The child probably overheard their voices, for, looking up to
the window with a bright, but naughty smile of mirth and
intelligence, she threw one of the prickly burrs at the Rev. Mr.
Dimmesdale. The sensitive clergyman shrank, with nervous dread,
from the light missile. Detecting his emotion, Pearl clapped her
little hands in the most extravagant ecstacy. Hester Prynne,
likewise, had involuntarily looked up, and all these four
persons, old and young, regarded one another in silence, till
the child laughed aloud, and shouted--"Come away, mother! Come
away, or yonder old black man will catch you! He hath got hold
of the minister already. Come away, mother or he will catch you!
But he cannot catch little Pearl!"
So she drew her mother away, skipping, dancing, and frisking
fantastically among the hillocks of the dead people, like a
creature that had nothing in common with a bygone and buried
generation, nor owned herself akin to it. It was as if she had
been made afresh out of new elements, and must perforce be
permitted to live her own life, and be a law unto herself
without her eccentricities being reckoned to her for a crime.
"There goes a woman," resumed Roger Chillingworth, after a
pause, "who, be her demerits what they may, hath none of that
mystery of hidden sinfulness which you deem so grievous to be
borne. Is Hester Prynne the less miserable, think you, for that
scarlet letter on her breast?"