The Governor, in advance of his visitors, ascended one or two
steps, and, throwing open the leaves of the great hall window,
found himself close to little Pearl. The shadow of the curtain
fell on Hester Prynne, and partially concealed her.
"What have we here?" said Governor Bellingham, looking with
surprise at the scarlet little figure before him. "I profess, I
have never seen the like since my days of vanity, in old King
James's time, when I was wont to esteem it a high favour to be
admitted to a court mask! There used to be a swarm of these
small apparitions in holiday time, and we called them children
of the Lord of Misrule. But how gat such a guest into my hall?"
"Ay, indeed!" cried good old Mr. Wilson. "What little bird of
scarlet plumage may this be? Methinks I have seen just such
figures when the sun has been shining through a richly painted
window, and tracing out the golden and crimson images across the
floor. But that was in the old land. Prithee, young one, who art
thou, and what has ailed thy mother to bedizen thee in this
strange fashion? Art thou a Christian child--ha? Dost know thy
catechism? Or art thou one of those naughty elfs or fairies whom
we thought to have left behind us, with other relics of
Papistry, in merry old England?"
"I am mother's child," answered the scarlet vision, "and my name