That venerable financier, however, still seemed struggling with portions of his well-lined attire, and at length produced from a very interior tail-coat pocket, a black oval case which he radiantly explained to be his Christmas present for his god-daughter. With an unaffected vain-glory that had something disarming about it he held out the case before them all; it flew open at a touch and half-blinded them. It was just as if a crystal fountain had spurted in their eyes. In a nest of orange velvet lay like three eggs, three white and vivid diamonds that seemed to set the very air on fire all round them. Fischer stood beaming benevolently and drinking deep of the astonishment and ecstasy of the girl, the grim admiration and gruff thanks of the colonel, the wonder of the whole group.
“I’ll put ’em back now, my dear,” said Fischer, returning the case to the tails of his coat. “I had to be careful of ’em coming down. They’re the three great African diamonds called `The Flying Stars,’ because they’ve been stolen so often. All the big criminals are on the track; but even the rough men about in the streets and hotels could hardly have kept their hands off them. I might have lost them on the road here. It was quite possible.”
“Quite natural, I should say,” growled the man in the red tie. “I shouldn’t blame ’em if they had taken ’em. When they ask for bread, and you don’t even give them a stone, I think they might take the stone for themselves.”
“I won’t have you talking like that,” cried the girl, who was in a curious glow. “You’ve only talked like that since you became a horrid what’s-his-name. You know what I mean. What do you call a man who wants to embrace the chimney-sweep?”
“A saint,” said Father Brown.
“I think,” said Sir Leopold, with a supercilious smile, “that Ruby means a Socialist.”
A song: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
A booklist: Crime Fiction to Give for Christmas at Mysteries in Paradise.
A birthday: Rex Stout, b.1886.
A poem: Mistletoe by Walter de la Mare and Lines for a Christmas Card by Hillaire Belloc.