As agreed I took an unpaid leave of absence from the company in order to go and set up the glass development near our estate. The one village situated near to the silica deposits was ideal for the production of the glass. The other village just 3 kilometres away had always had a history of craftsmen and women. So I asked around and found several youngsters who were interested in learning glass blowing and smelting crafts.
An old friend of the family who had taken an early retirement offered to run the factory producing the glass as he had the right background and was looking for something to do. His wife, he insisted, kept telling him she married him “for better or worse, but NOT for lunch”.
The physical glass creation also meant imports of various metals etc for creating the colours. A young woman from the village took over the ordering and controlling of these imports and relieved me of this pressure.
In all we suddenly had a going concern, but no marketing of our wares. We located a company in a city just over the border that specialised in this sort of start-up marketing and they agreed to do the work on a profit sharing basis.
For premises we adapted local buildings until we would have the sort of cash flow to build what we needed.
Finances we resolved via a loan from a bank and from a government development agency. We formed a board from those who wanted to run various areas.
Within 3 months we had made our first sales, high class handmade goods. It was amazing how it just all worked. It looked as though we could start to pay off the loans within 6 months or so.
I travelled back to work once a month for board meetings and was amazed at how happy I was to be back. Yet I was also so happy doing the set up for the small industry back home.
Leo phoned me now and then, asking about progress. He seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing, especially the financial model for local ownership of the business. He teased me that I’d not stop until we had made it a huge undertaking.
He invited me to the capital for his birthday, and he, his father, my parents and I had a wonderful dinner together. After dinner I was chatting quietly with his father who told me he was getting worried about Leo getting married to the wrong woman. He seemed to be going through international beauties as though he was searching for something. We laughed and decided he should find someone like Grace Kelly, who would enjoy the limelight.
Then he asked me about Philip. I told him the whole sad story and he said, “My girl, I love you like a daughter so I’ll be straight with you. You are too busy with your career, take it a bit slower, be home sometimes and you will have a chance to find out if this is for you. A man likes to do the chasing, but only if the target is in sight. Slow down and let him catch you. But I would be sad to see you leave the country when he is re-posted elsewhere.”
So we conspired for me to be back on a visit for the next time there was an event at which Philip was likely to be present.
A few weeks later I got a text message from him. “Hunter all lined up for Wednesday evening. Come visit us, and bring your best smile.” The old dear had learned how to use text messaging on his cell phone and liked sending cryptic messages to me.
At the event, which involved some speeches, toasts and then time for people to mingle socially, I was hoping to see Philip. When I did he was standing with a man and a woman, The man I recognised from other events, and I assumed the woman was his wife.
Philip looked around and saw me. His face broke into a huge smile and he said something to the others and walked over to me. We were both delighted to see each other. He asked about my doctorate and kissed my cheek in congratulations. Then he asked what I was doing later that evening, and said he just had to take someone home and we’d meet for supper. We agreed on a place and time. As he walked back to the others I saw the look on the woman’s face and realised there was something wrong in her view with what had just happened.