Mr. Know All by Somerset Maugham
We were at dinner the other night and I wore the pearls that Robert had given me last Christmas. I knew that it was risky to do so but I swear to God that I couldn’t resist it! They looked so beautiful lying in that little velvet box and as soon as I set my eyes on them I knew that I had to have them around my neck. They reminded me so much of my dear Robert.
We were chatting idly when the subject of pearls came up. One of the ship’s passengers who was sitting at our table went by the name of Mr. Kelada. He revealed to us that he was an expert in that field and could instantly tell the difference between the genuine ones and the cheap imitations.
It was obvious to me from the beginning that Elmer and Mr. Kelada did not get along very well. They are both very proud men and sure of themselves and what they say. A heated argument ensued, and both men wanted to prove that he was superior to the other. They were quarrelling vehemently and their faces had become flushed with exasperation and irritation.
Elmer had evidently said something that bruised Mr. Kelada’s male ego, and Mr. Kelada wanted to prove his expertise to us. To my utter horror, he pointed at my pearls and proclaimed that the chain I was wearing would never be worth a cent less than it is now. I tried to conceal the chain by slipping it inside my dress but my attempt was unsuccessful. Mr. Kelada went on and informed us that my pearls were genuine. Elmer disclosed that he hadn’t bought them for me and wondered how much they were worth. I was beginning to feel disconcerted about the direction that the conversation was taking. Mr. Kelada believed that the pearls could be worth no less than fifteen thousand dollars.
Obviously I had to come up with some explanation as to where I had obtained the pearls from when Elmer saw them a few months ago. I told him that they were fake and I had bought them at a department store in New York for...