The Pearl (part two)
Posted: May 18 2012
The following Sunday I made my way across the 5 kilometers of lagoon that separated our farms. He invited me to eat with him which I gladly accepted. After I cleaned my plate of stewed chicken, peas and white rice with a piece of baguette, he asked me with a half smile if I wanted to see the pearls. He knew I was more than a little eager to see them and he seemed to be enjoying taking his sweet time. Of the 20 oysters second-grafted, 14 of them had produced pearls. It was the first time I had seen pearls that big that had come from my own work and it was an unforgettable moment. Instead of just pouring them all out of a single bag, he had separated them by category, the rounds in one bag, the baroques in another and so on. They all sat on a towel that he had laid out on his table in different little piles.
I looked at them one at a time, turning them in my hand, inspecting them for their color, shape and blemishes. I could feel Julien’s eyes on me, studying me. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag that he carefully opened, poured into his hand then placed The Pearl directly in front of me.
It stared up at me from the table, an impossible luster reflecting everything around it. It was a light lagoon green that was unmistakable, even in the poor light of the makeshift outdoor kitchen. I saw my own hand in it as I reached to pick it up. Flawless. Not even the tiniest pin-prick could be found, nothing to keep it real. It measured up at over 15mm’s making it the largest pearl of the small batch.
As I marveled at it, it struck me that Julien might have placed it in front of me as a gift. After all, I had asked for nothing in return for the work that I’d done. I had been grateful to have the opportunity to try my hand on his oysters but on the other hand I had come through for him and produced some respectable results, on par with an experienced technician.
I went into it with no expectations of profit, only gratitude for being given the opportunity. The Pearl changed the game though and left me lusting after it. I pushed the desire away and gave The Pearl back feeling the fever of covetousness rising. Julien was and still is a friend but I sensed that his generosity, possibly like my own, cohabitated with a another emotion.
In a gesture of idealistic stoicism, I wordlessly finished admiring the pearl, reached across the table and placed it in front of him. He scanned my face, hesitated a moment then quickly put the pearl back in his pocket.