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The Scarlet Letter

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On the wall hung a row of portraits, representing the forefathers of the Bellingham lineage, some with armour on their breasts, and others with stately ruffs and robes of peace. All were characterized by the sternness and severity which old portraits so invariably put on; as if they were the ghosts, rather than the pictures, of departed worthies, and were gazing with harsh and intolerant criticism at the pursuits and enjoyments of living men. On the wall hung a row of portraits showing the Bellingham ancestors, some wearing armor and others wearing ceremonial collars and robes of peace. They all shared the stern character common to old portraits, looking more like ghosts peering down in judgment at the pursuits of the living than paintings of departed statesmen.
At about the centre of the oaken panels, that lined the hall, was suspended a suit of mail, not, like the pictures, an ancestral relic, but of the most modern date; for it had been manufactured by a skilful armorer in London, the same year in which Governor Bellingham came over to New England. There was a steel head-piece, a cuirass, a gorget, and greaves, with a pair of gauntlets and a sword hanging beneath; all, and especially the helmet and breastplate, so highly burnished as to glow with white radiance, and scatter an illumination everywhere about upon the floor. This bright panoply was not meant for mere idle show, but had been worn by the Governor on many a solemn muster and training field, and had glittered, moreover, at the head of a regiment in the Pequod war. For, though bred a lawyer, and accustomed to speak of Bacon, Coke, Noye, and Finch, as his professional associates, the exigencies of this new country had transformed Governor Bellingham into a soldier, as well as a statesman and ruler. A suit of armor hung near the center of the oak panels lining the hall. Unlike the portraits, the armor was not a family heirloom. It was brand new, having been made by a skilled metalworker the same year Governor Bellingham arrived in New England. There was a steel headpiece, a breastplate, a collar, leggings, a pair of gloves, and a sword hanging beneath—all so highly polished, especially the headpiece and breastplate, that they shined white and scattered light across the floor. This bright gear was not merely for show. The Governor had worn it on several training fields, and when he sat at the front of a regiment in the war against the Pequot Indians. Though Governor Bellingham had been trained as a lawyer and was well versed in the works of the great legal minds of his day, the new country had transformed him into a soldier, as well as a statesman and ruler.
Little Pearl—who was as greatly pleased with the gleaming armour as she had been with the glittering frontispiece of the house—spent some time looking into the polished mirror of the breastplate. Little Pearl, who was as pleased by the gleaming armor as she had been by the glittering house, spent some time looking into the polished mirror of the breastplate.
“Mother,” cried she, “I see you here. Look! Look!” “Mother,” she cried, “I see you here. Look! Look!”
Hester looked, by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it. Pearl pointed upward, also, at a similar picture in the head-piece; smiling at her mother, with the elfish intelligence that was so familiar an expression on her small physiognomy. That look of naughty merriment was likewise reflected in the mirror, with so much breadth and intensity of effect, that it made Hester Prynne feel as if it could not be the image of her own child, but of an imp who was seeking to mould itself into Pearl’s shape. Hester looked, humoring the child. The large, curved mirror reflected the scarlet letter in huge, exaggerated proportions. It was easily Hester’s most prominent feature: She seemed absolutely hidden behind it. Pearl pointed upwards to a similar reflection in the headpiece and smiled at her mother with her familiar elfish gleam. That look of naughty merriment was also reflected in the mirror, large and intense. Hester Prynne felt it couldn’t be the image of her own child but rather that of an imp trying to mold itself into Pearl’s shape.
“Come along, Pearl!” said she, drawing her away. “Come and look into this fair garden. It may be, we shall see flowers there; more beautiful ones than we find in the woods.” “Come on, Pearl,” she said, pulling her away. “Come and look at this lovely garden. Maybe we will see flowers there more beautiful than the ones we find in the woods.”
Pearl, accordingly, ran to the bow-window, at the farther end of the hall, and looked along the vista of a garden-walk, carpeted with closely shaven grass, and bordered with some rude and immature attempt at shrubbery. But the proprietor appeared already to have relinquished, as hopeless, the effort to perpetuate on this side of the Atlantic, in a hard soil and amid the close struggle for subsistence, the native English taste for ornamental gardening. Cabbages grew in plain sight; and a pumpkin vine, rooted at some distance, had run across the intervening space, and deposited one of its gigantic products directly beneath the hall-window; as if to warn the Governor that this great lump of vegetable gold was as rich an ornament as New England earth would offer him. There were a few rose-bushes, however, and a number of apple-trees, probably the descendants of those planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler of the peninsula; that half-mythological personage who rides through our early annals, seated on the back of a bull. Pearl ran to the bay window at the other end of the hall and looked along the garden path, which was carpeted with well-mowed grass and bordered with a crude attempt at shrubbery. It looked as though the Governor had already given up on replicating an English ornamental garden in this hard, unforgiving New England soil. Cabbages grew in plain sight, and a pumpkin-vine had stretched all the way across the path and dropped a pumpkin directly beneath the window—as if to warn the Governor that this great gold lump was the only ornament this land would offer him. Yet there were a few rose bushes and some apple trees, probably descended from the first trees planted by the Reverend Mr. Blackstone, the first settler in Massachusetts, who was rumored to have ridden around on a bull.
Pearl, seeing the rose-bushes, began to cry for a red rose, and would not be pacified. Upon seeing the rose bushes, Pearl demanded a red rose. She would not be quieted.
“Hush, child, hush!” said her mother earnestly. “Do not cry, dear little Pearl! I hear voices in the garden. The Governor is coming, and gentlemen along with him!” “Hush, child, hush!” her mother pleaded. “Don’t call out, Pearl! I hear voices in the garden. The Governor is coming with some gentlemen.”
In fact, adown the vista of the garden-avenue, a number of persons were seen approaching towards the house. Pearl, in utter scorn of her mother’s attempt to quiet her, gave an eldritch scream, and then became silent; not from any notion of obedience, but because the quick and mobile curiosity of her disposition was excited by the appearance of these new personages. In fact, a number of people could be seen walking down the path toward the house. Pearl, in defiance of her mother’s attempt to quiet her, gave a loud shriek. Then she fell silent—not out of obedience, but because her curiosity was aroused by the appearance of these new people.

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