The Cursed Jade

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A poor farmer in Jiangning, China discovers a stunning piece of jade. He makes plans to sell it, but the city jewelry dealer has other plans... Loosely based off of novella The Pearl.

Submitted: June 09, 2015

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Submitted: June 09, 2015

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In the small town of Jiangning, near Nanjing, China, the roosters began to crow, and people began to rise inside the collection of small wooden houses. Wang Jingen and his wife, Yulan rose together. As Jingen pulled on a well-worn shirt and muddy trousers, Yulan lit their small kerosene stove. Soon the hut was filled with the scent of frying dough. They sat down to eat, and before long, Jingen was off to the rice fields.

  Jingen and Yulan only had 3 acres of land, and they grew a simple crop, rice. They kept 2 pigs and 5 chickens and earned a meager living from selling their crop. But that morning, Jingen found something in his fields that could ruin his tender rice seedlings; a large rock, half submerged in mud, crushing the stalks of rice. He tried to move it, but it was unusually heavy. “Yulan!” he called. “Come help me!”

Yulan hurried out the fields, wiping her flour-caked hands on an apron. Her eyes widened. “This could ruin this year’s crop!” she muttered worriedly. Jingen nodded gravely, and together, they moved the rock to the workshop of the local stonemason, Zhuzi.

“Zhuzi! Do you see any use for this rock? ”Jingen asked. “It’s quite heavy and could be of use to you.”

Zhuzi took the rock, weighing it in his big, coarse hands “Where did you find this?” he finally asked.

“Out in the fields... Is there something wrong?” Yulan responded nervously.

“Come with me,” he replied. Zhuzi picked up the rock, carrying it deeper into his workshop, setting it on a rough wooden table. He pulled out a sanding tool, carefully using it to wear away the rock’s grey surface, with Yulan and Jingen watching in silence. Finally, the rough surface was gone, replaced instead with a beautiful, emerald green.

Yulan gasped. “Jade!” It was the most perfect jade she had ever seen, more perfect than any rich woman’s bangle. The jade was as green as the rice sprouts in spring, as clear as the cheery streams that ran through the village.

“Quick, Zhuzi! Help us remove the surface!” Jingen cried excitedly. The burly stonemason snapped out of a daze, then quickly picked up his tools and started to work.

Bit by bit, the lovely green jade was exposed, and soon, the news of its discovery had spread quickly across Jiangning. Villagers flocked to Jingen’s house to get a glimpse of the miraculous discovery. Even the old fortuneteller, Old Zhang, came to look. Old Zhang was a mystery to the townspeople; he had no wife, no children, no land, and no house, yet he seemed perfectly fine with what he had. Most people suspected that he had gone senile ages ago.

“This is your discovery, Jingen?” he inquired.

Jingen nodded. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Beautiful it is, but don’t be deceived. I see darkness in this stone and in your future,” Old Zhang said.

Yulan and Jingen exchanged amused looks. This jade was their fortune, and they would keep it. The villagers laughed nervously, and Old Zhang turned and left.

Though Jiangning seemed quiet and peaceful, Jingen and Yulan’s find stirred jealousies within the village. Neighbors watched and whispered enviously, and soon, the news of their discovery reached the city of Nanjing.

Gemstone dealer Guan Ziming listened in interest as his secretary told him of the find in Jiangning. Known to his co-workers as the “Old Ghost”, Guan Ziming was known to cheat men so skillfully that they didn’t notice. He polished his glasses thoughtfully and told his secretary, “Let us pay Wang Jingen a visit.”

Soon, Guan Ziming arrived at Jingen’s house. He took in the run-down walls, the stench of the pigs, and the hastily dug latrine outside of the house. This, he thought, would be an easy deal.

Jingen rushed to greet him and presented to him the jade. “So how much would this cost, Mr. Guan?” Jingen asked excitedly.

Guan Ziming smiled wryly and replied, “My friend, this jade is not the quality I expected. The surface is much too rough, and there are much too many light areas and clouds. See?” He fished out pictures of beautiful jade carvings, perfectly green, from his leather briefcase. Guan Ziming smiled at Jingen’s dismayed expression, for the pictures were only of colored glass.

“So your offer, Mr. Guan?” Jingen asked nervously.

“50,000 Yuan,” Guan Ziming responded smoothly. He watched as Jingen’s eyes darted anxiously.

“I - I’ll think about it,” he finally said. Guan Ziming couldn’t help but feel disappointed, for Jingen’s find could easily be worth ten times of his offer, perhaps more. Nevertheless, he smiled coldly and left.

Later, Guan Ziming sat in his office, frowning darkly at a cup of coffee. Then it came to him. “Send the triads. I will promise them a good profit,” he whispered to his secretary. The secretary nodded and scurried out of the room.

Late that night in Jiangning, dark figures crept into the village, carrying polished knives. They crept into Jingen’s house, kicking open the worn door. Inside, Yulan and Jingen jumped. “Don’t move!” cried a rough voice. There was a rustle of movement as more people flooded into the room.

“I got it!” someone whispered jubilantly.

“No! Don’t take it! Don’t!” Yulan screeched as she lunged for the jade. She jumped with eyes and mouth wide open straight onto the gleaming tip of the knife. The startled robber backed away, but the deed was done.

“No! No!” Jingen howled. “Take it! Take it and leave!’ he sobbed. The robbers scurried away, wrapping the jade in a piece of cloth. Jingen fell to his knees, shaking his limp and lifeless wife. His wailing woke the villagers, who all gathered to see what was wrong.

Deep in the crowd, Old Zhang stood silently. “I was right,” he whispered, and a tear rolled down his weathered face.


© Copyright 2017 Kaito Shiba. All rights reserved.

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