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BlackEagle Girls

Chapter 6 - The Mystical Peridot

'O.K. O.K. so you think you saw a...Bateleur eagle?' Priscilla wrinkled her nose. 'What's a Bateleur eagle?
And how come it has a name like yours?'

Monique's eyes were shining as she looked down at the ring and its curious gem where it lay in the palm of her hand, the chain still about her neck. 'I have a name exactly like it, because a long time ago someone of my Father's ancestor's discovered the bird and named it so.'

'How do you mean?'

Monique raised her eyes from the ring to meet Priscilla's puzzled stare. 'Have you not heard of explorers, and people who study new things in foreign countries: plants, animals, birds, old bones?'

'A'course I have. Archaeology and all that stuff. Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider thingy,' said Priscilla.

'Well, somewhere in the past, one of Father's family was involved with the discovery of new and unknown birds in Africa. Whoever it was, found this particular kind of eagle and named it the Bateleur Eagle.'


Monique smiled. 'A fair question, I suppose. The word "bateleur" in French means...er...umm.."tumbler", or, perhaps "acrobat". My French is not so complete. But Father told me that it had something to do with the flight of the bird, that it was able to roll and move from side to side, a little like a tight-rope walker. The Bateleur Eagle is different to all other eagles.'

'Oh? Does it look different?'

'Yes. It has a short tail. So short that it was named by the ancients, "Marvellous Face without a Tail."
And yet it is a very beautiful bird and now only seldom found in the highlands.'

Priscilla thought about that for a moment. She did love the way Monique pronounced the word 'very' with a strong French accent that was so charming, especially from a girl who's skin was black to the point of being almost blue. 'Could I...Would you let me try on the chain?' she asked, without actually understanding why.

'Of course, but I do not see what...' Monique faltered, then raised the chain from around her neck and passed it across to Priscilla, who lifted it over her head so that the ring dangled down against her chest.
'What do you see?' Monique asked, staring intently at Priscilla.

Priscilla's eyes widened. 'I can't see anything!' Her expression belied her words. She seemed to be staring intently at the wall beyond. And when she reached out her hands, feeling the air as if suddenly blinded, Monique became alarmed. 'What is it? What are you seeing?'

'I can't see a thing? I'm blind!'

Monique stood up from her bed and took hold of Priscilla's shoulders with both hands. 'That cannot be! Here! I have you!'

'Yeah! You've got me, but who's got you?' said Priscilla, shaking her head as if coming out of some weird dream. 'Whoa! For a minute there I thought I was falling into a long black tunnel...Like everything just disappeared and there was nothing...Everything just sort of went...dark?'

Monique lifted the chain from about Priscilla's neck. 'I wonder...' she said, staring down at it. Then, taking a deep breath, she placed the chain once more over her own head. 'So...' She paused for a moment, then...'As I thought...Here Pricilla.'
And before Priscilla could avoid her, Monique had taken off the chain and again dropped it over Priscilla's head.
'Well?' Monique enquired.


'You again see nothing. You are blind?'

'No,' smiled Priscilla. 'I mean I can't see what I saw before when...oh, you know what I mean...'

Monique looked down at her. 'Yes, I understand. The chain now does not have any effect upon us. It was just sort of...errm...comment tu dites?...how you say..."logging on."

'What? You mean like a computer?'

'That is my guess. It knows us both now...and I wonder...I think it knows us by our names.'

Priscilla screwed up her face. 'Aw c'mon now. That's a big call.'


'What I mean is that you're telling me that this chain and the little dingle-dangle hanging off it actually knows us? How could that possibly be?'

'As to the how, I cannot say, but think on it Priscilla. What is my name?'

'O.K. I'll play your silly game. It's Monique Bateleur.'

'And what did I see?'

'You said you saw the eagle.'

'And what did you see?'

'Nothing. Nothing at all...Just a black...' Priscilla scratched her nose. 'Are you saying...what I think you're saying?'

'What I am guessing,' corrected Monique. 'Strange things have happened here in one night, and now this morning. We both have had almost the same dream, and yet it seems that it wasn't a dream. Doors were really opened, and this chain and ring are real too. Now we both have had visions, and the visions showed us our own names. What do you think?'

Priscilla shook her head. 'I don't know what to think.' She stood up, shaking slightly, and crossed the room to a mirror that she had recently placed on the wall above her writing desk. She looked at the reflection and saw a young girl with plain features, hazel eyes and straight, long blonde hair. She also noted a very mystified look on her face. 'What I do know is that we should probably keep all this to ourselves. At least for now. I don't think anyone else would believe us if we told them.'

'Not even your brothers, or your parents?'

Priscilla turned back to face Monique. 'Would you believe such a story?'

Monique shrugged. 'I see what you are about. It is quite extraordinary...this, whatever it is.'

'But what we could do,' said Priscilla, brightening, 'is to take the ring and chain to a jeweller. Perhaps someone like that could tell us more about it?'

'That is a good suggestion. Is there such a jeweller near here?'

Priscilla thought a moment, then her eyes lit up. 'Can you ride a bicycle?'

'I have been on a bicycle a few times,' said Monique, somewhat guardedly.

'Good! Then we can use mine and borrow one from Louis. I'll ride that and you can have mine. I'll just have to get into jeans, coz its a boy's bike, but you'll be alright as you are.

'And where, may I ask, are we going?'

'To a jewellers, I think there's one in Maling Road in Canterbury. It's not that far by bike. We can get there and back before lunch if we hurry. Here, I'll get an envelope. Put the ring and chain in it while I change.'

After extracting both bikes from the garage and offering Louis a bribe of a chocolate bar when they returned, the two girls convinced Grandma Black that they were just going for a spin around the neighbourhood, and would be back before lunch. Grandma Black, surrounded by hammering and sawing, gave her permission and went on with her own agenda of sorting and organising, though she cautioned both girls, saying, 'You can have a little time to get Monique familiar with her surroundings. It's a nice enough day for sight-seeing, but there's plenty to do after lunch. It's half past ten now. Be back by twelve thirty. And mind you do, or I'll be sending out a search party. And remember Priscilla, your Dad will hear of it if you're late.'


'It's a relief to be out of the house and riding free without anybody to nag me,' cried Priscilla, as the pair cycled along the tree-lined streets. 'I think you'll like Maling Road. There's lots of lovely shops and I have enough pocket money to buy us a milkshake and also get something for Louis and Henry.'

Monique, who was just a little wobbly on a bicycle, called out, 'I am enjoying this! I have never seen such wonderful trees! And the air is so fresh! It fills my lungs and opens my eyes!'

The two girls rode on until they reached Maling Road and, following it down, they came to the train station. There they halted, looking about at all the boutique shops along the leafy street.
'Take your pick,' said Priscilla, a touch of pride in her tone, 'I can just remember this place when Mum and Dad and us kids were here a few years ago. We were living in Canterbury then and this seems like a sort of home to me.' She looked at Monique and thought she saw a shadow pass across the girl's face. 'You're thinking of your Mum and Dad I suppose. And you're a long way from home...' she ended lamely.

'Yes, that is true, about my Mother and Father, although home is only the country I was born in. We moved about so much, all the time...' She sighed. 'Perhaps the land of Africa is my home, though not anywhere especial. I just wish...I only want to have my Mother and Father back. After that, I do not care where-ever we live. This place here in Melbourne will be as good as any...better than most places I have been...if only...'

'I know Monique,' said Priscilla, patting her hand comfortingly. 'Anyway, c'mon. Cheer up, we're here on a mission. We have a jeweller to go see.'

They found Botherby's Jewellery Store, and leaving their bikes chained to a post, entered and saw a man they guessed to be Mister Botherby sitting inside his little windowed booth, his eye glued to a contraption that looked very much like a microscope.

'Yes young ladies, what can we do for you today?' said a lady, bobbing up from under a counter where she had been placing a tray of wrist watches into a display case.

'Hello,' said Priscilla. My friend and I would like to ask about a ring and chain. We wonder if the Jeweller could tell us what kind of stone it is and what is the metal?'
Monique held out the envelope and the woman withdrew the contents.

'Of course girls, I'll just ask Arnold to have a quick look at it,' she said, taking the chain into the booth and tapping the man on the shoulder. They could see her speaking to him but could not hear her words. He looked up, staring at the girls through his window, and then down at the ring and chain.
For a moment, he seemed to puzzle over it, then he placed the object beneath his microscope and studied it, his face screwed up as he squinted for some little time, before finally removing the objects and coming out to the waiting girls.

'An interesting article you have here,' he said with an agreeable smile. 'My wife tells me that you want to know about the stone and the metal chain?'

'That's right, Mister Botherby...If you are...'

'I am indeed, Arnold Botherby, and Annette is my wife,' he waved a hand toward her as she continued to fuss around the show cases. 'Now, as to this article of yours, normally a stone like this isn't worth very much...umm...twenty...maybe thirty dollars...' He looked slightly unsure as he again stared at the ring and its chain. 'However, this one is somewhat unusual. Where did you get it?'

'We found it in the basement of a house that my folks have just moved into,' answered Priscilla truthfully.

'I see,' said Botherby. 'Well I can't tell you a great deal by simply looking at the thing, but I can tell you that the stone is a peridot.'

'A peridot?' wondered Priscilla, out loud.

'Yes, that's right,' Botherby replied with a faint smile, peridots have been mined for...ohh...probably four thousand years. Comes from places like Myanmar...'

'Myan-what?' said Priscilla, wrinkling her nose.

'Used to be called Burma. It's also found in Arizona, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka. The Egyptians knew about it and it was mentioned in the Bible. The Greeks and Romans called it topazion, or topazius. It's quite an interesting stone-olivine-a silicate, sort of yellowy green...the only gemstone that comes from fire. Its formed by volcanic action mostly. But this one is the biggest example I've ever seen of a pallisite peridot.'

'What is that?' asked Monique, who had been gazing around the shop at all the beautiful gems and jewellery.

''That, young lady, is a peridot that comes from an iron-nickel meteorite. Lore has it that peridots were given as a symbol of fame, dignity and protection from evil spirits. It is the birthstone for the month of August...'

'That's my birthday!' cried both girls simultaneously, looking at each other in sudden surprise.

'Ahem...' Botherby cleared his throat and continued, 'It was also believed that a peridot had mystical properties-that it could make dreams become a reality. It's name could come from the French word "peritot" which, I believe, means "unclear" or the Arab word 'faridot" which means "gem". The Hebrew word...'

At this point, both Priscilla and Monique were lost to his on-going conversation, their eyes had widened with excitement! Quite simply, they were both dumb-struck.

'...such a coincidence that it happens to be both your birth stone.' Botherby concluded, handing the chain and ring back to Priscilla, who popped it into the envelope that Monique held out.
'As for the metal of the setting, that looks like it might be annealed gold with silver, possibly with telluride added; an interesting combination. It's an unusual piece, the way it has been designed. Altogether, I would think it could be worth a few hundred dollars, maybe more.'

Sitting at a pavement table, sipping coffee milkshakes and feeling rather sophisticated, the two girls took stock of what they had been told. They spoke together in low whispers, as if they thought someone might overhear them and think they were both crazy.
'I don't know what to think', answered Monique, still holding the envelope tightly. 'Surely there are just too many coincidences.'

'Mister Botherby was such a nice man, taking the time to tell us all that information,' said Priscilla breathlessly. 'Even if he did go on a bit.'

'He is a jeweller, after all,' Monique replied. 'I suppose he likes to show off his knowledge to anyone who will listen. Imagine what he might say if he really knew why we had asked about the peridot.'

Priscilla grinned, 'probably think we were a couple of loonies. And maybe we are,' she said in an awed tone.
'Gosh! Look at the time, it's after twelve. We'd better get going.'
They downed the last of their drinks, threw a bag containing liquorice allsorts and chocolate bars into the basket on Priscilla's bike and soon they were cycling down Maling Road toward home and lunch.

Late that same afternoon, while the girls were busy helping Grandma Black wash floors and clean up the workmen's leftovers, the telephone rang.
Grandma Black answered, and stood listening to the voice at the other end until she finally said, 'I'll tell her the news. Will you be home late? Rachael won't be in til after ten. Alright, I'll keep dinner for you. Bye Dear.'

'What is it?' asked Monique anxiously, as Amelia turned to her.

'That was Matthew. He said to tell you that he had a call from Cape Town. A porter at the hotel came back on duty after having time off because of a family funeral. The porter said that he saw your parents leaving the rear of the hotel in the company of several others. They were carrying your father's equipment out through the loading dock. He said that he saw them get into one of two covered trucks, then they were driven away. He didn't know if they were distressed or being taken against their will.'

'Is that all?' said Monique, crestfallen.

'I'm afraid so Dear. Matthew will be home late tonight, but he wanted you to know that much at least. Perhaps the trucks can be traced or someone else will see them and report it,' added Grandma Black, faintly.

Late that evening, as the girls lay in bed in the dark, Priscilla wondered whether she and Monique would again have a strange waking dream like the previous night. She hoped that Monique would sleep and, for a few hours at least, forget the danger her parents seemed to be in.
But Priscilla couldn't help returning to the events of the morning in the Jewellery store. A peridot from a meteorite - birthstone of August - the month that was both hers and Monique's birth month - a protection against evil spirits and - last of all - a stone that legend said could make dreams become a reality.
She hugged herself and snuggled down.
What Next!


Chapter 7 [Next]


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