Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Mother's Jewels
By joelle

It was a bright morning in the city of England many years ago. In a vine-covered house in a beautiful garden, two siblings named Nicholas and Clarisse were looking at their mother and her friend who were walking among the flowers and trees.

"Did you ever see a lady as beautiful as our mother's friend?" asked Clarisse. "She looks like a queen."

"Yes, she is, but she is not so beautiful as our mother," said Nicholas. "She has a fine dress and beautiful jewelry but her face is not noble and kind. It is our mother who is like a queen." Clarisse agreed later on.

Soon their mother called them meaning to speak with them. She was dressed in a plain, white robe. Her arms and feet were bare, as was the custom in those days; and no rings or chains glittered about her hands and neck. For her only crown, long braids of soft brown hair were coiled about her head; and a sweet, gentle smile lit up her noble face as she looked into her children’s proud eyes.

"Children," she said, "I have something to tell you." "What is it, mother?" the children eagerly asked

"You are to dine with us today, here in the garden; and then our friend is going to show us that wonderful casket of jewels of which you have heard so much."

The children looked shyly at their mother's friend. Was it possible that she had still other rings besides those on her fingers? Could she have other gems besides those, which sparkled in the chains about her neck?

When the simple meal was over, a servant brought the casket from the house. The lady opened it. Ah, how those jewels dazzled the eyes of the wondering children! There were ropes of pearls white as milk; rubies, red as the glowing coals; sapphires as blue as the sky that summer day; and diamonds that flashed and sparkled like the sunlight.

The children stared at the gems. "Wow!" whispered Clarisse, "if we could only have such beautiful things!"

"Is it true, Cornelia darling, that you have no jewels?" asked her friend. "Is it true, as I have heard it whispered, that you are poor?"

"No, I am not poor," answered Cornelia, and as she spoke she drew her children to her side; "for here are my jewels. They are worth more than all your gems."

The children never forgot their mother's pride and love and care even up to her death; and in after years, when they had become great people of England, Nicholas worked very hard and was known to being one of the riches people in England while Clarisse married a duke.

Not long after Clarisse’s wedding, she and her husband were blessed with a beautiful daughter. Clarisse’s husband traveled a lot so she was left to take care of their daughter.

One day, Nicholas paid his dear sister a visit. “Hello dear brother! It’s been months since I’ve last seen you. I assume you’ve been very busy lately.” Said Clarisse greeting him at the door.

“Oh Clarisse it’s been a hectic year for me but it’s all worth it. You should come to my mansion and I’ll show you all my riches. What have you accomplished lately?” Nicholas boasted. “Well, my husband and I have been earning quite a lot but I talked my husband in to giving most of them away to those who would need them more.”

Upon entering Clarisse’s house, Nicholas looked around her house in shock. “Dear sister, have you lost your mind? You have lost everything! You don’t have enough money to even buy fine satin even for your little curtain!”

“Nicholas, I don’t need silk or any kind of beautiful cloth. I only use my money to buy only the necessities. I don’t want to drown myself in expensive treasures that I don’t even need.” Clarisse said. “But I don’t understand why you’re feeling so happy with the fact that you don’t have a single treasure.” Nicholas said.

“Ah but that’s where you’re wrong Nicholas.” After Clarisse said that, she disappeared behind a door and went back out carrying a blanket. Sensing that Nicholas was still puzzled, she opened it. There lay a baby, snuggled in her mother’s arms.

“Have you already forgotten what our dear mother told us?” asked Clarisse. “That we were her jewels and we were worth more than all gems put together?” Clarisse put her baby in Nicholas’ arms with a feeling that all his riches meant nothing to him anymore. “You’re right and there is still something I can do.” He gave back the baby to Clarisse, said good-bye and left.

Not long after his visit to his sister’s house, Nicholas decided to adopt a child of his own. He raised his child exactly how his mother raised him and finally felt the joy of being a parent.

An adaptation from Cornelia's Jewels By James Baldwin
From Fifty Famous Stories Retold. Copyright, 1896, by American Book Company.

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