In a beautiful kingdom long ago, there lived a very happy king. The king had a large castle, many fine horses, lovely gardens in which to walk. He wore a long purple robe trimmed in gold and white. It was the same robe passed down to him by his father who received it from his father who received it from his father. As much as the king loved that special purple robe, his most precious possession was a small white pearl. What made the pearl so special was that it could sing.
The pearl would sing in the morning, sing in the evening, and sing all during the day. The pearl’s songs brought joy to the king’s heart. The king would hold the pearl as he walked in his gardens and smile as he listened to its songs.
One cold and cloudy day a merchant came to the kingdom trying to sell all kinds of shiny trinkets and glittery gadgets. Although the king did not need anything the merchant was selling, he was kind to the man and invited him to spend the night in his castle.
During the night the merchant got up and walked around the castle marveling at all the king’s possessions. He came to the king’s own room and heard the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. The precious pearl was quietly singing its songs as the whole kingdom slept, and because the merchant’s heart was not quite right, he stole the precious pearl and left the castle.
The next day the king discovered that his precious pearl was gone, and he became sad. That very morning he called for his carriage and horses and fine purple robe and began to search his whole kingdom to find his precious pearl.
The merchant carried the pearl back to his little shop on the far side of the kingdom. He cleared away a table in the center of his shop, put a red and silver pillow on the table, and carefully put the pearl in the center of the pillow. He waited to hear the beautiful songs from the pearl, but the pearl was silent. Day after day the merchant listened, but the pearl would not sing its songs.
As the merchant bought more new and shiny things for his shop, he gave up on the small pearl, removed it’s pillow, and stuck it in a tiny wooden box. As more and more trinkets and gadgets filled his shop, the little pearl was moved into a dark corner. As the months went by, the pearl became dingy and dull and forgotten, but the king did not forget about the pearl. He rode from village to village seeking that which was most precious to him.
One day the door to the shop opened, and in walked the king. The merchant was afraid he had come to arrest him for stealing his pearl, but the king only looked around the shop. He checked every door and every drawer. He opened every box and bag. Finally, he came to the dark corner of the shop and looked down into a little wooden box. There covered with dust and wispy spider webs, he found his little pearl. The king smiled.
The king showed the pearl to the merchant and asked how he had come to possess it. The merchant, because his heart was not quite right, told a lie about buying it long ago. Although the king was not convinced by his lie, he still offered to buy the pearl back from the merchant.
The king offered a fair price, but the merchant would not sell. He offered his horses and carriage, but the merchant would not sell. He offered his gardens, his castle, and all that he owned, but the merchant refused. Then the king looked down at his fine purple robe trimmed in gold and white. He remembered how it had looked on his father and his grandfather as they sat on the throne. The robe showed the world that the king was special and powerful. Then the king looked into his palm at the little pearl. He took off his fine robe and laid it on the counter beside the gadgets and trinkets, and the merchant finally agreed to sell the pearl. It had cost the king all he had, but the small pearl, now dusty and scratched, was once again his, and it brought joy to the king’s heart and a wide smile to the king’s face.
As the king walked out of the shop and along the road, he did not look back at his carriage or horses or even his purple robe. He opened his hand and gazed at the pearl…and the pearl began to sing.
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