Monday, April 23, 2007


Wallace’s hands are trembling as his loupe surveys the stone,
as the old man sits before him, all parchment-skinned and bone.
Wallace’s pulse is pounding, as the peach-pink jewel gleams.
Could it be a Padparadscha, the stuff of sultans’ dreams?

The old man says ‘The setting’s worn but I think the stone is fine;
it’s been in the same family since 1789.’
As Wallace checks the massive gem, his head is in state:
the Chelsea filter says it’s real, the growth lines run dead straight.

Now, even at the bottom price, he ought to pay the earth
but he wonders can this old man know what a Padparadscha’s worth?
‘I bet he hasn’t the foggiest,’ says Wallace to himself,
as he takes his pen and notebook from the hidden counter shelf.

‘Pink sapphire’s very nice’ he says ‘But there’s so little demand
and even at this size we’re only talking… twenty grand.’
The old man’s lip is trembling now, he looks down at the floor.
‘Are you quite sure? Is that price is right? I had hoped for much more’.

‘Take it or leave it,’ Wallace says ‘I can’t pay more than that.’
‘All right,’ concedes the old man, ‘But there’s just one caveat.
I don’t have faith in cheques or banks or stock markets that crash:
If I pop back in tomorrow can you pay me then in cash?’

‘Of course!’ says Wallace, rubbing his hands, and bids the old chap well.
That night he dreams of sultans, of the tales he’ll have to tell,
of how he made a killing, retired on one last deal:
a genuine Padparadscha, and at this price, a steal.

Next day the old man’s back at noon, and soon the deal is done
and Wallace shuts up early and strolls home in the sun.
His future couldn’t be rosier, the sapphire’s in the vault;
that night he reads his paper, breaks out the single malt.

But as he turns to the business page, he starts to fall apart.
The news he reads is like a dagger in his sultan heart:
Chatham in America and Seiko in Japan
Have synthesised new sapphires: Padparadschas made by man.

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