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The Scarlet Letter

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As the two wayfarers came within the precincts of the town, the children of the Puritans looked up from their play,—or what passed for play with those sombre little urchins,—and spake gravely one to another:— As the two travelers entered the town, the Puritan children looked up from their play—or what passed for play among those somber little kids—and spoke seriously to one another.
“Behold, verily, there is the woman of the scarlet letter; and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side! Come, therefore, and let us fling mud at them!” “Look—there’s the scarlet letter lady! And there’s the little scarlet letter running alongside her! Let’s throw mud at them!”
But Pearl, who was a dauntless child, after frowning, stamping her foot, and shaking her little hand with a variety of threatening gestures, suddenly made a rush at the knot of her enemies, and put them all to flight. She resembled, in her fierce pursuit of them, an infant pestilence,—the scarlet fever, or some such half-fledged angel of judgment,—whose mission was to punish the sins of the rising generation. She screamed and shouted, too, with a terrific volume of sound, which doubtless caused the hearts of the fugitives to quake within them. The victory accomplished, Pearl returned quietly to her mother, and looked up smiling into her face. But Pearl was a fearless child. She frowned, stomped her foot, and shook her little hand in several threatening gestures. Then she suddenly charged at her enemies, sending them scattering away. Pursuing them, Pearl seemed like a baby pestilence: the scarlet fever, or some pint-sized angel of judgment sent to punish the sins of the young. She screamed and shouted so loud that the children’s hearts must have quaked with fear. Victorious, Pearl returned quietly to her mother and looked up, smiling, into her face.
Without further adventure, they reached the dwelling of Governor Bellingham. This was a large wooden house, built in a fashion of which there are specimens still extant in the streets of our elder towns; now moss-grown, crumbling to decay, and melancholy at heart with the many sorrowful or joyful occurrences remembered or forgotten, that have happened, and passed away, within their dusky chambers. Then, however, there was the freshness of the passing year on its exterior, and the cheerfulness, gleaming forth from the sunny windows, of a human habitation into which death had never entered. It had indeed a very cheery aspect; the walls being overspread with a kind of stucco, in which fragments of broken glass were plentifully inter-mixed; so that, when the sunshine fell aslant-wise over the front of the edifice, it glittered and sparkled as if diamonds had been flung against it by the double handful. The brilliancy might have befitted Aladdin’s palace, rather than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler. It was further decorated with strange and seemingly cabalistic figures and diagrams, suitable to the quaint taste of the age, which had been drawn in the stucco when newly laid on, and had now grown hard and durable, for the admiration of after times. They reached Governor Bellingham’s house without further incident. It was a large wooden structure, built in a style still found in some of the older towns today. These houses are now moss-covered, crumbling, and melancholy—filled with the many events of sorrow or celebration that have happened inside. But back then, the Governor’s house looked fresh as a new year, with the sunny cheerfulness of a home that had never seen death. It was indeed cheerful: The walls were covered with stucco that was mixed with fragments of broken glass, so that when the sunshine came in at the right angle it glittered and sparkled as though studded with diamonds. This brilliance might have suited Aladdin’s palace better than the mansion of a grave old Puritan ruler. Drawn into the stucco were strange, seemingly mystical figures and symbols, which suited the tastes of that quaint time.
Pearl, looking at this bright wonder of a house, began to caper and dance, and imperatively required that the whole breadth of sunshine should be stripped off its front, and given her to play with. Looking at this brilliant spectacle of a house, Pearl began to skip and dance. She ordered her mother to take the sunshine off the front and give it to her to play with.
“No, my little Pearl!” said her mother. “Thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee!” “No, my little Pearl!” said Hester. “You have to gather your own sunshine. I don’t have any to give you!”
They approached the door; which was of an arched form, and flanked on each side by a narrow tower or projection of the edifice, in both of which were lattice-windows, with wooden shutters to close over them at need. Lifting the iron hammer that hung at the portal, Hester Prynne gave a summons, which was answered by one of the Governor’s bond-servants; a free-born Englishman, but now a seven years’ slave. During that term he was to be the property of his master, and as much a commodity of bargain and sale as an ox, a joint-stool. The serf wore the blue coat, which was the customary garb of serving-men at that period, and long before, in the old hereditary halls of England. They approached the front door. The doorframe was arched, and on either side was a narrow tower-like projection for the windows and shutters. Hester gave a knock on the door’s iron hammer. It was answered by one of the Governor’s bond servants: a free-born Englishman who was now an indentured slave for the next seven years. During that time he was the property of his master, an object to be bargained over and sold, just like an ox or a stool. He wore the traditional clothing of a servant working in noble houses in England.
“Is the worshipful Governor Bellingham within?” inquired Hester. “Is the honorable Governor Bellingham in?” asked Hester.
“Yea, forsooth,” replied the bond-servant, staring with wide-open eyes at the scarlet letter, which, being a new-comer in the country, he had never before seen. “Yea, his honorable worship is within. But he hath a godly minister or two with him, and likewise a leech. Ye may not see his worship now.” “Certainly,” the servant replied, staring wide-eyed at the scarlet letter. Being a newcomer in the country, he had never seen it before. “Yes, his right honorable self is in. But he has a reverend minister or two with him, and a doctor too. You can’t see him now.”
“Nevertheless, I will enter,” answered Hester Prynne; and the bond-servant, perhaps judging from the decision of her air and the glittering symbol in her bosom, that she was a great lady in the land, offered no opposition. “No matter. I will enter,” answered Hester Prynne. The servant did not stop her. Perhaps, based on the decisiveness in her speech and the symbol on her chest, he assumed she was a great lady.
So the mother and little Pearl were admitted into the hall of entrance. With many variations, suggested by the nature of his building-materials, diversity of climate, and a different mode of social life, Governor Bellingham had planned his new habitation after the residences of gentlemen of fair estate in his native land. Here, then, was a wide and reasonably lofty hall, extending through the whole depth of the house, and forming a medium of general communication, more or less directly, with all the other apartments. At one extremity, this spacious room was lighted by the windows of the two towers, which formed a small recess on either side of the portal. At the other end, though partly muffled by a curtain, it was more powerfully illuminated by one of those embowed hall-windows which we read of in old books, and which was provided with a deep and cushioned seat. Here, on the cushion, lay a folio tome, probably of the Chronicles of England, or other such substantial literature; even as, in our own days, we scatter gilded volumes on the centre-table, to be turned over by the casual guest. The furniture of the hall consisted of some ponderous chairs, the backs of which were elaborately carved with wreaths of oaken flowers; and likewise a table in the same taste; the whole being of the Elizabethan age, or perhaps earlier, and heirlooms, transferred hither from the Governor’s paternal home. On the table—in token that the sentiment of old English hospitality had not been left behind—stood a large pewter tankard, at the bottom of which, had Hester or Pearl peeped into it, they might have seen the frothy remnant of a recent draught of ale. The mother and little Pearl were admitted into the entryway. Governor Bellingham had designed his house after the wealthy gentlemen in his native England—though, of course, he had made many modifications to account for the differences in available building materials, climate, and social life in the colony. A wide and fairly high-ceilinged hall ran through the length of the house and opened into almost every other room. This hall was lit on one end by the windows of the two towers, which formed a little niche on either side of the door. The other end of the hall was lit by even stronger light from one of those large bay windows (the kind described in old books). The bay window was partly covered by a curtain and had a deep, cushioned seat below it. A large book—probably a

Chronicles of England

The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland is a book by Raphael Holinshed, published in the late 16th century.

Chronicles of England
or some other serious work of literature—was sitting on the cushion. The volume was left there in the same way we scatter selected books on our living room tables for our guests to find. The furniture in the hall consisted of some heavy oak chairs, the backs of which were elaborately carved with wreaths of flowers, and a matching table. All of the furnishings were heirlooms shipped over from the Governor’s family home, and dating back to the Elizabethan age, or perhaps earlier. A large metal cup sat on the table, an indication that English hospitality had not been completely forgotten. Had Hester or Pearl looked into it, they might have seen the last drops of a recently poured glass of beer.

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