Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearlby Virginia Hamilton
One long time ago, Pretty Pearl god child lived high on a mountaintop in Africa with all other gods. Curious about mankind and itching to show off her powers, she came down off the mountain with her brother, know-all best god John de Conquer, and sailed on a slave ship for America. There she saw the suffering of the black people, and felt their sorrow right behind… See more details below
One long time ago, Pretty Pearl god child lived high on a mountaintop in Africa with all other gods. Curious about mankind and itching to show off her powers, she came down off the mountain with her brother, know-all best god John de Conquer, and sailed on a slave ship for America. There she saw the suffering of the black people, and felt their sorrow right behind her eyes . Pretty Pearl knew now was her time to act.Brother John gave her a magical necklace, a set of rules to follow, and a warning to be careful. "Them human bein's be awful tricky," he said."they has most winnin' ways."
Drawing upon her fabulous storehouse of black legend, myth, and folklore, Virginia Hamilton has ventured into new ways of exploring the human spirit in this extrodinary fantasy filled with mysteries, beauty, and hope.
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One long time ago, Pretty Pearl yearned to come down from on high. One clear day it was, she daydreamed of leaving her home on Mount Kenya.
What good it is bein' a god chile, she thought, if I got to hang around up here all de time? What there for me to do when I beat all de god chil'ren at de games, and I learns everythin' so fast?
Great Mount Kenya of Africa was known as Mount Highness by Pretty Pearl and the other gods who lived there. It was a vast and glorious mountain of peaks, valleys, grasslands, forests, bare rock and glaciers. It was also an extinct volcano with a dome almost a hundred miles around. The Kikuyu, Embu and Meru human beings cultivated the lower slopes of the Mount. Some of the lesser gods on high kept a watch over them.
They too many of us gods, Pretty Pearl decided. We too scared to leave de Mount and find out what's goin' on.
I know! she thought all of a sudden. I'll go find my brother, see if he have somethin' for me to do.
Now the most powerful one of the gods who lived on Mount Highness was Pretty Pearl's older brother. He was John deConquer, and all knew him as the best god.
"Call me 'de Con-care,' " John always did say to the lesser gods. And "de Con-care" was always the way they called him.
Pretty and deConquer had an even older brother, also named John, who was the oldest of the three of them. He was John Henry Roustabout. John Henry had left the Mount for way-low ground ages ago.
"I expect John Henry think he 'most human by now," de Conquer had said one day to Pretty. He had frowned his disapproval. "John Henry livin' with ungodly peoples so long. I warn him'bout that before he left, so."
"Any which way John Henry go, and how far he go, he be trouble for somebody, usually himself," Pretty Pearl had said. She didn't know this to be true. She was only parroting what she had heard lesser gods say.
Can't much remember John Henry, she thought, he been gone so long.
But she had a warm feeling for her oldest brother, and she kept it deep inside. She knew in her god child's heart that he had gone far.
Now she hurried on, searching for her brother John de Conquer.
"You seen John de Conquer?" she asked a lesser god called Nandi.
"He over there in de bamboo grasses," said the god Nandi. "He makin' some him noisy drums for de god chil'ren." Nandi lay on the ground on his back with his legs crossed. He pushed the clouds around by fluttering his eyelashes.
"Humph!" Pretty Pearl said, hurrying away. "Everybody got nothin' to do!"
She entered a forest of bamboo that looked like trees. The bamboo's hollow stems were called culms, and they grew over a hundred feet high.
If these be grasses, Pretty thought as she'd thought before, then they grasses for de giants.
"Grasses for de gods," John deConquer corrected her, reading her mind.
"Oh!" Pretty exclaimed, jumping back. "John, you scare me! Was I talkin' out loud? I didn't see you lyin' there."
John de Conquer was lying flat, with just his head up against a tall bamboo. His ebony crown was low on his forehead. He had his hands clasped on the nape of his neck. His feet were crossed at his ankles. All around him were unfinished singing drums.
"How you doin', Pretty?" asked the best god, John de Conquer.
"Not too well," answered Pretty Pearl. She sat down beside her brother.
"Not so?" he asked. "Why come--you got fittin' pains agin?"
Occasionally, Pretty complained that she was fitting into god power too fast, worse than most god children, and that she ached all over.
"No fittin' pains," she said. "John, I got nothin' to do with myself."
"Play with de god chil'ren," de Conquer murmured.
"I do," she said. "But I beat all of them. Everybody else be keepin' de place so clean and neat--de forest and de glacier--I can't find nothin' worth even thinkin' about."
"That's somethin'," said de Conquer. "I always have a head full of stuff. Take this here bamboo. De leaves grow directly from de culms. It stand like trees. And it so quiet and peaceful here. Think I'll spend half a whole day here."
"Maybe that de problem," Pearl muttered.
"What's that?" de Conquer asked.
"Been studyin' de god time and de human time," she said. "Half a god day be fifty human years. We all lives too long on de Mount. And got nothin' left to fix."
De Conquer closed his eyes and smiled to himself. He could watch Pearl just as well with his eyes closed. But Pretty didn't know this yet, because she was still so young. There were lots of things she didn't know about de Conquer.
"Gods live forever," de Conquer said. "That be their nature. And they's plenty left to get fixed. What's on you mind, Pretty? What be troublin' you?" he asked softly.
"Oh, John, bro!" she said, excitedly. "I been watchin' and spyin'. Oh, they's things goin' on real strange!"
"Uh-huh," he murmured, like he was about to fall asleep. But John was watching his sister closely. So it begins, he was thinking. She growin' and wishin' for to test her strength.
"John, don't get mad at me!"
"Hmmmm? Why would I ever get mad at my baby Sister?" he asked.
"Well," she said, "I notice how you and de other gods don't like to spend too much time off de Mount."
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