|“Ah, that was sad!” answered the mother. “But she will love thee dearly, and thou her. She is not far off. I will call her! Pearl! Pearl!”||“That is sad,” replied the mother. “But she will love you dearly, and you will love her. She isn’t far from here. I will call her. Pearl! Pearl!”|
|“I see the child,” observed the minister. “Yonder she is, standing in a streak of sunshine, a good way off, on the other side of the brook. So thou thinkest the child will love me?”||“I see her,” the minister said. “She’s over there, standing in the sunbeams—a way off on the other side of the brook. So you think that she will love me?”|
|Hester smiled, and again called to Pearl, who was visible, at some distance, as the minister had described her, like a bright-apparelled vision, in a sunbeam, which fell down upon her through an arch of boughs. The ray quivered to and fro, making her figure dim or distinct,—now like a real child, now like a child’s spirit,—as the splendor went and came again. She heard her mother’s voice, and approached slowly through the forest.||Hester smiled and called to Pearl again. She could be seen in the distance, as the minister had described her: a brightly dressed vision standing in a sunbeam, which fell down on her through the branches above. The sunbeam quivered here and there, making her form dim and then distinct. She looked first like a real child and then like a child’s spirit as the light came and went. She heard her mother’s voice and approached slowly through the forest.|
|Pearl had not found the hour pass wearisomely, while her mother sat talking with the clergyman. The great black forest—stern as it showed itself to those who brought the guilt and troubles of the world into its bosom—became the playmate of the lonely infant, as well as it knew how. Sombre as it was, it put on the kindest of its moods to welcome her. It offered her the partridge-berries, the growth of the preceding autumn, but ripening only in the spring, and now red as drops of blood upon the withered leaves. These Pearl gathered, and was pleased with their wild flavor. The small denizens of the wilderness hardly took pains to move out of her path. A partridge, indeed, with a brood of ten behind her, ran forward threateningly, but soon repented of her fierceness, and clucked to her young ones not to be afraid. A pigeon, alone on a low branch, allowed Pearl to come beneath, and uttered a sound as much of greeting as alarm. A squirrel, from the lofty depths of his domestic tree, chattered either in anger or merriment,—for a squirrel is such a choleric and humorous little personage that it is hard to distinguish between his moods,—so he chattered at the child, and flung down a nut upon her head. It was a last year’s nut, and already gnawed by his sharp tooth. A fox, startled from his sleep by her light foot-step on the leaves, looked inquisitively at Pearl, as doubting whether it were better to steal off, or renew his nap on the same spot. A wolf, it is said,—but here the tale has surely lapsed into the improbable,—came up, and smelt of Pearl’s robe, and offered his savage head to be patted by her hand. The truth seems to be, however, that the mother-forest, and these wild things which it nourished, all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child.||Pearl had not been bored while her mother sat talking with the clergyman. The great black forest, which seemed stern to those who carried with them the guilt and troubles of the world, became the playmate of the lonely child, as best it knew how. Although it was grave, it welcomed her with the kindest of moods. It offered her partridgeberries, which grew in the autumn but only ripened in the spring. Now they were as red as drops of blood upon the withered leaves. Pearl gathered these berries and enjoyed their wild flavor. The small wood creatures hardly bothered to move out of her way. A partridge, with her brood of ten birds behind her, ran at Pearl threateningly but soon changed her mind. She clucked to her young ones not to be afraid. A pigeon, alone on a low branch, allowed Pearl to walk beneath her. The bird made a noise more welcoming than fearful. High up in his tree, a squirrel chattered at Pearl. He was either angry or merry. It was hard to tell which. The squirrel is such an angry and moody little creature that it is hard to tell what emotion he’s expressing. Whatever mood he was in, the squirrel threw a nut down at Pearl’s head. It was from the last year and already chewed by his sharp teeth. A fox, awoken by Pearl’s light footsteps on the dry leaves, looked at her inquisitively. He seemed uncertain whether to run away or go back to sleep. People say—though it’s hard to believe them—that a wolf came up and sniffed Pearl’s clothing, then let her pat his head. The truth seems to be that the forest and all that lived in it recognized the natural wildness in the human child.|
|And she was gentler here than in the grassy-margined streets of the settlement, or in her mother’s cottage. The flowers appeared to know it; and one and another whispered, as she passed, “Adorn thyself with me, thou beautiful child, adorn thyself with me!”—and, to please them, Pearl gathered the violets, and anemones, and columbines, and some twigs of the freshest green, which the old trees held down before her eyes. With these she decorated her hair, and her young waist, and became a nymph-child, or an infant dryad, or whatever else was in closest sympathy with the antique wood. In such guise had Pearl adorned herself, when she heard her mother’s voice, and came slowly back.||And she was gentler here than in the streets of the town or in her mother’s cottage. The woods seemed to know that. As she passed, plants whispered to her: “Decorate yourself with me, you beautiful child! Decorate yourself with me!” To make them happy, Pearl gathered many flowers along with several green twigs, which the old trees held down before her eyes. She decorated her hair and her young waist with these, becoming a nymph or a young druid, or whatever else was close to the old forest. Pearl had decorated herself in this way when she heard her mother’s voice and returned slowly.|
|Slowly; for she saw the clergyman!||Slowly—because she saw the minister!|
Take a Study Break!