PEARL

JEREMIAS GOTTHELF

The grandfather began, and all the faces grew tense once again: ‘There is not much to add to what I know, but I will tell you what there is of it; perhaps someone may benefit from it in the present day and age, and it would truly do no harm to many people to hear it.

‘When the people realised that the spider was confined and they were sure of their lives again, it is said that they felt as though they were in heaven and the good Lord was in their midst with His bliss, and for a long time all was well. They kept a steadfast faith in God and renounced the devil, and even the knights who had moved in anew into the castle stood in awe of God's Hand and were good to the people and helped them to get going.

‘All came to look at this house with reverence, almost like a church. To be sure, at first they all shuddered on seeing where the dreadful spider was imprisoned and thought how easily it could break loose from there and start the misery over again with the force of the devil's vengeance. But they soon saw how greater was God's Might over the strength of the devil, and out of gratitude to the mother who died for them all, they helped her children and cultivated the farm for them for nothing until they could do the work themselves. The knights were willing to let them build a new house so that they would have no fear of the spider or that it could be released by accident in an inhabited house, and offers of help were forthcoming from many of their neighbours who still had an aversion to the monster that had reduced them to such shambles of terror. But the old grandmother would have none of it. She taught her grandchildren that it was here that the spider was bound through God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; as long as these three Holy Names held sway in this house and as long as meals were taken at table in the grace of the Trinity, so long would they be safe from the spider and it would be held fast in the hole, and no accident would make a difference. She added that when they were seated at this table, with the spider behind them, they would never forget how they needed God nor His Might; thus the spider would remind them of God and lead them to salvation, in spite of the devil. But if they were to renounce God, and even if it were a hundred hours’ journey away, they would find no place to hide and the spider or the devil himself would find them. The children grasped this and remained in the house, grew up God-fearing and the blessing of God was upon the household.

What men usually ask of God when they pray is that two and two not make four.
Anonymous
Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but ... life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
Gabriel García Márquez

‘The boy who had been so faithful to his mother, and the mother just as faithful to him, grew up into a fine specimen of a man beloved of God and man and found favour with the knights. For this reason he was blessed with worldly possession, but at no time did this make him forget God, nor become grasping; he helped others in their need, just as he would wish to be helped in his final hour; and where he was too weak to render assistance himself, he interceded all the more earnestly with God and men. He was blessed with a wise wife, and there was an unfathomable bond of peace between them, and so their children blossomed in piety, and they both passed away peacefully in the fullness of years. His family continued to thrive in the fear of God and righteousness.

God's blessing indeed lay over the whole valley, and there was happiness in the fields and sheds and peace among the people. They had taken the terrible lesson to heart and turned firmly to God; whatever they did, they did in His name, and wherever one could help the other, he did not hesitate to do so. No acts of wickedness came from the castle, only much that was good. Ever fewer knights lived there, for the strife in the heathen lands grew increasingly fierce and every able hand that could

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