Pearl Maiden by H. Rider Haggard

October 17, 2012
By mstar BRONZE, Enumclaw, Washington
mstar BRONZE, Enumclaw, Washington
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The book starts out with a two Christian ladies that are very, very different. Nehushta was dark-skinned and in her 40s and Rachel was a pregnant pale-skinned 20-year-old. But despite their differences they are both great friends. But the situation they were in wasn’t so great. They were about to enter a roman amphitheater where several lions would devour them and they’re friends. When the roman emperor became sick, everything became chaos and the two ladies broke free. They hid in a merchant’s storehouse and then snuck away on a ship. The ship got stuck in a storm and Nehushta and Rachel were the only survivors. Rachel gave birth to a little girl, after the ship landed on the beach, and named her Miriam. She died quickly right after giving birth to the child and made Nehushta promise that Miriam would marry a Christian. Nehushta took Miriam to live with her uncle an Essene. Her uncle took her in but only under the commitment that she would leave when she turned eighteen. Miriam grew up with only one other child her age a young Jewish boy name Caleb. When she turned 14 Caleb started harrowing her to marry him, which shocked her. She told him she couldn’t marry him for two reasons, one because she did not love him and the other because he was not a Christian. But that did not stop him in the least from trying to make her love him back.
One day a group of roman guards came by and took all of the Essenes sheep. Caleb was enraged and since the Essenes didn’t do anything about it he decided he would and killed one of the roman guards as they were leaving. This caused even more trouble because more roman guards came to investigate the murder. The roman captain, Marcus, walked in on Miriam while she was having her sculpting her lesson. He decided that she was a talented sculptor and asked her if she could do a bust of him. For the rest of the time he was there every afternoon she would sculpt him. They got to know each other pretty well. It didn’t take Marcus to long before he discovered that Caleb killed the guard. The night before he left he told Miriam he knew who had killed the guard. Miriam begged him not to hurt Caleb and he promised not to kill him. The night before Marcus left he told Miriam that he loved her. Miriam told him that she loved him to but couldn’t marry him because he wasn’t Christian. After Miriam went inside Caleb confronted Marcus and challenged him to a duel. Marcus refused and Caleb called him a coward. Of course being a guy he had to turn around and fight. There were many close calls for Marcus but eventually he got Caleb cornered and Caleb ran away but not totally, he left a finger. The next morning Marcus rode away with his bust and Caleb disappeared without a trace.

But Marcus didn’t go straight home. Instead he went to Miriam’s grandfather, a Jew, and made him promise that if Miriam ever came to live with him that he wouldn’t force her to marry anyone. Benoni, Miriam’s grandfather, promised never to force her to marry anyone, but only because of the considerable debts he owed Marcus. It was a good thing that Marcus did what he did when he did because Caleb, now a rich gallant gentlemen, soon became fast friends with Benoni. Soon after when Miriam turned eighteen she and Nehushta moved in with Benoni. Benoni didn’t force Miriam to marry Caleb but he sure did try to convince her that she should marry Caleb. Miriam and Marcus wrote to each other but they didn’t receive each other’s letters very often. One day Miriam was in her grandfather’s gardens and a messenger came up to her and gave her a package from Marcus. Marcus gave her a necklace of pearls and an emerald ring with his profile carved into it. That night as she showed Nehushta the letter and jewelry, Nehushta informed her that Caleb and Benoni’s other friends were having a meeting and Benoni wanted her to meet them. Miriam was upset; she didn’t want to see Caleb. But she obeyed her grandfather. Miriam talked to Marcus a little, but all he talked about were the wars he was fighting against Rome. Miriam left supper early saying that she didn’t feel good.
In the coming years the war between the Jews and the Romans got worse, and her Grandfather got more and more involved. He got so involved that the Romans eventually attacked his own house. Miriam, Nehushta, and Benoni all got away. They escaped to Jerusalem where Miriam got separated from her grandfather and happened upon the Essenes, who were hiding in a series of tunnels underneath the ground. Miriam wondered around daily, and one day she discovered a door that led to an old ruined tower where every day watched the happenings of the war. One day she saw Marcus riding on a horse directing battle against Caleb. One day Marcus fell off his horse and Caleb immediately charged him. Then Caleb challenged Marcus to a duel and once again Marcus said no and walked away. While Marcus’ back was turned Caleb hit him on the back with the side of his sword. Marcus fell to the ground and realized that his sword was gone and rushed straight for Caleb. They fought but Caleb wound up overpowering Marcus. Marcus was carried to the tower that Miriam and Nehushta were on. Miriam and Nehushta broke into the tower through the stone door and Nehushta picked up Marcus and quickly went back into the tower but a guard grabbed Miriam before she could escape. Miriam was taken to court and put on trial. She was judged before the Sanhedrim and her grandfather. She was discovered guilty and tied up on a pole before everyone without food or water. But Caleb Threw her bags of food and gave her jars of water once a day. On the second day of being tied to the pole the romans took over the temple where she was tied. Her grandfather killed himself and the other Sanhedrim were taken hostage. The romans took her and gave her food and drink and delivered her to a servant who nursed her back to health. While Miriam was being nursed Marcus was searching for her. When Miriam got better she found an Essene, Gallus. She told him where the other Essene’s were hiding and asked him to send a message for her to Marcus. Everyone at the camp called Miriam Pearl Maiden because of the pearl necklace that Marcus gave her.
The Essene, Gallus, found where the other Essene’s were hiding but they were gone so he worked for pay for four months until he heard that the Essene’s had gone back to their old home. Gallus went to where they were living and gave the message to Marcus. Marcus immediately left for Rome. By the time Marcus received the letter Miriam was already in Rome. In Rome she enjoyed her stay with a roman captain, Gallus, and his Christian wife, Julia. But one day she was sent for by Titus, her owner. Gallus and Julia took her to see Caesar Titus, Caesar Vespasian, and Prince Domitian. Prince Domitian immediately liked Miriam a lot but Titus refused to give her to him. The next Miriam was forced to be in the Triumph, a parade that went through Rome celebrating their victory. While Miriam walked in the parade, she had to wear a plaque that read “Pearl Maiden prize of Caesar Titus”, and a very revealing dress. After the parade she was put up for auction. Domitian’s servant was there and he boasted that he would bid a thousand sestertia, but Nehushta was also there. Nehushta did the winning bid of 2,000 sestertia, using the money that Marcus’ estate had accumulated during the war. Miriam and Nehushta immediately escaped on a ship to Egypt. Marcus who was captured by Jews and didn’t kill himself was thrown in jail. When he finally got out he heard that the ship Miriam was on got caught in a storm and sunk. He converted to Christianity because he finally realized it was true then ran away to Egypt. In Egypt he found out that Miriam’s ship hadn’t sunk and the captain of the ship married them immediately.

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