For the rest of the day, Joe was distracted and missed some very nice deals at auction as his attention was focused on putting flesh on the bones of his recent inspiration.
Losing those deals irritated him, but this was one of those rare occasions when something more important to him than making chips got to use the dubious synaptic pathways in his brain.
That's not to say that Joe wasn't considerably richer by lunchtime.
While his conscious thought processes worked away at creating a case that his best beloved might agree with him on,
his unconscious was perfectly capable of handling the more mundane tasks involved in making sure that little Annie had butter on her bread for the foreseeable future.
After lunch, Joe didn't return to the auction house.
Instead, he took a circuitous route (lest he be seen from the factory) to the orphanage and had a few words with Maisy, the idealistic young Matron who ran the place.
'Miss' Maisy's promotion had been as much a surprise to her as it had been to the hardnosed harridan she had replaced.
The only ones who weren't surprised were Joe Spivey and several officials at the Union headquarters building.
By the end of the meeting with Maisy, Joe's mental list of checkboxes were nearly all ticked and his mood was improving.
The next thing on his 'to do' list involved an unscheduled return to the factory.
Laughter wasn't one of the noises Joe associated with ammunition production.
Neither was the sight of an overseer standing on a box, surrounded by non-working workers in their brown-felt anti-static uniforms, doing a passable pantomime caricature of the owner.
The mice scattered back to work while Taiyoko desperately fought to throw off the brown duster he had brought in specifically for this little show.
Joe said nothing as he went up to his office, just glared at Taiyoko every step of the way. As he unlocked his office door Joe called out Finny's name.
"My office. Now." Then he disappeared inside.
After work, after his scotch, after dinner, after he could think of no more excuses, Joe asked Silja to join him and Kirsten in the sitting room.
Once they were settled, Joe expressed his feelings that, even with living in a city almost overrun with vermin, their daughter didn't know what a rat was.
Joe felt that Anneka was in danger of becoming a real 'princess', removed from the reality of the world outside the walls of the house. Then he set about explaining his idea.
That it might be good for Annie to spend some time with those who didn't have what she had, who didn't have food or clean water whenever they wanted it and, in some cases,
didn't even have parents to look after them.
Joe took a deep breath and quickly explained that he thought it might be a good idea for Annie to spend a morning at the orphanage.
Although Silja and staff would be in the vicinity at all times, Annie would actually be looked after by Finny... At this point, Anneka, being a sharp-eared three-year-old, piped up.
"I like Finny! She held my hand an' gived me a hat."
They all looked at her and then Kirsten and Silja turned back to Joe. Joe tried to read their expressions, failed, and so tried to pick up where he left off.
"She would be looked after by Finny, get a tour of the orphanage, maybe listen to some of their stories and hopefully get a feel of their lives. Then she would have lunch with them...
" Joe paused. "Then, erm, before coming home, Finny could maybe introduce Annie to some rats... just so she knew." He sat back in his armchair and waited.
Kirsten looked at Joe as if he had just suggested they teach Anneka tightrope walking.
Silja carefully read the craggy lines on Joe's face with cool Icelandic eyes. There was the beginnings of a smile on her lips. But it was Kirsten who broke the silence over folded arms.
"And can you trust this... Finny?"
Joe shifted in his seat. He had expected this question but still, it made him uncomfortable. But he knew Finny was by far the lesser of all the other little evils under his charge.
"Well, Finny can be... She can... Sometimes she..." Joe took a deep breath through his nose to push out the rest of his words with conviction. "Yes, I trust her, anyway, Silja will be there."
Silja's tiny smile increased three or four degrees. She knew exactly what Joe was trying to achieve, even though he was making a dog's breakfast of the delivery.
But she completely understood that he and she were actually on the same wavelength. That in itself was surprising, so she interjected to help Joe who, to her, looked on the verge of floundering.
"Finny issa gooder kid. I woulds very be trusting her." Silja said so firmly that the authority in her voice arrested Kristen and Joe's attention immediately. Silja tapped her chest.
"I is seeings lots of Silja in her."
Silja went on because there was no reply from the two open mouths in front of her. She felt confident; she remembered being eight and surviving day to day only too well.
"Finny's beings a smelly orphan girly is don't making her a bad one." She slapped her forehead a few times. "She hases a strong mind.
She is saying what she is thinking and doesn't do the bullshitting. And she is being kind and good with her leetle friendies. It is easy to see, in fact."
Kirsten unfolded her arms. Joe listened to his unexpected ally.
Silja turned to Kirsten.
"I was going to be telling you all of theses stuffs because Annie sees it too as well she does.
And it is time Anneka meets other kiddlies so she isn't becoming all lah-de-dah flouncy nose-in-the air girly brat."
Kirsten's initial resistance was decreasing. Silja's trademark smirk appeared.
"I won't be letting Annie out of my sight not for one second, and anyway, the smelly orphan kiddlies think I am Ninja avenger superlady girl. They won't dare be trying anythings I can tell you."