REDCAR – Man Who Handles Famous Love Token Lives to Tell Tale
Accreditation Cleveland Standard 27/05/1933
Redcar Sailor Who Handled Famous Love Token
AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE
A man who actually handled the Love Token a jewel stolen from the eye of a Chinese Idol, and reported to bring death to all who touched it is alive in Redcar today.
He is Mr. C. H. W. S, ex mercantile officer, formerly a Kings Private Messenger, and he claims to be the only man to have handles the stone – and lived.
Tragically enough, Mr. S’s wife examined it out of curiosity. She died suddenly – after only five hours illness. The mate of a ship who also touched it, met his death in a shark infested sea, and the stewardess of the same ship, who chanced to pick it up, disappeared mysteriously, and was never heard of again.
Mr. Sharp’s right arm is missing, and his left hand bears a white circular scar. He is not 70 and in failing health. When I interviewed him in his neat little bed sitting-room the doctor had just left, and I had strict instructions not to stay to long.
He told me an amusing story, a story so fantastic as to be almost unbelievable.
But Mr. Sharp believes it. “It is fate,” he kept saying. “Fate. You might not understand. But we old sailors know.”
He explained that he first noticed the stone in a ring on the hand of his shipmate. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before. The outside was perfectly white, and then a ring of peculiar greenish cast, a ring of dark yellow, and finally a speck of dazzling red, like blood, made to resemble the eye of a wild creature or a snake.
The Story of the Ring
He was so impressed that he asked the man for its history, and was told a remarkable story.
The man had been in an opium den in Saigon, Cochin China (there was a submariner station there at the time), and the ring was given to him under peculiar circumstances, when he was returning at night to his ship. According to the tale he told Mr. Sharp he found himself next to a pagoda, when suddenly he was surrounded by fiends, with horrible leering faces, and black stiffened hair. One of them gave him the stone, telling him that a girl he had made love to in the opium den was dead.
The stone had ultimately been set in the ring, had brought nothing but misfortune. Ill-luck dogged him from the day he received it. Three ships he had sailed on had gone down, and he told Mr. Sharp that it would be his last voyage.
It was. Shortly afterwards he met his tragic death. But just before that Mr. Sharp returned with him to the opium den to Saigon. Captains Sharp’s own adventures are equally incredible.
He told me that the opium den was long, narrow and fume laden. Immediately before them was the end of a ladder leading down into what appeared to be a cellar.
“I could see an evil-looking face, neither Hindu nor Chinese, watching us,” he said. “The man – or devil – was throwing green powder on a fire, and the blood-red flames were shooting up, and belching forth fumes which smelt like burning human hair and flesh.”
Mr. Sharp described how on a sudden pulse he pulled the ring off the mate’s finger and then persuaded him to return to the ship. Sick with terror he could not understand, he saw him get up and walk out and determined to follow him.
The Eye of an Idol
But his efforts were unavailing and he strove in vain to catch the mate. He reached the pagoda, and was stopped by a woman who pleaded with him give her the ring, explaining that the stone was the stolen eye of their idol.
“I tried to give it to her,” he said, but my finger had swelled and I would not get it off. A yelling mob of fiends came round. clamouring that my blood should be given in the feast of their idol.
She saved my life by cutting the finger off at the second joint, and throwing it to the demons who forgot their desire to wreak vengeance on me in their eagerness to withdraw their prize.”
Mr. Sharp eventually reached the ship, where he swooned and was confined to his cabin for weeks in a delirious fever.
It was shortly after his recovery that the mate, who had reached the ship safely from the opium den, fell overboard. Then in turn tragedy came to each of those who had handled the stone of ill-repute.
“I had my arm taken off in an accident,” Captain Sharp told me. “Was it coincidence? I don’t think so! It was fate.”
Mr. Sharp who has written many true stories, recalls an occasion when two of his ship mates on half days leave in a Russian poet, had too much to drink. They were sent to a Russian prison.
“They have never been heard of since, and that was 30 years ago,” he said.
During 1917, when the King visited the North, he was inspecting the docks when he saw Mr. Sharp and went over and shook his left hand asking how he had come to lose the right. The King had not forgotten the Private Messenger, who had carried many valuable secrets.
Mr. Sharp had many more tales to tell, equally exciting.
As I left he extended his left hand, marked with a strange white scar.
“I am getting old,” he said. “The end of it all is not far off. I am the only man living who handled that terrible stone. Now I am waiting my orders.”
dean May 25, 2010 Redcar