The Sea-Farers Trunk
The Sea-Farers Trunk
The month was November in the Year of 1976.
The place was Jersey in the Channel Isles.
I loved my Antique collectors shop there were always interesting people to chat with. 'The majority of customers were locals (Jersey) and lots of 'Mainland' people 'from the U.K. with a mix of Italians, Portuguese and French.'
This particular evening I had just locked the door when I saw a woman peering in. I unlocked the bolt and invited her in. She was French and ,I noticed,very stylish.
She didn't speak English nor I muchFrench!
For a while she just walked around and collected items as she moved around the shop placing them carefully on the counter without any sort of sign to me. She just piled up more items. I was used to this, it is the French way !
I relaxed with a book and let her browse. Sometimes people just want to go in their own world and concentrate on the items on display. I was interested in what sort of stuff she was looking at. Then ,as she was 'gathering' so much, I began to wonder if she was opening a shop herself ?
She had picked up vases by Clarice Cliff, some Majolica,Old Doulton, Wedgwood,Chinese pots and lots of stuff I cannot remember now such as old rouge gold,sheffield silver, old post-cards and so much more.
I was beginning to feel tired and hungry------the feeling one has when other things need to be done---important things like check the children and feed them,see to the dogs-I lived upstairs in the large flat with Husband and Three children and Three Boxer dogs with pups on the way.
I was feeling that maybe I shouldn't have opened the door to this Frenchwoman.
I picked up my courage and with mixed feelings-didn't want to lose a sale-signed to her that I was closing now........
Luckily I heard the old car pull up and the pressure went as I heard the Front door open then close as Husband had returned from the auction. I could now concentrate on my customer.....
I was now relaxed and enjoying the prospect of what was looking like a very lucrative sale.
I could give my full attention to my customer.
She walked over to a very old and beautiful sea-farers trunk. She opened it,she sat on it,she fell in love with it. She then opened her hand-bag and took out cheque-books and notes . I was generous with the reduction on her bill as she had many purchases. The two of us spent a good hour wrapping and placing the items very safely and securely inside the old trunk.
She paid me in cash and carefully took details of the shop address and told me when she would send the carriers to collect the trunk. I sadly looked at the beautiful trunk feeling already its loss !!
The day never came. The days turned into weeks . My worry was increasing as I received 'No' from all the local dealers as I made my enquiries about the mystery of the French woman.. Nobody else had heard or seen of her, she was a mystery! I put out enquiries to the antique trade re. transporters and hauliers in the Island all to no avail !
It was as though she were a ghost
A few years later I sold the shop to another dealer leaving the trunk and contents in his trust.Every now and then I would think of the Frenchwoman and wonder what became of her!?
Thirty years went by I had moved home many times. Sadly a few months ago I inherited my Brothers farm in Southern France. I fell in love with the area and all it's sweet and nostalgic antique shops. The month we moved in was memorable. The house,an old farmhouse was large with barns and another house attached to the barns. We were so busy we put off any further investigation of this second house.
We had been in the house Two weeks when we decided to investigate the barns and attached house. We spent ages in the barn admiring all the old machinery and cars then we found a ladder which we would need to get up to the house(usual practice in old French places) I held the ladder whilst husband climbed up then I followed. It was unexpectedly bright and sunny in the old house. It was full of very dusty old bottles,stoneware and glass...... I was now staring in astonishment at an object my husband was pointing at !
It was indeed the captains trunk.................................
A cold Christmas day in island of Jersey
- A cold christmas day in Island of Jersey
True story of the poverty that lies beneath the wealth of Jersey in the Channel Isles.As written in the 70s