The Tuesday Night Club: Case #3 - Ingots Of Gold
AKA: The Solving Six And The Golden Grave (US)
Series: A Miss Marple Short Story by Agatha Christie
First Published: 1928 in The Royal Magazine (UK, later the same year in the US)
Summary: It is Miss Marple’s nephew whose turn it is to pose a crime to the group, but it is a bit unfair - as he doesn’t know the answer. What he does know is an acquaintance - who was pursuing sunken treasure in the form of Spanish gold - asked Raymond up to his cottage in the village of Rathole. Never one to squander the chance for plot building or character development - plus the romance of the sea - Raymond readily accepts. While there inexplicably Raymond’s host was attacked and kidnapped by a couple of thieves!
Review: This story was fun to read because it had Miss Marple gently admonishing her nephew and his schoolboy romantic notions. While he railed at this rather unmanly image, since he’s trying to impress a certain woman in the group who shall remain nameless (but she paints). Sir Henry backed Marple up with the facts which Raymond was not privy to two years previously. What I enjoyed most about this story is that it feels more like the Marple we see later in series rather than Murder at the Vicarage. In her first feature length novel Marple felt much more acidic than she did later in the series, while she's not like that in the first two stories so far - this one just reminded me more of her later self.
What I find even more hilarious is how everyone always still seems to underestimate her brains! You’d think after the first two solves under her belt the disbelief would taper off just a little bit. But I suppose that her knitting various bits of fluff might throw off their perceptions just a bit - but the former Commissioner of Scotland Yard should have take notice by now! Then again, I suppose I am just full of fore knowledge of what is to come....Which reminds me of Dr. Who and River Song - but that is a tangent for a different day!
“You wouldn’t like my opinion, dear. Young people never do, I notice. It is better to say nothing.”
Random Fact: Terry Pratchett’s character Moist von Lipwig said, “You can’t fool an honest man.” (Going Postal the BBC adaptation) I think has some merit to it. Raymond West was lured to Cornwall under the pretext of lost gold left over from the Spanish Armada when they tried to take Britain. He wasn’t financially invested in the venture, however the romance of sunken treasure did spark to him enough to see his way up to the charming village of Rathole. What Raymond didn’t realize, until Sir Henry and Miss Marple pointed it out to him, was that he was part of a con and was conned himself - all at the same time!
Hopefully he didn’t take too much of a hit when this solution was revealed him, because confidence men are very, very good at what they do. Don’t believe me? Well have you ever heard the saying, “If you believe that, I’ve got a great bridge in Brooklyn to sell you"? It originates from around the turn of the century, 19th not 20th obviously, when new immigrants, a few tourists and some rather well heeled people in New York City fell prey to some confidence men. The Brooklyn Bride was an especially easy sell since many immigrants saw the bridge on their approach to Ellis Island - put that together with its fame and their belief in the American Dream. Well, it spelled trouble.
(Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. Brooklyn Bridge and New York sky line. Circa 1915)
William McCloundy, Reed C. Waddell and Charles & Fred Gondorf (plus many others) all routinely sold the Brooklyn Bridge to the unsuspecting for years. But the most famous of all is George C. Parker who at his height sold the bridge twice a week. The con generally wasn’t detected until the new “owners” - with freshly forged and very legal looking documents - tried to erect toll booths in order to recoup their money. Who wouldn’t want to be the person who could brag they owned this famous landmark and controlled the entry into and out of Manhattan? It’s a gold mine!
However Parker didn’t limit himself to just a bridge. No he routinely sold The MET, Madison Square Garden, the Statue of Liberty and Grant’s Tomb (where he posed as the General’s grandson - which proves how really good he was since it’s pretty cold to sell your ancestor’s bones in my book). To prove he wasn’t one to limit himself to the unwashed masses, he also sold the rights to a number of plays and shows to theaters and their patrons, of which he of course did not have the rights to.
But alas nothing gold can last and the law caught up with Mr. Parker and in 1928 he was sentenced to life in prison and was sent to Sing Sing - where evidently he was very popular among the other prisoners and guards. He died there in 1936.
While Raymond wasn’t bilked of money, make no bones about it he was conned! Only it was his upstanding reputation which these criminals wished to cash in on. And I am not sure he enjoyed his Aunt and Sir Henry pointing out his romantic school boy notions to the rest of the company - but well he did pose the case himself, and all in all she was pretty gentle about it!
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2016