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Isak Dinesen
[Baroness Karen Blixen]
1885-1962

   

The Pearls

by Isak Dinesen
[Baroness Karen Blixen]






   
 

ABOUT EIGHTY YEARS AGO a young officer in the guards, the youngest son of an old country family, married, in Copenhagen, the daughter of a rich wool merchant whose father had been a peddler and had come to town from Jutland. In those days such a marriage was an unusual thing. There was much talk of it, and a song was made about it, and sung in the streets.

The bride was twenty years old, and a beauty, a big girl with black hair and a high colour, and a distinction about her as if she were made from whole timber. She had two old unmarried aunts, sisters of her grandfather the peddler, whom the growing fortune of the family had stopped short in a career of hard work and thrift, and made to sit in state in a parlour. When the elder of them first heard rumours of her niece's engagement she went and paid her a visit, and in the course of the conversation told her a story.

"When I was a child, my dear," she said, "young Baron Rosenkrantz became engaged to a wealthy goldsmith's daughter. Have you heard such a thing? Your great-grandmother knew her. The bridegroom had a twin sister, who was a lady at Court. She drove to the goldsmith's house to see the bride. When she had left again, the girl said to her lover: 'Your sister laughed at my frock, and because, when she spoke French, I could not answer. She has a hard heart, I saw that. If we are to be happy you must never see her again, I could not bear it.' The young man, to comfort her, promised that he would never see his sister again. Soon afterwards, on a Sunday, he took the girl to dine with his mother. As he drove her home she said to him: 'Your mother had tears in her eyes, when she looked at me. She has hoped for another wife for you. If you love me, you must break with your mother.' Again the enamoured young man promised to do as she wished, although it cost him much, for his mother was a widow, and he was her only son. The same week he sent his valet with a bouquet to his bride. Next day she said to him: 'I cannot stand the mien your valet has when he looks at me. You must send him away at the first of the month.' 'Mademoiselle,' said Baron Rosenkrantz, 'I cannot have a wife who lets herself be affected by my valet's mien. Here is your ring. Farewell forever!'"

While the old woman spoke she kept her little glittering eyes upon her niece's face. She had an energetic nature and had long ago made up her mind to live for others, and she had established herself as the conscience of the family. But in reality she was, with no hopes or fears of her own, a vigorous old moral parasite on the whole clan, and particularly on the younger members of it. Jensine, the bride, was a full-blooded young person and a gratifying object to a parasite. Moreover, the young and the old maid had many qualities in common. Now the girl went on pouring out coffee with a quiet face, but behind it she was furious, and said to herself: "Aunt Maren shall be paid back for this." All the same, as was often the case, the aunt's admonition went deep into her, and she pondered it in her heart.

After the wedding, in the Cathedral of Copenhagen, on a fine June day, the newly married couple went away to Norway for their wedding trip. They sailed as far north as Hardanger. At that time a journey to Norway was a romantic undertaking, and Jensine's friends asked her why they did not go to Paris, but she herself was pleased to start her married life in the wilderness, and to be alone with her husband. She did not, she thought, need or want any further new impressions or experiences. And in her heart she added: God help me.

The gossips of Copenhagen would have it that the bridegroom had married for money, and the bride for a name, but they were all wrong. The match was a love affair, and the honeymoon, technically, an idyll. Jensine would never have married a man whom she did not love; she held the god of love in great respect, and had already for some years sent a little daily prayer to him: "Why dost thou tarry?" But now she reflected that he had perhaps granted her her prayer with a vengeance, and that her books had given her but little information as to the real nature of love.

The scenery of Norway, amongst which she had her first experience of the passion, contributed to the overpowering impression of it. They country was at its loveliest. The sky was blue, the bird-cherry flowered everywhere and filled the air with sweet and bitter fragrance, and the nights were so light that you could see to read at midnight. Jensine, in a crinoline and with an alpenstock, climbed many steep paths on her husband's arm--or alone, for she was strong and lightfooted. She stood upon the summits, her clothes blown about her, and wondered and wondered. She had lived in Denmark, and for a year in a pension in Lubeck, and her idea of the earth was that it must spread out horizontally, flat or undulating, before her feet. But in these mountains everything seemed strangely to stand up vertically, like some great animal that rises on its hind legs--and you know not whether to play, or to crush you. She was higher than she had ever been, and the air went to her head like wine. Also, wherever she looked there was. running water, rushing from the sky-high mountains into the lakes, in silvery rivulets or in roaring falls, rainbow-adorned. It was as if Nature itself was weeping, or laughing, aloud.

At first all this was so new to her that she felt her old ideas of the world blown about in all directions, like her skirts and her shawl. But soon the impressions converged into a sensation of the deepest alarm, a panic such as she had never experienced.

She had been brought up in an atmosphere of prudence and foresight. Her father was an honest tradesman, afraid both to lose his own money, and to let down his customers. Sometimes this double risk had thrown him into melancholia. Her mother had been a God-fearing young woman, a member of a pietistic sect; her two old aunts were persons of strict moral principle, with an eye to the opinions of the world. At home Jensine had at times believed herself a daring spirit, and had longed for adventure. But in this wildly romantic landscape, and taken by surprise and overwhelmed by wild, unknown, formidable forces within her own heart, she looked round for support. Where was she to find it? Her. young husband who had brought her there, and with whom she was all alone, could not help her. He was, on the contrary, the cause of the turbulence in her, and he was also, in her eyes, pre-eminently exposed to the dangers of the outward world. For very soon after her marriage Jensine realized--as she had perhaps dimly known from their first meeting--that he was a human being entirely devoid, and incapable, of fear.

She had read in books of heroes, and had admired them with all her heart. But Alexander was not like the heroes of her books. He was not braving, or conquering, the dangers of this world, but he was unaware of their existence. To him the mountains were a playground, and all the phenomena of life, love itself included, were his playmates within it. "In a hundred years, my darling," he said to her, "it will all be one." She could not imagine how he had managed to live till now, but then she knew that his life had been, in every way, different from hers. Now she felt, with horror, that here she was, within a world of undreamt of heights and depths, delivered into the hands of a person totally ignorant of the law of gravitation. Under the circumstances her feelings for him intensified into both a deep moral indignation, as if he had deliberately betrayed her, and into an extreme tenderness, such as she would have felt towards an exposed, helpless child. These two passions were the strongest of which her nature was capable; they took speed with her, and developed into a possession. She recalled the fairy tale of the boy who is sent out in the world to learn to be afraid, and it seemed to her that for her own sake and his, in selfdefense as well as in order to protect and save him, she must teach her husband to fear.

He knew nothing of what went on in her. He was in love with her, and he admired and respected her. She was innocent and pure; she sprang from a stock of people capable of making a fortune by their wits; she could speak French and German, and knew history and geography. For all these qualities he had a religious reverence. He was prepared for surprises in her, for their acquaintance was but slight, and they had not been alone together in a room more than three or four times before their wedding. Besides, he did not pretend to understand women, but held their incalculableness to be part of their grace. The moods and caprices of his young wife all confirmed in him the assurance, with which she had inspired him at their first meeting, that she was what he needed in life. But he wanted to make her his friend, and reflected that he had never had a real friend in his life. He did not talk to her of his love affairs of the past--indeed he could not have spoken of them to her if he had wanted to--but in other ways he told her as much as he could remember of himself and his life. One day he recounted how he had gambled in Baden-Baden, risked his last cent, and then won. He did not know that she thought, by his side: "He is really a thief, or if not that, a receiver of stolen goods, and no better than a thief." At other times he made fun of the debts he had had, and the trouble he had had to take to avoid meeting his tailor. This talk sounded really uncanny to Jensine's ears. For to her debts were an abomination, and that he should have lived on in the midst of them without anxiety, trusting to fortune to pay up for him, seemed against nature. Still, she reflected, she herself, the rich girl he married, had come along in time, as the willing tool of fortune, to justify his trust in the eyes of his tailor himself. He told her of a duel that he had fought with a German officer, and showed her a scar from it. As, at the end of it all, he took her in his arms, on the high hilltops, for all the skies to see them, in her heart she cried: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me."

When Jensine set out to teach her husband to fear, she had the tale of Aunt Maren in her mind, and she made the vow that she would never cry quarter, but that this should be his part. As the relation between herself and him was to her the central factor of existence, it was natural that she should first try to scare him with the possibility of losing her. She was an unsophisticated girl, and resorted to simple measures.

From now on she became more reckless than he in their climbs. She would stand on the edge of a precipice, leaning on her parasol, and ask him how deep it was to the bottom. She balanced across narrow, brittled bridges, high above foaming streams, and chattered to him the while. She went out rowing in a small boat, on the lake, in a thunderstorm. At nights she dreamed about the perils of the days, and woke up with a shriek, so that he took her in his arms to comfort her. But her daring did her no good. Her husband was surprised and enchanted at the change of the demure maiden into a Valkyrie. He put it down to the influence of married life, and felt not a little proud. She herself, in the end, wondered whether she was not driven on in her exploits by his pride and praise as much as by her resolution to conquer him. Then she was angry with herself, and with all women, and she pitied him, and all men.

Sometimes Alexander would go out fishing. These were welcome opportunities to Jensine to be alone and collect her thoughts. So the young bride would wander about alone, in a tartan frock, a small figure in the hills. Once or twice, in these walks, she thought of her father, and the memory of his anxious concern for her brought tears to her eyes. But she sent him away again; she must be left alone to settle matters of which he could know nothing.

One day, when she sat and rested on a stone, a group of children, who were herding goats, approached and stared at her. She called them up and gave them sweets from her reticule. Jensine had adored her dolls, and as much as a modest girl of the period dared, she had longed for children of her own. Now she thought with sudden dismay: "I shall never have children! As long as I must strain myself against him in this way, we will never have a child." The idea distressed her so deeply that she got up and walked away.

On another of her lonely walks she came to think of a young man in her father's office who had loved her. His name was Peter Skov. He was a brilliant young man of business, and she had known him all her life. She now recalled how, when she had had the measles, he had sat and read to her every day, and how he had accompanied her when she went out skating, and had been distressed lest she should catch cold, or fall, or go through the ice. From where she stood she could see her husband's small figure in the distance. "Yes," she thought, "this is the best thing I can do. When I come back to Copenhagen, then, by my honour, which is still my own"--although she had doubts on this point-- "Peter Skov shall be my lover."

On their wedding day Alexander had given his bride a string of pearls. It had belonged to his grandmother, who had come from Germany and who was a beauty and a bel esprit. She had left it to him to give to his future wife. Alexander had talked much to her of his grandmother. He did, he said, first fall in love with her because she was a little like his grandmama. He asked her to wear the pearls every day. Jensine had never had a string of pearls before, and she was proud of hers. Lately, when she had so often been in need of support, she had got into the habit of twisting the string, and pulling it with her lips. "If you go on doing that," Alexander said one day, "you will break the string." She looked at him. It was the first time that she had known him to foresee disaster. "He has loved his grandmother," she thought, "or is it that you must be dead to carry weight with this man?" Since then she often thought of the old woman. She, too, had come from her own milieu and had been a stranger in her husband's family and circle of friends. She had managed to get this string of pearls from Alexander's grandfather, and to be remembered by it down through the generations. Were the pearls, she wondered, a token of victory, or of submission? Jensine came to look upon Grandmama as her best friend in the family. She would have liked to pay her a grand-daughterly visit, and to consult her on her own troubles.

The honeymoon was nearing its end, and that strange warfare, the existence of which was known to one of the belligerents only, had come to no decision. Both the young people were sad to go away. Only now did Jensine fully realize the beauty of the landscape round her, for, after all, in the end she had made it her ally. Up here, she reflected, the dangers of the world were obvious, ever in sight. In Copenhagen life looked secure, but might prove to be even more redoubtable. She thought of her pretty house, waiting for her there, with lace curtains, chandeliers and linen cupboards. She could not at all tell what life within it would be like.

The day before they were to sail they were staying in a small village, from where it was six hours' drive in a cariole down to the landing-place of the coast steamer. They had been out before breakfast. When Jensine sat down and loosened her bonnet, the string of pearls caught in her bracelet, and the pearls sprang all over the floor, as if she had burst into a rain of tears. Alexander got down on his hands and knees, and, as he picked them up one by one, placed them in her lap.

She sat in a kind of mild panic. She had broken the one thing in the world that she had been afraid of breaking. What omen did that have for them? "Do you know how many there were?" she asked him. "Yes," he said from the floor, "Grandpapa gave Grandmama the string at their golden wedding, with a pearl for each of their fifty years. But afterwards he added one every year, at her birthday. There are fifty-two. It is easy to remember; it is the number of cards in a pack." At last they got them all collected and wrapped them up in his silk handkerchief. "Now I cannot put them on till I get to Copenhagen," she said.

At that moment their landlady came in with the coffee. She observed the catastrophe and at once offered to assist them. The shoemaker in the village, she said, could do up the pearls for them. Two years ago an English lord and his lady, with a party, had travelled in the mountains, and when the young lady broke her string of pearls, in the same way, he had strung them for her to her perfect satisfaction. He was an honest old man, although very poor, and a cripple. As a young man he had got lost in a snowstorm in the hills, and been found only two days later, and they had had to cut off both his feet. Jensine said that she would take her pearls to the shoemaker, and the landlady showed her the way to his house.

She walked down alone, while her husband was strapping their boxes, and found the shoemaker in his little dark workshop. He was a small, thin, old man in a leather apron, with a shy, sly smile in a face harassed by long suffering. She counted the pearls up to him, and gravely confided them into his hands. He looked at them, and promised to have them ready by next midday. After she had settled with him she kept sitting on a small chair, with her hands in her lap. To say something, she asked him the name of the English lady who had broken her string of pearls, but he did not remember it.

She looked round at the room. It was poor and bare, with a couple of religious pictures nailed on the wall. In a strange way it seemed to her that here she had come home. An honest man, hard tried by destiny, had passed his long years in this little room. It was a place where people worked, and bore troubles patiently, in anxiety for their daily bread. She was still so near to her school books that she remembered them all, and now she began to think of what she had read about deep-water fish, which have been so much used to bear the weight of many thousand fathoms of water, that if they are raised to the surface, they will burst. Was she herself, she wondered, such a deep-water fish that felt at home only under the pressure of existence? And her father, her grandfather and his people before him, had they been the same? What was a deep-water fish to do, she thought on, if she were married to one of those salmon which here she had seen springing in the waterfalls? Or to a flying-fish? She said good-bye to the old shoemaker, and walked off.

As she was going home she caught sight, on the path in front of her, of a small stout man in a black hat and coat who walked on briskly. She remembered that she had seen him before; she even believed that he was staying in the same house as she. There was a seat by the path, from which one had a magnificent view. The man in black sat down, and Jensine, whose last day in the mountains it was, sat down on the other end of the seat. The stranger lifted his hat a little to her. She had believed him to be an elderly man, but now saw that he could not be much over thirty. He had an energetic face and clear, penetrating eyes. After a moment he spoke to her, with a little smile. "I saw you coming out from the shoemaker's," he said. "You have not lost your sole in the mountains?" "No, I brought him some pearls," said Jensine. "You brought him pearls?" said the stranger humorously. "That is what I go to collect from him." She wondered if he were a bit deranged. "That old man," said he, "has got, in his hut, a big store of our old national treasures--pearls if you like--which I happen to be collecting just now. In case you want children's tales, there is not a man in Norway who can give you a better lot than our shoemaker. He once dreamed of becoming a student, and a poet--do you know that?-but he was hard hit by destiny, and had to take to a shoemaker's trade."

After a pause he said: "I have been told that you and your husband come from Denmark, on your wedding trip. That is an unusual thing to do; these mountains are high and dangerous. Who of you two was it who desired to come here? Was it you?" "Yes," said she. "Yes," said the stranger. "I thought so. That he might be the bird, which upward soars, and you the breeze, which carries him along. Do you know that quotation? Does it tell you anything?""Yes," said she, somewhat bewildered. "Upwards," said he, and sat back, silent, with his hands upon his walkingstick. After a little while he went on: "The summits! Who knows? We two are pitying the shoemaker for his bad luck, that he had to give up his dreams of being a poet, of fame and a great name. How do we know but that he has had the best of luck? Greatness, the applause of the masses! Indeed, my young lady, perhaps they are better left alone. Perhaps in common trade they cannot reasonably purchase a shoemaker's sign board, and the knowledge of soling. One may do well in getting rid of them at cost price. What do you think, Madam?""I think that you are right," she said slowly. He gave her a sharp glance from a pair of ice-blue eyes.

"Indeed," said he. "Is that your advice, on this fair summer day? Cobbler, stay by your last. One should do better, you think, in making up pills and draughts for the sick human beings, and cattle, of this world?" He chuckled a little. "It is a very good jest. In a hundred years it will be written in a book: A little lady from Denmark gave him the advice to stay by his last. Unfortunately, he did not follow it. Good-bye, Madam, good-bye." With these words he got up, and walked on. She saw his black figure grow smaller amongst the hills. The landlady had come out to hear if she had found the shoemaker. Jensine looked after the stranger. "Who was that gentleman?" she asked. The woman shaded her eyes with her hand. "Oh, indeed," said she. "He is a learned man, a great man, he is here to collect old stories and songs. He was an apothecary once. But he has had a theatre in Bergen, and written plays for it, too. His name is Herr Ibsen."

In the morning news came up from the landing-place that the boat would be in sooner than expected, and they had to start in haste. The landlady sent her small son to the shoemaker to fetch Jensine's pearls. When the travellers were already seated in the cariole, he brought them, wrapped in a leaf from a book, with a waxed string round them. Jensine undid them, and was about to count them, but thought better of it, and instead clasped the string round her throat. "Ought you not to count them?" Alexander asker her. She gave him a great glance. "No," she said. She was silent on the drive. His words rang in her ears: "Ought you not count them?" She sat by his side, a triumphator. Now she knew what a triumphator felt like.

Alexander and Jensine came back to Copenhagen at a time when most people were out of town and there were no great social functions. But she had many visits from the wives of his young military friends, and the young people went together to the Tivoli of Copenhagen in the summer evenings. Jensine was made much of by all of them.

Her house lay by one of the old canals of the town and looked over to the Thorwaldsen Museum. Sometimes she would stand by the window, gaze at the boats, and think of Hardanger. During all this time she had not taken off her pearls or counted them. She was sure that there would at least be one pearl missing. She imagined that she felt the weight, on her throat, different from before. What would it be, she thought, which she had sacrificed for her victory over her husband? A year, or two years, of their married life, before their golden wedding? This golden wedding seemed a long way off, but still each year was precious; and how was she to part with one of them?

In the last months of this summer people began to discuss the possibility of war. The Schleswig-Holstein question had become imminent. A Danish Royal Proclamation, of March, had repudiated all German claims upon Schleswig. Now in July a German note demanded, on pain of federal execution, the withdrawal of the Proclamation.

Jensine was an ardent patriot and loyal to the King, who had given the people its free constitution. The rumours put her into the highest agitation. She thought the young officers, Alexander's friends, frivolous in their light, boastful talk of the country's danger. If she wanted to debate the crisis seriously she had to go to her own people. With her husband she could not talk of it at all, but in her heart she knew that he was as convinced of Denmark's invincibility as of his own immortality.

She read the newpapers from beginning to end. One day in the Berlingske Tidende she came upon the following phrase: "The moment is grave to the nation. But we have trust in our just cause, and we are without fear."

It was, perhaps, the words "without fear" which now made her collect her courage. She sat down in her chair by the window, took off her pearls and put them in her lap. She sat for a moment with her hands folded upon them, as in prayer. Then she counted them. There were fifty-three pearls on her string. She could not believe her own eyes, and counted them over again; but there was no mistake, there were fifty-three pearls and the one in the middle was the biggest.

Jensine sat for a long time in her chair, quite giddy. Her mother, she knew, had believed in the Devil. At this moment the daughter did the same. She would not have been surprised had she heard laughter from behind the sofa. Had the powers of the universe, she thought, combined, here, to make fun of a poor girl?

When she could again collect her thoughts, she remembered that before she had been given the necklace, the old goldsmith of her husband's family had repaired the clasp of it. He would therefore know the pearls, and might tell her what to believe. But she was so thoroughly scared that she dared not go to him herself, and only a few days later she asked Peter Skov, who came to pay her a visit, to take the string to him.

Peter returned and told her that the goldsmith had put on his spectacles to examine the pearls, and then, in amazement, had declared that there was one more than when he had last seen them. "Yes, Alexander gave me that," Jensine interrupted him, blushing deeply at her own lie. Peter reflected, as the goldsmith had done, that it was a cheap generosity in a lieutenant to make the heiress he had married a rich present. But he repeated to her the old man's words. "Mr. Alexander," he had declared, "shows himself a rare judge of pearls. I shall not hesitate to pronounce this one pearl worth as much as all the others put together." Jensine, terrified but smiling, thanked Peter, but he went away sadly, for he felt as if he had annoyed or frightened her.

She had not been feeling well for some time, and when, in September, they had a spell of heavy, sultry weather in Copenhagen, it left her pale and sleepless. Her father and her two old aunts were upset about her and tried to make her come and stay at his villa on the Strandvej, outside town. But she would not leave her own house or her husband, nor would she, she thought, ever get well, until she had come to the bottom of the mystery of the pearls. After a week she made up her mind to write to the shoemaker at Odda. If, as Herr Ibsen had told her, he had been a student and a poet, he would be able to read, and would answer her letter. It seemed to her that in her present situation she had no friend in the world but this crippled old man. She wished that she could go back to his workshop, to the bare walls and the three-legged chair. She dreamed at night that she was there. He had smiled kindly at her; he knew many children's tales. He might know how to comfort her. Only for a moment she trembled at the idea that he might be dead, and that then she would never know.

Within the following weeks the shadow of the war grew deeper. Her father was worrying over the prospects and about King Frederik's health. Under these new circumstances the old merchant began to take pride in the fact that he had his daughter married to a soldier, which before had been far from his mind. He and her old aunts showed Alexander and Jensine great respect.

One day, half against her own will, Jensine asked Alexander straight out if he thought there would be war. "Yes," he answered quickly and confidently, "there will be war. It could not be avoided." He went on to whistle a bit of a soldier's song. The sight of her face made him stop. "Are you afrightened of it?" he asked. She considered it hopeless, and even unseemly, to explain to him her feelings about the war. "Are you frightened for my sake?" he asked her again. She turned her head away. "To be a hero's widow," he said, "would be just the part for you, my dear." Her eyes filled with tears, as much of anger as of woe. Alexander came and took her hand. "If I fall," he said, "it will be a consolation to me to remember that I have kissed you as often as you would let me." He did so now, once more, and added: "Will it be a consolation to you?" Jensine was an honest girl. When she was questioned she tried to find the truthful answer. Now she thought: Would it be a consolation to me? But she could not, in her heart, find the reply. With all this Jensine had much to think of, so that she half forgot about the shoemaker, and, when one morning she found his letter on the breakfast table, she for a minute took it to be a mendicant's letter, of which she got many. The next moment she grew very pale. Her husband, opposite her, asked her what was the matter. She gave him no reply, but got up, went into her own small sitting-room, and opened the letter by the fireplace. The characters of it, carefully printed, recalled to her the old man's face, as if he had sent her his portrait.

"Dear young Danish Missus," the letter went.

"Yes, I put the pearl onto your necklace. I meant to give you a small surprise. You made such a fuss about your pearls, when you brought them to me, as if you were afraid that I should steal one of them from you. Old people, as well as young, must have a little fun at times. If I have frightened you, I beg that you will forgive me all the same. This pearl I got two years ago, when I strung the English lady's necklace. I forgot to put the one in, and only found it afterwards. It has been with me for two years, but I have no use for it. It is better that it should be with a young lady. I remember that you sat in my chair, quite young and pretty. I wish you good luck, and that something pleasant may happen to you on the very same day as you get this letter. And may you wear the pearl long, with a humble heart, a firm trust in the Lord God, and a friendly thought of me, who am old, here up at Odda. Good-bye.

"Your friend,
Peiter Viken."

Jensine had been reading the letter with her elbows on the mantelpiece, to steady herself. As she looked up, she met the grave eyes of her own image in the looking-glass above it. They were severe; they might be saying: "You are really a thief, or if not that, a receiver of stolen goods, and no better than a thief." She stood for a long time, nailed to the spot. At last she thought: "It is all over. Now I know that I shall never conquer these people, who know neither care nor fear. It is as in the Bible; I shall bruise their heel, but they shall bruise my head. And Alexander, as far as he is concerned, ought to have married the English lady."

To her own deep surprise she found that she did not mind. Alexander himself had become a very small figure in the background of life; what he did or thought mattered not in the least. That she herself had been made a fool of did not matter. "In a hundred years," she thought, "it will all be one."

What mattered then? She tried to think of the war, but found that the war did not matter either. She felt a strange giddiness as if the room was sinking away round her, but not unpleasantly. "Was there," she thought, "nothing remarkable left under the visiting moon?" At the word of the visiting moon the eyes of the image in the looking-glass opened wide; the two young women stared at one another intensely. Something, she decided, was of great importance, which had come into the world now, and in a hundred years would still remain. The pearls. In a hundred years, she saw, a young man would hand them over to his wife and tell the young woman her own story about them, just as Alexander had given them to her, and had told her of his grandmother.

The thought of these two young people, in a hundred years' time, moved her to such tenderness that her eyes filled with tears, and made her happy, as if they had been old friends of hers, whom she had found again. "Not cry quarter?" she thought. "Why not? Yes, I shall cry as high as I can. I cannot, now, remember the reason why I would not cry."

The very small figure of Alexander, by the window in the other room said to her: "Here is the eldest of your aunts coming down the street with a big bouquet."

Slowly, slowly Jensine took her eyes off the looking-glass, and came back to the world of the present. She went to the window. "Yes," she said, "they are from Bella Vista," which was the name of her father's villa. From their window the husband and wife looked down into the street.

 
           

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