By the same author
|© Copyright 2003-2009 K S Mulholland|
Chapter 6 - The Mystical Peridot
'O.K. O.K. so you think you saw a...Bateleur eagle?' Priscilla wrinkled her
nose. 'What's a Bateleur eagle?
Monique's eyes were shining as she looked down at the ring and its curious
gem where it lay in the palm of her hand, the chain still about her neck. 'I
have a name exactly like it, because a long time ago someone of my Father's
ancestor's discovered the bird and named it so.'
'How do you mean?'
Monique raised her eyes from the ring to meet Priscilla's puzzled stare.
'Have you not heard of explorers, and people who study new things in foreign
countries: plants, animals, birds, old bones?'
'A'course I have. Archaeology and all that stuff. Indiana Jones and Tomb
Raider thingy,' said Priscilla.
'Well, somewhere in the past, one of Father's family was involved with the
discovery of new and unknown birds in Africa. Whoever it was, found this
particular kind of eagle and named it the Bateleur Eagle.'
Monique smiled. 'A fair question, I suppose. The word "bateleur" in
French means...er...umm.."tumbler", or, perhaps "acrobat".
My French is not so complete. But Father told me that it had something to do
with the flight of the bird, that it was able to roll and move from side to
side, a little like a tight-rope walker. The Bateleur Eagle is different to all
'Oh? Does it look different?'
'Yes. It has a short tail. So short that it was named by the ancients,
"Marvellous Face without a Tail."
Priscilla thought about that for a moment. She did love the way Monique
pronounced the word 'very' with a strong French accent that was so charming,
especially from a girl who's skin was black to the point of being almost blue.
'Could I...Would you let me try on the chain?' she asked, without actually
'Of course, but I do not see what...' Monique faltered, then raised the chain
from around her neck and passed it across to Priscilla, who lifted it over her
head so that the ring dangled down against her chest.
Priscilla's eyes widened. 'I can't see anything!' Her expression belied her
words. She seemed to be staring intently at the wall beyond. And when she
reached out her hands, feeling the air as if suddenly blinded, Monique became
alarmed. 'What is it? What are you seeing?'
'I can't see a thing? I'm blind!'
Monique stood up from her bed and took hold of Priscilla's shoulders with
both hands. 'That cannot be! Here! I have you!'
'Yeah! You've got me, but who's got you?' said Priscilla, shaking her head as
if coming out of some weird dream. 'Whoa! For a minute there I thought I was
falling into a long black tunnel...Like everything just disappeared and there
was nothing...Everything just sort of went...dark?'
Monique lifted the chain from about Priscilla's neck. 'I wonder...' she said,
staring down at it. Then, taking a deep breath, she placed the chain once more
over her own head. 'So...' She paused for a moment, then...'As I thought...Here
'You again see nothing. You are blind?'
'No,' smiled Priscilla. 'I mean I can't see what I saw before when...oh, you
know what I mean...'
Monique looked down at her. 'Yes, I understand. The chain now does not have
any effect upon us. It was just sort of...errm...comment tu dites?...how you
'What? You mean like a computer?'
'That is my guess. It knows us both now...and I wonder...I think it knows us
by our names.'
Priscilla screwed up her face. 'Aw c'mon now. That's a big call.'
'What I mean is that you're telling me that this chain and the little
dingle-dangle hanging off it actually knows us? How could that possibly be?'
'As to the how, I cannot say, but think on it Priscilla. What is my name?'
'O.K. I'll play your silly game. It's Monique Bateleur.'
'And what did I see?'
'You said you saw the eagle.'
'And what did you see?'
'Nothing. Nothing at all...Just a black...' Priscilla scratched her nose.
'Are you saying...what I think you're saying?'
'What I am guessing,' corrected Monique. 'Strange things have happened here
in one night, and now this morning. We both have had almost the same dream, and
yet it seems that it wasn't a dream. Doors were really opened, and this chain
and ring are real too. Now we both have had visions, and the visions showed us
our own names. What do you think?'
Priscilla shook her head. 'I don't know what to think.' She stood up, shaking
slightly, and crossed the room to a mirror that she had recently placed on the
wall above her writing desk. She looked at the reflection and saw a young girl
with plain features, hazel eyes and straight, long blonde hair. She also noted a
very mystified look on her face. 'What I do know is that we should probably keep
all this to ourselves. At least for now. I don't think anyone else would believe
us if we told them.'
'Not even your brothers, or your parents?'
Priscilla turned back to face Monique. 'Would you believe such a story?'
Monique shrugged. 'I see what you are about. It is quite
extraordinary...this, whatever it is.'
'But what we could do,' said Priscilla, brightening, 'is to take the ring and
chain to a jeweller. Perhaps someone like that could tell us more about it?'
'That is a good suggestion. Is there such a jeweller near here?'
Priscilla thought a moment, then her eyes lit up. 'Can you ride a bicycle?'
'I have been on a bicycle a few times,' said Monique, somewhat guardedly.
'Good! Then we can use mine and borrow one from Louis. I'll ride that and you
can have mine. I'll just have to get into jeans, coz its a boy's bike, but
you'll be alright as you are.
'And where, may I ask, are we going?'
'To a jewellers, I think there's one in Maling Road in Canterbury. It's not
that far by bike. We can get there and back before lunch if we hurry. Here, I'll
get an envelope. Put the ring and chain in it while I change.'
'It's a relief to be out of the house and riding free without anybody to nag
me,' cried Priscilla, as the pair cycled along the tree-lined streets. 'I think
you'll like Maling Road. There's lots of lovely shops and I have enough pocket
money to buy us a milkshake and also get something for Louis and Henry.'
Monique, who was just a little wobbly on a bicycle, called out, 'I am
enjoying this! I have never seen such wonderful trees! And the air is so fresh!
It fills my lungs and opens my eyes!'
'Yes, that is true, about my Mother and Father, although home is only the
country I was born in. We moved about so much, all the time...' She sighed.
'Perhaps the land of Africa is my home, though not anywhere especial. I just
wish...I only want to have my Mother and Father back. After that, I do not care
where-ever we live. This place here in Melbourne will be as good as any...better
than most places I have been...if only...'
'I know Monique,' said Priscilla, patting her hand comfortingly. 'Anyway,
c'mon. Cheer up, we're here on a mission. We have a jeweller to go see.'
'Yes young ladies, what can we do for you today?' said a lady, bobbing up
from under a counter where she had been placing a tray of wrist watches into a
'Hello,' said Priscilla. My friend and I would like to ask about a ring and
chain. We wonder if the Jeweller could tell us what kind of stone it is and what
is the metal?'
'Of course girls, I'll just ask Arnold to have a quick look at it,' she said,
taking the chain into the booth and tapping the man on the shoulder. They could
see her speaking to him but could not hear her words. He looked up, staring at
the girls through his window, and then down at the ring and chain.
'An interesting article you have here,' he said with an agreeable smile. 'My
wife tells me that you want to know about the stone and the metal chain?'
'That's right, Mister Botherby...If you are...'
'I am indeed, Arnold Botherby, and Annette is my wife,' he waved a hand
toward her as she continued to fuss around the show cases. 'Now, as to this
article of yours, normally a stone like this isn't worth very
much...umm...twenty...maybe thirty dollars...' He looked slightly unsure as he
again stared at the ring and its chain. 'However, this one is somewhat unusual.
Where did you get it?'
'We found it in the basement of a house that my folks have just moved into,'
answered Priscilla truthfully.
'I see,' said Botherby. 'Well I can't tell you a great deal by simply looking
at the thing, but I can tell you that the stone is a peridot.'
'A peridot?' wondered Priscilla, out loud.
'Yes, that's right,' Botherby replied with a faint smile, peridots have been
mined for...ohh...probably four thousand years. Comes from places like
'Myan-what?' said Priscilla, wrinkling her nose.
'Used to be called Burma. It's also found in Arizona, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka.
The Egyptians knew about it and it was mentioned in the Bible. The Greeks and
Romans called it topazion, or topazius. It's quite an interesting
stone-olivine-a silicate, sort of yellowy green...the only gemstone that comes
from fire. Its formed by volcanic action mostly. But this one is the biggest
example I've ever seen of a pallisite peridot.'
'What is that?' asked Monique, who had been gazing around the shop at all the
beautiful gems and jewellery.
''That, young lady, is a peridot that comes from an iron-nickel meteorite.
Lore has it that peridots were given as a symbol of fame, dignity and protection
from evil spirits. It is the birthstone for the month of August...'
'That's my birthday!' cried both girls simultaneously, looking at each other
in sudden surprise.
'Ahem...' Botherby cleared his throat and continued, 'It was also believed
that a peridot had mystical properties-that it could make dreams become a
reality. It's name could come from the French word "peritot" which, I
believe, means "unclear" or the Arab word 'faridot" which means
"gem". The Hebrew word...'
At this point, both Priscilla and Monique were lost to his on-going
conversation, their eyes had widened with excitement! Quite simply, they were
'...such a coincidence that it happens to be both your birth stone.' Botherby
concluded, handing the chain and ring back to Priscilla, who popped it into the
envelope that Monique held out.
Sitting at a pavement table, sipping coffee milkshakes and feeling rather
sophisticated, the two girls took stock of what they had been told. They spoke
together in low whispers, as if they thought someone might overhear them and
think they were both crazy.
'Mister Botherby was such a nice man, taking the time to tell us all that
information,' said Priscilla breathlessly. 'Even if he did go on a bit.'
'He is a jeweller, after all,' Monique replied. 'I suppose he likes to show
off his knowledge to anyone who will listen. Imagine what he might say if he
really knew why we had asked about the peridot.'
Priscilla grinned, 'probably think we were a couple of loonies. And maybe we
are,' she said in an awed tone.
'What is it?' asked Monique anxiously, as Amelia turned to her.
'That was Matthew. He said to tell you that he had a call from Cape Town. A
porter at the hotel came back on duty after having time off because of a family
funeral. The porter said that he saw your parents leaving the rear of the hotel
in the company of several others. They were carrying your father's equipment out
through the loading dock. He said that he saw them get into one of two covered
trucks, then they were driven away. He didn't know if they were distressed or
being taken against their will.'
'Is that all?' said Monique, crestfallen.
'I'm afraid so Dear. Matthew will be home late tonight, but he wanted you to
know that much at least. Perhaps the trucks can be traced or someone else will
see them and report it,' added Grandma Black, faintly.
Late that evening, as the girls lay in bed in the dark, Priscilla wondered
whether she and Monique would again have a strange waking dream like the
previous night. She hoped that Monique would sleep and, for a few hours at
least, forget the danger her parents seemed to be in.
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