted Leach, 'to find out how the other four board members are likely to react to your appointment!



'Why Thursday?'asked William 'Day of the next board meeting,' answered Leach, stroking his moustache, which William had noticed he always did when he started to speak. 'And more important, Item One on the agenda is the election of a new chairman!



'I was told the next meeting would not take place until Monday,'said William in astonishment.



'By whom?'Davies asked.



'Peter Parfitt,' said William.



Wis tactics,' Ted Leach commented, 'have not been altogether those of a gentleman!



'I've learned enough about that gentleman,' William said, placing an ironic stress on the words, 'to make me reali~e that I shall have to take the battle to him.'



'Easier said than done, Mr. Kane. He is very much in the driver's seat at this moment,' said Winthrop Davies, 'and I'm not sure how we go about removing him from it.'



'Switch the traffic lights to red,'replied William. 'Who has the authority to call a board meeting?'



'While the board is without a chairman, either vice - chairman,' said Ted Leach. 'Which in reality means Peter Parfitt or myself.' , 'How many board members form a quorum? 'Nine,' said Davies.



'And if you are one of the two vice - chairmen, Mr. Leach, who is the company secretary?'



'I am,' said Alfred Rodgers, who until then had hardly opened his mout4 the exact quality William always looked for in a company secretary.



'How much notice do you have to give to call an emergency board meeting, Mr. RodgersT 'Every director must be informed at least twenty - four hours beforehand although that has never actually happened except during the crash of twenty - nine. Charles Lester always tried to give at least three days' notice!