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Romantic Story of the American Pearl (Copyright, 1903, by H. B. Warner.) ViVERAL weeks ao a New York s pearl dealer sold a lot of domeatlo pearls to a Frenchman In Paris. The 'Parisian did not even take the trouble to ship them on to l..Jia, but after drill njr them in the French capital Invoiced them to a firm of American jewelers as Oriental prarli. When th man who had sold, them to the Frenchman re turned to New York a few days ag j ha found tha gemo on exhibition in a New York showcase. He recognised thorn im mediately as the ones he had cold to his French customer and for the fun of tha thing he thought he would Inquire about the price. , "We are asking $75,009 for thm." replied the Jeweler. "They are, genuine Orientals and we ought to get a 'little more, s.-elns; that the price' of pearls Is going up." 'Wait a minute," sat J the export, "ri aie turn that ' pearl over. Now look. Just at the edge of the hole where the gem is drilled you will And a dark colored spot. Bee It? Look as if . the skin had been bruised and had healed.". ... The Jeweler looked, screwing bis "loup" up to hls'eye and taking a careful squint. ' That's right," he said finally.' Then ha snatched away hlH "loup" and gazed at the dealer. "Say," he asked, looking at tha expert sharply and hugging the pearl tight, "who are you?" ' "Tell you later; let's talk about those pcar'.s. They are interesting to me. I used to own them once. 1 bought them out In Ni-wpott, Arkansas, when they hadn't been out of the water more than fifteen minutes. They cost me l'ss than $10,0(0. I sold them In Paris for $;5.000. They cost you about $50,000. 1 could have, fold them to you for $13.0ii0. Now, here's my name; here are some pearls, domestic ones like yours. Want to buy?" The Jeweler almost fell over at the first . rewlation, but the second rallied him. "No," he said rigidly, "we don't want to handle :iny domes-tic pearl. It will spoil our trade and reputation." It is doubtful whether this or any other Jeweler will be able much longer to handle domestic pearls as Oriental Jewels and thereby secure big profits, for the simple rosson that the pear'-bearing clams are disappearing from the bottom of the Mis sissippi river and it tributaries at a rate that threatens total extinction of the spe cies In a very short time. Many of tha nuut productive rivers of the pearling sec tions have been swept clean of the pearl makers and unless something is done soon a business that Is worth hundreds of thou sands of dollars annually to the people of 'T o 'i i - .---sc. those sections will pass away as quickly as It came. And in' this conjunction It Is Interesting to note that the pearl oysters of Ceylon are now so scarce that the govern ment Is soon to put In force a law which 'will prohibit all pearl fishing for a period of five years. Within the past three years more than $3,000,000 worth of pearls have been taken from the waters of the Mississippi valley. At least three-fourths of the pearls have come from' the Black and . White rivers of Arkansas. In 1901 about $1,500,000 worth of the gems were taken from the Black river alone, most of which came from a section not twenty miles long, with Newport as Its center, Iast year less than $1,000,000 worth were taken and this season the output has fallen oh more than aO per cent. The BlacR river has been entirely cleaned out and the swarms of fortune hunters has gone over to the White river, a few ml'es distant, and that, too, has given up nearly all its wealth. When this river has been depleted the largest pearling region in the middle west will become what it originally was sn un populated wilderness. Already thousands of people have left and Newport and other towns which sprang up In a night are rap Idly dwindling. In Newport more business houses and dwel'lngs are vacant than are occupied; Its population has fallen within a little more than a year from 15,000 to 4.00J. The other Important domestic pearl cen ter la on the MisaiSHlptil itself, around Prairie Du Chien. Wis., but it does not compare with the southern beds aiJ fish ing for pearls there Is more of a side line to the Industry of obtaining shells for' the 13 r. 1 I, numerous pearl button tactor'.eti along the river in this vicinity. The pearl button, oil and fertilizing industries have been as largely renponsib'e for the decimation of the pearl-bearing ciam beds as the pearl hunters and both have decorated the shores of the Mississippi from La Crosse, Wis., to New Orleans with evidences of their rav ages. The pearling fever started in the summer of 1900. An old sunburnt fisherman was tne caute of it. lie was fishing from a skiff anchored In the middle of the Black river; his bait ran out find he wanted some more. The easiest way to get it was to rake up a clam from the bottom of the stream, about eight feet below the surface of the water. The bivalve that he brought up was an in- A TYPICAL. PEARL BUTTON FACTORY. nocent-looklng specimen, and there was nothing In Its appearance that fore shadowed the great excitement to come. The fisherman, whistling a little tune. In serted his knife blade between the shells and pried them apart. As he did so a beau tiful, round, ' lustrous pearl dropped out on the thwart of the skiff and rolled to the bottom of the craft, where it lay glistening In the forenoon sun. The fisherman sat blinking at it for a full minute, then made a dive for it, and worked harder than he ever hud before In his life to get to shore on the double quick. He sold the pearl to a local Jeweler for $100 and retired to private life. His retirement, however, lasted less than a week, for the TH . -a L SAP, ' f I ? tt if- " & "1 P: t ' T I IN A PK A RISERS' CAMP. report of the rind spread fur. and wide, and the inhabitants of that section, , including the fisherman, rushed ut the sand beds at the bottom of the Black river with all kinds of Implements, ' from pitchforks to scow dredges, and piled the river banks with clums for miles up and down the stream. The Jeweler who had purchased the pearl from the fisherman sold It In New York for $2,000. which win more than he had made in his little store In three years. The excitement was Intense In Arkansas, and In a comparatively short time every In habitant In the vicinity of the Black river, both old and young, male and female, were delving for clams and pearls. Laborers loft the farms, clerks and business men turned fortune seekers, and even society women iHBliilHiu, 4 went down to the shores of the stream and waded Into the water, searching for pearl bearing clams. An old negro by the name of Nelse Parks found a clam which netted him something over- 310. With the proceed Nelse pur chased a fine buggy. Before he could buy a horse a circus came to town, and when It left, the balance of Nelse's bank ac count went with It, so that he wan com pelled to sell his buggy without taking a ride in It. A farmer who was driving home with a wagon load of clams was attacked by a dog. He threw a couple of bivalves at the dog. The owner of the dog picked up the shells opened them, and in one of them ' i PKARL DREDGES AND DREDdERa. ?;(5 r; i I i-:v !vn - ' , : .J . .. - .. .. , found a poirl .vhlch made him as much of a capitalist as the man who bought the buggy. A family of negroes that lived In a hut, and went partially unclothed all the year round, became wealthy, built a palace of a home, and hired white men for sorvanta. Not one in the family could read or write, yet they bought automobiles, steam launches and horses. Boys to whom 60 cents was wealth, enough for a week of national holidays, started bank accounts and amassed com fortable fortunes, and many a poor youth In a few weeks got enough pearls to se cure to him the college education he had bicn forced to forego. The excitement spread from the land to the river steamboats. Their crews de serted them, and sometimes their captains, and the Black river was the scene of the wildest excitement. New towns were built and old ones were Increased to the siae of cities. Streets were laid out, banks and mercantile establishments were started, mortgage wore lifted, money was plenty and times were prosperous. The section sprang Into prominence, both financially and socially, in the state, and New York pearl dealers flocked there in great num bers, and soon the pearl market centers of the United States and Europe were flooded with American pearls.' This was at a time when oriental pearls were scarce, and when the demand for them was con stantly on the Jump. European pearl deal ers began to open their eyes to the beauty, size and quan'ity of the domestic gems. The excitement In the pearling section continued throughout the summers of 1900 and 1901, and only subsided when the S'uck river was cleaned of pearls. Then the fortune s?ekers swarmed out to the Mississippi river and explored the streams, creeks and bayous of Arkansas. No rich fishing wa3 struck, however, until White river was reached. Here the scenes on the Black river were enacted. The Mississippi has always been lasy in the matter of dispensing pearls, and although they have teen found there for the past half a century, hardly ever has there been any great pearling excitement. Willi the new Impetus, however, given thut Industry by the pearl fisheries of Ar kan a, more Mississippi gems were brought to light. Because of Its alse, tlfe (Continued on Page Fifteen.) V.