What Do You Say To A 5-Year-Old For Her Birthday Alexis’ Heirloom Pearl Necklace: Chapter 5

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Alexis’ Heirloom Pearl Necklace: Chapter 5

Alexis slammed the door in the face of her best friend who was still talking and dived onto her bed. “I’ll come down later!” she shouted. She loves Maia, but Maia is a talker. Alexis needed silence to read Grandma’s next letter.

Since her 16th birthday, Alexis cares more and more about these letters and less and less about parties. Her friends don’t get it, but she doesn’t care. She only cares about reading the next letter. She sighs in pleasure as she opens the envelope, inhaling that now familiar scent as it rises from the old pages.

Dear Alexis,

I hope your 20th birthday will be one that inspires you to make brave choices – just like those made by our forefathers.

The eldest of Charlie and Tyan’s great-grandchildren was Wei, a daughter. She was the direct female descendant of her great-grandmother Charlie and she inherited not only Charlie’s spirit of adventure, but also her bravery.

Wei became well known in the region as the intended heiress to the family’s extremely successful silk farm. But, being rich in the time after the Han Dynasty ended also meant you were a target. Her father pressured her into an arranged marriage and there was tension in the house; Wei Tang’s brother believed that he should inherit the farm, not Wei. It was against custom, he said, for a daughter to inherit.

An urgent whisper from a cousin at a recent family gathering confirmed her worst suspicion. “Wei,” said the cousin, “people say you won’t survive if you take over the business. Your brother wants blood. He’s rallied the farm workers against you.”

So with her pearls sewn into a silk pocket on the inside of her dress, reinforced with hemp so it wouldn’t tear, Wei set off on a stolen mare, Tallulah, in the dark of night. Beside the pearls, sewn between the hemp and the silk, was a patch carrying several hundred silkworm eggs.

Wei took a massive risk. The penalty for smuggling silkworms or their eggs from China was death, but she conceived this plan the year she turned 16, when her mother entrusted her with her grandmother’s string of heirloom pearls. The weight of the pearls and the memory of the morning her mother placed them in her hands and told her the stories of the women who had come before her strengthened her spirit.

When she reached the port, she kissed Tallulah goodbye, selling her to a kind-looking horse dealer, and she used the money to pay her passage to Japan. The time has come to meet the man who visited the farm the year she turned sixteen: Akira.

Akira appeared on the farm shortly after Wei’s birthday, looking for the secret to making silk. She eavesdropped as her mother scolded him: “Go! Do you want us all to die? I don’t know what you’re talking about – we don’t know how to make silk!”

Wei knew it was her only chance. She slipped out of the farm gates and ran after him.

“I will bring you the secret,” she said. “But I’ll need shelter in return.”

“How do I know you’re coming?” he asked.

“I have no future here. My father intends for me to marry someone I don’t know, who knows nothing about silk. And my brother wants to kill me.”

Akira still looked doubtful. “I’ll give you a clue,” Wei said, desperate to prove her trustworthiness. “The secret is very small. And it will come in winter, when the trees are bare.”

Akira nodded, still doubtful, and gave her an address – a market place. “If you do it, this is where I’ll be. I’m a businessman looking to learn more. I won’t stop until I find it.”

And there she was, in front of his little booth. He didn’t recognize her when she spoke. “I’m here,” she said. He frowned. Wei watched the confusion on his face change to wonder, and then to awe. He smiled. Then his smile split into a big, wide grin. “You did it!”

Wei fingered the pearls pressing against her side. Of course, I did it, she thought. With these pearls by my side, how could I not?

love,

Grandma

We hope this story has inspired you. If you don’t yet have heirloom pearl jewelry to give to your daughters or granddaughters, visit our store to start your own heirloom pearl tradition. Your girls can have something to take strength from, and it reminds them of how you overcame your struggles.

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