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The Scarlet Letter

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Thou wilt love her dearly,” repeated Hester Prynne, as she and the minister sat watching little Pearl. “Dost thou not think her beautiful? And see with what natural skill she has made those simple flowers adorn her! Had she gathered pearls, and diamonds, and rubies, in the wood, they could not have become her better. She is a splendid child! But I know whose brow she has!” You will love her fondly,” repeated Hester Prynne, as she and the minister sat watching little Pearl. “Isn’t she beautiful? And look how she has adorned herself with such simple flowers! If she had gathered pearls, diamonds, and rubies instead, they could not have suited her better! She is a wonderful child! But I know whose forehead she has!”
“Dost thou know, Hester,” said Arthur Dimmesdale, with an unquiet smile, “that this dear child, tripping about always at thy side, hath caused me many an alarm? Methought—O Hester, what a thought is that, and how terrible to dread it!—that my own features were partly repeated in her face, and so strikingIy that the world might see them! But she is mostly thine!” “Do you know, Hester,” said Arthur Dimmesdale, with an uneasy smile, “that this dear child, who is always at your side, has often alarmed me? I thought—oh, Hester, it is awful to dread such a thought!—that I could see my own features in her face, so clearly that the whole world would see them! But she is mostly yours!”
“No, no! Not mostly!” answered the mother with a tender smile. “A little longer, and thou needest not to be afraid to trace whose child she is. But how strangely beautiful she looks, with those wild flowers in her hair! It is as if one of the fairies, whom we left in our dear old England, had decked her out to meet us.” “No, no! Not mostly!” answered Hester, with a tender smile. “A little longer and you won’t need to be afraid that others will learn whose child she is. She looks so strangely beautiful with those wild flowers in her hair! It’s as if one of the fairies, whom we left behind in England, had dressed her to meet us.”
It was with a feeling which neither of them had ever before experienced, that they sat and watched Pearl’s slow advance. In her was visible the tie that united them. She had been offered to the world, these seven years past, as the living hieroglyphic, in which was revealed the secret they so darkly sought to hide,—all written in this symbol,—all plainly manifest,—had there been a prophet or magician skilled to read the character of flame! And Pearl was the oneness of their being. Be the foregone evil what it might, how could they doubt that their earthly lives and future destinies were conjoined, when they beheld at once the material union, and the spiritual idea, in whom they met, and were to dwell immortally together? Thoughts like these—and perhaps other thoughts, which they did not acknowledge or define—threw an awe about the child, as she came onward. They sat together, feeling something they had not felt before, and watched Pearl walk toward them slowly. She made visible the tie that bound them. For the past seven years, she had been offered to the world as a mysterious symbol, a clue to the secret that they sought to hide. Their secret had been revealed in Pearl, if only some prophet or magician had been skilled enough to see it. Pearl represented the oneness of their being. No matter what evil had come before, how could they doubt that their mortal lives and future destinies were linked? In Pearl’s body, the two were joined. In her soul, they would be linked immortally. Thoughts like these, and perhaps others that went unacknowledged, cast awe around the child as she came toward them.
“Let her see nothing strange,—no passion nor eagerness—in thy way of accosting her,” whispered Hester. “Our Pearl is a fitful and fantastic little elf, sometimes. Especially, she is seldom tolerant of emotion, when she does not fully comprehend the why and wherefore. But the child hath strong affections! She loves me, and will love thee!” “Don’t let her see anything strange in your approach: no passion or overeagerness,” whispered Hester. “Our Pearl is a flighty little elf sometimes. She doesn’t usually tolerate emotion when she doesn’t understand why it has arisen. But she has strong emotions! She loves me and will love you!”
“Thou canst not think,” said the minister, glancing aside at Hester Prynne, “how my heart dreads this interview, and yearns for it! But, in truth, as I already told thee, children are not readily won to be familiar with me. They will not climb my knee, nor prattle in my ear, nor answer to my smile; but stand apart, and eye me strangely. Even little babes, when I take them in my arms, weep bitterly. Yet Pearl, twice in her little lifetime, hath been kind to me! The first time,—thou knowest it well! The last was when thou ledst her with thee to the house of yonder stern old Governor.” “You cannot imagine,” said the minister, glancing at Hester Prynne, “how my heart dreads this interview and how it desires it! But as I’ve already told you, children don’t often like me. They will not sit in my lap, nor whisper in my ear, nor answer my smile. They stand far off and look at me strangely. Even little babies weep bitterly when I hold them. Yet Pearl, twice already, has been kind to me! The first time you remember well! The second was when you led her to the house of that stern old Governor.”
“And thou didst plead so bravely in her behalf and mine!” answered the mother. “I remember it; and so shall little Pearl. Fear nothing! She may be strange and shy at first, but will soon learn to love thee!” “And you pleaded so bravely on her behalf and mine!” answered Hester. “I remember it, and so will little Pearl. Do not be afraid. She may be strange and shy at first, but she will soon learn to love you!”
By this time Pearl had reached the margin of the brook, and stood on the farther side, gazing silently at Hester and the clergyman, who still sat together on the mossy tree-trunk, waiting to receive her. Just where she had paused the brook chanced to form a pool, so smooth and quiet that it reflected a perfect image of her little figure, with all the brilliant picturesqueness of her beauty, in its adornment of flowers and wreathed foliage, but more refined and spiritualized than the reality. This image, so nearly identical with the living Pearl, seemed to communicate somewhat of its own shadowy and intangible quality to the child herself. It was strange, the way in which Pearl stood, looking so stedfastly at them through the dim medium of the forest-gloom; herself, meanwhile, all glorified with a ray of sunshine, that was attracted thitherward as by a certain sympathy. In the brook beneath stood another child,—another and the same,—with likewise its ray of golden light. Hester felt herself, in some indistinct and tantalizing manner, estranged from Pearl; as if the child, in her lonely ramble through the forest, had strayed out of the sphere in which she and her mother dwelt together, and was now vainly seeking to return to it. By this time, Pearl had reached the edge of the brook. She stood on the far side, staring silently at Hester and the clergyman, who still sat together on the mossy tree trunk, waiting for her. Just where she was standing, the brook formed a pool so smooth and quiet that it reflected a perfect little image of her. The water showed all the brilliance of her beauty, decorated with flowers and wreathed with leaves, but the image was more refined and spiritual than the reality. This image, almost identical to the living Pearl, seemed to lend the child some of its shadowy, immaterial quality. Pearl stood looking at them through the dim forest gloom. It was strange, her looking through that gloom while she herself was brightened by a ray of sunshine that had been drawn to her. In the brook beneath her there appeared another child, with its own ray of golden light. Hester felt herself, in some strange way, isolated from Pearl. It was as though the child, in her lonely walk through the woods, had left the world in which she and her mother lived together and was now seeking in vain to return.

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