The Wanderer

It was found off the coast of Panama, nacreous and irresistible, glowing with a soft, pale temptation.  It was shaped like a tear, weeping into the ocean, the birthplace of currents, the blueprint of tides.

Gems, like women, will make men sentimental.  They give their treasures nicknames – small proofs of private and affectionate ownership.  At this time, Spain was mistress to the New World, showing her love in unwanted Catholicism and demanding payment in land, in people, in valuables.  By the time this grieving pearl had become part of the Spanish Crown Jewels, it had already acquired the name 'La Peregrina' – 'The Pilgrim', 'The Wanderer'.

In 1554, Philip, future king of Spain, was betrothed to a sad queen.  England's Mary I - thin-lipped, jaws tightly muscled, graceless and  intolerant - had never met Philip.  But she stroked the painted cheek of his portrait and waited with a doomed devotion for her Spanish lover across the Atlantic.

Philip arrived in England with chests of presents for Mary and the ladies-in-waiting who followed her silently on hidden footsteps.  There were bolts of satin – in coiled, simmering colors – yards of silver and gold tissue; black and white lace; linen veils; and gems from the empty veins of the New World.  Amongst these royal baubles was La Peregrina, wrapped in velvet perhaps, to protect its sublime light; the moon that slept within its layers.

Mary loved the pilgrim that had traveled to far to reach her.  She ordered her jewelers to create a setting worthy of her egg-sized pearl.  They brought to her a brooch of diamonds, surrounded by a filigree that swarmed like a golden vine.  And La Peregrina dangled like a planet beneath that glittering sky.

She wore it always.  It lay across her flattened breast, against the wooden corset.  Beneath it Mary's heart beat, an undesired spark kept alive in its lonely chamber.  But La Peregrina was round and nubile – a ripe fruit blooming from a barren tree.

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8 responses to “The Wanderer

  1. enthralling, as always

  2. That portrait captures its subject excellently.

  3. Beautiful and sad. I'm always fascinated with the Tudors. Interesting title and intriguing writing.

  4. i forgot how much i love your writing…


  5. such the portrait – fascinating.

  6. Not so much sad as quite nasty actually. She her rival Lady Jane Grey executed and tried to reverse her fathers Religous Reformation and return England to Catholicism – which really meant subservience to Spain and Rome and all the horrors of the Inquisition. In her efforts to achieve this she presented the country with a reign of terror burning Protestants at the stake to such an extent that she is known as 'Bloody Mary'. On the plus side and all the Tudors had a plus side she was one of the founding fathers of the USA sending ships to North America to trade and found colonies. Maryland is named after her and Virginia is named after her much more successful sister Elizebeth 1st (The Virgin Queen – get it, yeah right). Why a few religous nutters on the Mayflower almost a century later get the credit defies belief? Eric

  7. I think she was deluded more than anything else. She had spend her youth in fear and when she finally became queen she had nothing left to give but her bitterness.
    Lady Jane was pardoned once – after she and Guildford Dudley were condemned. But Jane was used as a pawn for a second time, during Wyatt's Rebellion, against Mary's proposed marriage with Philip II. Deemed too much a threat to herself and her husband, Mary had to have Jane executed.

  8. Well, she doesn't get a good press here and is right up there with the Prince killing Richard the Turd.
    You're good! I bet you enjoyed 'Blackadder 2' ! I can never picture Liz 1st without thinking of the way she was portrayed in that great series.


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