“‘Oh, lady fair, these silks of mine
Are beautiful and rare;
The richest web of the Indian loom,
Which beauty’s queen might wear.
And my pearls are pure as thine own fair neck,
With whose radiant light they vie;
I have brought them with me a weary way –
Will my gentle lady buy?’

“And the lady smiled on the worn old man
Through the dark and clustering curls
Which veiled her brow, as she bent to view
His silks and glittering pearls;
And she placed their price in the old man’s hand,
And lightly turned away;
But she paused at the wanderer’s earnest call –
‘My gentle lady, stay!’

“‘Oh, lady fair, I have yet a gem
Which a purer lustre flings
Than the diamond flash of the jewelled crown
On the lofty brow of kings:
A wonderful pearl of exceeding price,
Whose virtue shall not decay;
Whose light shall be as a spell to thee,
And a blessing on thy way!’

“The lady glanced at the mirroring steel,
Where her form of grace was seen,
Where her eye shone clear and her dark locks waved
Their clasping pearls between –
‘Bring forth thy pearl of exceeding worth,
Thou traveller grey and old;
Then name the price of thy precious gem,
And my page shall count the gold.’

“The cloud went off from the pilgrim’s brow,
As a small and meagre book,
Unchased with gold or gem of cost,
Prom his folding robe he took;
‘Here, lady fair, is the pearl of price:
May it prove as such to thee;
Nay, keep thy gold; I ask it not,
For the Word of God is free.’

“The hoary traveller went his way,
But the gift he left behind
Hath had its pure and perfect work
On that high-born maiden’s mind;
And she hath turned from the pride of sin
To the lowliness of truth,
And given her human heart to God
In its beautiful hour of youth.”



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