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He'd used it himself on occasion. But he didn't like the way Harvey Jayne was using company personnel policy to pressure him. And right now was a bad time to lose a secretary, with all those Neol cases to get out. As an army travels on its stomach, so his Patent Department traveled on its typewriters, or, more exactly, on the flying fingers of its stenographers as applied to the keys of those typewriters, "thereby to produce," as they say in patentese, a daily avalanche of specifications, amendments, appeals, contracts, and opinions.


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He halfway saw an angle here. Maybe he could boomerang the whole thing back on Harvey Jayne. Have to be careful, though. Jayne was a vice-president. Two, and getting worse. Jayne wanted publication clearance for the "Neol Technical Manual," and he wanted it today. It had to be cleared for legal form, proofread, and back to the printers tonight, because bright and early Monday morning twenty-five crisp and shining copies, smelling beautifully of printer's ink, had to be on that big table in the Directors' Room.

Monday, the Board was going to vote on whether the company would build a six-million-dollar Neol plant.

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Three, and still worse. John Fast, Neol pilot plant manager, wanted the Patent Department to write a very special contract. Consideration, soul of the party of the first part, in return for, inter alia, guarantee of success with Neol. It was impossible, and there was something horrid and sick in it, and yet Patrick was having the contract written by Sullivan, his contract expert, and in fact the first draft should be ready this morning.

He was not going to refer Fast to the company psychiatrist. At least not yet. Maybe in two or three weeks, after Fast was through helping Sullivan get those new Neol cases on file in the Patent Office, he might casually mention this situation to the psychiatrist. Why did it always happen this way? Nobody could just go quietly insane without involving him. Forever and ever, people like John Fast sought him out, involved him, and laid their madness upon him, like a becoming mantle.

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Fourth, and absolutely and unendurably the worst. The patent structure for the whole Neol process was in jeopardy. The basic patent application, bought by the company from an "outside" inventor two years before, was now known to Patrick, and to several of the senior attorneys in his department, to be a phony, a hoax, a thing discovered to have been created in ghastly jest-- by a man in his own department. This was the thing that really got him. He could think of nothing, no way to deal with it.

An Ornament to His Profession

The jester, Paul Bleeker, was the son of Andy Bleeker, his old boss and good friend. Did anybody have any real friends at this crazy place any more? And that was really why he had come up with an answer. It would kill Andy if this got out. Certainly, he and both Bleekers would probably have to resign. After that there would come the slow, crushing hearings of the Committee on Disbarment. Was this why he couldn't write, why he couldn't even get started? He blinked, shook his head. Only then did he realize that he was still staring, unseeing, at the handwritten notes in front of him.

He leafed slowly through the scribblings.

An Ornament to His Profession : Charles L. Harness :

How long ago had he started the article? Nearly three years ago, in fact. He had wanted to do something comprehensive, to attain some small measure of fame. This was the real reason lawyers wrote. Or was it? Some time soon, he'd have to re-examine this thing, lay bare his real motives. It was just barely conceivable it would be something quite unpleasant. He gave a last morose look at the title page, "The College Thesis as Prior Art in Chemical Patent Interferences," and put the papers back in the envelope.

He just didn't know how to put this thing back on the rails. Fundamentally he must be just plain lazy. But time was wasting. He looked at his wristwatch, put the papers back, closed the drawer, and walked out to the lily pond again. It was in the same wet sparkle of sunlight that he remembered his baby daughter, splashing in naked glee that warm summer day so many months ago.

Lilas had stood there and called the baby out of the pool to get dressed, for that fatal Saturday afternoon trip to the shopping center. And his daughter had climbed out of the pool, ignored the tiny terry cloth robe, and dashed dripping wet into her father's arms. At least her front got dried as he held her writhing wetness against his shirt, patting her dancing little bottom with the palm of his hand. Slowly he sat down again. It must have been that sunbeam on the pool. It was going to be bad. He began to shudder. He wanted to scream.


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He bent over and buried his face in his hands. For a time he breathed in noisy rasps.


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  5. Finally he stood up again, wiped his gray face on the sleeve of his robe, and started back up the garden path to the house. He would have to be on his way to the office. As soon as he got to the office, he would be all right.

    Cord was always looking seven moves deep, and into a dozen alternate sequences. Patrick sighed. He had long suspected that they were all smarter than he was, certainly each doing his job better than Patrick could do it. It was only the trainees that he could really teach anything anymore, and even here he had to fight to find the time. Nothing about it made sense. The higher you rose in the company, the less you knew about anything, and the more you had to rely on the facts and appraisals developed by people under you. They could make a better patent search than he; they could write a better patent specification, and do it faster; they could draft better and more comprehensive infringement opinions.

    In a gloomy moment he had wondered whether it was the same way throughout the company, and if so, why had the company nevertheless grown into the Big Ten of the American chemical industry?