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The Last Pearl

There was a rich and happy house. All those in it-the owners, and servants, and friends, too-were happy and cheerful, for on this day a son and heir had been born, and mother and child were doing well.

The lamp in the cozy bedroom had been partly covered, and heavy curtains of costly silken material had been drawn tightly together before the windows. The carpet was as thick and soft as moss. Everything here invited rest and sleep; it was a delightful place for repose. And the nurse found it so, too; she slept, and indeed she might, for all was well and blessed here.

The Guardian Spirit of the house stood by the head of the bed; and over the child, at the mother's breast, it spread itself like a net of shining stars, stars of great richness; each was a pearl of good fortune. Life's good fairies had brought their gifts to the newborn child; here sparkled health, wealth, happiness, love-everything that man can desire on earth.

"Everything has been brought and bestowed here," said the Guardian Spirit.

"No," said a voice near by; it was the voice of the child's good Angel. "One fairy has not yet brought her gift, but she will bring it; she'll bring it in time, even if years should pass first. The last pearl is yet lacking."

"Lacking! Nothing must be lacking here! If that actually is the case, let us go and seek the powerful fairy; let us go to her!"

"She will come! She will come someday! Her pearl must be given to bind the wreath together!"

"Where does she live? Where is her home? Tell me that, and I'll go and fetch the pearl!"

"You do want to then," said the child's good Angel. "I will guide you to her, or to where she is to be sought. She has no permanent place; she visits the palace of the emperor and the cottage of the poorest peasant. She passes no one by without leaving a trace of herself; to all she brings her gift, be it a world or a toy. And this child, also, she will come to. You think that while the time to come will be equally long one way or the other, it will not be equally profitable if you await her; well, then, we will go and fetch the pearl, the last pearl in this wealth of gifts.

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