Nor did she put the question altogether idly, but, for the
moment, with a portion of genuine earnestness; for, such was
Pearl's wonderful intelligence, that her mother half doubted
whether she were not acquainted with the secret spell of her
existence, and might not now reveal herself.
"Yes; I am little Pearl!" repeated the child, continuing her
"Thou art not my child! Thou art no Pearl of mine!" said the
mother half playfully; for it was often the case that a sportive
impulse came over her in the midst of her deepest suffering.
"Tell me, then, what thou art, and who sent thee hither?"
"Tell me, mother!" said the child, seriously, coming up to
Hester, and pressing herself close to her knees. "Do thou tell
"Thy Heavenly Father sent thee!" answered Hester Prynne.
But she said it with a hesitation that did not escape the
acuteness of the child. Whether moved only by her ordinary
freakishness, or because an evil spirit prompted her, she put up
her small forefinger and touched the scarlet letter.
"He did not send me!" cried she, positively. "I have no