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THE MAXIMILIAN EMPEROR AND THE CURSED DIAMONDS

As usual, I was spending this Saturday morning in New York, going round auction halls. On Christie’s Park Avenue, one can find magnificent jewellery on display. My friend François, one of the world’s greatest experts in the field, invited me to follow him into his office. He knew that I was an enthusiast and handed me a diamond mounted on a ring that he took out of a small case. It was not particularly large and nor could it have been said to have the transparency that one ordinarily seeks in a precious stone. It appeared almost opaque. Francois closed the curtains, turned out the lights, and a bluish gleam suddenly emanated from the diamond. “It is a rarity of nature”, remarked François, a translucent diamond ”

-” I do not like it, my dear François, I have got a bad feeling about it; I am sure that it will bring bad luck ”

-” For the love of God, do not say a word until the auction “.

Once we had switched the lights back on and reopened the curtains, Francois told me the story. When the Emperor Maximilian was shot at Queretaro by the cruel Juarez, the corpse was stripped of its clothes and inspected. In the lining of his black frock coat, were to be found two diamonds, the only treasures he had been able to save as insurance because he had great hope of surviving and living in exile in Europe. Obviously, the diamonds disappeared. Many decades later, they were found on the person of a Mexican Indian who was trying to cross the border illegally from the United States. The Mexican was arrested and the stones seized. So François turned to me and said, “You are holding in your hands one of the two diamonds.” – “And what about the other? “.

This story proved stranger still. It had been auctioned a few years earlier, also in New York. A wealthy American had bought it, brought it back to his apartment and left it on his night table. In the middle of the night, as he lay in bed, he was awakened by a noise. He could hear someone walking close by. “Burglars”, he thought to himself straight away, “they are after the diamond”. But where should I hide it? He jumped out of bed as silently as possible, hurried into the kitchen and hid the precious stone under the rubbish in the bin. Then he waited. No noise, nothing appeared. As cautiously as possible, he explored his apartment. Nobody was to be found, no broken window, no door had been forced.

He must have been mistaken, there had been no burglar. Reassured, he lay down again, but, fraught with emotion, he could not summon the courage to get up once more to retrieve the diamond from the rubbish-bin. He would do it on awakening the next morning. However, when he woke, he realised that it was late. He leapt into the kitchen, there to find his housekeeper. He hastened towards the rubbish-bin, opened it, only to find that it was empty. “Yes, sir, I have already emptied the rubbish bins.” Thus the diamond of the emperor Maximilian ended up in the sewers of New York.

 


by Prince Michael of Greece

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