Although the legend on the door read RENQuw, RENQuist & Fffzgmald, the two Renquists had been long, deceased. Simon Fitzgerald was still very much alive, and at seventy-six, he was the dynamo that powered the office, with sixty attorneys working under him. He was perilously thin, with a full mane of white hair, and he walked with the sternly straight carriage of a military man. At the moment, he was pacing back and forth, his mind in a turmoil. He stopped in front of his secretary. ' Mr. Stanford telephoned, didn't he give any indication of what he wanted to see me about so urgently?", sir. He just said he wanted you to be at his house at nine o'clock Monday morning, and to bring his will and a notary." you. Ask Mr. Sloane to come in.' Steve Sloane was one of the bright, innovative attorneys in the office. A Harvard Law School graduate in his forties, he was tall and lean, with blond hair, amusedly inquisitive blue eyes, and an easy, graceful 44 He was the troubleshooter for the firm, and Fitzgerald's choice to take over one day. If I on had a son, Fitzgerald thought, I would have wanted -A to be like Steve. He watched as Steve Sloane walked ''re supposed to be salmon fishing up in New- Steve said. ' came up. Sit down, Steve. We have a problem.' Steve sighed. ' else is new?"'s about Harry Stanford.' Harry Stanford was one of their most prestigious clients. Half a dozen other law firms handled various Stanford Enterprises subsidiaries, but Renquist, Renquist & Fitzgerald handled his personal affairs. Except for Fitzgerald, none of the members of the firm had ever met him, but he was a legend around the office.

"What's Stanford done now?' Steve asked. ''s gotten himself dead." Steve looked at him, shocked. ''s whatt ' just received a fax from the. French police in Corsica. Apparently Stanford fell off his yacht and drowned yesterday." God!" know you've never met him, but I've represented him for more than thirty years. He was a difficult man." Fitzgerald leaned back in his chair, thinking about the past. ' were really two Harry Stanfords - the 45 public one who could coax the birds off the money tree, and the sonofabitch who took pleasurelin destroying people. He was a charmer, but he could turn on you like a cobra. He had a split personality - he was both the snake charmer and the snake." fascinating." was about thirty years ago - thirty-one, to be exact - when I joined this law firm. Old Man Renquist handled Stanford then. You know how people use the phrase "larger than life"? Well, Harry Stanford was really larger than life. If he didn't, exist, you couldn't have invented him. He was a colossus. He had an Ing energy and ambition. He was a great athlete. He boxed in college and was a ten-goal polo player. But even when he was young, Harry Stanford was impossible. He was the only man I've ever known who wag totally without compassion. He was sadistic and vindictive, and he had the instincts of a vulture. He loved forcing his competitors into bankruptcy. It was rumored that there was more than one suicide because of him." sounds like a monster." the one hand, yes. On the other hand, he founded an orphanage in New Guinea and a hospital in Bombay, and he gave millions to charity - anonymously. No one ever knew what to expect next." did he become so wealthyt ''s your Greek mythologyt ''m a -little rusty.' 46 of Oedipust ' know the story Steve nodded. ' killed his father to get his mother.". Well, that was Harry Stanford. Only he killed his father to get his mother's vote.' Steve was staring at him. ' Fitzgerald leaned forward. ' the early thirties, E""Harry's father had a grocery store here in Boston. It did so well that he opened a second one, and pretty soon he had a small chain of grocery stores. When H411M finished college, his father brought him into the business as a partner and put him on the board of directors. As I said, Harry was ambitious. He had big reams Instead of buying meat from packing houses, he wanted the chain to raise its own livestock. He wanted it to buy land, and grow its own vegetables, can its own goods. His father disagreed, and they fought a lot. ' Harry had his biggest brainstorm of all. He told his father he wanted the company to build a chain of supermarkets that sold everything from automobiles to furniture to life insurance, at a discount, and charge customers a membership fee. Harry's father thought he was crazy, and he turned down the idea. But Harry didn't intend to let anything get in his way. He decided he had to get rid of the old man. He persuaded his father to take a long vacation, and while he was away, Harry went to work charming the board of directors. ' was a brilliant salesman and he sold them on 47 his,-concept. He persuaded his aunt and uncle, who were on the board, to vote for him. He romanced the other members of the board. He took them to lunch, went fox hunting with one, golfing with another. He slept with a board membees wife who had influence over her husband. But it was his mother who held the largest block of stock and had the final vote. Harry persuaded her to give it to him and to vote against her husband.', "Mat's unbelievable!" Harry's father returned, he learned that his family had voted him out of the company.' GMy God! s ''s more. Harry wasn't satisfied with that.

When his father tried to get into his own office, he found that he was barred from the building. And, remember, Harry was only in his thirties then. His nickname around the company was the Iceman. But credit where credit is due, Steve. He single-handedly built. Stanford Enterprises into one of the biggest privately held conglomerates in the world. He expanded the company to include timber, chemicals, communications, electronics, and a staggering amount of real estate. And he wound up with. all the stock." must have been an incredible man,' Steve said.

"He was. To men - and to wornen." he marriedt Simon Fitzgerald sat there for a long time, remembering. When he finally spoke he said, "Harry Stanford 48 married to one of the most beautiful women I've ,',,4ver seen. Emily Temple. They had three children, two boys and a girl. Emily came from a very social family ""In Hobe Sound, Florida. She adored Harry, and she to close her eyes to his cheating, but one day it C. tot to be too much for her. She had a governess for 4he children, a woman named Rosemary Nelson. Young and attractive. What made her even more 4ttractive to Harry Stanford was the fact that she refused to go to bed with him. It drove him crazy. He wasn't used to rejection. Well, when Harry Stanford turned on the charm, he was irresistible. He finally got Rosemary into bed. He got her pregnant, and she went to see a doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor's son-in-law @was a columnist, and he got hold of the story and printed it. There was one hell of a scandal.

You know Boston. It, was all over the newspapers. I still have clippings about it somewhere." she get an abortiont Fitzgerald shook his head. '. Harry wanted her to have one, but she refused. They had a terrible scene. He told her he loved her and wanted to marry her. Of course, he had told that to dozens ofwomen. But Emily overheard their conversation, and in the middle of that same night she committed suicide."'s awful. What happened to the governess?" Nelson disappeared. We know that she had a daughter she named Julia, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Milwaukee. She sent a note to Stanford, but, I 49 don't believe he even bothered to reply. By then, he was involved with someone new. He wasn't interested in Rosemary anymore." ... "

"The real tragedy is what happened later. The children rightfully blamed their father for their mother's suicide. They were ten, twelve, and fourteen at the time. Old enough to feel the pain, but too young to fight their father. They hated him. And Harry's greatest fear was that one day they would do to him what he had done to his own father. So he did everything he could to make sure that never happened. He sent them away to different boarding schools and summer camps, and arranged for his children to see as little of one another as possible. They received no money from him. They lived on the small trust that their mother had left them. All their lives he used the carrot-and stick approach with them. He held out his fortune as the caffot, then withdrew it if they displeased him."'s happened to the children?" is a judge in the circuit court in Chicago. Woodrow doesn't do anything. He's a playboy. He lives in Hobe Sound and gambles on golf and polo. A few years ago, he picked up a waitress in a diner, got her pregnant, and to everyone's surprise, married her. Kendall is a successful fashion designer, married to a Frenchman. They live in New York.' He stood up.

"Steve, have you ever been to Corsica?' 50 No.' Stan- ''d like you to fly there. They're holding Harry 0is body, and the police refuse to release it. I want u to straighten out the matter." right.' If there's a chance of your leaving today ... '. I'll work it out." fthank s. I appreciate ' the Air France commuter flight from Paris to COr- a travel book about Corsica. st Sloane read eve ,".,He learned that the island was largely mountainous, that its principal port city was Ajaccio, and that it was te. The book was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonapar filled With interesting statistics, but Steve was totally As.

the plane unprepared for the beauty Of the island approached Corsica, far below he saw a high solid wall te Cliffs of Dover. of white rock that resembled the Whi It was breathtaking- and a taxi took The plane landed at Ajaccio airport the Cours Napol6on, the main street that Steve down stretched from place General de Gaulle northward to the train station. He had made arrangements for a plane to stand by to fly Harry Stanford's body back to Paris, where the coffin would be transferred to a plane to Boston. All he needed was to get a release for the body. Ste had the taxi drop him off at the Pruccturc building on Cours Napol6on.

He went up One flight 51 of stairs and walked into the reception office.

A uniformed sergeant was seated at the desk. '. Puisje vous aider?" is in charge heret ' Durer." would like to see him, please." what is it of concern in relationship tot The sergeant was proud of his English. Steve took out his business card.

"I'm the attorney for Harry Stanford. I've come to taike his body back to the States.' The sergeant frowned. ', please.' He disappeared into Capitaine Durer's office, carefully closing the door behind him.

The office was crowded, filled with reporters from television and news services from all over the globe. Everyone seemed to be speaking at the same time. ', why was he out in a storm when ... ?" could he fall off a yacht in the middle of ... T ' there any sign of foul playt ' you done an autopsy?, ' else was an the ship with ... ', gentlemen.' Capitaine Durer held up his hand. ', gentlemen. Please.' He looked around the room at all the reporters hanging on his every word, and he was ecstatic. He had dreamed of moments like this. If I handle this properly, it will mean a big promotion and - The sergeant interrupted his thoughts. '.' 52 ,,He whispered in Durer's ear and handed him Steve Sloane's card.

Capitaine Durer studied it and frowned. ' can't see him now,' he snapped. ' him to come back tomorrow at ten o'clock.", sir." Capitaine Durer watched thoughtfully as the sergeant left the room. He had no intention of -letting anyone take away his moment of glory. He turned back to the reporters and smiled. ', what were you asking ... T I In the outer office, the sergeant was saying to Sloane, ' am sorry, but Capitaine Durer is very busy immediately. He would like you to expose yourself here tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. Steve Sloane looked at him in dismay. ' morning? That's ridiculous - I don't want to-wait that long.' The sergeant shrugged. ' is of your chosen, monsieur.' Steve frowned. ' well. I don't have a hotel reservation. Can you recommend a hotelt 16mais oui. I am pleased to have recommended the Colomba, eight Avenue de Paris.' T Steve hesitated.

"Isn't there some way ... ' o'clock tomorrow morning.1 - Steve turned and walked out of the office. In Durer's office, the capitaine was happily coping with the barrage of reporters' questions.

53 A television reporter asked, ' can you be sure it was an accidentt , Durer looked into the lens of the camera. ', there was an eyewitness to this terrible event. Monsieur Stanford's cabin has an open veranda. Apparently some important papers flew out of his hand, onto the terrace, and he ran to retrieve them. When he reached out, he lost his balance and fell into the water. His bodyguard saw it happen and immediately called for help. The ship stopped, and they were able to retrieve the body." did the autopsy showt ' is a small island, gentlemen. We are not properly equipped to do a full autopsy.

However, our medical examiner reports that the cause of death was drowning. We found seawater in his lungs. There were no brvises or any signs of foul play." is the body nowt - , ' are keeping it in the cold storage room until authorization is given for it to be taken away! One of the photographers said, ' you mind if we take a picture of you, capitainet Capitaine Durer hesitated for a dramatic moment. '.

Please, gentlemen, do what you must.' And the cameras began to flash. He had lunch at La Fontana on Rue NOtre Dame, and with the rest of the day to kill, started exploring the town. 54 -Ajaccio was a colorful Mediterranean town that still basked in the glory of having been Napoleon Bonaparte's birthplace. I think Harry Stanford would have -identfied with this place, Steve thought. it was the tourist season in Corsica, and the streets were crowded with visitors chatting away in French, Italian, German and Japanese. That evening Steve had an Italiaii'dinner at Le Boccaccio and returned to his hotel. ' messagest he asked the room clerk, optimistically. ', monsieur.' He lay in bed haunted by what Simon Fitzgerald had told him about Harry Stanford. Did she get an abortion? No. Harry wanted her to have one, but sherefused They had a terrible scene. He told her he loved her and wanted to marry her. Of course, he had told that to dozens of women. But Emily overheard their conversation, and in the middfe of that same night she commit- ted suicide. Steve wondered how she had done it. He finally fell asleep. At ten o'clock the following morning, Steve Sloane appeared again at the Pr6fecture. The same sergeant was seated behind the desk. ' morning,' Steve said. 55 ', monsieur. Can I help to assist yout Steve handed the sergeant another business card. ''m here to see Capitaine Durer." moment.' The sergeant got up, walked into the inner office, and closed the door behind him. Capitaine Durer, dressed in an impressive new uniform, was being interviewed by an RAI television crew from Italy. He was looking into the camera. ' I took charge of the case, the first thing I did was to make certain that there was no foul play involved in Monsieur Stanford's death.' The interviewer asked, ' you were satisfied that there was none, capitainet "Completely satisfied. There is no question but that it was an unfortunate accident.' The director said, '. Let us cut to another angle and a closer shot.' The sergeant took the opportunity to hand Capitaine Durer Sloane's business card. ' is outside." is the matter with yout Durer growled. ''t you see I'm busy? Have him come back tomorrow.' He had just received word that there were a dozen more reporters on their way, some from as far away as Russia and South Africa. '."." you ready, capitaine?' the director asked. Capitaine Durer smiled. ''m ready.' The sergeant returned to the outer office. ' am sorry, monsieur. Capitaine Durer is out of business today.' 56 ' am I,' Steve snapped. ' him that all he has to do is sign a paper authorizing the release of Mr. Stanford's body, and I'll be on my way. That's not too much to ask, is itt - ' am afraid, yes. The capitaine has many responsibilities, and ''t someone else give me the authorizationt ', no, monsieur. Only the capitaine can do the authority-, ISteve Sloane stood there, seething. ' can I see himt ' suggest if you try again tomorrow morning. The phrase ' again' grated on Steve's ears. ''ll do that,'he said. ' the way, I understand there was an eyewitness to the accident - Mr. Stanford's bodyguard, a Dmitri Kaminsky.". [email protected] ' would like to talk to hiin. Could you tell me where he's staying. '." that a hoteff ', monsieur.' There was pity in his voice. ' is a country., Steve's voice rose an octave.

"Are you telling me that the only witness to Stanford's death was allowed by the police to leave here before anyone could interrogate himt ' Drurer interrogated him.' Steve took a deep breath.

"Thank you.' 57 "No problems, monsieur.' [email protected] Steve returned to his hotel, he reported back to Simon Fitzgerald. ' looks like I'm going to have to stay another night here.9 ''s going on, Stevet "The man in charge seems to be very busy. It's the tourist season. He's probably looking for some lost purses. I should be out of here by tomorrow."

"Stay in touch.' In spite of his irritation, Steve found the island of Corsica enchanting. It had almost a thousand miles of coastline, with soaring, granite mountains that stayed snow-topped until July. The island had been ruled by the Italians until France took it over, and the combination of the two cultures was fascinating. During his dinner at the Cr8perie U San Carlu, he remembered how Simon Fitzgerald had described Harry Stanford. He was the only man I've ever known who was totally without compassion ... a sadistic and vindictive man. Well, Harry Stanford is causing a hell of a lot of trouble even in death, Steve thought. On the way to his hotel, Steve stopped at a news- stand to pick up a copy of the International Herald Tribune. The headline read: WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE STANFORD EMPIRE? He paid for the newspaper, and as he turned to leave, his eye was caught by the headlines 58 [email protected] some of the foreign papers on the Stand. He picked them up and looked through them, stunned. Every tories about the single newspaper had front-page s death of Harry Stanford, and in each one of them, his photocapitaine Durer was prominently featured aravh beaming from the pages. So that's what's keeping him so busy! We'll see about that. At nine forty-five the followini' morning, Steve returned to Capitaine Durer's reception office. The sergeant was not at his desk, and the door to the inner office was ajar. Steve pushed it open and stepped inside. The capitaine was changing into a new uniform, preparing for his morning press interviews. He looked up as Steve enteread.

"Quest-ce que vous jaites ici? Cest un bureau privo Allez-vous-en!"'m with the New York Times" Steve Sloane said. Instantly, Durer brightened.

"Ali, come in, come in. You said your name is ... T '. John Jones."

"Can I offer you something, perhaps? Coffee? Cognac?", thanks" Steve said. ', please, sit down.' Durer's voice became somber.

"You are here, of course, about the terrible tragedy that has happened on our little island. Poor Monsieur Stanford.' 59 ' do you plan to release the body9'Steve asked. Capitaine Durer sighed. ', I am afraid not for many, many days. There are a great number of forms to fill out in the case of a man as important as Monsieur Stanford. There are protocols to be followed, you understand." think I do,' Steve said.

"Perhaps ten days. Perhaps, two weeks.' By then the interest of the press will have cooled down. ''s my card,' Steve said. He handed Capitaine Durer a card. The capitaine glanced at it, then took a closer look. ' are an attorney. You are not a reportert '. I'm Harry Stanford's attorney.' Steve Sloane rose. ' want your authorization to release his body.", I wish I could give it to you,' Capitaine Durer said, regretfully. ',.my hands are tied. I do not see how "Tomorrow." is impossible! There is no way ..." suggest that you get in touch with your superiors in Paris. Stanford Enterprises has several very large factories in France. It would be a shame if our board of directors decided to close all of them down and build in other countries.' Capitaine Durer was staring at him. ' ... I have no control over such matters, monsieur." I do,' Steve assured him. ' will see that Mr. 60 Stanford, s body is released to me tomorrow, or you're going to find yourself in more trouble than you can possibly imagine." Steve turned to leave. '! Monsieur! Perhaps in a few days, I can "Tomorrow.' And Steve was gone. Three hours later, Steve Sloane received a telephone call at his hotel. ' Sloane? Ali, I have

[email protected]

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news for you! I have managed to arrange for Mr. Stanford's body to be released to you immediately. I hope you appreciate the trouble ' you. A private plane will leave here at eight o'clock tomorrow morning to take us back. I assume all the proper papers will be in order by then.", of course. Do not worry. I will see to '.' Steve replaced the receiver. Capitaine Durer sat there for a long, time.

Merdef What bad luck! I could have been a celebrityfor at least another week. When the plane carrying Harry Stanford's body landed at Logan International Airport in Boston, there was a hearse waiting to meet it.

Funeral services were to be held three days later. Steve Sloane reported back to Simon Fitzgerald. ' the old man is finally home,' Fitzgerald said. ''s going to be quite a reunion. 61 ' reuniont '. It should be interesting,' he said. ' Stanford's children are coming here to celebrate their father's death. Tyler, Woody and Kendall." Copyright 2016 - 2023