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Pearl Maiden

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Pearl Maiden

By: H. Rider Haggard

Pearl Maiden is about Miriam, a girl born on a boat in the middle of a storm, whose mother, Rachel, dies shortly after giving birth. Before she dies, though, she asks her servant, Nahushta, to raise the baby in the city of Essenes with her brother, the baby's uncle, Ithiel. He loves the baby as soon as he sees her, but Essenes does not permit women in the city. Nahushta convinces him to ask the courts and Ithiel is granted permission to care for Miriam until she turns 18.

While living in Essenes Miriam abides by her mother's will to maintain her Christianity, though the city is a Jewish city. The Order visits Miriam's house twice weekly and at age seven is given a playmate, Caleb, the only child close to her age. Miriam and Caleb play everyday after her lessons. She is well taught. The Order provides her with a teacher for everything from history to art to theology.

One day while Miriam and Nahushta are out collecting flowers they see Caleb with a bow and quiver. He explains there are drunk Roman officers in the city collecting taxes and also that a hyena had been bothering the sheep so he had to shoot it. But when Nahushta saw that one of the officers had been shot in the neck and fallen off his horse, she knew Caleb had done a bad thing. An officer, Marcus, comes to Essenes to investigate. Just outside the city notices Miriam and Nahushta collecting flowers again and immediately falls in love with Miriam.

He introduces himself and asks her to bring him into the city. Along the way they meet Caleb who is unable to hide his jealously toward Marcus. Afraid he'll lose her, Caleb confesses his love to Miriam and though he would not force her to be with him, he would kill any other man whom she loves.

Marcus discovers that Caleb is the murderer and also falls deeper in love with Miriam as they spend time together. Miriam pleads with him not to arrest Caleb and he agrees, out of love for her. Caleb, realizing Miriam loves Marcus, and not knowing she's trying to save Caleb's life, follows Marcus home to confront and challenge him to a fight to the death. Marcus tries to talk him out of it, but Caleb insists. During the fight Marcus cuts off Caleb's forefinger and tells Caleb he will save his life. That night Caleb runs to Jerusalem telling no one.

Marcus must leave the city and go back to Rome and war. Miriam is almost 19, so Nahushta and Miriam leave Essenes shortly after Marcus. They head to Jerusalem to be with other Christians and find that all of the Christians are being killed by the Romans. In search of a hiding place, they find Ithiel who leads them underground where they live for over four months as the war continues

After the four months underground, Miriam hears news that Marcus is coming to Jerusalem to fight in the war. Excited because it's been over two years since she's seen him she begs her uncle to let her and Nahushta out to see him. Ithiel refuses, but shows them an abandoned tower with an underground passage where no one will see them. So, on top of the tower Miriam and Nahushta sit everyday until Miriam finally she sees Marcus fighting.

He's fighting Caleb, who has become a leader in the Jewish army! Caleb hits him in the back with the flat of his sword and then hits him in the head and knocks him out. The Jewish army takes Marcus captive at

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