The Last Pearl

Author: Andersen Hans Christian | Genre: Tale | Year: | Catalogue: Global database Все варианты сказки на сайте

We are in a rich, happy house, where the master, the servants, the friends of
the family are full of joy and felicity. For on this day a son and heir has been
born, and mother and child are doing well. The lamp in the bed-chamber had been
partly shaded, and the windows were covered with heavy curtains of some costly
silken material. The carpet was thick and soft, like a covering of moss. Everything
invited to slumber, everything had a charming look of repose; and so the nurse
had discovered, for she slept; and well she might sleep, while everything around
her told of happiness and blessing. The guardian angel of the house leaned against
the head of the bed; while over the child was spread, as it were, a net of shining
stars, and each star was a pearl of happiness. All the good stars of life had
brought their gifts to the newly born; here sparkled health, wealth, fortune,
and love; in short, there seemed to be everything for which man could wish on

“Everything has been bestowed here,” said the guardian angel.

“No, not everything,” said a voice near him—the voice of the good angel of
the child; “one fairy has not yet brought her gift, but she will, even if years
should elapse, she will bring her gift; it is the last pearl that is wanting.”

“Wanting!” cried the guardian angel; “nothing must be wanting here; and if
it is so, let us fetch it; let us seek the powerful fairy; let us go to her.”

“She will come, she will come some day unsought!”

“Her pearl must not be missing; it must be there, that the crown, when worn,
may be complete. Where is she to be found? Where does she dwell?” said the guardian
angel. “Tell me, and I will procure the pearl.”

  • “Will you do that?” replied the good angel of the child. “Then I will lead
    you to her directly, wherever she may be. She has no abiding place; she rules
    in the palace of the emperor, sometimes she enters the peasant’s humble cot;
    she passes no one without leaving a trace of her presence. She brings her gift
    with her, whether it is a world or a bauble. To this child she must come. You
    think that to wait for this time would be long and useless. Well, then, let
    us go for this pearl—the only one lacking amidst all this wealth.”

    Then hand-in-hand they floated away to the spot where the fairy was now lingering.
    It was in a large house with dark windows and empty rooms, in which a peculiar
    stillness reigned. A whole row of windows stood open, so that the rude wind
    could enter at its pleasure, and the long white curtains waved to and fro in
    the current of air. In the centre of one of the rooms stood an open coffin,
    in which lay the body of a woman, still in the bloom of youth and very beautiful.
    Fresh roses were scattered over her. The delicate folded hands and the noble
    face glorified in death by the solemn, earnest look, which spoke of an entrance
    into a better world, were alone visible. Around the coffin stood the husband
    and children, a whole troop, the youngest in the father’s arms. They were come
    to take a last farewell look of their mother. The husband kissed her hand, which
    now lay like a withered leaf, but which a short time before had been diligently
    employed in deeds of love for them all. Tears of sorrow rolled down their cheeks,
    and fell in heavy drops on the floor, but not a word was spoken. The silence
    which reigned here expressed a world of grief. With silent steps, still sobbing,
    they left the room. A burning light remained in the room, and a long, red wick
    rose far above the flame, which fluttered in the draught of air. Strange men
    came in and placed the lid of the coffin over the dead, and drove the nails
    firmly in; while the blows of the hammer resounded through the house, and echoed
    in the hearts that were bleeding.

    “Whither art thou leading me?” asked the guardian angel. “Here dwells no fairy
    whose pearl could be counted amongst the best gifts of life.”

    “Yes, she is here; here in this sacred hour,” replied the angel, pointing to
    a corner of the room; and there,—where in her life-time, the mother had taken
    her seat amidst flowers and pictures: in that spot, where she, like the blessed
    fairy of the house, had welcomed husband, children, and friends, and, like a
    sunbeam, had spread joy and cheerfulness around her, the centre and heart of
    them all,—there, in that very spot, sat a strange woman, clothed in long, flowing
    garments, and occupying the place of the dead wife and mother. It was the fairy,
    and her name was “Sorrow.” A hot tear rolled into her lap, and formed itself
    into a pearl, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The angel seized it:
    the, pearl glittered like a star with seven-fold radiance. The pearl of Sorrow,
    the last, which must not be wanting, increases the lustre, and explains the
    meaning of all the other pearls.

    “Do you see the shimmer of the rainbow, which unites earth to heaven?” So has
    there been a bridge built between this world and the next. Through the night
    of the grave we gaze upwards beyond the stars to the end of all things. Then
    we glance at the pearl of Sorrow, in which are concealed the wings which shall
    carry us away to eternal happiness.