فصل 05

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فصل 05

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Part five

Cursed Objects

The Hope Diamond

Can a beautiful, precious object like a diamond have a terrible curse? The Hope Diamond has fascinated people for centuries. Its exceptional size, perfect quality and rare colour make it magnificent and unique: a diamond collector’s dream. And yet, this priceless jewel has brought its owners bad luck and death. But why?

Legend says that a priest stole the diamond from a Hindu statue in India many centuries ago. The priest was later tortured to death. In 1642 the exquisite diamond was bought by a French jeweller named Jean Baptiste Tavernier, and he took it to Europe. The jewel Tavernier took to Europe was much bigger than the present-day diamond, which has been cut several times. It originally weighed almost 112.5 carats and was one of the biggest diamonds in the world.

In 1668 Tavernier sold it to King Louis XIV of France, who was very impressed with it. The French king decided to cut the diamond to 67 carats. He officially named it ‘The Blue Diamond of the Crown, and wore it proudly on a ribbon around his neck on very special occasions.

Tavernier, who had to return to India to look for another fortune to pay his son’s debts, was brutally killed by wild dogs during the trip.

For more than a century the Blue Diamond was worn by France’s kings and queens. But when King Louis XIV died in 1715 he was a very unhappy man and his empire was in a bad state.

His successors had worse luck. The Princess de Lamballe was beaten to death by an angry street crowd. King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette, who enjoyed wearing the Blue Diamond, were executed on the guillotine. The Blue Diamond and other royal jewels disappeared in September 1792 during the French Revolution.

Rumours say that the British King George IV bought the Blue Diamond from a jeweller named Daniel Eliason in the early 1800. When King George died in 1830, he left a lot of debts and the diamond was sold to pay some of them.

By 1839 the precious stone was owned by a wealthy London banker, Henry Philip Hope, who gave the diamond its name. The unlucky jewel remained in the Hope family and eventually became the property of Lord Francis Hope. The curse of the diamond continued and Lord Hope went bankrupt. He had to sell the diamond in 1902, shortly after losing his leg in an accident.

The American jeweller Simon Frankel brought the Hope diamond to the United States in the early 1900s. The cursed diamond changed owners several times and was finally bought by Pierre Cartier, the famous French jeweller.

Cartier showed the splendid jewel to one of his wealthy American clients, Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean, who was visiting Paris. Mrs McLean had previously told Cartier that objects that were considered bad luck always brought her good luck.

Mrs McLean bought the extraordinary diamond in January 1911 for $154,000. She proudly wore the jewel all the time and her friends were very impressed.

Even though Mrs McLean considered the diamond lucky, she did not escape the curse. Her nine-year-old son, Vinson, was killed by a car, and her daughter killed herself at the age of 25. Her husband became mentally ill and lost control of his huge newspaper business. He ended his days in a mental hospital. The immense family fortune quickly disappeared.


A Mystery Explained?

Mrs McLean died in 1947. Although she wanted the jewel to remain in the family, it was sold to Harry Winston, an American jeweller. In 1958 Winston gave the $100 million diamond to the famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., and it is now part of the Smithsonian National Gem and Mineral Collection. But does the jewel still have its evil power?

Over the years, many people thought that the Hope Diamond was responsible every time something bad happened in the United States. But the Director of the Smithsonian Institution believes that the Diamond has been lucky. ‘The gift of the Hope Diamond has brought us good luck. In fact, since the Diamond was given to the Smithsonian, our gem collection has grown and grown!’

What do you think? Can a diamond really cause such bad luck?


James Dean’s Car

The American actor James Dean was a legendary film idol. Although he died at the age of just twenty-four in 1955, he remains one of the world’s most popular actors.

James Dean’s legend has become even greater because he died so tragically at such a young age. But exactly how did he die?

James Dean loved fast cars and taking part in car races. On the evening of Friday 23 September 1955 he invited his friend Alec Guinness, the British actor, to see his new racing car. It was a silver-coloured Porsche 550 Spyder and James Dean called it the Little Bastard. When the British actor saw the car, he immediately felt strange and said, ‘It is now ten o’clock, Friday 23 September 1955. Listen! If you drive this car, I’m sure you’re going to die in it by this time next week.’ James Dean just laughed, and Alec Guinness apologised for what he had said.

On the evening of 30 September 1955, James Dean was driving his Porsche Spyder to a car race in Salinas, California. Suddenly, another car pulled out in front of him and Dean crashed into it. He died instantly. The entire world was shocked to hear of the death of the famous young actor… the curse of the Little Bastard had just begun.

The Hollywood car designer George Barris bought the wreck of the Little Bastard for $2,500, and planned to sell the good parts of the car. But when the wreck arrived at Barris’s garage, it accidentally hit one of the mechanics and broke his legs. After this Barris had bad feelings about the car, but he continued selling its parts.

A young doctor, Troy McHenry, bought the Little Bastard’s engine and put it in his racing car. On 22 October 1956 he took part in a car race at the Pomona Fair Grounds in California. During the race he lost control of his car and hit a tree: he was killed instantly.

Dr William Eschrid was another doctor who liked fast cars. He bought another part of the Little Bastard and put it in his racing car. One day he lost control of his car and was seriously injured.

Barris also sold two of the Little Bastard’s tyres to a young man. While he was driving both tyres burst at the same time and he was almost killed.

At this point George Barris did not want to sell the car’s parts any more. He realised something was very wrong. ‘Can evil take the form of a car?’ he asked himself.

He gave the wrecked car to the California Highway Patrol for an exhibition on road safety. After a few days the garage where the Porsche was parked caught fire and every car in the garage was destroyed, except for the Little Bastard.

Finally, the car was put on display at an exhibition in Sacramento, California, and groups of teenage students visited it. One day it fell from its display and seriously injured one of the visitors.

After this unlucky exhibition, the Little Bastard was put on a lorry and transported to another part of California. During the trip the driver, George Barkuis, was thrown from his lorry. The cursed car fell on him and he was killed instantly.


A Mystery Explained?

Other bizarre and mysterious accidents happened until 1960, when the Little Bastard finally disappeared. It was probably stolen by someone who did not believe in the curse. No one has ever been able to find the cursed car again. And we do not know if parts of the Little Bastard are still in circulation.

What do you think? Where all these strange accidents just a series of coincidences, or was there really a curse on James Dean’s car?

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