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They sat down to congratulate themselves and feel their luck. You cannot feel your luck standing. Schumer lit a pipe and Floyd followed his example. They put a bit of seaweed on a shell and the pearl on the seaweed, and with it in front of them began to speculate and talk. They felt now that time was theirs, and Schumer knew, though Floyd was still to learn, that the flower of success blooms only on the youngest shoots, that the joy of striking it rich lives only in perfection during the first early days of the stroke, that the fever of life and the enchantment of triumph both die down and fade, that the fully grasped is nothing to the half grasped.
To be given a pearl lagoon by luck and to work it as a hog works a wood for truffles would be to act like a hog.
[Pg 80]The stuff was all there; this and the success of the first day's work was ample confirmation of the riches lying under that green water, and Schumer expatiated on the matter.
"You wouldn't believe it," said he, "but the value of a single pearl grows in proportion as you can match it with others exactly like it. It takes eighty or a hundred pearls to make a woman's necklace. Eighty or a hundred pearls like that one would each be worth two or three times what each pearl is worth alone. Even twenty pearls exactly alike would be worth much more than if they were different, for they would form the basis for a collection. You would never dream of the work that goes on in the world matching these things. There are men at it all the time in Paris and London and Amsterdam. A perfect necklace of pearls once formed is always held together; it becomes an individual, so to speak, and is known to the trade by a name. The women belonging to the royal families of Europe hold a number of these collections, but there are lots of private ones, and every great collection is known and tabulated. So you see it won't pay us to peddle our stuff out little by little—we must hold all the pearls we get and match them."
"Look here," said Floyd, "one thing we have never settled—our shares in this business. There's Isbel, too; she has done her bit."
"What's the use of money to a Kanaka?" said he. "We'll give her something, of course, but we need not take her seriously into our calculations. Our shares—well, don't you think it's a bit early to come to that?[Pg 81] All this is a dream in the air at present; it may never go farther."
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