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Ch. 8: Margarita, Pearl

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MARGARITA.
267
resplendent in all his jewels, at the head of his mail-clad chivalry, rashly charged the flying hordes of the Ephthalite Huns, and in the very act of falling into the vast pitfall (engulfing him, his sons, and* his bravest nobles), into which he had been lured by their feigned retreat, tore from his right-ear this glory of his reign, and cast it, be­fore himself, into the abyss, there to be eternally lost amidst the hideous chaos of crushed man and horse—com­forted in death with the assurance of thus cheating the foe of the most precious trophy of their victory. Nor could the Huns, though stimulated to the search by the enormous offers of his Byzantine rival in pomp, the Emperor Anas-tasius, who promised five hundred weight of gold pieces to the finder, ever succeed in recovering from the pit of death the so highly-coveted jewel. And four centuries later the Byzantine historians lament more bitterly over the single matchless Pearl which fell into the hands of the Turks when Romanus Diogenes was taken prisoner by Alp Arslan, than for the loss of all the Asiatic provinces of the Empire, the immediate consequence of the same disaster.
As no two Pearls were ever found exactly alike, this circumstance gave origin to the name " Unio " (unique). But in Low Latin, " Margarita(um) " and "Perla" became a generic name, " Unio " being restricted to the fine, spherical specimens. Although the latter were then, as ever, the most prized, yet the pear-shaped were also ad­mired. These were termed " Eleuchi." Ladies wore them fastened to their finger-rings ; or two or three in a cluster in their ears, in which capacity they got the name of " crotalia" (rattles), from the musical sound they pro­duced in clashing together. Even "the poorer * classes
* The ancient paste-maters, despite their wonderful skill, must have deemed the Orient of the Pearl beyond the reach of their art, for they
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