A Pretty Little Bauble

Barbara held it up to the light, and Lillian gasped in surprise. It caught the light and flashed prisms around itself.

"I.. is it real?"  Lillian breathed.

"I don't know, but by the looks of it, it might be."

"Let me have a look. I took geology and earth courses all through high school. I want to be a geophysicist someday if I ever get the money to start college. I even went on some mine digs in my senior year. My senior geology class project was to collect as many rocks, stones, gems etc. that I could dig up, and assess them for hardness, colour, clarity, value, and all that good stuff. I got an A plus."

Barb handed it to her hesitantly. She didn't really want to let go of it. It was almost like she was mesmerized by it. Lillian took it gingerly and held it up to the strong sunlight. She studied it carefully by squinting with one eye, then the other.

"Good Lord in heaven, I think this is a real, pristine blood ruby! I'd need a jeweller's loop to make sure, but I think it's facets might be flawless. It's at least 3 karats! "

Lillian rested it in the palm of her hand for a moment, and it fit in the hollow perfectly.

"This pretty little bauble has got to be worth a couple of million dollars!"

Suddenly frightened by the enormity of this discovery, she took both of Barb's hands and enclosed the jewel within them. She closed the two hands together to make a safe little nest.

"You've got to put it in a safety deposit box until your dad can get it to a good jeweller and get it appraised, Barb."

Barb stared at it cupped in her hands. Her face flushed a little with apprehension and indecision. Then her mouth firmed up with resignation.

"The thing is, uh...it isn't mine to decide what to do with. Before I put it in the doll I.. well, I'm pretty sure.. I think I stole it!"

She blushed beet red with this admission.

Lillian opened her mouth to start spurting out questions when they heard the heavy metal fire door to the annex close with a solid thud.

Barbara quickly pulled the headless body of the doll onto her lap, dropped the ruby inside and started twisting the head back on.

The foreman and a younger man walked toward them. By the time they reached the girls, Barb had gotten the head back on the doll.

The girls had been sitting under the shade of the dumpster, and the two men were walking in sunlight. It was unlikely that they saw her drop something into the doll, but Barbara couldn't be sure.

Lillian stood up and stuck her hand out to take attention away from Barb and the doll.

"Hi Mr. Gutterfisk. Hi Jake. Did you  see Mr. Pierson?"

In the world outside the theatre and the immediate two families, Harry Ogden was still known as Ogden Pierson the third, famous movie star.

Lee Gutterfisk shook Lillian's hand.

"Hello Lillian. It's nice to see you up close for once.  You're usually flitting about while we're working, but you never seem to stay put for long. How are you?"

Lillian blushed. Except for the few hours when she had reverted to her childhood gregariousness, she was still quite shy.

"I'm.. uh.. fine. Have you met Barbara Ogden?"

Barbara had never changed her name to her father's stage name. He had never asked her to, and she had never offered.

When the foreman shook his head in the negative, Barb stood up and held the doll in the crook of her left arm. She stuck out her right hand and took a step forward.

"Hello Mr. Gutterfisk. Nice to meet you. You are..?"

She shook the foreman's hand and looked toward the younger man. He stepped forward and shook her hand.

"Jake Gutterfisk. I'm helping my dad on this project for the summer. I'm hoping to study architecture in the fall."

"Well, this is a good place to get started. Did my dad mention a grey garbage bin that had been in the annex early this morning? There were some white wooden boxes in it. I wonder if you saw it?"

Lillian watched with admiration as Barbara completely took over the subject and direction of the  conversation without anyone realizing that she had taken charge. She was used to handling the media, and meeting many different kinds of people. For the second time today, Lillian wondered if Barb was a natural actress.

"Your dad asked us about the bins, so we went around to the various work sites to track them down. The construction company is using twenty wheeled bins that are spread around the theatre's work sites. They're all numbered. All but seven of them were emptied into this dumpster just after we started work. The full dumpster was taken away last night and this one was delivered this morning."

Jake explained all this to Barb as Lillian stood beside her, hanging on every word. She was hoping against hope that Jake and his dad had found her boxes.

"Where are the other seven?"

"Six are still on the different sites being filled. No white boxes. Number 13 of the twenty has somehow gone missing."

The End

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