Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Queen of Diamonds"

Daphne Ellenberger

The Queen of Diamonds, a fat native woman from South Africa, and her husband were in London at the invitation of a jewelry company. He had found a diamond at home that was worth 75,000 pounds and he was cashing in.

But the Queen of Diamonds had also found five smaller diamonds which she kept in the hollow heel of her left shoe. She had her eye on a thick fur coat. She approached a jeweler and offered him the five diamonds. He said he could not buy the diamonds because they were uncut and it was against the law to buy uncut diamonds. But he was greedy, bargained for their purchase on the following day, after he got the money from the bank—unaware that his shop was under surveillance by two plainclothes police officers, a young man and young woman, who hung around the jewelry shop pretending to look for an engagement ring.

He offered the Queen of Diamonds 6,000 pounds, she countered with 7,000 pounds and he accepted. The diamonds were worth twice as much. When she reached home, she told her husband that she wanted to go home and she wanted to buy a fur coat to take with her that would cost her 500 pounds. Her husband gave her 1,000 pounds.

The next day, the jeweler—and the two undercover police officers—waited impatiently for the Queen of Diamonds to arrive. When she did, she was adorned in a new fur coat in the heat of the summer.

To the jeweler’s amazement—and to the amazement of the two undercover police officers—the Queen of Diamonds walked right by the jeweler’s shop.

 He bolted out the door and raced after her.  “But… but…”stammered [the jeweler] “Our transaction package you were coming to collect.”
                “Oh, that?” With composure [the Queen of Diamonds] brushed a speck of dust from her deep fur cuff. “I find I no longer need the money. So now you do not have to part with it. Is that not good luck for you? And now I must say goodbye because tomorrow the jet aeroplane will take me home.”
                Speechless, [the jeweler] watched as the Queen of Diamonds raised her right hand in salute.
                “Stay well!” Her full-throated voice rang out in the traveler’s farewell to the stay-at-home. “Sala hantle.”

Rating: *** out of *****.

About the author: “Daphne Ellenberger’s short stories, mainly about South Africa where she was born, have appeared in magazines in New York, London Sydney, Cape Town and, translated into Polish, in Warsaw. Her poems have been read over the air in S.A.G.C. radio programs. Now that she has retired from her career as a journalist, her time is divided between gardening and writing.” P. 131.

Short Story International #27. Ed. Sylvia Tankel.  (August 1981), pp. 116-131.. 

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