Monday, June 12, 2017

The Gem Thief

   The Gem Thief
                                                     By Valerie L. Egar

A wealthy jeweler, Basil, had a smart daughter, Kyra. The girl loved playing with the gems heaped on her father’s workbench. Basil, ever patient, taught her the names of the stones. As Kyra grew, she began to help her father with the business, waiting on customers and keeping accounts. Basil was proud of her and looked forward to the day when he could add the words, “And Daughter” to the sign that hung above his shop door.
Kyra’s mother died when she was very young and her father had remarried. Though his wife, Ansi, smiled and nodded agreeably when Kyra spoke, she was jealous of the love her husband felt for his daughter. Her heart was dark and unlike her husband, she did not want Kyra to have any part in her father’s business.
One night, while Basil slept, Ansi crept into his workshop. Holding a lantern so she could see, she grabbed a beautiful blue sapphire from the workbench. The stone glittered in the lantern’s light. She slipped into Kyra’s room and hid it in a crack between the floorboards.
“Where is the sapphire I was setting for the Prince?” Basil shouted from his workshop the next morning.
Kyra and Basil looked under the workbench, in every drawer, even in his teacup. Nothing.
Basil didn’t know what to do. The Prince would be furious and Basil could not easily replace the missing stone.
Ansi appeared with a pot of tea. “Husband, why not search the house?” she said sweetly. “Perhaps a mouse carried it off and hid it.”
Basil thought that unlikely, but he was desperate to find the missing gem. The locks on the doors were still in place and no windows were broken, so he did not suspect thieves. Maybe a mouse had carried it off.
They searched under cushions, on top of cabinets, in water jugs. “Oh my,” cried Ansi as she searched Kyra’s room. “Husband, look here!”  Ansi pointed to the space between the floorboards in Kyra’s room.
Basil pulled the sapphire from its hiding place. “What a relief!”
“But husband,” Ansi whispered.  “Why did Kyra take it?” She began to cry loud, false tears. “Maybe she was planning to kill us in our sleep. Perhaps she was going to run away with the grocer’s son. Who knows what she was going to do?”
“I will ask her,” Basil said.
“I did not take the sapphire,” said Kyra. “It must be as Ansi said— we have a mouse.”
Ansi’s eyes narrowed. “But why did the mouse hide it in your room?” she asked. “And why did it steal the Prince’s gem?”
Kyra shrugged. “I do not know how a mouse thinks.”
Basil was steadfast. “I agree it was a mouse. There is no other explanation.”
That night, Ansi slipped into the workshop again and a large star ruby caught her eye. She took the stone and hid it in a drawer in Kyra’s bedroom.
The next day, Basil discovered the star ruby missing. Kyra and Basil searched the workshop without success. Ansi suggested they search the living quarters, and once again, she discovered the gem hidden in Kyra’s room.
“Husband,” she whispered. “Do not say this is the work of a mouse! How does a mouse open a drawer? How does a mouse know to choose the finest gems?”
“Perhaps it is a rat, not a mouse,” said Basil. “Or, a snake. I’ve heard they are very clever and like nice things.”
Once again, he questioned Kyra. “I did not take the ruby,” she said. “Perhaps it was a rat or a snake, as you said, Father.”
Before Kyra left the workshop that evening, she put a large diamond on the workbench. That night, Ansi again

visited the workshop. When she reached for the diamond, her hand brushed the workbench and immediately stuck to it.  “Oh!” she cried and tried to pull her hand away.  Then, her right hand brushed the workbench and stuck. She could not move.

Basil and Kyra found her in the morning. “I thought I heard someone,” she said, and I tried to catch them,” but Basil knew the truth and sent her away forever.

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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar, may not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published June 11, 2017 Sunday Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME)

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