Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tales from the Bergamot: The Delhi Purple Sapphire

Sounds melodramatic, doesn't it? Mr. Herron Allen would perhaps have agreed with you, had his experiences with this particular jewel not haunted him for the rest of his life. A man of science and learning, his life was devoted to many studies, spanning everything from botany and law, to the translation of ancient Persian and Sanskrit texts. Maybe it's in these parts of the world that he came across this entrancingly beautiful violet stone, reminiscent of royal robes from an ancient time. I'd imagine he was not aware of the damage it had done to its previous owners; but then again, he did not believe in such superstitious things either:
Colonel Ferris, a soldier fighting during the Great Mutiny in India, brought home the jewel with him to the UK and soon befell an illness from which he would never recover. His son would inherit the stone along his father's serious problems in wealth and health. Having left no heir, it would appear that this cursed jewel passed from place to place until falling into the hands of ill-fated Mr. Herron Allen.
When he first acquired this stone, he felt a great weight with it, but didn't take much notice of it. It was highly admired by all of his friends and acquaintances. But soon afterwards, he too would begin to feel the effects of this stone. Large and inexplicable welts would appear on his body. And he would be overcome by the worst fits of memory loss, further straining his work as a scholar. He thought he might relinquish this burden by giving it to one of these admiring acquaintances. One particular owner, a singer, blamed the jewel for having ruined her career as she could no longer sing. In fact, she would never sing again. One by one these people would return it to Herron Allen, insisting that they could not keep it.

Eager to be undone of his cursed stone, he threw it into the canal, believing that the current would sweep away his curse along with the tide. But curiously, he did not feel relief when the last purple glints disappeared in the distance. That familiar weight still burdened him. Months later he would understand why, when the stone would be mysteriously brought back to his doorstep; there to finish him off.

Resolving to ensure that this nefarious jewel could not harm anyone else, family or other, Mr. Herron Allen bore the burden of it silently for 14 years until his death and insisted that no other person would touch it. He stored it away in a series of boxes, seven altogether, each containing good luck charms meant to counteract its power. With it came strict instructions for the bank that under no circumstance should a worker come in contact with it. Even more adamant, was the instruction that no family member should handle it directly, even after his death and during the dealings of his succession. It was bequeathed to the Natural History Museum of London, along with the foreboding message above.

We, despite being people of science, still believe that the curse lives on. Why is that? Not long ago, the museum reorganized their stores of gems and minerals and thought to showcase some of their long forgotten specimens. A particular curator has been the only one to handle it; even these brief encounters have been enough to secure his fair share of bad luck. If a long standing illness and passing an especially large kidney stone were not enough, Mr. Whittaker recalls a moment when he truly felt the power of this curse. While transporting it to a conference, he and his wife were suddenly overcome by a most ominous and terrifying thunderstorm. Unlike any storm they had ever witnessed, they feared for their lives in that moment, even to the point of abandoning the car, with the stone in it. Had it resurfaced for one last victim?
The Delhi Purple Sapphire. Go ahead, touch it....if you dare! Photo courtesy of 

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