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THE LAST PEARL

 

IT Was a richa happy houseall were cheerful and full of joymasterservantsand friends of the familyfor on this day an heira sonhad been bornand mother and child were doing exceedingly well

The lamp in the bed-chamber had been partly shadedand the windows were guarded by heavy curtains of some costly silken fabricThe carpet was thick and soft as a mossy lawnand everything invited to slumber-was charmingly suggestive of reposeand the nurse found thatfor she sleptand here she might sleepfor every-thing was good and blessedThe guardian spirit of the house leaned against the head of the bedover the child at the mother's breast there spread as it were a net of shining stars in endless numberand each star was a pearl of happinessAll the good fairies of life had brought their gifts to the new-born onehere sparkled healthwealthfortuneand love-in shorteverything that man can wish for on earth Everything has been presented here,”said the guardian spirit

Nonot everything,”said a voice near himthe voice of the child's good angel.“One fairy has not yet brought her giftbut she will do so some dayeven if years should elapse firstshe will bring her giftThe last pearl is yet wanting.”

Wantinghere nothing should be wantingbut if it should be the caselet me go and seek the powerful tairylet us betake ourselves to her!”

She comesshe will come some day unsoughtHer pearlmust be thereso that the complete crown may be won.”

Where is she to be foundWhere does she dwellTell it meand I will procure the pearl.”

You will do that?”said the good angel of the childI will lead you to her directlywherever she may beShe has no abiding-place-sometimes she comes to the Emperor 's palacesometimes you will find her in the peasant's humble cotshe goes by no person without leav-ing a traceshe brings her gift to allbe it a world or a trifleTo this child also she must comeYou think the time is equally longbut not equally profitableWellthenlet us go for this pearlthe last pearl in all this wealth.”

And hand in hand they floated towards the spot where the fairy was now lingering

It was a great housewith dark windows and empty roomsand a peculiar stillness reigned thereina whole row of windows had been openedso that the rough air could penetrate at its pleasurethe long white hanging curtains moved to and fro in the current of wind

In the middle of the room was placed an open coffinand in this rested the body of a womanstill in her best yearsFresh roses were scattered over herso that only the delicate folded hands and the noble faceglorified in death by the solemn look of consecration and entrance to the better worldwere visible

Around the coffin stood the husband and the childrena whole troopthe youngest child rested on the father's armand all bade their mother the last farewellthe bus-band kissed her handthe hand which now was as a withered leafbut which a short time ago had been working and striving in diligent love for them allTears of sorrow fell in heavy drops to the floorbut not a word was spokenThe silence which reigned here expressed a world of griefWith silent footsteps and with many a sob they quitted the room

A burning light stands in the roomand the long red wick peers out high above the flame that flickers in the current of airStrange men come inand lay the lid on the coffin over the dead oneand drive the nails firmly inand the blows of the hammer resound through the houseand echo in the hearts that are bleeding

Whither art thou leading me?”asked the guardian spirit.“Here dwells no fairy whose pearl might be counted among the best gifts for life!”

Here she dwellshere in this sacred hour,”said the angeland pointed to a comer of the roomand therewhere in her lifetime the mother had taken her seat amid flowers and picturestherewhencelike the beneficent fairy of the houseshe had greeted husbandchildrenand friendswhencelike the sunbeamsshe had spread joy and cheerfulnessand been the centre and the heart of all-there sat a strange womanclad in long garmentsIt was Sorrownow mistress and mother here in the dead lady's placeA hot tear rolled down into her lapand formed itself into a pearl glowing with all the colours of the rainbowThe angel seized itand the pearl shone like a star of sevenfold radiance

The pearl of Sorrowthe lastwhich must not be wantingit heightens the lustre and the power of the other pearlsDo you see the sheen of the rainbow-of the bow that unites heaven and earthFor each of our dear ones who dies and leaves uswe have one friend more in Heaven to long forThrough the earthly night gaze up-ward to the starslooking for perfectionContemplate itthe pearl of Sorrowfor it hides within itself the wings that shall carry us to the better world

 


 

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