In the afternoon of a certain summer's day, after Pearl grew big
enough to run about, she amused herself with gathering handfuls
of wild flowers, and flinging them, one by one, at her mother's
bosom; dancing up and down like a little elf whenever she hit
the scarlet letter. Hester's first motion had been to cover her
bosom with her clasped hands. But whether from pride or
resignation, or a feeling that her penance might best be wrought
out by this unutterable pain, she resisted the impulse, and sat
erect, pale as death, looking sadly into little Pearl's wild
eyes. Still came the battery of flowers, almost invariably
hitting the mark, and covering the mother's breast with hurts
for which she could find no balm in this world, nor knew how to
seek it in another. At last, her shot being all expended, the
child stood still and gazed at Hester, with that little laughing
image of a fiend peeping out--or, whether it peeped or no, her
mother so imagined it--from the unsearchable abyss of her black
"Child, what art thou?" cried the mother.
"Oh, I am your little Pearl!" answered the child.
But while she said it, Pearl laughed, and began to dance up and
down with the humoursome gesticulation of a little imp, whose
next freak might be to fly up the chimney.
"Art thou my child, in very truth?" asked Hester.