“What did thee do with the jewels?” asked Mrs. Crowder.
Her husband looked at his watch, and then held it with the face toward her.
She gave a cry of surprise, and we all went up-stairs to bed.
“Now, my dear,” said Mrs. Crowder, the moment we had finished dinner on the next evening, “I want thee to tell us immediately what thee did with the jewels. I have been thinking about that all day; and I believe, if I had been with thee, I could have given thee some good advice, so that the money thee received for these treasures would have lasted thee a long time.”
“I have thought on that subject many times,” said Mr. Crowder, “not only in regard to this case, but others, and have formed hundreds of plans for carrying my possessions into another set of social conditions; but the fact of being obliged to change my identity always made it impossible for me to avail myself of the advantages of commercial paper, legal deeds, and all titles to property.”
“Thee might have put thy wealth into solid gold—great bars and lumps. Those would be available in any country and in any age, and they wouldn’t have had anything to do with thy identity,” said his wife.
“It was always difficult for me to carry about or even conceal such golden treasures, but I have sometimes done it. However, as you are in such a hurry to hear about the jewels, I will let all other subjects drop. When I reached my lodgings in Rome, I opened the box, and found everything perfect; the writing on the sheets of parchment was still black and perfectly legible, and the jewels looked just as they did when I put them into the box.”
“I cannot imagine,” interrupted Mrs. Crowder, “how thee remembered what they looked like after the lapse of three hundred years.”
Mr. Crowder smiled. “You forget,” he said, “that since I first reached the age of fifty-three there has been no radical change in me, physical or mental. My memory is just as good now as it was when I reached my fifty-third birthday, in the days of Abraham. It is impossible for me to forget anything of importance, and I remembered perfectly the appearance of those gems. But my knowledge of such things had been greatly improved by time and experience, and after I had spent an hour or two looking over my treasures, I felt sure that they were far more valuable than they were when they came into my possession. In fact, it was a remarkable collection of precious stones, considering it in regard to its historic as well as its intrinsic value.
“I shall not attempt to describe my various plans for disposing of my treasures; but I soon found that it would not be wise for me to try to sell them in Rome. I had picked out one of the least valuable engraved stones, and had taken it to a lapidary, who readily bought it at his own valuation, and paid me with great promptness; but after he had secured it he asked me so many questions about it, particularly how I had come into possession of it, that I was very sure that he had made a wonderful bargain, and was also convinced that it would not do for me to take any more of my gems to him. Those Roman experts knew too much about antique jewels.