“I like this new form of dessert!” said Morgan, as he set the latest find on the table when the dinner dishes were cleared away. The old and inlayed box was larger, deeper and very heavy compared to the first one that they had found under a floor board.
Alice allowed Morgan to lift the lid this time round. The centrepiece on a navy velvet cushion in this second Andrei Shuyski box, was a most unusual gem stone. Neither Alice or Morgan had ever seen anything like it before. Lifting it gently by the cushion, with slightly trembling hands they discovered the reason for the weight of the box: A large bullion bar, the type used by jewellers to sculpt rings, surrounds and mounts for each item of jewellery they designed and made, filled the remaining space.
“Well, Morgan, this new form of dessert might provide many meals in the future, but there is one thing certain, we need to visit Mr Grimes first thing in the morning”. Said Alice. “This time partner, you can do the carrying! I have no desire to carry this treasure through the bustling streets.”
Mr Grimes told them that this stone they had discovered, must be from the same mine as the chrysoberyl Alexandrite, a rare and exquisite gemstone. This one a little smaller, but similar, with its dramatic colour change from brilliant green in daylight to cherry-red under tungsten candle light.
Legend had it, that in 1834, the original gemstone was discovered on the day the future tsar Alexander II came of age; whether myth or not, the enchanting gemstone was named in honour of him. Due to its patriotic change in colour from red to green, the principal colours of old Imperial Russia, it became the national stone of tsarist Russia. Coming from the Andrei Shuyski collection made it all the more authentic.
“I will have this stone cleaned and valued and also have the bullion weighed and valued for you. We still have the first box of gemstones in the vault, and with these new finds, they might increase the value of the whole collection. Now might be the time to think of what you want to do with them. The market is holding at the moment and the prices are steady, it would be a good time for an auction, if that is your wish.” Said Mr Grimes.
Relived, to leave the goods in safe hands, Alice promised they would give the subject time and thought over the next few days and get back to him. With that they almost skipped out of the shop.
“Champagne! This deserves Champagne.” Said Morgan.
“It is not even lunchtime”, returned Alice, “Are you trying to lead me astray?”
“When we reach the restaurant it will be time for an early lunch and the champagne, won’t go to your head. Anyway, we have no pressing engagements or meetings this afternoon. We might as well live the ‘diamond lifestyle’ for one afternoon!”
Over lunch, they decided on the name for the house.
“Perfect!” said Alice. “Hour House is perfect. It will be our house and after all, we discover something new about the place every hour, or so it seems. How wrong was my first impression, on the dull day I visited with Sidney. The whole place appeared as a dark, dusty unaired mausoleum. Together we will bring it to life again, to be enjoyed by all who cross the threshold.” Vowed Alice.
“To Hour House!” said Morgan as he raised his glass of champagne.
Alice clinked her glass with his. “Yesterday I read a quotation by Joseph Priestley:
“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning…”
“I have always looked forward to the new day, but the ‘magic’ in that quote seems to surround me at every turn these days.”
“Tomorrow will be a busy one and need plenty of hours.” Said Morgan. “Let us hope the magic continues when our new best friend, Mr Yates, visits the planning office to formally lodge our precious plans. He seems to think it will be straight forward. We are well back from the road, with only wildlife for neighbours and I cannot see the rabbits and squirrels complaining.”
“I have my fingers, knees and toes crossed already. Said Alice. “We have the movers coming to clear the house at nine and the team of chimney sweeps are due at noon. They can work their way along after each room is cleared. It was a good job we had the chimneys in the stable block cleaned before the renovations.”
“I would like a day to clear out the garages, then when we move to the stable block next week, I can bring the cars to store there. I doubt if I’ll have time to work on them for a month or so. Said Morgan. When life settles, I can get back to tinkering with them again.
They sauntered back to the car and Alice felt as if she was floating on champagne bubbles. Morgan opened the door for her, then swiftly turned and picked her up to place her carefully on the passenger seat.
More than surprised, Alice began to giggle like a school girl. “ Lovell was right. She told me one day ‘That Morgan is so brawny, he picks me up like I’m a cherry tomato!”
“I had to help you into the car, you told me you had your fingers, knees and toes crossed for tomorrow, I did not want to break the spell!”
“Were you at school with Carolyn Ashby?” asked Morgan when they were settled into the car and he turned the key in the ignition.
“What gave you a silly idea like that?” asked Alice. She must be at least fifteen years younger than I am. Yesterday was the first time I met her, but I do find her easy to talk to and I like her ideas. They are tasteful yet not outrageous.”
Carolyn’s ideas were the topic of conversation all the way back to the home house.
They were both pleased she had seen the house before anything was moved out into storage. Every item now had a coloured label, thanks to Mr Yates. The colour matched the room it would return to when the work was complete. Even he seemed to fall under Carolyn’s spell, when he joined them for his morning tea. He had taken note of the way she caressed rather than touched the items she talked about in each of the rooms.
He felt the four of them made a good team. Mind you it had taken time for him to warm to Morgan, now he realised how he really cared for Alice and loved the house. Together they will bring the place to life once more and on into the future.