Mrs. Chennault

The green emerald you once wore hundreds of years ago, now it sits in a jewelry box belonging to Mrs. Julia Chennault of Woodham, Ontario, Canada.  Its value is absolutely priceless, but it remains unknown to the eyes of the world.  Mrs. Chennault was given the emerald by her sweetheart, Lieutenant Gavin DeVelk, in 1945, the day after he returned home from Burma.  He returned to her on an autumn day when the dry leaves spun around in the stinging November wind, bearing scars that were not there before he left her.  He was still tall, but now wore a patch over his left eye; Julia could see cracks of pink healing tissue extending beyond the black patch over his cheek.  He was gaunt and pocked after the years spent fighting in jungles and islands of the Pacific Theater.  The first few nights after he came back, they lay in bed at night and he whispered to her the things he had seen, heard, and felt, the broad leaves and tall trees of New Guinea, the fall of Hong Kong, the hills punctured by artillery fire in Shan State, the burning rafts and tattered palms of Peleliu.  He brushed the brown curls from her forehead and kissed her in the dark, her arms draped across his naked chest and shoulders.

From his rucksack he brought for a small wooden box, intricately carved with Sanskrit inscriptions.  Inside, wrapped in a patterned cloth, was the Dragon’s Scale, the large emerald once belonging to the warrior’s daughter in the 14th century.  Gavin had discovered the Dragon’s Scale in a small trader’s shop on the Thai/Burma border, in Thanintaryi.  He was told that the emerald was once the scale of a dragon that lived high in the Himalayas, but had fallen off into a river, and thus had floated on to the sea where it was found by a diving monk.  The story of the emerald’s Burmese origins had been lost to the centuries, although we know that the emerald was not even Burmese to begin with.  However, that is yet another tale for another time.

Gavin told Julia they were moving to Toronto as soon as they could, that he would find a broker for the emerald and buy a house.  A month after his return, Gavin started the creaky truck in the gravel driveway and left for the city with the carved box in his satchel.  Late in the day, the sky turning a grayish orange, Julia wrapped her shawl tightly around herself and stood on the porch, staring at the horizon.  He never returned alive.

The box with the emerald remains in the possession of Julia Chennault, in her large house in Toronto.  After Gavin’s violent death, she moved to Toronto herself and started a business.  She was able to realize the future that Gavin and her had planned, but on her own, without having to sell the emerald.  She kept it as a talisman, to keep her memories of Gavin alive, but also to remind her of the misfortunes that befall those who covet.


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