The Pink Pearl

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“Only the man who locks himself away by day and watches over many hours of the night to earn what is needed to satisfy the whims of a beloved woman—my unfortunate friend told me in a faltering voice—will understand the pleasure of secretly amassing a considerable sum, and, once it is rounded out, setting out to invest it in the most quixotic, the most extravagant and useless of that woman’s whims.

What she beheld from afar as an unattainable dream, what barely touched her imagination with the sting of a mad desire, is what my initiative, my industriousness, and my affection will deliver to her in an instant… And I can already see the admiration in her eyes; I can almost feel her arms tightening around my neck in a frenzy of gratitude.”

“My only fear, as I took to the streets with my wallet well weighed down and my soul overflowing with joy, was that the jeweler had already dispatched the two charming pink pearls that had so captivated Caroline the afternoon she paused, hanging on my arm, to greedily gaze at the display case.

It is so difficult to gather two pearls of that rare and exquisite shade, of that beautiful orient, of that perfect globular shape, of that absolute symmetry, that I deemed it impossible for any whimsical lady like my wife, and wealthier, not to have already secured them in her jewelry box.

And it would hurt so much if it had happened, that my heart even raced when I saw, on the clean glass, between a magnificent necklace and a cascade of gold bracelets, the fine white velvet case where the two pink pearls mysteriously shone, bordered by diamonds.”

“Although I was prepared to pay dearly for the whim, the high price the jeweler valued the pearls at disconcerted me. All my savings, and then some, were to be invested in that pair of little buttons, no bigger than a tiny chickpea. I was assailed by doubt—I am so inexperienced in luxury purchases—wondering if the jeweler might try to exploit my ignorance by asking for an absurd amount, perhaps thinking that my appearance was not that of a man capable of acquiring two pink pearls.

While I was thinking this, I saw, through the high and clear glass of the shop, my old classmate and best friend Jamie Llorente passing by on the sidewalk. To see his dapper figure and to go out and call him were one and the same.

Who better to enlighten and advise me than the stylish Jamie, so in tune with fashion, so thrust into the world, so well-connected, that each visit he made to our modest bourgeois home—and he made many lately—I regarded as a most special proof of affection?”

With cordial surprise, Jamie turned and entered the jewelry store with me, becoming informed of the matter. He immediately declared himself an admirer of the pink pearls, adding that he knew certain high-society ladies were eager to acquire them, among whom he named two or three with resonant titles.

In a discreet aside, he assured me that the price demanded by the jeweler was not at all excessive, given the uniqueness of the pearls. And, as I still hesitated, annoyed by the extra bit that I could not pay at the moment, Jamie, with his characteristic frankness, opened his wallet and handed me several bills while joking and swearing that if I did not accept such a small favor, he would never look me in the face again in all his life.

How wretched we are! I should not have accepted the loan; I should not have taken home anything I could not pay for in cash… But passion dominated me, and I would have kissed the hand that offered me the means to satisfy it on my knees. We agreed that Jamie would lunch with us the next day, to celebrate the debut of the pink pearls, and with the case in my pocket, I headed home on the run; I wished I had wings.

Caroline was bustling about when I entered, and seeing me standing before her, telling her with a blissful face, ‘Search me,’ she understood and murmured, ‘We have a gift.’ Lively and mischievous (that’s just her way!) she rummaged through my pockets, tickling me delightfully, until she found the case. The cry she let out upon seeing the pearls was one never to be forgotten.

In the effusion of her gratitude, she caressed my face and even kissed me… Perhaps at that moment, she loved me a little! She could not believe that such a coveted and splendid jewel belonged to her; she could not convince herself that she was going to show it off.

And I, unfastening the simple gold earrings that Caroline was wearing, hooked the pink pearls onto her small, delighted ears. It hurts me so much to remember these follies, but I always remember them.

The next day, which was Sunday, Jamie had lunch at our house, and we were all boisterous and chatty. Caroline had put on her gray silk dress, which suited her very well, and a rose on her chest—a rose of the same color as the pearls. Jamie invited us to the theater and took us to Apollo, to a cheerful performance where we laughed without respite.

The next morning I returned eagerly to my chores, as I wanted to settle the remainder of the pearls as soon as possible. I returned home at the usual time, and as I sat down at the table, my first glance was at Caroline’s ears. I jumped and let out an exclamation when I saw that one of the pink pearls was missing from the tiny circle of diamonds.

‘You’ve lost a pearl!’ I exclaimed.

‘What do you mean, a pearl?’ my wife stammered, reaching for her ears and feeling the earrings. When she saw it was true, she was so terrified that I became alarmed, not for the pearl, but for Caroline’s fright.

‘Calm down,’ I said. ‘Let’s look for it, it will turn up.’

Needless to say, we began to search everywhere, combing the carpet, shaking the curtains, lifting the furniture, even scrutinizing drawers that Caroline swore she hadn’t opened for a month. With each futile search, Caroline’s eyes filled with tears. As we continued, it occurred to me to ask her:

‘Have you been out this afternoon?’

‘Yes… I think so…’ she replied hesitantly.

‘Where to?’

‘To various places… I mean… I went… around… shopping…’

‘But… to which stores?’

‘How should I know! To the mall,..and the pharmacy.

‘On foot or by car?’

‘On foot… Then I took an Uber.’

‘Do you have Uber’s number?’

‘How can you expect me to remember? Dear God!,’ objected Caroline nervously, who burst into bitter sobbing.

‘But you’ll remember the stores… Tell me, I’ll go to each one, to see if on the floor or on the counter… We’ll place ads…’

‘I can’t remember! For God’s sake, leave me alone!’ she exclaimed so distressed that I dared not insist further, and preferred to wait for her to calm down.

We spent a night of restlessness and sleeplessness. I heard Caroline sigh and toss and turn in bed as if she could not sleep.

Meanwhile, I pondered ways to recover the pink pearl. I got up early, dressed, and at eight I was knocking on the door of Jamie Llorente.

I had heard that the Police, in special cases, can easily track down the whereabouts of lost or stolen objects, and I hoped that Jamie, with his influence and high connections, would help me employ this last resort.

‘Jamie is sleeping; but please come into the study, and in ten minutes I’ll bring in the chocolate and ask if you can see him,’ said Jamie’s aunt Marie noticing my persistence and haste.

I agreed to wait. Marie opened the shutters of the study, in which floated the scents and smell of tobacco. When I think how different my fate would have been if that servant had let me go straight into the bedroom…!

The truth is… at the first cheerful ray of sun that crossed the stained glass, and before Marie could say ‘take a seat,’ I had already seen it shining on the blue cloth edge of the white bear skin, laid at the foot of the plush Turkish divan, the pearl, the pink pearl!

If what happened to me happens to you, and you ask me what should be done in such circumstances, I answer for sure with great energy: ‘Take a knife and thrust it through the chest of the one sleeping there, so that he may never wake again.’ Do you know what I did?

I bent down, picked up the pearl, put it in my pocket, left that house, went up to mine, found my wife up and very discomposed; I looked at her and did not strangle her. With a calm voice, I ordered her to put on the earrings. I took the pearl out of my pocket… and holding it between my fingers, I said:

‘Here is what you lost. How about that, I found it quickly?’

It’s true that at the end I felt some sort of fit or a vertigo of madness. I grabbed those tiny ears, tore off the earrings, and trampled everything.

Fortunately, I was able to control myself immediately… and went down the stairs and took refuge in the nearest café, where I ordered a cognac…

‘Have I seen Caroline again?… Once…. she was on the arm of ‘another,’ who was no longer Jamie. By the way, I noticed that the lobe of her left ear was split. No doubt I tore it unintentionally.”

Also Read: The Necklace Short Story

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