The house of Akihito-san’s relative turned out to be only a few minutes’ walk from Tōfuku-ji.
“Come to think of it, I haven’t been to my aunt’s house since I was a kid.”
Akihito-san mused thoughtfully as we walked.
“What kind of house is it?”
“It’s a Western-style room.”
“Like Holmes-san’s house?”
“It isn’t such an amazing house, but just a normal, snug house. It’s just around that corner.”
We turned the corner, and I was lost for words when I saw the Western-style building.
Indeed, in terms of size, it was just a “snug” Western-style house. However, its walls had so many vines coiled around them that you almost couldn’t see the walls at all, and you definitely couldn’t call that “normal”.
“Um, Akihito-san, it’s that house, right?”
“Ah, yeah, probably. Holmes’ car is there.”
Surely enough, the Yagashira family Jaguar was parked there.
“What do you mean, probably? Isn’t it your aunt’s house?”
I curiously asked, and Akihito-san pulled a face.
“I mean, there weren’t that many vines back then. I’m seriously shocked. The kids nearby definitely call it a haunted house.”
“Doesn’t it look so wonderfully tasteful, though? Since the walls are covered in vines, they won’t be hit directly by the sun’s rays, so there’s the effect of damping the temperature increase in summer.”
Holmes-san said as he retrieved the house key from his inner pocket.
It was the key that Akihito-san’s aunt had entrusted to him earlier.
“Um, are the gas and water in this house still working?”
“Yes, it was lived in until ten days ago. There are still items in the house, and you can use the gas and water until the end of the month.”
Holmes-san unlocked the door and opened it.
The entranceway that opened up before us was pitch dark, so I couldn’t tell what it was like inside.
Holmes-san immediately reached for the breaker near the ceiling and raised it, switching on the lights in the entranceway. As the area instantly lit up, I was stunned by three antique dolls arranged in a row on top of the shoe cupboard.
“Ahh, that startled me.”
“Y-Yeah, me too. Are those dolls?”
“…What do we have here? These are Jumeau bisque dolls1.”
They had golden hair, blue eyes, and bright red dresses on their porcelain bodies.
Holmes-san put on his black gloves at once. From his energetic voice, I could tell that he was excited.
“That’s the name of a famous manufacturer in France. I was surprised that they were casually left in the entranceway, but it seems that they were treated carefully, and they’re in excellent condition.”
He took a notebook out of his pocket and quickly started making a memo, probably about the amount of money they would be worth. I took a peek and noticed that “Bisque dolls with red dresses at the entranceway, 1.5 million yen” was written on the notebook, causing me to open my mouth in surprise.
“O-One point five million yen?”
“Yes, since it was probably manufactured in the late 1850s.”
“H-Hey, so that means the other two are also worth 1.5 million each?”
Akihito-san gleefully leant forward and asked, but Holmes-san shook his head.
“No, the other two are replicas, so they’ll fetch about 30 thousand in total.”
“What? So this one just happened to be a treasure, huh.”
“You could say that, but I think that a lot more treasures might be sleeping in this house than you imagine.”
Holmes-san’s eyes gleamed scintillatingly as he stared into the interior of the house from the entranceway.
The house was packed with antiquated items.
There were many paintings on the walls, and there was a porcelain vase on top of an antique chest.
There was even a chandelier.
Since the house no longer had an owner, it seemed like the residence of all the antiques.
“I’ll appraise everything from top to bottom, so please help me out by arranging the rooms.”
Holmes-san instructed in a strong voice, and both of us replied, “Right!” in unison.
But when we got to the rooms, we found that they had many items, but were already neatly arranged.
I suppose I just need to do what I’m good at, or dusting the objects?
First, I opened the living room window for ventilation, and I noticed a vegetable garden outside. It wasn’t large by any means, but was at a pleasant size.
Wow, a garden! That’s nice. We lived in a mansion back in Saitama, but our house here has a parking area in front of our entranceway, so we don’t have a garden. With the amount of vines coiled around the outer walls, it seems tough to maintain, but it’s wonderful for a Western-style house of this size to have a garden. It might be small, but it gives off the feeling of having your own castle.
If I get married some day and have this kind of house… as my delusions expanded, Holmes-san’s figure appeared in my head, causing me to shake my head wildly.
At that moment, Akihito-san called out, “Hey, Holmes.”
“You said to clean the living room, but it’s clean enough already.”
“If that’s the case, then please weed the garden.”
“H-Huh? Why do we have to weed the garden?”
“I got the owner’s permission beforehand, and I was thinking of throwing a barbecue party at the garden tonight.”
Holmes-san grinned with his notebook in hand, and the two of us went, “Wow,” in admiration.
“Seriously, a barbecue! Heck yeah! Leave the garden to me!”
Akihito-san leapt around excitedly like a monkey and darted out of the entranceway.
I didn’t expect an adult like Akihito-san to frolic around like that.
Well, I suppose he does always act like that.
“There’s all sorts of equipment in the car trunk, so you can start the preparations once you’re done with the garden.”
Akihito-san obediently answered.
For some reason, I found that to be adorable, and laughed.
“Aoi-san, could you help me with my appraisal? There seems to be a lot more treasures than I thought.”
Holmes-san pulled out a binder with report papers filed in between, and swiftly handed it to me.
“Sorry, but please help me fill these in.”
“Yes, understood.” With a pen in my hand, I nodded.
“Let us start, then.” Still wearing the gloves, Holmes-san reached out to touch the antique lamp on top of the chest.
“This is a work of a French manufacturer called Muller. It has layers of glass placed on top of one another to form a gradation, and the design of the bronze pedestal is wonderful, too.”
Holmes-san enthusiastically said as I carefully studied the lily-shaped antique lamp.
“It’s really beautiful.”
As usual, I displayed my limited vocabulary, but those were my honest thoughts.
It was like a lamp that would be in a quaint hotel in France.
“Could you write ‘Antique lamp, Muller, 30 thousand’?”
S-So it’s worth thirty thousand. I’d gotten used to figures like that, but it still surprised me every time.
“The lamp next to it has a great design, but it’s a modern product and has no value as an antique. Perhaps Akihito-san’s uncle wasn’t trying to collect valuable antiques, but simply wanted to collect objects that drew his fancy. That’s a fantastic thing to do, I think.”
This might have been brought on by the talk we had at the Buddhist temple earlier, but there are all sorts of things in this world such as social status, rankings and trends where objects are considered good due to their price. However, not caring about all these things and collecting items that you’re genuinely interested in is certainly wonderful.
“Kura basically has a lot of oriental artworks, so appraising Western antiques feels fresh, doesn’t it?”
“That’s true. As for me, being influenced by Owner, I definitely can’t say that I’m an expert in Western antiques.”
“Yes, especially for Western paintings. Those are really difficult.”
Holmes-san replied as he held a small object in his hand.
“Even you have area of weakness, huh.”
“Of course. I find that it’s easier to spot counterfeits for three-dimensional objects like jars and tea bowls, because it’s easier to see the lines that they give off. Even for two-dimensional objects, I’ve seen many pieces of Japanese art and calligraphy, so I can still sniff out the odor of forgeries, most of the time.
“However, I don’t have much experience with Western paintings, so they’re my Archilles’ heel… If Enshou had prepared a Western painting back then, I’m not sure if I would have been able to notice it.”
Holmes-san revealed, as if talking to himself.
I’d heard about Enshou, the genius forger that Holmes-san and Akihito-san had met at Nanzen-ji.
He’ll probably challenge Holmes-san against some day.
“I’ll have to study a lot more.”
Holmes-san continued quietly, but I couldn’t say anything.
He spoke with a calm tone, but there was an intensity behind his words. I could tell that he didn’t want to lose to that forger no matter what.
“…By the way, Aoi-chan.”
“Do I look like a sheltered boy?”
Holmes-san asked with a straight face. Confused by the question that had come out of the blue, I squeaked, “Huh?”
Apparently having heard our conversation while cutting the grass in the garden, Akihito-san burst out laughing.
“No, sorry about that, it’s nothing. The next item is a figurine from Copenhagen.”
I wonder what that was all about?
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