Mary was idly playing with her necklace when it started. “Say, Mary, were’d you get that necklace anyway?”
“Family heirloom. Why, you think we can use it for our project?”
The question was supposed to be rhetorical, but Stephan answered it anyway. “We might. It looks a lot like something I’ve just run across. Take a look.”
He swiveled the monitor over so she could see it. The picture was an illustration, from what was obviously a court-life scene from some Arab kingdom. A man, obviously the ‘king’ (probably a sultan of some sort) was putting a necklace on an obviously favored woman. From the picture, it was about all the woman would be wearing. The details of the necklace could just be made out, but they did appear to match Mary’s.
Stephan grabbed the monitor back. “Listen to this: ‘These necklaces were made for the sultan, and given to prospective concubines in as a symbol of their bonds to his service. If the sultan desired to add a woman to his harem he would have them called to his presence, place the necklace around their necks and say “Al-gibbish albra.”; “Your life is the King’s.” The woman then would enter the harem as one of the concubines and serve the king for the rest of her life.’”
“ ‘According to legends of the time, the necklaces were originally made by the sultan’s sorcerer, and had magical properties: enhancing the youth and beauty of the woman, as well as binding them to his service. No woman once sealed in this manor to the sultan could ever leave, betray, or disobey him.’ Now, that is what I call sexist. Just call the woman to your side, place a trinket around her neck, speak a few words and they are yours to do with as you like. Ridiculous. I wonder what the women thought of it.”
“Probably when the magic took over they didn’t mind.”
“If magic worked. Even then, I’m betting some of them resented being taken from their lives.”
“What else do they say about the necklaces?”
“Not much. Just that there haven’t been many found: It appears someone destroyed them all, in some uprising or other. No mentions, in literature or art, from several hundred years before Mohammad. Hey, you could be wearing a one-of-a-kind, an archaeological ﬁnd.”
“I doubt it. My mother had one too.”
“Yeah, there must be more out there, and it probably just looks similar. Anyway, it could make a good prop.”
“Sure. It looks enough like the one in the picture.” Mary pretended to look at the clock. “Look, Stephen, I need to get some sleep. You try to come up with a theme on your own, ok?”
“No problem. See you in class.”
“See you.” She picked up her stuﬀ; books, voice recorder, bag, and left.