Spoontown Dolls

4 May

From the start of doll-making in Spoontown, the primary producer was the Spoon family.

Gerald Spoon arrived as a pioneer settler skilled in the forging of metal forks, knives, and spoons. But he soon became deeply interested in the growing market for children’s dolls.

What began as a minor sideline in time became his main line of products for sale.

Cities on all sides of Spoontown had ever-growing demand for what the skilled workers of the family company were able to turn out.

Baby dolls for little girls; soldier and sailor dolls for boys became well-known for their quality throughout the country.

With the passing away of Gerald at an advanced age, his only son Jerome took over command of the enterprise. His unconcealed ambition was to raise his line of dolls to a high technical level by making them moving figures of action. He hired craftsmen able to apply modern sciences and arts to the creation of objects that came close to being automata with a character of their own.

Jerome scoured the world for examples he could imitate.

The Spoon brand came to appear on marching dolls, walking dolls, dancing dolls, singing dolls, and music-playing dolls. Mechanical systems of gears moved the parts of figures able to swim in water, creep and crawl, or serve tea at a table.

Obsessed with developing this specialty, Jerome dreamed of making his products as agile, flexible, and proficient as possible.

But he had a younger brother, Thomas, who had a different, more material and hedonistic attitude toward the business they had inherited from their father.

“This is a practical, competitive industry we are in, my dear Jerome,” said the junior owner of the enterprise. “We are not in our positions to serve any artistic or aesthetic ends, not at all.

“Our father made us rich and we deserve to end up even richer. We can never forget that we have to fight to keep our leading position in this field. Low prices are the weapons we have to defeat any real or potential rivals for customers.”

Jerome, repulsed by such thoughts and sentiments, never made any reply of his own to them.

When the firm’s chief of doll design died, it was Jerome who took on himself the task of finding an appropriate replacement.

Several candidates came to Spoontown for interviews. The last of them was a trained technician named Albert Ferar.

“Why do you believe that you can succeed at this post, my good man?” asked Jerome of the young man sitting in his office.

“I think that our doll industry stands before a period of revolutionary change and development. My personal interest lies in bringing the methods and technologies of electronics and biochemistry to the creation of new, unprecedented kinds of dolls never seen before anywhere.

“I have studied and delved into many fields of contemporary science, and have become convinced that the possibilities before us are breathtaking.

“My personal ambition is to take Spoon dolls into a fantastic future now visible primarily to visionaries such as me.”

Albert gazed with supreme confidence into the eyes of the head of the company, converting Jerome to his positive prospect of what was to come.

“I believe you are the designer that we need,” finally said the overwhelmed Jerome.

The candidate made a different impression on the junior brother.

Thomas complained to Jerome after quizzing Albert, not hiding his dissatisfaction with him.

“This fellow is all technological optimism and pie-in-the-sky. He seems to feel that we can afford to ignore expenses and the bottom line. I fear he might be a disaster as our chief of design.”

The brothers stared at each other for a short time.

Jerome, all of a sudden, sprang out of his swivel chair and stepped around his desk, directly facing and confronting Thomas.

“I say that we hire him at once, before he gets away from us. We need a man with his imaginative mind to help set our future goals. There is a high chance that he proves to be a genius in conceiving new kinds of dolls.”

From the start, Albert began to request additional funds for research and planning of new models that he conceived of.

Irate opposition to what he wanted arose from the younger brother.

Thomas made direct complaint to Jerome about the spending plans of the new doll designer.

“What is this new designer think he is, an electrical engineer of some sort? He wants us to order some quite expensive equipment for him, and most of it will have to come from off-planet. The costs of all his schemes are going to be astronomical. Are you going to give the guy a blank check, Jerome?”

The latter looked away from his complaining sibling. “I think we have to take some risks, as long as they remain reasonable. There will be plenty of time and opportunity to rein him in latter on.”

Seeing that he was not convincing his older brother, Thomas turned about and rushed off in anger.

Albert worked week-after-week on designs and constructions of a new generation of autoperipatetic dolls. He attempted to keep secret the original, advanced control mechanisms of these unprecedented units that still had to be tested and evaluated.

“I want you to see our new Dolly for yourself, sir,” said the designer to the company president. “The plan is to watch her take a walk on her own, and I have decided to have you watch it out on your own family estate on the edge of Spoontown. What do you say to the idea, sir?”

Jerome warmed at once to this surprising invitation. “Yes, it would be great to see this new Dolly move in the privacy of the Spoon estate. I want to see what you have built as soon as possible, Albert.”

Dolly traveled out to the testing site in a camion used by the design department of the company.

The innovative unit had a large porcelain head with rosy cheeks and brilliant blue eyes. Its soft pink lips looked as real as was possible. Long eye lashes closed when Dolly was laid down on the back. Long reddish auburn hair was tied up in a dainty bow.

“She looks exactly like a doll should,” marveled Jerome. “But I really want to see how the internal clockwork machinery moves our pretty Dolly,” smiled Jerome with a small, short laugh.

Albert tightened his hold on the black control board that would govern the doll’s every movement.

“Watch carefully what she can do, sir,” muttered the chief designer.

The ordinary-looking figure of Dolly marched forward, then started to perform a dance that imitated a stage ballerina. It stepped, glided, and revolved in a balanced, artistic manner. A friendly smile glowed forth on its radiant face.

Albert gave a condensed explanation of his design of the innovations he had introduced in Dolly.

“This doll is propelled by energy that comes from long strings of microscopic sized nano-batteries that operate on molecules of pure iridium.

“The skin that you see, along with its internal system of organs, consists of layers of lamellar vesicles that resemble animal and human flesh. There exist even basic biochem hormones that can control the motions and actions of dear Dolly.”

Jerome seemed to be in a delirious trance of elated wonder.

“This is an incredible advance in doll technology!” he said, gasping for breath. The company president turned his eyes on the designer. “What you have created means that our doll industry will never be the same again.

“I intend to make Spoon Dolls the leader on our planet and beyond as well. We must start to convert our factory to turning out replicas of the Dolly dancing about in front of us.”

Thomas, who had been away on company business during the doll testing, exploded with volcanic ire as his brother informed him of what he had decided.

“This model devised by Albert will be an historical achievement,” announced Jerome with evident emotion. “There has never been anything like it anywhere, as far as anyone can tell. The figure we call Dolly is a doll that combines nano-electronics with lamellar biochemistry, creating a being that moves and makes choices on its own.

“This is the closest anyone has ever come to a living variety of doll, Thomas.”

The latter, his face a brick red, glowered at his older brother.

“How much would we have to invest in machinery and facility development in order to produce this new thing? Can you tell me that?”

“Not in any exact, detailed way, I’m afraid. But such costs could be covered in time.”

“How long a time? Are you talking of decades of years? Can anyone estimate or predict what the expenses could add up to?”

Jerome tried to smile. “Our industry has always contained a large measure of risk and gamble. That’s the way it has been from the start for Spoon Dolls.”

“I won’t agree to this fantasy,” shouted Thomas. “I would rather sell my half of the company and save myself from the folly you are preparing to become involved in.”

The younger brother sprang to his feet and excited the executive office of Jerome with energetic force.

His personal lawyers had no solution to the dilemma that Thomas faced.

“You and your brother inherited equal halves of the family ownership of Spoon Dolls, but Jerome was given appointment as firm president for as long as he wished to keep it. There is no possible way to remove him from office against his own will. He has the right to remain the top executive officer of the company for life, if he so wishes.”

The younger brother grew more irate than ever before. He refused to speak to Jerome or have any personal contact with him, moving out of the family mansion into a luxury apartment.

He ordered his financial broker to try to sell his half-share in Spoon Dolls.

“It must be done,” insisted Thomas. “There is no other way. Even if I have to take a loss, I must free myself from the madness of my brother. He will ruin the company, but I will no longer have any part in its operation.”

Jerome met constantly with Albert, both of whom were impatient to begin turning out examples of Dolly for markets everywhere on the planet.

“My wish is that we go into production as soon as possible, but the cloud posed by my brother is throwing a threatening shadow over our prospects,” moaned the president of Spoon Dolls.

“It looks like he will never give in or compromise,” said the designer. “Has Thomas always been such a headstrong, stubborn individual?”

Jerome made a bitter, scowling grimace. “Although we are a fraternal unit of sorts, he has always contradicted and opposed me and what I stand for. There is no limit to how far he is willing to go in his unending conflict with me.”

“Your brother appears to have a destructive personality,” sighed Albert. “It must have been extremely hard for you to live and work with him for so many years.”

“Indeed,” replied the other. “But the argument that we have today appears to be a final conflict and confrontation. The future of Spoon Dolls lies in the balance.”

“Will one of you be compelled to abandon his half of the company?”

Jerome gave him a blank look. “I can’t say how this is going to end up.”

A week of nervous suspension rolled past, then a surprise arrived from brother Thomas.

His primary lawyer phoned the office of Jerome and asked for a meeting between his client and the president of Spoon Dolls.

What could Jerome do? He replied that he was willing to discuss all important matters with his younger brother and anyone else who might accompany him.

A morning hour was set for the confrontation at company headquarters the next day.

Thomas arrived with a team of attorneys and accountants. They took up one end of a long conference table, while Jerome sat by himself at the opposite end.

“I have a business proposal that I want to present,” began the younger brother in a quiet tone. “My plan is to buy out your half of Spoon Dolls. It will hold an enormous payment and will be generous in all respects.

“I have taken the time to set up a partnership syndicate with eight other large investors who possess the means to accomplish this buy-out along with me. We have united all our interests and have amassed the financial means to make the enormous payment immediately, with no delay whatever.

“My accountants have completed a detailed report of the amount of money that will be involved and how it can be transferred quickly and conveniently.”

Thomas nodded to one of his lawyers, who rose from his chair and delivered a thick report to where the surprised Jerome Spoon sat. The latter picked it up and skimmed through it rapidly.

Jerome focused his eyes on his brother at the other end of the table. “I think the offer is fair and I accept it. We can finalize the sale at once.”

Thomas gave a start, then broke out in a grin of victory. “You will not be sorry,” he managed to mumble.

One of the attorneys reached into his briefcase and pulled out a finished contract he had prepared for this precise circumstance.

He carried it up to Jerome, furnishing him a pocket-pen with which to sign it.

Feeling triumphant, the exulting Thomas watched as the papers were brought over to him.

He placed his signature on them with a joyous flourish.

By then, his brother Jerome had risen and made an exit from the conference chamber.

Albert was astounded later that morning when called to the office of the man who had just sold his half of the company.

“Why did you do it?” he asked the one who supported his design of electronic-biochem Dolly.

“You and I are going to start a new enterprise based on advanced science and technology applied to doll-making. I will have the necessary funds to finance a completely new, advanced production system in a new plant. It does not even have to be located here in Spoontown.

“You and I are going to revolutionize the realm of dolls, my friend. My plan is to name the new company Ferar dolls after you. I think that would be its most appropriate name.”

The new partners both laughed.

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