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however, that the image was unreal, she turned elsewhere for better pastime.

She made little boats out of birch-bark, and freighted them with snail-shells, and sent out more ventures on the

mighty deep than any merchant in New England. But the larger part of them foundered near the shore. She seized a horseshoe by the tail, and made a prize of several five-fingers, and laid out a jelly-fish to melt in the warm sun. Then she took up the white foam, that streaked the line of the advancing tide, and threw it upon the breeze, scampering after it to catch the great snow-flakes ere they fell.

Perceiving a flock of beach-birds that fed and fluttered along the shore, the naughty child picked up her apron full of pebbles, and, creeping from rock to rock after these small sea-fowl, displayed remarkable dexterity in pelting them. One little gray bird with a white breast, Pearl was almost sure, had been hit by a pebble and fluttered away with a broken wing.

But then the elf child sighed and gave up her sport, because it grieved her to have done harm to a little being that was as wild as the sea-breeze, or as wild as Pearl herself.

Her final employment was to gather sea-weed of various kinds, and make herself a scarf or mantle, and a head-dress, and thus assume the aspect of a little mermaid

Just then she heard her mother's voice, and, flitting along as lightly as one of the little sea-birds, appeared before Hester, dancing and laughing.

The road homeward, after the two wayfarers had crossed from the peninsula to the mainland, was no other than a foot-path. It straggled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest. This hemmed it in narrowly, and stood black and dense on either side, and disclosed imperfect glimpses of the sky above. The day was chill and somber. Overhead was a gay expanse of cloud, slightly stirred by

a breeze ; so that a gleam of flickering sunshine might now and then be seen at its solitary play along the path. This flitting cheerfulness was always at the farther extremity of some long vista through the forest.

Mother,” said little Pearl, “the sunshine runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something. Now, see! There it is, playing, a good way off. Stand you here, and let me run and catch it. I am but a child. It will not flee from me.”

“Run away, child," answered the mother, “and catch it! It will soon be gone."

Pearl set forth at a great pace, and, as Hester smiled to perceive, did actually catch the sunshine, and stood laughing in the midst of it, all brightened by its splendor, and scintillating with the vivacity excited by rapid motion. The light lingered about the lonely child as if glad of such a playmate, until her mother had drawn almost nigh enough to step into the magic circle, too.

Come, my child,” said Hester, looking about her, “we will sit down a little way within the wood, and rest ourselves."

They entered sufficiently deep into the wood to secure themselves from the observation of any casual passenger along the forest track. Here they seated themselves in a little dell, with a leaf-strewn bank rising gently on either side, and a brook flowing through the midst, over a bed of fallen leaves. Continually, as it stole onward, the streamlet kept up a babble, kind, quiet, soothing, but melancholy.

O brook! O foolish and tiresome little brook !” cried Pearl, after listening awhile to its talk. “Why art thou so sad ? Pluck up a spirit, and do not be all the time sighing and murmuring."

But the brook, in the course of its little lifetime among the forest trees, had gone through so solemn an experience that it could not help talking about it, and seemed to have nothing else to say. Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life had flowed through scenes shadowed as heavily with gloom.

But, unlike the little stream, she danced and sparkled, and prattled airily along her course. There was no other attribute that so much impressed her mother with a sense of vigor in Pearl's nature as her never-failing vivacity of spirits. It was a doubtful charm, imparting a hard, metallic luster to the child's character. She wanted what some people want throughout life -- a grief that should deeply touch her, and thus humanize and make her capable of sympathy. But there was time enough yet for little Pearl.

“ What does this sad little brook say, mother ? ” inquired she.

“If thou hadst a sorrow of thine own, the brook might tell thee of it," answered her mother. "Now, Pearl, go and play. But do not stray far into the wood. And take heed that thou come at my first call.”

The child went singing away, following up the current of the brook, and striving to mingle a more lightsome cadence with its melancholy voice. But the little stream would not be comforted; and so Pearl chose to break off all acquaintance with it, and the great black forest became the playmate of the lonely infant, as well as it knew how. It offered her the partridge-berries, now red as drops of blood upon the withered leaves. These Pearl gathered, and was pleased with their wild flavor. The small denizens of the wilderness hardly took pains to move out of

her path.

A partridge, indeed, with a brood of ten behind her, ran forward threateningly, but soon repented her fierceness, and clucked to her young ones not to be afraid. A pigeon, alone on a low branch, allowed Pearl to come beneath, and uttered a sound, as much of greeting as alarm. A squirrel, from the lofty depths of his domestic tree, chattered, either in anger or merriment, — for a squirrel is such a choleric and humorous little personage that it is hard to distinguish between his moods, — and flung down a nut upon her head.

A fox, startled from his sleep by her light footstep on the leaves, looked inquisitively at Pearl, as doubting whether it were better to steal off, or renew his nap on the same spot. The truth seems to be, that the motherforest, and these wild things which it nourished, all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child.

And she was gentler here than in the grassy margined streets of the settlement, or in her mother's cottage. The flowers seemed to know it; and one and another whispered, as she passed, “ Adorn thyself with me, thou beautiful child; adorn thyself with me!” and, to please them, Pearl gathered the violets, and anemones, and scarlet columbines, and some twigs of the freshest green, which the old trees held down before her eyes. With these she decorated her hair and waist, and became a nymph child or an infant dryad, when she heard her mother's voice, and came slowly back.

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