Foundations of the Bridge: The Technicalities of Gem-Trading
brings me almost to the end of my tale. My bridge of gems is complete.
I have travelled over the stream from my years of opal to my years of
Jade—from childhood to past middle age—from Vienna of the Old Emperor
to China eternally the same. I think there are no more gems to
symbolise the years that remain. As I write the threat of war hangs
over London, a city wide open to the air attacks of an enemy. Putting
off the ledgers, the corn-tongs, the balances, of the gem merchant, I
put in my lapel the badge of the air warden and proceed to fit several
hundreds of my fellow-citizens with gas-masks instead of with necklaces
and rings. There is no gem for this stage of my life, when every day is
itself a jewel hung on a brittle thread.
I cannot stop here without giving you some idea of the procedures and
customs of the trade, although I have already mentioned these here and
there in passing. Something of the people, too, who deal in gems I must