The String and The Pearl

The String and The Pearl

A string of pearls once hung round a woman’s throat. The woman liked to hold them in her hands, and feel their smooth surety. These are my lucky pearls, she thought, and liked them best of all her things.

The woman was leaving a place alone, as sometimes was her way, when a raven saw her. Look at those grubs, the raven thought, as he watched the pearls with hunger. The bird swooped down and grabbed the string, the woman shouting loudly. The string ripped, the pearls fell down, strewing the ground with small white seeds.

These are not grubs, thought the bird. My lucky pearls, thought the woman, and gathered them up in her glove, sliding them down the empty fingers, like a tasseled purse. She left the raven only the pearl in his mouth and the broken piece of string. The raven took the string to line his nest, and coughed up the fat pearl to one of his chicks.

"More!' cried the chick. "More!"

- from The Insect Diviner