The Necklace of Tears
by Mrs. Egerton Eastwick
ONCE, many years ago, there lived in Ombrelande
a most beautiful Princess. Now, Ombrelande
is a country which still exists, and in which many
strange things still happen, although it is not to be found
in any map of the world that I know of.
The Princess, at the time the story begins, was little
more than a child, and while her growing beauty was
everywhere spoken of, she was unfortunately still more
noted for her selfish and disagreeable nature. She cared
for nothing but her own amusement and pleasure, and
gave no thought to the pain she sometimes inflicted on
others in order to gratify her whims. It must be mentioned,
however, as an excuse for her heartlessness, that,
being an only child, she had been spoilt from her babyhood,
and always allowed to have her own way, while
those who thwarted her were punished.
One day the Princess Olga, that was her name, escaped
from her governess and attendants, and wandered into
the wood which joined the gardens of the palace. It
was her fancy to be alone; she would not even allow
her faithful dachshund to bear her company.
The air was soft with the coming of spring; the sun
was shining, the songs of the birds were full of gratitude
and joy; the most lovely flowers, in all imaginable hues,
turned the earth into a jewelled nest of verdure.
Olga threw herself down on a bank, bright with green
moss and soft as a downy pillow. The warmth and her
wanderings had already wearied her. She had neglected
her morning studies, and left her singing-master waiting
for her in despair in the music-room of the palace, that
she might wander into the wood, and already the pleasure
She threw herself down on the bank and wished she
was at home. There was one thing, however, of which
she never tired, and that was her own beauty; so now,
having nothing to do, and finding the world and the
morning exceedingly tiresome and tame and dull, she
unbound her long golden hair, and spread it all around
her like a carpet over the moss and the flowers, that
she might admire its softness and luxuriance, by way of
She held up the yellow meshes in her hands and drew
them through her fingers, laughing to see the golden
lights that played among the silky waves in the sunlight;
then she fell to admiring the small white hands which
held the treasure, holding them up against the light to
see their almost transparent delicacy, and the pretty rose-pink
lines where the fingers met. Certainly she made
a charming picture, there in the sunshine among the
flowers: the picture of a lovely innocent child, if she
had been less vain and self-conscious.
Presently she heard a slight rustle of boughs behind her,
and looking round she saw that she was no longer alone.
Not many paces away, gazing at her with admiring
wonder, stood a youth in the dress of a beggar, and
over his shoulder looked the face of a young girl, which
Olga was forced to acknowledge as lovely as her own.
Now, the forest was the private property of the King,
and the presence of these poor-looking people was certainly
"What are you doing here?" said Olga haughtily.
"Don't you know that you are trespassing? This wood
belongs to the King, and is forbidden to tramps and
"We are no beggars, lady," said the youth. He spoke
with great gentleness, but his voice was strong and sweet
as a deep-toned bell. "To us no land is forbidden—and
we own allegiance to no one."
"My father will have you put in prison," said Olga
angrily. "What is your name?"
"My name is Kasih."
"And that girl behind you—she is hiding—why does
she not come forward?"
"It is Kasukah—my sister," he said, looking round with
a smile; "she is shy, and frightened, perhaps."
"What outlandish names! You must be gypsies,"
said Olga rudely, "and perhaps thieves."
"Indeed, lady, you are mistaken; on the contrary, it
is in our power to bestow upon you many priceless gifts.
But we have travelled far to find you, and are weary;
only bid us welcome—let us go with you to the castle
"How dare you speak so to me?" interrupted Olga,
in a fury. "To the castle, indeed—what are you thinking
of? There is a poor-house somewhere, I have heard the
people say, maintained by my father's bounty out of
the taxes, you can go there. Go at once—or——"
She raised the little silver-handled dog-whip which hung
at her girdle. To do her justice, she was no coward.
Kasukah had quite disappeared; the boy stood alone
looking at Olga with sad, reproachful eyes. For a moment,
she thought what a pity he was so poor and shabby;
he had the face and bearing of a king. But she was
too proud to change her tone.
"Or what?" he said.
"I will drive you away," she said defiantly. Still
Kasih did not move, and the next moment she had struck
him smartly across the cheek with the whip.
He made no effort at self-defence or retaliation, only
it seemed to her that she herself felt the pain of the
wound. For a few instants she saw his sorrowful face
grown white and stern, and the red, glowing scar which
her whip had caused; then, like Kasukah, he seemed
to vanish, and disappeared among the trees, while where
he had stood a sunbeam crossed the grass.
Olga felt rather scared. She had been certainly very
audacious, and it was odd that the boy should have shown
no resentment. After all, she rather wished she had
asked both him and his sister to stay, they might have
However, it was too late now; she could not call them
back; so she thought she would return to the castle;
she was beginning to feel hungry. So she went leisurely
home, and, for the remainder of the day, proved a little
more tractable than usual. She did not forget Kasih
and his sister, and for a time wondered if they would
ever seek her again; but the months went by and she
saw them no more.
Now, as Olga grew older, of course the question arose
of finding for her a desirable husband. And one suitor
came and another, but none pleased her; and, indeed,
more than one highly eligible young Prince was frightened
away by her haughty manners and violent temper.
The truth was, that in secret she had not forgotten
the face of Kasih, and she sometimes told herself that
if she could find among her suitors one who was at all
like him, and was also rich and powerful enough to
give her all she desired in other ways, him she would
choose. Kasih was certainly very handsome, in spite of
his beggar's clothes; and, suitably dressed, he would have
been quite adorable. Also, it would be delightful to find
a husband with such a gentle, yielding disposition, who
never thought of resenting anything she said or did.
And one day a suitor came to the palace who really
made her heart beat a little faster than usual at first;
he was so like the lost Kasih. But unfortunately he was
only the younger son of a Royal Duke, and could offer
her nothing better than a small, insignificant Principality
and an income hardly sufficient to pay her dressmaker's
bills. So it was no use thinking about him, and he was
dismissed with the others. Olga's father began to think his daughter would never find all she required in a
husband, but would remain for ever in the ancestral
castle: as every year she grew more disagreeable, the
prospect did not afford him entire satisfaction.
At length, however, appeared a very powerful Prince,
who peremptorily demanded her hand. He was a big,
strong man, and carried on his wooing in such a masterful
manner that even Olga was a little afraid of him. At
the same time he loaded her with jewels and beautiful
presents of all kinds, brought from his own country. He
was said to possess fabulous wealth; and, partly because
she feared him, and partly because of her pride and
ambition, haughty Olga surrendered and promised to
become his wife. Having once gained her consent, Hazil
would brook no delay.
The date was immediately fixed, and the grandest
possible preparations made for the wedding. No expense
was spared, innumerable guests were invited, while those
less favoured among the people came from far and near
to see the bride's wedding clothes and to bring her
presents. Indeed, the King of Ombrelande was forced
to add a new suite of rooms to the castle to contain
the wedding gifts and display them to the best advantage.
Such a sight as the bridal train had never been seen
before, for it was spangled all over with diamonds so
closely that Olga when she moved looked like a living
jewel—and her veil was sprinkled with diamond dust,
which sparkled like myriads of tiny stars.
The evening before the wedding day Olga sat alone
in her chamber, thinking of the magnificence that awaited
her, also a little of Hazil, the bridegroom. She had
that day seen Hazil, in a passion, punish, with his own
hands, a servant for disobedience, and the sight had
displeased her. It had been an ugly and unpleasant
exhibition, but worse than all, the sight of the poor
man's wounds had recalled that livid mark across the
fair cheek of Kasih which she herself had wrought. The
boy's gentle face, which had become so stern when they
parted, the laughing eyes of Kasukah, quite haunted her
to-night. She thought she would like to make amends
for her rudeness; if she knew where they were, she would
ask brother and sister to her wedding. And just as
she was so thinking, a soft tap sounded at the door,
and before she could ask who was there (she thought it
must surely be the Queen, her mother, come to bid
her a last good-night, and felt rather displeased at the
interruption) the door opened, and a stranger entered
Olga saw a tall figure, draped from head to foot in
a soft darkness that shrouded her like a cloud, obscuring
even her face.
"Who are you?" said Olga, "and what do you want
in my private apartments? Who dared admit you without
"I asked admittance of no one, for none can refuse me
or bar my way," answered the stranger, in a voice like
the sighing of soft winds at night. "My name is
Kasuhama—I am the foster-sister of Kasukah and Kasih,
of whom you were just now thinking, and I come to
bring you a wedding gift."
She withdrew her veil slightly as she spoke, and Olga
saw a pale, serene face, sorrowful in expression, and
framed with snow-white hair, but yet bearing a likeness,
that was like a memory, to Kasih and Kasukah.
"I wish," said Olga petulantly, "that Kasih had brought
it to-morrow and been present at our feast. I would
have seen that he was properly attired for the occasion. Your sad face is hardly suitable for a wedding feast.
Shall I ever see him again?"
"As to that, I cannot answer," said Kasuhama gravely;
"but your wedding is no place either for him or Kasukah.
As for me—I go everywhere. I am older in appearance
than the others, you see, though, in reality, it is not so.
But that is because they have immortal souls and I have
none. The time will come when I must bid them farewell.
We but journey together for a time."
The air of the room seemed to have become strangely
chill and cold, and Olga shivered. "I am tired," she
said, "and I wish to rest. Will you state your business
and leave me?"
Experience had made her less abruptly rude than when
she dismissed Kasih in the wood; also this cold, pale,
soulless woman struck her with something like awe.
"Yes,—I will say farewell to you now. In the future
you will know me better and perhaps learn not to fear
me—but I will leave with you the present I came to
She held out a necklace of pearls more wonderful than
even Olga had ever seen. They were large and round,
lustrous and fair; but as Olga took them in her hands
it seemed to her that, in their mysterious depths, each
jewel held imprisoned a living soul.
"Wear them," said Kasuhama; "by them you will
Almost involuntarily Olga raised her hands and fastened
the necklace around her slender throat. The clasps just
met, and the pearls glistened like dewdrops on her bosom—or
were they tears?
But in the centre of the necklace was a vacant space.
"There is one lost!" she said.
"Not lost, but missing," answered Kasuhama softly.
"One day the place will be filled, and the necklace will
be complete." And with these words she waved her
hand to Olga, and, drawing her dusky veil around her,
quitted the room as quietly as she had entered.
The ceremonies of the following day passed off without
let or hindrance, and Olga, dazzled by her grandeur,
would have thought little of her visitor of the previous
night—would indeed have believed the incident a dream,
a trick of the imagination—but for the necklace. It
still encircled her throat, for her utmost efforts proved
unavailing to unfasten the clasps, and every one stared
and marvelled at the wonderful pearls which seemed
endowed with a curious fascination.
Only Prince Hazil was displeased; for he could not
bear his bride to wear jewels not his gift, and that
outshone by their lustre any he could produce; also,
he was jealous of the unknown giver. When the wedding
was over, and they were travelling away to the distant
castle where the first weeks of Olga's new life were to
be spent, he tried to take the jewels from their resting-place.
Olga smiled, for she knew that even his great
strength would be unavailing, and so it proved; and
although on reaching their destination Hazil sent for all
the Court jewellers, neither then nor at any other time
could the most experienced among them loosen Kasuhama's
magic gift from its place.
The months rolled by, and Olga reigned a Queen in her
husband's country, but her life was a sad one. Hazil was often cruel, and it seemed as though he were bent upon
heaping upon her all the contumely and harshness she had
shown to others. Still her proud spirit refused to yield.
She met him with defiance in secret, and openly bore herself
with so much cold haughtiness that no one dared to
hint at her trouble, much less to offer her any sympathy.
But when alone in her chamber she saw again the
faces of Kasih and Kasukah; but more often that of
Kasuhama. For the necklace was still there to remind
her; the pearls still shone with mysterious, undimmed
lustre; indeed, they seemed to grow more numerous,
and to be woven into more delicate and intricate designs,
as time went on. Still, however, the place for the central
jewel remained unfilled. Often Olga herself tried with
passionate, almost agonising, effort to break their fatal
chain, for every day their weight grew heavier, until
she seemed to bear fetters of iron about her fair throat,
and when the pearls touched her they burned as though
the iron were molten.
Still, in public, they were universally admired, and
gratified vanity enabled her to bear the pain and inconvenience
without open complaint.
But one day was placed in her arms another treasure—a
beautiful living child, and she was so fair that they
called her Pearl, but the Queen hated the name. The
child, however, found a soft place in Hazil's rough nature;
indeed, he idolised her; but Olga rarely saw her little
daughter, and left her altogether to the care of the
nurses and attendants.
So little Pearl grew very fragile, and had a wistful
look in her blue eyes, as though waiting for something
that never came; for in her grand nurseries and among
all her beautiful playthings she found no mother-love to
perfect and nourish her life.
And all this time Olga had seen no more of Kasih or
Kasukah; had, indeed, almost forgotten what their faces
were like. But one night, at the close of a grand entertainment,
she was summoned in haste to the nursery. The
Court physician came to tell her that little Pearl was ill.
Olga was very weary. Never had the necklace seemed
so heavy a burden as that night, or the Court functions
so endless. She rose, however, and followed the physician
at once. Hazil, the King, was far away, visiting a distant
part of his great territory; he would be terribly angry if
anything went wrong with little Pearl during his absence.
She reached the room where the child lay on her lace-covered
pillows, very white and small, but with a happy
smile on her tiny face, a happy light in her blue eyes,
which looked satisfied at last. But Olga knew that
the smile was not for her, that the child did not recognise
her, would never know her any more.
Some one else stood beside the couch: a stranger with
bent head and loving, out-stretched arms, and little Pearl
prattled in baby language of playthings and flowers and
sunlight and green fields. Olga drew near and watched,
helpless and terrified, with a strange despair at her heart.
And soon the little voice grew weaker—but the happy
smile deepened as the blue eyes closed.
And there was a great silence in the nursery. The
stranger lifted the little form in his arms, and as he
raised his head Olga saw his face, and she knew that
it was Kasih come at last, for across his cheek still glowed
the red line of the wound which her hand had dealt
many years before. His eyes met hers with the same
stern sadness of reproach as when they had parted—then
she remembered no more.
When the Queen recovered from her swoon they told
her that her little daughter was dead; but she knew that
Kasih had taken her. She said no word and showed few signs of grief, but remained outwardly proud and
cold, though her heart was wrung with a pain and fear
she could not understand. She was full of wrath against
Kasih, who, she thought, had taken this way of avenging
the old insult she had offered him. Yet the sorrowful
look in his eyes haunted her.
The pearls about her neck pressed upon her with a
heavier weight, and in her sleep she saw them as in
a vision, and in their depths she discerned strange
pictures: faces she had known years ago and long since
forgotten, the faces of those whom her pride and harshness
had caused to suffer, who had appealed to her for love
and pity and were denied.
And then in her dream she understood that the pearls
were in truth the tears of those she had made sorrowful,
kept and guarded by Kasih in his treasure-house, but
given to her by Kasuhama to be her punishment.
Before many days had passed, the King Hazil returned,
and when he learned that his little daughter was dead,
he summoned the Queen to his presence. Olga went
haughtily, for she dared not altogether disobey. Then
Hazil loaded her with reproaches, and in his anger he
told her many, many hard things, and the words sank
deep into her heart. It seemed, presently, that she could
bear no more, and hardly knowing what she did, she
cast herself at his feet and prayed for mercy.
She asked him to remember that the child had been
hers also—that she had loved it. But Hazil, in his
bitterness, laughed in her face and told her she was a
monster, that it was for lack of her love that the child
had died, that she had never loved anything—not even herself. He turned away to nurse his own grief, and
Olga dragged herself up and went away to the silent
room, and knelt by the little couch where she had seen
Kasih take away her child.
And there at length the blessed tears fell, for she was
humbled at last, and sorry, and quite desolate and alone.
And it seemed to her that through her tears she once
more saw Kasih, and that he held towards her the little
Pearl, more beautiful than ever, and the child put its arms
about her neck, and she was comforted.
Well, from that day the life of the Queen was changed.
When next she looked at the pearl necklace she found
that a jewel, more beautiful than any of the others, had
been added to it; and she knew that the tear of her
humiliation had filled the vacant place.
And henceforth she often saw the face of Kasih: near
the bed of the dying, beside all who needed consolation,
kindness, and love, there she met him constantly. Near
him sometimes she caught a glimpse of bright Kasukah,
but for a while, more often of Kasuhama.
The face of the white-haired sister, however, had grown
very gentle and kind, and she whispered of a time when
Kasukah should take her place for ever—for Love and
Joy are eternal, but Sorrow has an end. And with every
act of unselfish kindness and love that the Queen Olga
performed the weight and burden of the necklace grew
less, until the day that it fell from her of its own accord,
and she was able to give it back to Kasuhama. And
Hazil, the King, seeing how greatly Olga was changed,
in time grew gentle towards her, and loved her; for
Kasuhama softened his heart.