Only ten Galleons

Dumbledore shows Harry a Pensieve memory of Caractacus Burke, explaining how he came by Slytherin's locket

Extract from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling

He swilled the contents of the Pensieve as Harry had seen him swill them before, much as a gold prospector sifts for gold. Up out of the swirling, silvery mass rose a little old man, revolving slowly in the Pensieve, silver as a ghost but much more solid, with a thatch of hair that completely covered his eyes.

‘Yes, we acquired it in curious circumstances. It was brought in by a young witch just before Christmas, oh, many years ago now. She said she needed the gold badly, well, that much was obvious. Covered in rags and pretty far along ... going to have a baby, see. She said the locket had been Slytherin’s. Well, we hear that sort of story all the time, “Oh, this was Merlin’s, this was, his favourite teapot,” but when I looked at it, it had his mark all right, and a few simple spells were enough to tell me the truth. Of course, that made it near enough priceless. She didn’t seem to have any idea how much it was worth. Happy to get ten Galleons for it. Best bargain we ever made!’

Dumbledore gave the Pensieve an extra-vigorous shake and Caractacus Burke descended back into the swirling mass of memory whence he had come.

‘He only gave her ten Galleons?’ said Harry indignantly.

‘Caractacus Burke was not famed for his generosity,’ said Dumbledore. ‘So we know that, near the end of her pregnancy, Merope was alone in London and in desperate need of gold, desperate enough to sell her one and only valuable possession, the locket that was one of Marvolo’s treasured family heirlooms.’

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling