Lord David Prosser, an author in the UK, set me quite a challenge with these three things. If you are acquainted with David, you won’t be surprised that he managed to sneak in a fourth thing by relating one to Art Deco. (David, I’m kidding you. 🙂 ) It was an adventure to do the research for this set of things.
Please join me for episode 22 of our little 1920’s serial.
Blue John, Clarice Cliff Pottery, Art Deco, Silk
Before I could stop him, Frankie told Countess Babikov about the burglary at Boris’ apartment — I mean office. I was worried about that episode upsetting her. The white-haired woman had clearly been abducted and roughed up, so she seemed fragile. There was that cut and bruise at her temple, plus her expensive sheer silk stockings were badly torn.
However, the look of frailty was momentary. Countess Babikov got a steely, protective look in her eyes. I was almost worried about her kidnappers. She took another sip of the brandy I had gotten for her, but I could tell she was thinking. You could practically see the wheels turning in her mind. She blinked as if something had interrupted her thoughts.
“Frankie my dear, would you bring my coat?” she asked pointing to a chair where the coat with the fox collar was draped.
When the fireman handed her the coat she thanked him, then quickly searched through it. “Ah! It is still there. Thank goodness,” she said in a pleased tone as she withdrew a small silver jewelry casket. She opened it to display a beautiful dress clip, shaped like a butterfly.
She smiled warmly and held it out to the circus magnate. “I saw this when the Ballets Russes last performed in England. I could imagine the butterfly in Mable’s rose garden, and I knew she must have it… my dearest friend, Mable.”
The butterfly was made from a lovely blue banded gemstone. I asked if it was fluorite, but it didn’t really look like any I had ever seen. In answer Countess Babikov described her visit to Castleton and the shop where she found the dress clip made from a rare stone she called Blue John.
“Jeepers, I almost forgot!” I exclaimed and started fishing in my pocketbook. When I looked up, I was uncomfortable to find all eyes on me. I felt a little foolish, but I produced the bent key and grinned. However, I wasn’t sure to which of them I should give it. I tried to look at John Ringling and the Countess both when I explained.
“This fell from the getaway car back at the Nickelodeon Theatre when they nabbed you, Countess Babikov. I think the engraving says Ca’d’Zan,” I told them.
“It’s seen better days, hasn’t it?” commented John Ringling as he took the key and inspected it closely. “It’s for Ca’d’Zan alright.”
Then he dropped the damaged key into a lovely pottery jug. The sound made everyone look at the piece. Leaning closer to look at the pottery Frankie asked, “Is that what they call Art Deco? The style, I mean?”
Mr. Ringling wore a rather distracted expression, but he answered, “I believe so. I haven’t heard the term until just recently. Mable, my wife, took a shine to this stuff during one of our travels. The young lady who painted it is called Clarice Cliff. I think she called that pattern Bizarre.”
“Tell me everything about Boris,” the Countess said imploringly, and changed the subject. “When he left the Ballets Russes, he had begun acting strangely. At first I thought it was because of his injury — you know? That he was depressed because he could dance no longer. Yet strange men began to come to see him. I thought I saw one of them, when I started making inquiries here about my grandson. Then the other men abducted me, making a ransom demand of my most kind friend here, John,” she said with a look of gratitude and a motion to the circus magnate.
“What can be going on to cause these strange events?” she said as if to herself. The same question nagged me as well.