Coleman, owner of Consolidated Coal, is sitting in his office, going over the monthly figures. He notes that production isn't up as much as he likes, especially given the increasingly unruly work force. His ledger does have a bright spot: the cuts in safety equipment and the dismissal of the second company doctor have cut expenses.
Letiv is standing around outside Boss Coleman's door, chewing on a piece of grass ~~ nervously ~~. He's wondering if the boss is going to be displeased that he couldn't actually bring Nick, but the money involved is good, after all. Not that he really understands the details of these things much, but it sounds like it'll be good enough to cover the losses.
Coleman's secretary reports that Letiv has returned and he tells her to show him in, ~~ eager ~~ to tackle the work force problem.
Coleman looks up as Letiv enters.
Coleman: Ah, you're back. I trust you were successful?
Letiv: They agreed to pay us, sir.
Letiv names the final sum that the Householding agreed to.
Coleman's jaw drops.
Coleman: They were willing to pay that much for a manual laborer?
Letiv: After hearing what he did to us, they were.
Letiv is starting to feel unwarrantedly ~~ smug ~~ about his bargaining abilities, even though the lawyer did most of the talking.
Coleman: I guess they're even crazier than I thought. I trust you didn't accept the offer?
Letiv: Oh, I haggled with him a little bit, but they have their people and our people talking out the final details, I'm pretty sure.
Coleman: You incompetent fool!
Letiv turns pale, and the piece of grass he was chewing on falls out of his mouth.
Letiv: W-what did I do wrong?
Coleman: What use is even that much money to us when we stand to lose ten times that much if the mine is successfully unionized?
Letiv: Well, I tried to get them to turn him over to us! They kept insisting that he was a "Top Companion," whatever that is. Sounds like something you'd charge for by the hour.
Coleman: Figures. Debree always was a whore.
Letiv: If he's so desperate that he thinks he has to whore hisself out to Simes... that's something special.
Coleman: Let me spell it out for you.
Letiv goes quiet and listens.
Coleman: We are on the verge of having all our profits fly out the window, if our work force decides to go on strike. Right?
Letiv: That's right.
Coleman: They're sitting around at night, nerving themselves up to defy us by singing and chanting. Especially that damned song about how Nick Debree defied us and got away with it. Right?
Letiv nods. He tends to snore so loudly as to drown out all other noises at night, so tends not to be aware of what's happening then, but he's too familiar with that damn song.
Coleman: So, what would silence them faster than to see him imprisoned, forced to atone for his misdeeds?
Letiv: To see his head on a pike?
Coleman: Yes. But, that requires that his head be available to us for display, not living free in Simeland. And it especially requires that our workforce not learn that he's found a protector willing to part with a huge sum of money to buy us off.
Letiv: So... what do you want me to do, boss? It's not easy to sneak into Simeland. They can smell it when you're lying, like.
Coleman: That's nothing; so can I.
Coleman: I trust you didn't accept the snake's offer?
Letiv: Well, the lawyer did say that you would have to okay the final amount. So you can still wire him and tell him you don't want it.
Coleman: Good. Then we can pursue an arrest through other means. Was Debree present when you were there?
Letiv: No, sir, they wouldn't bring him to me, although the snake had a look at the photograph and agreed it was the same guy. Apparently he was off companion-izing someone or other. Kept claiming it wasn't possible to send him across the border.
Coleman: If he's not there, then if we can find him first, we've got a chance of getting him away from his protector.
Letiv: They said he'd have a whole household protecting him over there. Maybe we should, you know... hire, uh... a professional, like?
Coleman: That will be up to the Sheriff. He's the arresting officer, after all. But we may have to call in some support elsewhere, if his new friends really are that serious about keeping him.
Letiv: They didn't seem to want to let him go. Kept insisting that what he did wasn't so bad, and I couldn't make them see reason.
Coleman: Frankly, I don't care what they think, as long as we can add a new verse to that song, all about how Debree is sitting in jail.
Letiv: And let that be a warning to all who cause trouble, instead of being good workers?
Coleman: Yes. That will give us a bigger gain than any bribe from Debree's keepers. Besides, I want to see that ungrateful wretch suffer for what he did. No penniless, ignorant nobody makes a fool of me and gets away with it.
Letiv grins at his boss.
Letiv: We'll set him straight, and the rest of them too.