A String of Pearl


One evening at dinner the conversation by chance drifted to the subject of pearls. There had been in the papers a good deal of talk about the culture pearls which the cunning Japanese were making, and the doctor remarked that they must inevitably diminish the value of real ones. Mr. Kelada, as was in his habit, rushed the new topic. He told us all that was to be known about pearls.

I don't believe Ramsay knew anything about them at all, but he could not resist the opportunity to have a fling at Mr. Kelada, and in five minutes we were in the middle of a heated argument.

At last something that Ramsay said stung him, for he thumped the table and shouted: "Well, I ought to know what I am talking about. I'm going to Japan just to look into this Japanese pearl business. I'm in the trade and there's not a man in it who won't tell you that what I say about pearls goes. I know all the best pearls in the world, and what I don't know about pearls isn't worth knowing."

Here was news for us, for Mr. Kelada, with all his loquacity, had never told anyone what his business was. He looked round the table triumphantly.

"They'll never be able to get a culture pearl that an expert like me can't tell with half an eye." He pointed to a chain that Mrs. Ramsay wore. "You take my word for it, Mrs. Ramsay, that chain you're wearing will never be worth a cent less than it is now."

Mrs. Ramsay in her modest way flushed a little and slipped her chain inside her dress. Ramsay leaned forward. He gave us all a look and a smile flickered in his eyes. "That's a pretty chain of Mrs. Ramsay's, isn't it?"

"I noticed it at once," answered Mr. Kelada. "Gee, I said to myself, those are pearls all right."

"I didn't buy it myself, of course. I'd be interested to know how much you think it costs."

"Oh, in the trade somewhere round fifteen thousand dollars. But if it was bought on Fifth Avenue I shouldn't be surprised to hear anything up to thirty thousand was paid for it."      •

Ramsay smiles grimly.                         

"You'll be surprised to hear that Mrs. RamsayTwughl: thatstring; at a department store the day before we left New York, for eighteen dollars".

Mr. Kelada flushed.

"Rot. It's not only real, but it's as fine a string for its size, as I've ever seen."

"Will you bet on it? I'll bet you a hundred dollars it's imitation"

"Done".

"Oh , Elmer, you can't bet on a certainty," said Mrs. Ramsay. She had a little smile on her lips and her tone was gently deprecating.

"Can't I ? " If I get a chance of easy money like that I shouldn't be all sorts of a fool not to take it".

"But how can it be proved?" she continued. "It's only my word against Mer. Kelada's"

"Let me look at the chain, and if it's imitation. I'll tell you quickly enough. I can afford to lose a hundred dollars," said Mr.Kelada.     

"Take it off, dear. Let the gentleman look at it as much as he wants."

Mrs. Ramsay hesitated a moment. She put her hands to the clasp. "I can't undo it," she said "Mr.Kelada will just have to take my word for it."

I had a sudden suspicion that something unfortunate was about to occur, but I could think of nothing to say.

 Out of the answers given below each question choose the appropriate one to bring about the main ideas of the text.

  • What was the subject of heated talk in many newspapers?
    • Problem of war.         
    • Unemployment.          
    • Culture pearls.
  • Was Mr. Kelada an expert in pearls?
    • He knew nothing about them.
    • He knew everything about them,
  • What did Mrs. Ramsay wear?
  • a) A beautiful dress.     b) Jewelry.      
  • c) A string of pearl.
  • Did Mrs. Ramsay know the price of her string of pearl?
    • She knew that her necklace was an imitation.
    • She knew that it was very expensive thing.      
    • She didn't know it because it was a present.               
  • What was the price of Mrs. Ramsay's pearl necklace?
    • Eighteen dollars.         
    • Fifteen thousand dollars.         
    • It was her secret.
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