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 spoke
gravely one to 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!"
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.