Then she spoke aloud--
"Silly Pearl," said she, "what questions are these? There are
many things in this world that a child must not ask about. What
know I of the minister's heart? And as for the scarlet letter, I
wear it for the sake of its gold thread."
In all the seven bygone years, Hester Prynne had never before
been false to the symbol on her bosom. It may be that it was the
talisman of a stern and severe, but yet a guardian spirit, who
now forsook her; as recognising that, in spite of his strict
watch over her heart, some new evil had crept into it, or some
old one had never been expelled. As for little Pearl, the
earnestness soon passed out of her face.
But the child did not see fit to let the matter drop. Two or
three times, as her mother and she went homeward, and as often
at supper-time, and while Hester was putting her to bed, and
once after she seemed to be fairly asleep, Pearl looked up, with
mischief gleaming in her black eyes.