FC: The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne Adapted for Children by Jennifer Cortez
1: "I look around me, and, lo! on every visge a Black Veil!"
2: On Sunday, the people of Milford were gathering at the village meeting-house for Sunday service. As the villagers made there way to the porch, the sexton began to ring the bell. He would ring the bell until he spotted the minister.
4: "But what has the good Parson Hooper got upon his face?" cried the sexton in astonishment. At that, the villagers turned to see Parson Hooper walking toward the meeting-house. There was a black veil over his forehead, covering his face.
6: Parson Hooper nodded kindly to those villagers still wating on the meeting-house steps. But so wonder-struck were they that his greeting hardly met with a return.
8: The villagers were all astir as Parson Hooper came into the meeting-house. But he appeared not to notice this. He ascended the stairs and entered the pulpit. The black veil covered his face when he gave out the psalm, when he read the Scriptures, and when he prayed. More than one woman was forced to leave the meeting-house because of Parson Hooper's black veil.
10: Parson Hooper preached about secret sin, and the mysteries we hide from the people closest to us, even from our own consciousness. A subtle power was breathed into his words. There was no violence in what Parson Hooper said, yet the people quaked. Many spread their hands over their bosoms, longing for a breath or wind to blow aside the black veil to reveal a stranger's face.
12: At the end of the service, the people hurried out to talk about about their amazement. They were conscious of lighter spirits once they lost sight of the veil. Some huddled in circles, whispering together, while some went off alone in silent meditation. A few were confident to solve the mystery of the black veil, while one or two affirmed there was no mystery at all.
14: Parson Hooper came out of the meeting-house. He paid reverence to the old people, saluted the middle aged, greeted the young, and put his hand on the little children's heads to bless them--as was his custom. But none wanted to walk with Parson Hooper, and Squire Saunders did not invite him to his home for dinner to bless the food, as he did almost every Sunday. Parson Hooper walked alone to the parsonage, but before closing himself in the door, he looked back to see the people staring at him.
16: "How strange," said a lady, "that a simple black veil, such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible thing on Mr. Hooper's face!" Her husband said something must be wrong with Parson Hooper's intellect. "The black veil, though it covers only our pastor's face, throws its influence over his whole person, and makes him ghostlike from head to foot."
18: That afternoon, Parson Hooper presided over a funeral of a young lady. His veil seemed appropriate now. It seemed when Mr. Hooper bent over the coffin, the young lady's body shuddered at the sight of his features. When Parson Hooper preached the funeral prayer, he prayed that he and everyone attending would be ready for the dreadful hour that should snatch the veil from their faces.
20: That night, Parson Hooper performed a wedding with his black veil. Such was its immediate effect on the guests that a cloud seemed to have rolled duskily from beneath the black crape, and dimmed the light of the candles. The bride was deathly pale, and it was whispered that she was the young lady just buried come back to wed. Parson Hooper had a glass of wine raised to his lips, while wishing the couple well. He then caught a glimpse of his veiled self, and he felt all the horror the village people felt when looking at the veil. He shuddered, spilled the wine, and rushed out into the darkness.
22: The next day, the whole village talked of little else than Parson Hooper's black veil. People stopped to talk about it in the street, and women gossiped of it at their open windows. It was the first thing the tavern-keeper told his guests. Even children talked of it on the way to school.
24: One child mimicked Parson Hooper by covering his face with an old black handerchief. He so frightened his playmates that he was seized with panic, and lost his own wits.
26: Yet, none of the villagers would simply ask Parson Hooper why he wore the black veil. There was such a feeling of dread, that each passed the responsibility to someone else, until it was necessary to send a deputation of the church to deal with the mystery. Parson Hooper received the group with friendly courtesy. But they only sat for a long time, speechless, confused, and shrinking uneasily from his eyes. Finally the deputies left, saying the matter was too weighty to be handled.
28: When the deputies returned with no explanation about the black veil, Parson Hooper's fiance, Elizabeth, decided it was her privilege to know what it concealed. She entered the subject with direct simplicity, and could discern nothing of the dreadful gloom that had so overawed the villagers. Parson Hooper told her that there is an hour to come when everyone shall cast aside their veils, and that he will wear his until then. She asked him to take it off, but he refused, saying it was a type and a symbol and he is bound to wear it always. Even his fiance could not come behind it!
30: Elizabeth told Parson Hooper about the rumors abroad in the village--that he hides from his secret sin. "If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough," he merely replied; "and if I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same?" Elizabeth sat silent, appearing lost in though, trying to figure out how to draw her fiance from what might be a mental disease. She stared at the black veil and its terrors fell around her. She rose and trembled. "And do you feel it then, at last?" said he mournfully. Elizabeth didn't say a word, but covered her eyes with her hands and turned to leave the room.
32: Parson Hooper rushed forward and caught Elizabeth's arm. He asked for her patience, and that she not desert him, though he must wear the veil. He didn't want to be alone behind the veil forever. Elizabeth demaned he lift the veil once to look her in the face. "Never! It cannot be!" replied Mr. Hooper. "Then farewell!" said Elizabeth. She withdrew her arm from his grasp and slowly left, pausing at the door to give one long shuddering gaze.
34: From then on, no one attempted to remove Parson Hooper's black veil, or to discover the supposed hidden secret. Still, he could not walk the streets with any peace of mind. He was saddened when children fled from his approach. Their dread caused him to feel that a horror was woven in the threads of his black crape. Parson Hooper walked continually in the veil's shadow, groping with his own soul. It was whispered that his conscience tortured him for some great crime. He avoided passing mirrors lest he should scare himself.
36: Parson Hooper's black veil had one desirable effect--making its wearer a very efficient clergyman. Dying sinners cried aloud for Parson Hooper, though they shuddered at his veiled face. Strangers came from long distances to attend services at his church. He even gave the election sermon for Governor Belcher's administration. However, the legislative measures of that year were characterized by gloom and piety.
38: Parson Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving, yet unloved; but summoned to aid in mortal anguish. He became known in the village as Father Hooper. It was now his turn to rest.
40: Several persons were visible by the shaded candle-light, in the death chamber of Father Hooper. There were deacons and other members of the church, Reverend Mr. Clark, and Elizabeth, who, in secret, longed for him. Father Hooper lay still with the black veil upon his face. All through life the piece of crape had hung between him and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman's love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his own heart. It lay upon his fce as if to deepen the gloom of his chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of eternity.
42: The Reverend Mr. Clark approached Father Hooper's bedside, and asked if he was ready to lift the veil. He first replied with a shake of his head, but then exerted himself to speak. Mr. Clark asked if it was fitting that such a man as Father Hooper should leave a shadow on his memory. "Before the veil of eternity be lifted, let me cast aside this black veil from your face!" He bent forward to reveal the mystery of so many years, to remove the veil.
44: Father Hooper exerted a sudden energy, and snatched both hands from beneath the bedclothes, and pressed them strongly on the black veil, resolute to struggle with the Reverend. "Never!" cried the veiled clergyman. "On earth, never!" Father Hooper raised himself in bed to speak, and the black veil hung down, in the gathered terrors of a lifetime. Yet there was a faint, sad smile. He asked everyone why they only trembled at him--they should tremble at each other. He has been avoided, shown no pity because of a black veil. What, besides the mystery it symbolizes, is so awful about the piece of crape? He told them that when he looks around, every face is covered with a black veil.
46: While the people shrank from one another, in mutual fear, Father Hooper fell back on his pillow, a veiled corpse. He was laid in his coffin and buried with the black veil covering his face. The grass of many years has sprung up on that grave, the stone is covered with moss, and Father Hooper's face is dust; but awful is the thought that it mouldered beneath the Black Veil!
48: Pictures: Page 3: Meeting house from http://www.jimatwell.com/images/images/AT%20church%20ch%2016_jpg.jpg Page 5: Man in black veil from http://www.lawrence.edu/eport/educ/lichtyp/images/MVC-004Fsmaller.jpg Page 7: Shocked man from http://www.blakeneymanor.com/images/carryon/shock.jpg Page 9: Pulpit from http://bp1.blogger.com/_kmeXX3Y1y_k/Ry-Aywphk0I/AAAAAAAABkQ/TqbiY0Lvtms/s400/Salem-pulpit.jpg Page11: Ashamed from http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:FnZjVguWSi01mM:http:/www.selftimeout.org/IMAGES/ASHAMED.jpg
49: Pictures (cont'd): Page 13: Meditation from http://jingalex.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/meditation_17.jpg Page 15: Walking alone from http://www.trutv.com/graphics/photos/serial_killers/notorious/ripper/10a.jpg Page 17: Ghost from http://www.freewebs.com/free-offers/reverend_k_f_lord_monk_ghost_picture_photo-445x434.jpg Page 19: Girl in coffin from http://farm1.static.flickr.com/3/6804544_7c845538a0.jpg?v=0 Page 21: Wine spill from http://www.chichesterdesign.co.uk/photography.wine-spill1.jpg
50: Pictures (cont'd): Page 23: Gossiping from http://orage.mjp.brown.edu/mjp/images/Conder/Gossip04.jpg Page 25: Scared child from http://daverendall.typepad.com/dave_rendall/images/2007/11/04/blog_scared_child.jpg Page 27: Deputation from http://www.nevadaobserver.com/Archive/040501/Images/Deputation.jpg Page 29: Woman pleading from http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2288/1782529870_fl6aefbc83_m.jpg Page 31: Woman in thought from http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2363/1929982702_452bac042c_m.jpg
51: Pictures (cont'd): Page 33: Woman in door from http://www.termitestudios.com/resampled/famous_last_words.jpg Page 35: Man in mirror from http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:HiNTo8psJcOjLM:http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc81/janito80/1170964944_f.jpg Page 37: Sermon from http://theolotech.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/sermon.jpg?w=281&h=216 Page 39: Alone from http://www.earth-photography.com/photos/Countries/France/France_Riviera_Nice_Watcher.jpg Page 41: Deathbed from http://archive.elca.org/archives/luther/LutherDeathBed2.jpg
52: Pictures (cont'd): Page 43: Lifting veil from http://www.quinnipiac.edu/other/abl/etext/ugrr/p215i.jpg Page 45: Woman with veil from http://riannanworld/typepad.com/my_weblog/images/black_veil.jpg Page 47: Black crape from http://www.universityarchives.com/websiteimages/39009-001.jpg