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The Black Pearl

By Ivan Karasev

An old forester was hunting in a wood. And all of a sudden he saw a tiger who was wandering at random.
“What a silly tiger”, the forester thought, “taking no notice of me, leaving his hiding-place”.
But then the forester noticed that the tiger was hunting a gigantic owl sitting on a bough, stone-still. He took a closer look and saw a mouse watched by the owl. The moue, like the tiger, was stealing to a beetle who was admiring a black pearl. The pearl was lying on dry grass, and the beetle raising his little green wings was chirping almost inaudibly.
“So that’s what it is”, the old man exclaimed in amazement. And frightened by his exclamation, the tiger ran away, the owl hid in the thick forest, the mouse dashed into her hole, and the sparkling beetle, tearing himself reluctantly from the earth vanished in the evening gloom.
Only the black pearl remained lying on the dry grass. The forester put it on his palm and set to examining it. And it looked quite alive. As if a black dewdrop it was sparkling in the weak moonlight.
“What a miracle”, the forester was amazed, “I never knew that the black colour could be so beautiful”.
And indeed, one could count ninety-nine shades in that pearl. And one could gaze at it for hours on end. However, no-one could tell what exactly made it so remarkable. 
The king heard about the pearl and came to see the forester. He offered him as much money as he wanted, promised a half of the kingdom, but the old man did not agree. Gloomy was the king when leaving him. The forester saw him to the porch, came back home, and there – the pearl had disappeared.
“Thief!” he moaned running out, but there was no sign of the king. Only dust at the outskirts and scared birds flying about in circles.
The forester was missing his pearl badly, his house suffering decay. And then, right in a year a girl came to the forester, and her skin was like that of an Arabian neif. It was glimmering like a black pearl, so the old man couldn’t help admiring her, couldn’t tear his eyes off her – so amazing and remarkable she was. The forester bent over her like a dry leaf, and there was a hard buzzing of a beetle, a mouse running by, wind raised by an owl’s wings making his hair flutter, and he felt a tiger’s claws sink into his back...
Time passed by, and there was the black pearl lying in the green grass, lost and forgotten by everybody. It conceals a destination of her own, it remembers the world back before the Flood and is still going to survive many of us. It is lying on the bare ground waiting for its hour, for a lonely beetle to feast its eyes on it.
In a surge of fondness one can easily loose his mind.

(Translated by Marina Martinova)