Sunday, April 10, 2011

Making the Best of a Bad Bargain

            Then Tom went off to the market-place,   to vend a brace of geese.
            But on the way he met a man,   of raiment   half red,  half green.
            “O what wilt thou take, for those fine fat geese?”
            “Such price, as you deem fair.”
            “This basket of pearls  I offer thee:   each one as great as an egg.”
            So Tom made the exchange, and went whistling home.   His father stood in the door.
            “Thou’st made an ill trade, Tommy my lad.   A goose is a good, is a very good thing.  But no Christian has ever discovered a use for pearls.   Were they bigger, they might serve as ashlars;  but they are not large. Were they flatter, they might make decent skipping-stones;  but they are not flat.”
            And then Tom fell sad;  but then Tom grew wise.
            “I shall give them to the geese, Father, when we gather their eggs -- as I know that we must, yet --  a fact and an act, that always has pained me, as it must pain  them.    But on these  they may sit, and cluck, and brood,   and their silly hearts    be glad.”

            And that is the story of how a Christian first discovered a use for pearls.


Further thoughts on pearls:

As pearls are of more price  than white peas,
so is Gawain of more price  than other gay knights.
-- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

And yet, goodly are these peas, be they pale or green.

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