The inventor's name was Worm. When he saw what fabulous prices Krupp was getting for the industrial diamonds which he had created and which cost the company so little, he decided to build secretly a plant of his own and realize some of these profits for himself. He borrowed money from the bank, rented a little shop, made an oven like the one he had constructed for Krupp, installed the minimum equipment needed, and made a few profitable sales of vidi to foreign customers. With the proceeds of these he was able to pay off part of the loan, and it looked as though he was on the way to becoming a rich man. But at this point the Krupp concern learned about his disloyal competition and swooped down on him with all the fury of an industrial giant. He was summarily fired. Customers were warned that if they bought a single ounce of vidi from him Krupp would never sell them anything. The bank suddenly became rigid and demanded prompt repayment. In spite of his talents as an engineer and inventor Worm could not find work. All doors were politely but firmly closed in his face.
Dr. B. hurried to see Herr Worm. Here too, he contrived to ring the doorbell when the man was not at home; he had found that women are more talkative than men, especially when they have an opportunity to do a bit of advertising for their husbands. Frau Worm was overjoyed that someone was interesting himself in her husband. The Krupps were brutes, she said; they ruled the country. Her husband was a martyr. They had driven him to desperation. All his savings had gone into the enterprise, and it was ruined with one blow.
Dr. B. listened to her story with unfeigned sympathy. He said he had an interesting proposition for her husband which might get him out of his difficulties. From that moment he became her trusted friend, the man who was going to save her husband from strangulation by the Krupps. He left his telephone number for Worm to call.
The next day they met at the Technische Hochschule and from there went to Dr. B.'s apartment. Dr. B. suggested that in order to escape from the Krupp stranglehold Worm would have to offer his talents to a foreign concern. He said he knew a big Scandinavian company which might be interested in acquiring the secret process of vidi production and entering the field in competition with Krupp; he would check. A few days later he informed Worm that the company was definitely interested; it had authorized him to advance the inventor up to ten thousand German marks. He asked Worm to submit a description of the vidi production process and furnish data on equipment needed, cost, etc.
For the time being, Dr. B. declined to name the company. This did not necessarily look suspicious, because as a gobetween he was entitled to a commission and would need to protect his own interests. But Worm got a strange hunch. "I want to warn you," he said, "that if my invention is needed for the Russians I will have nothing to do with them!" Dr. B., taken aback, hastened to reassure him that it was a Scandinavian concern all right. It turned out that Worm was a fanatical Nazi and Russian-hater.
Something had to be done to overcome that burning hatred if Worm was to be maneuvered into giving his vidi invention to Russia. While he was writing up his process Dr. B. would supplement the advance, giving him another thousand marks every week or so, which delighted Frau Worm. He also had the Worms several times for dinner at his home. When Frau Worm wanted to buy things which she had been denying to herself for long, but her husband kept too wary an eye on his dwindling advances, Dr. B. sensed this and immediately came to her assistance. He privately gave her money for herself with the understanding that she would repay it when her husband struck it rich; he was convinced that a prosperous future was just around the corner for them.
Worm's description of his process was sent to Moscow. After a close study, the Russian engineers declared that without the personal guidance of the inventor they would have trouble constructing and operating the special oven required; it was supposed to make several thousand revolutions a minute under an enormously high temperature. Moscow wanted to have the inventor at any cost. Now the friendship Dr. B. had cultivated with Frau Worm paid off. She cajoled her husband and wrangled with him for a whole week and at last brought him to the realization that they had no choice, that this was their last and only chance.
The Soviet trade delegation in Berlin signed an official twoyear contract with Worm, under which he received a flat sum in German currency, a monthly allowance in marks for his wife-who preferred to remain in Germany-and a salary for himself in Russian rubles. He was entitled to a suite in a first-class Moscow hotel with restaurant and other services and to a chauffeured automobile and two vacations in Germany per year at Russia's expense. He took with him to Moscow a German engineer by the name of Mente who had been his assistant at the Krupp plant.
Worm's letters to his wife breathed hatred toward everything Russian. He contracted rheumatic fever during his stay and returned to Germany a broken and embittered man. But he had fulfilled his contract with the Soviets to the letter, turning over to them his cherished brainchild, the priceless vidi process.