One evening at dinner the conversation by chance drifted to the subject of pearls. There had been in papers a great deal of talk about the culture pearls which the canning Japanese were making, and the doctor remarked that they must inevitability diminish the value of real ones. Mr. Kelada told us that was to be known about pearls. I didnt believe Ramsay knew anything about them at all, but he couldnt resist the opportunity to have a fling at the others, and in five minutes we were in the middle of heated argument.
Then there was a news for us, for Mr. Kelada with all his loquacity, had never told anyone what his business was. We only knew that he was going to Japan on some commercial errand. He looked round the table triumphatically. Theyll never be able to get a culture pearl that an expert like me cant tell with half an eye. He pointed to the chain that Mrs. Ramsay wore. You take my word for it, Mrs. Ramsay, hat chain you are wearing, will newer be worth a cent less than it is now. Mrs. Ramsay in her modest way flushed a little and slipped the chain inside her dress.
Mr. Ramsay leaned forward. He gave us all a look and a smile flickered in his eyes. I didnt buy it myself. Id be interested to know how much you think it cost. Oh, in the trade somewhere round fifteen thousand dollars. But if it was bought on the 5 th Avenue I dont be surprised to hear anything up to thirty was paid for it. Ramsay smiled grimly. Youll be surprised to hear that Mrs. Ramsay bought that string at a department the day before we left New York, for eighteen dollars. Mr. Kelada Flushed. Its not only real, but its as fine string for its size as Ive ever seen. Will you bet on it? Ill bet you a hundred dollars its imitation. Done!
Oh! Elmer, you cant bet on a certainty, said Mrs. Ramsay. She had a little smile on her lips and tone was gently deprecating. Cant I? I get a chance of easy money like that I should be all sorts of a fool not to take it. But how can it be provided? she continued, Its only my word against Mr. Keladas! Let me look at the chain, and if its imitation Ill tell you quick enough. I can afford to lose a hundred dollars, said Mr. kelada. Take it off, dear. Let gentleman look at it as much as he wants. Mrs. Ramsay hesitated a moment. She put her hands to the clasp. I cant do it, she said. Mr. Kelada will just have to take my word for it. Ramsay jumped up. Ill do it by myself!
He handed the chain to Mr. Kelada. He took a magnifying glass from his pocket and closely examined it. A smile of triumphs spread over his smooth and swarthy face. He handed back the chain. He was about to speak. Suddenly he caught sight of Mrs. Ramsays face. It was so white that she looked as though she were about faint. She was staring at him with wide and terrified eyes. They had a desperate appeal; it was so clear that I wondered why her husband didnt see it. Mr. Kelada stopped with his mouth open. He flushed deeply. You could almost see the effort he was making over himself. I was mistaken. he said. It is a very good imitation, as soon I looked through my glass I saw that it wasnt real. He took out his pocket – book and from it a hundred – dollar note. He handed it to Ramsay without a word. It was a fine joke that Mr. Know – All had been caught out.
Next morning I got up and began to shave. Mr. Kelada lay in his bed and smoking a cigarette. Suddenly there was a small scrapping sound and I saw a letter pushed under the door and looked out. There was nobody there. I picked the letter and saw it was addressed to Max Kelada. The name was written in block letters. I handed it to him. He took out of the envelope, not a letter but a hundred dollar note. He looked at me and reddened. He tore the envelope into little bits and gave them to me. Do you mind just throwing them out of the port – hole? I did as he asked, an then asked Were the pearls real?
If I had a pretty little wife I shouldnt let her spend a year in New York While I stayed at Kobe, he said. At that very moment I didnt entirely dislike Mr. Kelada. He reached out for his pocket – book and carefully put it the hundred – dollar note.