Chahala Maxwell is one of the great heroines of Otter lore.
Chahala Maxwell was a real-world historical figure. She was the first lutrine companion of Gavin Maxwell.
In Otter Island lore, Chahala was a princess who was sent to live with humans during a time when human-otter relations bordered on warfare. Chahala was to act as a diplomat and demonstrate that humans and otters could coexist peacefully.
Chahala was named after the river in which Gavin met her. Her grasp of human phonemes was superior to that of the ordinary otter, and she learned to say her name almost immediately.
In both legend and real life, Chahala met an untimely end. Local fishermen would poison the waters with digitalis, stunning the fish and making them easy prey. Chahala, who loved poultry, was fed some meat from a heron who had accumulated a large amount of digitalis in its tissues. Being young and very small, Chahala succumbed to the poison quickly and died on the way to the hospital.
Despite the tragedy of Chahala's death, it paved the way for the future. Gavin Maxwell longed to have another animal companion. After a brief stint with a pet lemur ended in a near fatal mauling for Gavin, he realized that he would only be happy with another otter. This created opportunities for Mijbil, Edal and Teko to continue and eventually complete Chahala's mission.