“Sir, I want to apologize for not believing you or Steven. I never had anyone offer to take me in, and I couldn’t believe what Steven said.”
“Mathew, sit down. I understand, when everyone treats you as if you’re dirty, it’s hard to accept that some people care. I think as you talk to your brothers, you will come to realize that you aren’t the only one. I’m glad you decided to come.”
“If I didn’t come, what would happen?”
“I would give you some money and pray that you’d be alright. I’m glad you came. The boys call me Dad, I’d like for you to call me that as well if you want.”
I stood and hugged him. It must have been a while since he got a hug, he sobbed. I help him tighter. I knew my shirt would be wet.
I walked him to the kitchen. “Gram, I have a young man here who is looking for some cookies and hot chocolate.” Maria smiled. Oh, yes, I got a cup of coffee as Mathew sat beside me.
What is it about boys? I swear they have a better nose than a bloodhound. They all descended on the kitchen as soon as they smelled the hot chocolate
Maria knew this because she had enough for everyone, including cookies.
Normality, if you call a house with eight boys normal, settled over the next few weeks. Steven took Mathew under his wings.
I packed for my next trip to Europe. I had a case in England that involved trade agreements. I took with me the passports and papers for Anthony and Chris. I was going to get Alex to reissue those as US passports. It makes everything easier when I adopt them.
Before I left, the architect called and wanted to know if he could start on the attic. I told him I’d be out of the country for a few days, but Maria and Peter would be here. I then had to tell Maria and Peter about the architect wanting to start. Of course, the boys overheard me.
Leaving was getting harder and harder. I hope to have a long vacation before the next overseas case. I wasn’t the only international lawyer, but my sideline made it more interesting, so I liked to take as many cases as possible. Now that I have Alex and the gentlemen of the square table working to help, I expected I wouldn’t have to patrol the streets. That assumption was soon to prove wrong.
I took Alex’s suggestion and flew to England on my plane. I made a detour and picked up Alex.
“Alex, since you’re able to get the boys’ US passports, could you have Anthony and Chris’s passports change to US passports?”
“Do you have the passports and papers?”
I just smiled and handed him the packet. We chatted about our business, “When are you going back?”
“This case shouldn’t take too long. It involves trade agreements. My best guess is 3 or 4 days.”
“I should have the new passports ready by then. Are you planning on adopting these boys?”
“Yes, that gives them a guaranteed future if anything happens to me.”
“Let me know when you want to do that. I think our friends have an interest in you doing that.”
We spoke about the extra bedrooms. I told Alex about the attic and what the architect said about additional rooms. He smiled, and I had a funny feeling that it wouldn’t be long before all of the spare rooms would be filled.
I had the plane fly Alex, back home. They were going to stay with Alex until I was ready to go home. That evening I went to a local pub for dinner. I order onion and potato pie with a glass of the local beer. It was excellent, considering there was no meat in the pie.
Walking back to the hotel, my mind was on Alex, and what he said about the men I met interested in the possibility of me adopting the boys.
In my room, I reviewed the trade agreements. There were ten all together covering everything from coal to textiles. Some of them involved clarification of the language. There were enough questionable statements that could cause problems later on, depending on who was interpreting the contracts. Often, the men negotiating the contracts have an unwritten understanding, but these same gentlemen may not be involved in the future. Better have everything written out.
As I read through the agreements, I noted sections that I wasn’t clear about or seemed to interpret ambiguously. After getting through half of the contracts, I realized that I’d probably be here for five days, at least depending on how amenable the parties were to change.
Early the next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, a car picked me up. Arriving at the hotel where we’d be meeting, I was shown into a room where all participants would be meeting. It would be impossible to meet all of these one at a time.
After all of the introductions were over, coffee and tea served, “Gentlemen, I have read your trade agreements. I think it’d be better if we discuss one agreement at a time. I would suggest that we discuss one agreement for the next three hours, then have lunch, followed by another 3-hour discussion. I noticed there were a lot of understandings in these agreements which are not clearly defined. I believe that everything needs to be spelled out in detail. Those who have crafted these agreements may not be the ones enforcing the provisions of the agreements now or in the future.”
“Do you have an example?”
“Yes, the most obvious concerns monetary exchange rates, where applicable. Several of the agreements need to define monetary relationships and to provide a means to renegotiate contracts when monetary changes occur.”
“Can you give us an example of a monetary impact?”
“Yes, let’s say for argument, country one has agreed to purchase an item for 300 Japanese yens from Japan, Japan has a currency re-evaluation, and now the 300 Japanese yens of currency would translate to 150 units of currency in the buying country whereas it originally cost 100 units of currency. I would suggest that everything be in units of one currency; for years, the dollar was the unit of trade, you may want to use the Euro as the unit of exchange. Of course that may or may not affect non-Euro countries. The other unit of current could be gold, but I wouldn’t recommend that.”
“Are there more issues like that?”
“There are some statements which could be easily misunderstood. I’d like to go through each agreement and clarify those statements that I find ambiguous.”
“Maybe we could do that all together. Then each country can begin to look for such possibilities in their contracts.”
“We could do that as long as we focus on one contract at a time.”
“Ok let’s try it, and if it appears to be confusion, we can change as you initially suggested
“The first thing we need to agree upon as a group, the bases for the economic exchange.”
After a short discussion, they agreed to utilize the Euro as the exchange medium. Those representing countries not part of the EU had to check with their home office and get currency exchange rates.
We spent the morning going through the contracts and correcting currency values. For some, it was easy as they were already utilizing the Euro, but the others weren’t, so they had to convert.
Lunch was 1 1/2 hours long. However, in all fairness, we spent time getting to know each other. They asked how many children I had. I told them 10. That started a new round, how many times were you married? Never married
They looked at me, so I went into my sideline about adopting children. I think we spent an hour talking about neglected children. I noticed one of the men at the table didn’t speak but kept looking at me. I didn’t remember him from the Hague meeting.
Lunch over, we got back to the meeting. Progress is slow when you get into ‘what if’ situations. I was tired and came to realize why an independent individual was needed.
I had dinner at my hotel. I called home. Maria told me Peter was helping the boys clean out the garage. The architect was there and had a construction plan for me to review. “He said the material he ordered would begin to be delivered tomorrow that’s why they needed to clean out the garage.”
Of course, all of the boys had to say hello and that they missed me. That brought tears to my eyes. Charles missed me at night.
That night I didn’t sleep that well. The boys were on my mind.