Oliver Bacon lived at the top of a house overlooking the Green Park

Oliver Bacon lived at the top of a house overlooking the Green Park

The Duchess and the Jeweller

He had a flat; chairs jutted out at the right angles-chairs covered in hide. Sofas filled the bays of the windows-sofas covered in tapestry. The windows, the three long windows, had the proper allowance of discreet net and figured satin. The mahogany sideboard bulged discreetly with the right brandies, whiskeys and liqueurs. And from the middle window he looked down upon the glossy roofs of fashionable cars packed in the narrow straits of Piccadilly. A more Central position could not be imagined. And at eight in the morning he would have his breakfast brought in on a tray by a man-servant: the man-servant would unfold his crimson dressing-gown; he would rip his letters open with his long pointed nails and would extract thick white cards of invitation upon which the engraving stood up roughly from duchesses, countesses, viscountesses and Honourable Ladies. Then he would wash; then he would eat his toast; then he would read his paper by the bright burning fire of electric coals.

And then

„Behold Oliver,“ he would say, addressing himself. „You who began life in a filthy little alley, you who. “ and he would look down at his legs, so shapely in their perfect trousers; at his boots; at his spats. They were all shapely, shining; cut from the best cloth by the best scissors in Savile Row. But he dismantled himself often and became again a little boy in a dark alley. He had once thought that the height of his ambition-selling stolen dogs to fashionable women in Whitechapel. And once he had been done. „Oh, Oliver,“ his mother had wailed. „Oh, Oliver! When will you have sense, my son?“. Then he had gone behind a counter; had sold cheap watches; then he had taken a wallet to Amsterdam. At that memory he would churckle-the old Oliver remembering the young. Yes, he had done well with the three diamonds; also there was the commission on the emerald. (mehr …)