Then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Abel had already been sending considerable sums of money to the British Red Cross for the relief of his coxmtrymen since that dreadful day in September 1939 on which the Nazis had marched into Poland, later to meet the Russians at Brest Litovsk and once again divide his homeland be.
tween dmm He had waged a fierce battle~ both within the Democratic Party and in the press, to push an unwilling America into the war even if now it had to be on the side of the Russians. His efforts so far had been fruitless, but on that December Sunday, with every radio station across the country blaring out the details to an incredulous nation, Abel knew that America must now be committed to the war. On I I December he listened to President Roosevelt tell the nation that Germany and Italy had officially declared war on the United States. Abel had every intention of joining in, but first he had a private declaration of war he wished to make~ and to that end he placed a call to Curds Fenton at the Continental Trust Bank.
Over the years Abel had grown to trust Fenton!s judgment and had kept him on the board of the Baron Group when he gained overall control in order to keep a close link between the group and Continental Trust.
Curds Fenton came on the line, his usual formal and always polite self.
'How much spare cash am I holding in the group's reserve account?' asked Abel, Curtis Fenton picked out the file marked 'Number 6 Acocount', remembering the days when he could put all Mr. Rosncrvski's affairs into one file.
He scanned some figures.
'A little under two million dollars,'he said.
'Good,1 said Abel. 'I want you to look into a newly formed bank called Lester, Kane and Company. Find - out the of every shareholder, what percentage they control and if there are any conditions under which they would be willing to sell. All this must be done without the knowledge of the bank's chairman, Mr. William Kane and without my name ever being mentioneV Curtis Fenton held his breath and said nothing. He was glad that Abel Rosnovski could not see his surprised fam Why did Abel Rosnovski want to put money into - anything to do with William Kane? Fenton had also read in the WaU Street Journal about the merging of the two famous family banks. What with Pearl Harbor and his wife's headache, he too had nearly missed the item. Rosnovski's request jogged his memory - he must send a congratulatory wire to William Kane. He pencilled a note on the bottom of the Baron Group file while listening to Abel's instructions.
'When you have a full rundown I want to be briefed in person, nothing on paper.'
'Yes, Mr. Rosnovski.'
I suppose someone knows what's going on between those two, Curtis Fenton added silently to himself, but I'm damned if I do.
Abel continued. 'I'd also like to know in your quarterly reports the details of every official statement issued by Lester's and which companies they are involved with.'
'Certainly, Mr. Rosnovski.'
'Thank you, Mr. Fenton. By the way, my market research team is advising me to open a new Baron in Montreal.'
'The war doesn't worry you, Mr. Rosnovski?'
'Good God, no. If the Germans reach Montreal we can all close down, Continental Trust included. In any case, we beat the bastards last time, and we'll beat them again. The only difference is that this time I'll be able to join the action. Good day, Mr. Fenton!
Will I ever understand what goes on in the mind of Abel Rosnovski, Curtis Fenton wondered, as he hung up the phone. His thoughts switched back io Abel's other request, for the details of Lest&s shares. That worried him even more. Although William Kane no longer had any connection with Rosnovski, he feared where this might all end if his client obtained a substantial holding in Lester~s. He decided against giving his views to Rosnovski for the time being, supposing the day would come when one of them would explain what they were both up to.
Abel also wondered if he should tell Curtis Fenton why he wanted to buy stock in Lester's but came to the conclusion that the fewer the number of people who knew of his plan, the better.
He put William Kane temporarily out of his mind and asked his secretary to find George, who was now a vice president of the Baron Group. He had grown along with Abel and was now his most tr ' usted lieutenant. Sitting in his office on the forty - second floor of the Chicago Baron, Abel looked down at Lake Michigan, on what was known as the Gold Coast, but his own thoughts returned to Poland. He wondered if he would ever live to see his castle again, now well inside the Russian borders under Stalin's control. Abel knew he would never settle in Poland, but he still wanted his castle restored to him. The idea of the Germans or Russians occupying his magnificent home once again made him want to ... His thoughts were interrupted by George.