ANGEL AND APOSTLE
At the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, we know that Pearl, the elf-child daughter of Hester Prynne, is somewhere in Europe, comfortable, well set, a mother herself now. But it could not have been easy for her to arrive at such a place, when she begins life as the bastard child of a woman publicly humiliated, again and again, in an unrelentingly judgmental Puritan world.
With a brilliant and authentic sense of that time and place, Deborah Noyes envisions the path Pearl takes to make herself whole and to carve her place in the New World. Beautifully written with boundless compassion, Angel and Apostle is a heart-rending and imaginative debut in which Noyes masterfully makes Hawthorne’s character her own.
$14.95 | Fiction Paperback | 6x9 | 304 pages
It was the Lord’s Day, and we were idle—me with the sting of stones at my back, they shrieking like brats possessed. Because I knew that no pack of holy pygmies would brave the wood without master or mother, I ran and ran, willing myself be an otter and the shade be water. How cool it was and dark, my Wilderness. How sweetly it repelled them. With their brat-threats dying in my ears I crashed later through a thicket and found in a clearing, as stark as any miracle, a gabled house with a skinny lad in its kitchen plot.
How do I fashion him in your thoughts?
Let us say this boy was still, as still as marble, and riveting for it. What’s more, he was as stately in his solitude as the townsfolk I daily spied on (blasphemers and nose-pickers all) were shrunken in theirs. I would come again and find him on a little three-legged stool, milking his cow with deft hands, and again, whence he would be whittling by the wall in the sun. But on this day he was sitting, just sitting on a house chair in the green-specked mud of the garden, with his strange, pale eyes shifting in their sockets. His hands were beautiful birds chained to his lap.
He must have heard me, but I stood and caught my breath, watching him. When it came my voice was still ragged from the chase. “Why have they planted you there in the shade like a mushroom?”
He looked not before him but straight up as if my words came from beyond.
“Here,” I called. “Past the fence. By the beech tree.”
“I won’t find you there.”
The boy I would come to know as Simon turned to my voice that Sabbath day, and I considered how much deeper his was than I might have imagined, a man’s voice, though he looked to be no more than a scrawny boy. Were I old enough to know better, I would have blushed. Instead I crept closer and scooped a handful of dry leaves from the ground. Leaning over the fence, I showered his boots with them. He did not look down.
“Have you no sight?”
“Who is it wants to know?” he demanded. “A girl pursued hither like a sow?”
“I do.” I caught my breath. “Pearl.”