Tuesday, October 24, 2023

October Vignette - Libra the Zodian

Posted by: Linda Mooney


             “Hey, Myles?”

            Myles glanced up from the ring he was resizing. Sliding the magnifier to his forehead, he waited for Steven to continue.

            The salesman threw a thumb behind him. “There’s a lady who wants to sell us some jewelry.”

            Myles nodded. “Thanks. I’ll go check it out.” Getting up from his stool, he grabbed his scale and carried it out into the front of the store.

            The woman was standing by the case of freshwater pearls. For a second, he paused to observe her—how she looked, how she dressed, the way she clutched a small black velveteen bag in one hand. He judged her to be in her mid-twenties.

            “May I help you?”

            She straightened and looked over at him. A timid smile transformed her ordinary face to one of beauty as she took in his headset. However, he was more intrigued when her eyes widened at the sight of the scale he’d placed on top of one counter.

            She walked over and place the velveteen bag in front of him. “I need to sell this jewelry. I was wondering if you’d be interested.” She motioned toward the front door. “Your sign says you buy gold.”

            Judging by her dress and shoes, he didn’t take her as the type of woman who held anything expensive. Expecting to see a collection of costume jewelry, he pulled a display tray from under the counter and set it in front of him. “Let’s see what you have.”

            Taking the bag, he opened the braided silk ties and carefully poured the contents onto the lined tray. What he saw lying before him almost took his breath away.

            “Where did you get these?” he asked. For a fleeting second he wondered if she’d stolen the pieces. Or worse, if she was trying to fence what someone else had pilfered.

            “They were my grandmother’s.” By her tone and the honest sadness he heard, all thought of him looking at stolen jewelry flew out the window. That intuitive instinct also gave him fleeting hope.

            Picking up one ring, he dropped the magnifier over his eyes and turned on its light. He brought the piece close to his face as he admired the unique and definitely dated cut of the diamonds in its center.

            “I haven’t seen this kind of cut in a very long time,” he admitted. “That makes these diamonds very rare, and that alone makes them worth a lot of money.” Removing the magnifier, he ran his fingertips over the other items on the tray. There were two engraved gold bracelets, four pairs of drop earrings he’d bet had the same cut of diamonds, and two more rings. The bracelets alone were of a quality of gold that hadn’t been used in over a century. Myles gave her a stern look. “Why are you selling these? They’re heirlooms, and worth a whole lot more than I could offer you. You’d be better off taking these to an auction house and having them auctioned off.”

            The woman shook her head. “I can’t wait that long. I’ve done what I could and sold what I had to, but I’m still behind in paying my property taxes. The bank’s about to foreclose on the house. I have nothing else that’s worth anything, so I was hoping…” Tears ran down her cheeks, forcing her to stop and wipe them away.

            Intrigued to learn more, Myles dropped his professional persona. “Listen, Miss…”

            “Pierce. Georgiana Pierce.”

            “Miss Pierce, where did you say you got these?” he asked, hoping to glean a bit more information before continuing.

            “I told you. They were my grandmother’s, and she said they’d been in the family for ages. I hate the idea of having to sell them, but I’m at the point where I have no other choice.”

            “How did you get hold of them? Does she know you have them?”

            The woman seemed to bristle. “I didn’t steal them, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

            Myles held up a hand, knowing he’d stepped over the line. “That’s not what I meant. It’s just that, usually, jewelry like this is handed down to the next child in line. The next living son or daughter, like your mother or father.”

            “I never knew who my father was. That part is blank on my birth certificate. My mother was a drug addict and died a couple of months after I was born. My grandparents raised me, but Pawpaw died six years ago, and Nana died last year from cancer. I was their only living relative, so I got the house and property.” Her lower lip trembled. “And I’m about to lose that, too.”

            Myles studied the woman. Everything she’d said sounded plausible. Truthful. But there was one more test he had to do before he could make any final decision.

            The doorbell sounded, indicating another customer had entered the store. He turned to call for Steven when the man quickly exited the back room and went to wait on them.

            Not wanting to risk any of the antique jewelry being stolen, Myles leaned over the counter to whisper, “Let’s take this into the back where we can have some privacy.” The woman nodded, and he gathered up the tray and scale.

Once they were alone, he set the items down on his worktable and went to fetch a nearby chair for her to sit in. Going back to his bench, he placed the gold bracelets on one side of the scale. A quick check of her hands didn’t reveal any jewelry she was wearing. No bracelet or ring. Not a necklace. Neither did she have any earrings. Wondering what he could ask of hers to place on the other scale, he remembered the black bag she’d been carrying. The velveteen bag that still held her touch, her scent. And more importantly, her essence. Picking it up, he placed it on the other side, then waited.

The woman gave him a curious look. “What…”

He held up a hand for silence.

Together, they stared at the scale. At the perfectly even pans that gave him his answer. The answer he’d been hoping for.

Smiling, he sat back.

She continued to be confused. “That can’t be right…can it? I mean, those bracelets are real gold. They’re heavy. There’s no way they can be equal in weight to that empty bag.”

“Not in that way, no,” he admitted.

“Then how…”

He turned to her. “Miss Pierce, may I call you Georgiana?”


“Georgiana, what I’m about to tell you may seem farfetched, but it’s the truth. You see, this isn’t an ordinary scale. Yes, it does weigh objects, but it also weighs more than weight. It also weighs truth and integrity.”

She frowned. “I don’t understand. Are you saying that scale is…magical?”

“Only in the hands of someone like myself.” He couldn’t believe he was telling her this. Then again, he could count on one hand how many people he’d met in his lifetime who balanced as perfectly. Who had such a purity of soul. He gazed deep into her eyes. And he couldn’t let this one get away.

“Like yourself? What do you mean?” she inquired.

“I’m a Libran. A justifier.”

“You’re not a gemologist?”

He chuckled. “I’m that, too. But as a Libran, I have the ability to pass judgment on people by comparing what they’re telling me to the truth.”

“The truth?” She shook her head. “How would you know if it’s the truth or not? I don’t understand.”

He pointed to the bracelets. “Those are a given. Concrete evidence. Fact.” He indicated the black velveteen bag. “That represents you because you’ve touched it. It holds your essence, you could say. Normally I would ask the other person for a piece of their own jewelry, or a scarf, or something they’ve been in contact with. You’re not wearing any of that, so I used the bag. Tell me, Georgiana,” he indicated the scale. “What do you see?”

“I see the bracelets and the bag are equal in weight, when I know for a fact they shouldn’t be.” She was perplexed, but she was also becoming angry, and he knew why. She suspected the scale might not be calibrated correctly.

Myles shook his head. “Not this time. Not yet, anyway. You see, I asked the scale to weigh your story about the jewelry belonging to your grandmother to the truth. The fact that the two pans are perfectly even tells me you were telling me the truth. That everything you’ve told me is exactly as you’ve said.”

Georgiana continued to stare at him, waiting for him to continue.

He took a deep breath. “And now, when I tell the scale to weigh the items according to their true weight…”

The scale suddenly shifted. The pan with the bracelets dropped to the table, leaving the other pan with the bag at the top.

“Now let me see exactly what you’ve brought me,” he declared and reached for the electronic scale he kept in the drawer.

She pointed to it. “I was wondering why you were using that old-fashioned thing and not a scale like that one.”

“In my business, Georgiana, I’m often brought jewelry items that have either been stolen or pawned off as being more expensive than they really are. Some have even been recast or covered with a thin layer of gold to cover up a lesser grade of metal.” Myles tapped the foot of his balance scale. “This little lady has been my salvation in discovering those frauds and saved my business hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

He quickly checked the other pieces. As he’d suspected, the diamonds in the drop earrings were of the exact same cut and clarity as the ones in the ring. When he was done, he jotted down their estimated value on a notepad, tore off the sheet, and presented it to her. “I don’t know how much you owe in back taxes, but I think this will cover it.”

Georgiana gasped at the amount tallied. “Are you sure? Is this for real?”

“That’s what I believe you could get from a reputable dealer, yes. At an auction house, I can pretty much guarantee you’d get more. But see that amount I underlined? That’s all I can offer you at this time.” He watched her bite her lower lip and knew what she was going to say before he heard the words.

“That much will pay the bank what I owe,” she informed him. “Please, Mr. Robb.”

“Call me Myles.”

“Please, Myles. I’m fine with that total. How soon can you get me the money?”

“Unfortunately, I don’t keep that much cash on hand in the store, but I can write you a check that you can deposit. In fact, the Second Union Bank is on the next block over.”

“I know. That’s where I bank.”

“Good! So do I. Why don’t I walk you over there, and we can settle up this whole thing together. Then, if you don’t mind, since it’s almost lunchtime, I would love to buy you lunch, unless you already have a previous engagement.”

She seemed both delighted and taken aback by his offers. “I would like that very much, Mr…Myles. Thank you. And thank you for all your help and kindness.”

“Hold on a sec. Let me put these away in the vault first before we go. Then I have to let Steven know where we’ll be.”

He quickly moved the tray of jewelry to the vault, then closed and locked it. If the salesman needed to get into it while they were gone, he’d have to wait until Myles returned since he didn’t know the combination.

Georgiana graced him with another one of those beautiful smiles when he joined her at the front door. Feeling more lighthearted and hopeful than he had in years, he prepared himself for an enjoyable hour or two getting to know more about Miss Georgiana Pierce.

And once their first of what he wished would become many dates was over, as soon as he got back to the shop, he’d contact his friend at the auction house to set up a meeting. He was certain the man would jump at the chance to sell such a wondrous collection of antique jewelry. And after the monies were collected from the sale, and he’d reimbursed himself the amount he’d pay Georgiana, he’d give her the remainder.

Because it was the right and true thing to do.

            After all, he was a Libran. 

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