Monday, April 28, 2014

The Pearls, part 4

Throughout the day, Dani checked the mirror, but the ruby necklace remained where it was. To Dani’s great relief, there was no sign of the princess in image or voice. But that evening, after Dani had finished getting ready for bed, the princess appeared, frowning more intensely than ever. “I don’t want your ugly necklace!” she cried. “I want my pearls! Give them back to me!”
            Dani felt trapped. She looked back and forth between the pearls and the princess. Which was worse, giving up those wonderful pearls or being harassed by an angry fairy princess forever? Dani had to look long and hard at the pearls to remember that they were worth it. She approached the mirror, looked the princess in the eye, and said, “I will give you anything else, but I won’t give you the pearls.”
            “They were mine in the first place, you scoundrel!” the princess shouted. “You have no right to keep them! I don’t want any of your things. I want what is mine!”
            “Isn’t there anything at all that you would like more than an old pearl necklace?”
            “If it was only ‘an old pearl necklace,’ you wouldn’t have wanted it for yourself!”
            Dani sighed, opened one of her night table drawers, and took out her jewelry box. She presented her collection of all the jewels, baubles, stones, and precious metals she had acquired over the years to the princess, who looked at it with unconcealed scorn. “You can have anything you want out of this,” said Dani. “I have all kinds of lovely things here.”
            “They are not so lovely,” said the princess. “You haven’t even got one pearl!”
            “You’re right,” said Dani, “I have no pearls. How many pearls have you got?”
            “It doesn’t matter if I’ve got one pearl or a thousand pearls,” said the princess. “There’s no excuse for stealing from me!”
            Dani took another look at the pearls and imagined them resting against the collar of her blue satin dress. “Will you let me keep them for just one day?” she pleaded.
            “No,” said the princess. “You will give them to me tonight, and I will give you no peace until you do!”
            There was no way out. With a heavy heart and tears forming in her eyes, Dani returned the jewelry box and picked up the pearls. She looked at them with longing, and felt pained by having to give up the most precious object she had ever come into contact with—one that belonged to a genuine fairy princess. The other jewels that she owned now seemed as dull and ugly as the princess had said they were. Still, Dani laid the pearls in front of the mirror and said dejectedly, “There are your pearls. Go ahead and take them, and leave me alone.”
            “How do you expect me to pick them up with this glass in my way?” the princess asked testily.
            “Well, how else am I supposed to give them to you?” asked Dani.
            “You will come into my land and give them to me personally,” said the princess.
            “What?” Dani was flabbergasted. “But…but how am I supposed to do that? I’m sure I don’t even have the time to do that! I have work in the morning! Can’t I just give them to you tomorrow?”
            “You will give them to me tonight,” said the princess. “You should have thought of those things before deciding to keep something that doesn’t belong to you.”
            There was nothing else that could be done. “How do I get to your land?” Dani asked with a sigh.
            “Put on the necklace,” said the princess, “and look in the mirror.” Dani obeyed. Looking in the mirror, she saw that the image of the princess had faded behind her own reflection, which was clear and vivid. She felt embarrassed to be wearing the pearls with her pajamas, and she was tempted to ask to change clothes before she discovered that there was no need; she was now wearing a forest-green velvet gown with long, flared sleeves. It very closely resembled the gown that the princess was wearing. Dani gave a start when she realized that it was the gown that the princess was wearing. Her hair, which was tied back, unraveled and shaped itself into ringlets. Their very different faces melded together as if the two of them were becoming one entity. Dani wanted to touch the sleeve of her dress to see if she could really feel the velvet, but she was afraid that the magic would cease if she moved.
           In a moment, Dani was herself again. It was daylight, and she was standing in a field of grass the shade of fine emeralds. A crystal colored brook babbled cheerfully nearby, and its surface dazzled like diamonds. A golden bridge crossed this brook, and beyond the bridge was a magnificent castle of pink, blue, and pearly-white stone. Standing at the castle gate was the princess, in all her forest-green velvet splendor. 

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