Chapter 19 THE CHILD AT THE BROOK-SIDE
"Hasten, Pearl; or I shall be angry with thee!" cried Hester Prynne, who, however inured
to such behaviour on the elf-child's part at other seasons, was naturally anxious for a more seemly deportment
now. "Leap across the brook, naughty child, and run hither! Else I must come to thee!"
But Pearl, not a whit startled at her mother's threats, any more than mollified by her entreaties
, now suddenly burst into a fit of passion, gesticulating
violently, and throwing her small figure into the most extravagant contortions
. She accompanied this wild outbreak with piercing shrieks, which the woods reverberated
on all sides; so that, alone as she was in her childish and unreasonable wrath
, it seemed as if a hidden multitude were lending her their sympathy and encouragement. Seen in the brook, once more, was the shadowy wraith of Pearl's image, crowned and girdled
with flowers, but stamping its foot, wildly gesticulating, and, in the midst of all, still pointing its small forefinger at Hester's bosom!
"I see what ails
the child," whispered Hester to the clergyman, and turning pale in spite of a strong effort to conceal her trouble and annoyance
. "Children will not abide
any, the slightest, change in the accustomed aspect of things that are daily before their eyes. Pearl misses something which she has always seen me wear!"
"I pray you," answered the minister, "if thou hast any means of pacifying
the child, do it forthwith! Save it were the cankered
wrath of an old witch, like Mistress Hibbins," added he, attempting to smile, "I know nothing that I would not sooner encounter than this passion in a child. In Pearl's young beauty, as in the wrinkled witch, it has a preternatural
effect. Pacify her, if thou lovest me!"
Hester turned again towards Pearl, with a crimson blush
upon her cheek, a conscious glance aside at the clergyman, and then a heavy sigh; while, even before she had time to speak, the blush yielded to a deadly pallor
"Pearl," said she sadly, "look down at thy feet! There- before thee!- the hither side of the brook!"