A Quinn & Betty Moosebroker Mystery (1) Dy r,şt
Quinn and Betty Moosebroker returned home from Italy. Their recent case had brought them there in the quest to return ‘The Chocolate Girl’ a painting that was stolen from Lotte Coppens’ family during World War II. To show her appreciation Lotte Coppens hosted the couple’s wedding and the village celebrated. Lotte hinted to Quinn that the frame the painting traveled in contained something of value and it was a shame he did not find the frame also.
The tired travelers found that they were generously rewarded for their honesty when they found three old metal cigar cylinders filled with diamonds hidden in the recesses of the carved out ornate frame. There was a fourth cylinder that contained an old key with a note attached that said, ‘Dy r'st’
Duncan-Waffles, their rescued dog, sat at Quinn’s feet as they stood by the stove; one frying bacon the other hoping for bacon. “Good morning sleepyhead,” he said to Betty as her nose leads her from the bedroom to the kitchen where a hot cup of coffee was placed in front of her.
When the sunny-side up eggs were done Quinn brought two plates to the table and sat down with them with Duncan-Waffles was not far behind. “You look beautiful this morning.”
Betty’s eyes smiled. “Moose, I am never going to let you forget that.”
“We don’t have to wait until your house is sold now before we start looking for something,” he told her.
“House, yes, we can contact a realtor and get that started. But I am so curious about that key and the note. Are you ready for another adventure?” She put a fork full of eggs in her mouth and wiped some yolk with the edge of her toast.
“That will likely mean returning to Europe. We should wait and see if we can find any clue at all? We sure do not have much to go on.” He drank his coffee. “I don’t want to leave Duncan-Waffles behind. I’ll call the airlines and see what it requires to bring him with us.”
“I know you have some misgivings about Major Garrity, but I am going to call him. I think we need his advice. I am sure he will be happy to see us.” She looked across the table at Quinn and winked. She got up and refilled both their coffee cups. “In the meantime we should find a place for us to stay. There is no real reason to impose on Kate now, is there?”
“No, I guess not. We can find something close by and temporary while the realtor does his work.” Quinn stood and brought his plate to the sink. “Go ahead and call the Major. Maybe he can help us.”
Early Tuesday Morning
Betty sat at the linoleum topped kitchen table spinning an eight carat diamond like a top. The tile of the floor was cold against her feet and her eyes gazed at the glittering shiny spinning stone and she tried to see into the future.
Quinn walked into the kitchen and Betty stood and gave him a quick kiss and poured him a cup of coffee. “You want some breakfast?” She asked as the stone twirled to a stop sending fiery light scattering against the walls.
“What time is the appointment with the Major?” Quinn looked at Betty and glanced at the stone on the table. “Are we going to show him the diamonds?”
“Just this one, this might be the biggest diamond in Clearview Terrace. Outside this house,” she added and took a deep breath. “I made an appointment for ten a.m. That gives us plenty of time for breakfast."
The Major greeted them at the door and Quinn and Betty followed him to his den.
Betty again stood looking at the skin of a cheetah draped over a table, and a silver tray supporting nineteenth century cut crystal goblets. Being surrounded by leather books on strong honey oak shelves did something to her. Filtered light gave the room the abeyance of the previous century. The combination of antiques, stuffed animals, African spears all carried the senses to another time.
“What brings you two to my door? Betty I was both surprised and happy to get your call.” He waved his arm in invitation to find a seat.
“When you offered to purchase the painting we found, you brought a box of gemstones with you to barter with. You told us that each gem was worth at least $1,000. That leads us to believe you know something about the business end of… shall we call it the jewelry business.” Quinn began.
The Major pulled a cord on the wall and a manservant entered the room. “Bring in a tray of tea.”
Quinn sat up straight, wondering why everyone was offering him tea. And he wondered if it meant anything. “Like I was saying…”
Betty interrupted; she stood and crossed the room to the Majors desk, “We located this.” She dropped the eight karat diamond on the desk, while carefully watching his dark brown eyes and wondered what stories they held.
“We located this,” Quinn said mockingly to Betty’s back, smiling to himself. He stood and placed the key on the desk in front of the Major.
The manservant took that moment to enter with a tray of tea. He sat it on the desk, glanced at the diamond and turned and left the room.
Quinn made a note that someone else now knew about at least one of the diamonds.
“Can I pour your tea?” Betty asked the Major.
“Please.” He opened his top desk drawer and pulled a jeweler’s loupe out and examined the diamond.
Betty handed Quinn a cup of tea. Quinn always felt uncomfortable with balancing a cup and saucer. These items were much too delicate for his large hands.
“Do you two know anything about the diamond business? I suspect not. It is a very tightly controlled cartel; at the top of that cartel is De Beers. From the mine to the jewelry store the price may increase as much as tenfold as it passes along towards the display window and finally to the finger of some blushing bride, starlet or other peacock. This is a beautiful stone. I can go and fetch my carat scale and tell you exactly what it weighs and then estimate what said blushing bride would be asked to pay at a high-end store in the city. And the funny thing is that a couple of miles away in the diamond district she would pay half for the stone and get to select the setting of her choice.” He handed the rock and the loupe to Betty, “Take a look at the clarity. I am not a professional diamond grader, but that looks to me like a VVS2 which means with a 10x loupe like the one you are holding any small inclusions are visible from the crown.”
After taking a look Betty handed the loupe and the diamond to Quinn and he maneuvered for some light and peered into the glacial realm of the diamond in his hand. He felt deeply drawn into a world that he knew nothing about and wondered if this was what Alice felt like falling down the rabbit hole. He set the loupe and diamond back down in front of the Major. “You mentioned a carat scale.”
The Major stood and went to the bookshelf with two doors at the bottom. He opened them and returned with a weather-beaten wooden box and took his seat. He opened the box, lifted the arm of the scale. He placed the diamond on one side of the scale and set weight stamped coppers into the other side until there was a near perfect balance. “Looks like an eight carat stone.”
Betty smiled. She was not a student of diamond carats, weights, clarity, but as a young girl she had spent time looking through the windows of jewelry stores and dreaming.
“I know it is just a little after ten in the morning, but Quinn can I offer you a drink? You did not touch your tea.”
Betty reached into the cup of the scale and retrieved the diamond and held it.
Quinn set the cup and saucer down. “Yes, that would be fine.”
The Major stood again and went and lifted a bottle, returning and announcing, “God’s Elixir,” and poured two glasses with two fingers. He handed Quinn a glass and took his, “Cheers,” and took a sip. He twirled the remaining elixir in his glass and stared at the key.
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