Rambhau left the room to return soon with a small
but heavy English strong box. "I have had this box for years," he
said. "I keep only one thing in it. Now I will tell you about it. Sahib
Morse, I once had a son."
"A son! Why, Rambhau, you had never said a word about him!"
"No, Sahib, I couldn't." Even as he spoke the diver's eyes were
moistened. "Now, I must tell you, for soon I will leave, and who knows
whether I shall ever return? My son was a diver, too. He was the best pearl
diver on the coast of India. He had the swiftest dive, the keenest eye, the
strongest arm, the longest breath of any man who sought for pearls. What joy
he brought me! He always dreamed of finding a pearl beyond all that had ever
been found. One day he found it. But when he found it, he had already been
underwater too long. He lost his life soon after." The old pearl diver
bowed his head and for a moment his whole body shook. "All these years
I have kept the pearl," he continued, "but now I am going, not to
return... and to you, my best friend, I am giving my pearl." The old
man worked the combination on the strong box and drew from it a carefully
wrapped package. Gently opening the cotton, he picked tip a mammoth pearl
and placed it in the hand of the missionary. It was one of the largest
pearls ever found off the coast of India, and it glowed with a luster and
brilliance never seen in cultured pearls. It would have brought a fabulous
sum in any market.
For a moment the missionary was speechless and gazed with awe. "Rambhau,"
he said, "this is a wonderful pearl, an amazing pearl. Let me buy it. I
would give ten thousand rupees for it."
"Sahib," said Rambhau, stiffening his whole body, "this
pearl is beyond all price. No man in all the world has money enough to pay
what this pearl is worth to me. On the market a million rupees could not buy
"I will not sell it. You may only have it as a gift."