Round about midnight there was a knock on the door. Lydia was just putting her mother to bed, so I went to answer the door. Two gentlemen were on the doorstep, one unmistakably a monk in a long white habit and the other dressed as a paysan with a French cap in a jocular angle on his head. The monk was carrying a package wrapped in brown paper under his arm.
'Mr. Erik Beken, I presume?', the one with the cap said with a smile.
I demonstratively looked at my watch. 'Yes,' I said, 'and you are...?”
'Professor Marcel Hubnoth and my friend Moshe Cohen, we're friends of Yosht and we are bringing back the stained glass window.'
'Well, well, well,' I said, 'please do come in.'
They apologized for the lateness of the hour, but they had trouble finding the farm in the darkness. I introduced the men to Lydia who came out of her mother's bedroom and commenced to open the package on the kitchen table. 'Lydia poured them a glass of wine, the men sat down and professor Hubnoth started to explain.
'The thing is,' he said, 'that my friend the monk here, Moshe, is an expert on most things. He is Wikipedia in the flesh, as it were, and he suspected this beautiful work might just be very, very valuable, so we had it photographed and send the prints to O'Leary, a curator in Dublin, for his professional opinion. And Moshe here was right!'
The professor raised his glass and looked around the table, building up excitement and expectations. 'This window,' he said, pointing at artwork on the table, 'was made by Ireland's most famous stained glass artist of all times: Harry Clarke. Only recently this O'Leary had come across a map of drawings by Clarke, and among them there were studies for this window here. And from the drawings he could deduce that the woman in this work is Maud Gonne, the romantic muse of Nobel prize winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats!'
Again professor Hubnoth smiled broadly, this time as wide as the skin on his face would allow. 'It's amazing!'
We talked until it was nearly early dawn about the possible implications of this discovery. If it was a real Harry Clarke and not a fake, it was worth a lot of money. And then there was the question of ownership. Pádraig is the owner, we assumed, but how did it come in his possession?
'There is a story there,' Moshe Cohen kept repeating. The monk was all bubbly with enthusiasm and wine that sprayed from his wet lips onto the image of Maud Gonne in the glass. ' A long lost early work of Clarke has come to light! We should try and find out. We'll start with Pádraig.' And turning to Lydia: 'When do you expect him to come to France, dear?'
'We'll do no such thing!' I shouted and banged my fist on the table. 'Enough already. I have had enough of this Yeats thing. Have you forgotten what we are all here for?
The kitchen door opened and there appeared the frail, sleepy figure of Estelle in a crumpled nightgown.