"It was a writing-table set; a large blotting-book, a double inkwell, a pen-tray, and a sort of casket with a lock and a tiny gilt key. But it was all made of some warm white stone, white with a glow in it, like pearls or sea-shells, and clasped and set in a heavy carved metal, duller than gold but like gold; and studded in large stones of black and white, round and polished as marbles. Edward Marshall turned the tiny key and lifted the curved lid of the casket; inside were slots and compartments for notepaper and envelopes....
Mr Penscot stooped (with some difficulty) and brought his glasses to bear on the table.
'Probably Russian,' he pronounced, straightening himself. 'It was a fashion, you know? The lavish use of semi-precious stones in inkstands and paper-knives and clocks and door-handles and what-not. Yes, definitely Russian I should say. Barbaric; but very handsome...'
'I wonder how it got here?'
Mr Penscott shrugged his plump shoulders,
'Your guess is as good as mine! Either someone belonging to the Manor House made the Grand Tour about a hundred years ago and brought it home with his other curios and mementos and presents. Or -- more likely -- it was sold by someone who came over here as a refugee in the last war.'
'I wish we had it,' said Vicky. 'Even more than the tea-cups -- yes, I do Dal.'
'Why?' Edward Marshall asked.
'I don't know. I just think -- it's beautiful.'
'You're quite right. It is.' "
The Gentle Shadows Kathleen Wallace