Drusilla regretted that she had called Murgatroyd ‘odious and oleaginous‘.
She didn’t regret having said that he was trying to live the life of Grey
Gowrie, or Tam Dalyell, without having the accompanying political acumen.
She didn’t regret saying that because it was true.
She had sent him an Easter card to symbolise a resurrection in their
relationship and hoped to go and visit him in his pele tower at Whitsun.
When are you going to open that present from Aunt Augusta? her mother
Yes, do open it. We are both dying to know what it is, said Sonia.
Again, Dru thought that if Sonia was a competent clairvoyant, then she
should know what was inside the wrapping.
Oh, all right. Aunt Augusta said not to get too excited.
She went upstairs to fetch it.
They watched round the kitchen table as she tore off the greying
bubble wrap and gasped as a small egg almost rolled over the edge.
Careful! cautioned Sonia, catching it and thereby revealing a reflex
somewhat quicker than the others’, perhaps indicating foreknowledge.
That’s a surprise, said Diana. I thought it would be some cheap bauble,
but it looks for all the world like...
a Faberge egg, supplied Sonia. Maybe it is one of the missing ones.
…worth $20 million, scoffed Dru. I don’t think so.
No, but if you look at it closely, Sonia persisted, it has a little portrait
..which looks remarkably like Gus- if he had a beard! He did grow one
when he was younger and..
What do you think it’s made of? interrupted Dru. Alabaster?
Some kind of nephrite, perhaps, postulated Sonia.
Let’s Google missing Faberge eggs, said Diana. One never knows!
Ever the optimist, sighed Dru, picking up her tablet. She typed in
‘lost Faberge eggs.’
Oh my goodness! she screeched. Read this. She passed the tablet
over to her mother.
Where? What? What bit do I read?
Look! ‘The lost Emperor Nephrite egg with its golden base decorated
with diamonds and medallion portrait of Alexander III..’
Let me see! Let me see! Sonia pushed in.
I’m reading about Alexander III, Dru held her off. It says that he was
an amateur musician and a patron of ballet. He lacked refinement, was
gruff and had a straightforward way of expressing himself.
Sounds like your father, Diana nodded.
He had something of the muzhik about him..Dru went on. Known as
‘The Peacemaker’, he fought no wars, though he had a weighty burden of
Just like your father in that school, Diana agreed.
‘He could give a look as cold as steel’..I’ve seen him do that in a classroom
situation, continued Dru. Especially when faced with that Boothroyd-
Smythe boy. And-wait for it!- he reversed the liberalisation of his
predecessor, saying that the best means of averting war was to be
prepared for it.
Who said that? Sonia was confused.
Alexander III, Dru clarified.
Hmm, well it’s a pity that NATO is not paying heed to his wisdom, said
‘Dithering’ is le mot juste.
So, Sonia wanted to understand the situation, this was picked up by your
grandmother in a souk in Istanbul?
Not my grandmother. We just thought that she was.
Nevertheless, it was found before 1920?
Apparently. She must have given it to Augusta. It’s probably Fauxberge.
What’s the difference? asked Diana.
About $20 million! Dru was feeling cynical.
So how did it end up in a souk? Sonia looked puzzled.
It was probably stolen from a Soviet Fine Art Repository, Dru
said in exasperation. How should I know?
You’ve been watching Octopussy, Diana criticised her. There are fakes,
but there is probably on-line advice as to what to look for.
That’s what I’m searching for, replied Dru. Yes, here’s a site that
mentions A La Vieille Russie. A guy called Peter L Schaffer says some
of these finds can be like a curate’s egg- good in parts, presumably.
Who is he? asked Sonia.
A New York business specialist, read Dru. He says it shouldn’t be too
good to be true. Tatyana Faberge, the grand-daughter, authenticates
them. ‘Beware of lasers which can trace real marks onto fake pieces,’
they advise. There shouldn’t be any rough edges and the diamonds
should be single cut.. The real hot pink is unique.
So, if it is a fake, will it be destroyed like that Chagall painting that was
submitted for authentication in Paris? Diana asked.
They don’t seem to mind so much, Dru read on. Some can still be worth
Do you know who might have contacts that would help? said Diana
Murgatroyd, replied Dru.
Exactly. Maybe you should go up and see him and take it with you.
I was going to say that, lied Sonia.
Maybe at Whitsun then? suggested Dru.
Why not? Whitsun would be a good time. She already had her train ticket.