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The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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FC: The Birth-mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne adapted for children by Jason Lerch

1: In the latter part of the last century, there lived a man of science.

2: He persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife.

3: It must be mentioned, that, in the centre of Georgiana's left cheek, there was a singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and substance of her face. Its shape bore not a little similarity to the human hand.

4: "Georgiana," said he, "has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?"

5: "No, indeed," said she, smiling; but perceiving the seriousness of his manner, she blushed deeply. "To tell you the truth, it has been so often called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so."

6: "Dearest Georgiana, I have spent much thought upon the subject," hastily interrupted Aylmer--"I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its removal." "Either remove this dreadful Hand, or take my wretched life! You have deep science!"

9: Aylmer had converted those smoky, dingy, sombre rooms, where he had spent his brightest years in recondite pursuits, into a series of beautiful apartments, not unfit to be the secluded abode of a lovely woman. The walls were hung with gorgeous curtains, which imparted the combination of grandeur and grace, that no other species of adornment can achieve; and as they fell from the ceiling to the floor.

10: "And what is this?" asked Georgiana, pointing to a small crystal globe, containing a gold-colored liquid. "It is so beautiful to the eye, that I could imagine it the Elixir of Life."

12: "In one sense it is," replied Aylmer, "or rather the Elixir of Immortality. It is the most precious poison that ever was concocted in this world. By its aid, I could apportion the lifetime of any mortal at whom you might point your finger. The strength of the dose would determine whether he were to linger out years, or drop dead in the midst of a breath. No king, on his guarded throne, could keep his life, if I, in my private station, should deem that the welfare of millions justified me in depriving him of it."

15: But, to Georgiana, the most engrossing volume was a large folio from her husband's own hand, in which he had recorded every experiment of his scientific career, with its original aim, the methods adopted for its development, and its final success or failure, with the circumstances to which either event was attributable.

16: Much as he had accomplished, she could not but observe that his most splendid successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the ideal at which he aimed. His brightest diamonds were the merest pebbles, and felt to be so by himself, in comparison with the inestimable gems which lay hidden beyond his reach.

17: The concoction of the draught has been perfect," said he, in answer to Georgiana's look. "Unless all my science have deceived me, it cannot fail."

18: The draught cannot fail. Behold its effect upon this plant!"

19: On the window-seat there stood a geranium, diseased with yellow blotches, which had overspread all its leaves. Aylmer poured a small quantity of the liquid upon the soil in which it grew. In a little time, when the roots of the plant had taken up the moisture, the unsightly blotches began to be extinguished in a living verdure.

21: She quaffed the liquid, and returned the goblet to his hand.

22: "It is grateful," said she, with a placid smile. "Methinks it is like water from a heavenly fountain; for it contains I know not what of unobtrusive fragrance and deliciousness. It allays a feverish thirst, that had parched me for many days. Now, dearest, let me sleep. My earthly senses are closing over my spirit, like the leaves around the heart of a rose, at sunset." She spoke the last words with a gentle reluctance, as if it required almost more energy than she could command to pronounce the faint and lingering syllables. Scarcely had they loitered through her lips, ere she was lost in slumber.

24: The Crimson Hand, which at first had been strongly visible upon the marble paleness of Georgiana's cheek now grew more faintly outlined. She remained not less pale than ever; but the birth-mark, with every breath that came and went, lost somewhat of its former distinctness. Its presence had been awful; its departure was more awful still. Watch the stain of the rainbow fading out of the sky; and you will know how that mysterious symbol passed away.

26: "By Heaven, it is well nigh gone!" said Aylmer to himself, in almost irrepressible ecstasy. "I can scarcely trace it now. Success! Success! And now it is like the faintest rose-color. The slightest flush of blood across her cheek would overcome it. But she is so pale!" "Poor? Nay, richest! Happiest! Most favored!" exclaimed he. "My peerless bride, it is successful! You are perfect!"

28: "My poor Aylmer!" she repeated, with a more than human tenderness. "You have aimed loftily!--you have done nobly! Do not repent, that, with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer. Aylmer--dearest Aylmer--I am dying!"

30: Alas, it was too true! The fatal Hand had grappled with the mystery of life, and was the bond by which an angelic spirit kept itself in union with a mortal frame. As the last crimson tint of the birth-mark--that sole token of human imperfection--faded from her cheek, the parting breath of the now perfect woman passed into the atmosphere, and her soul, lingering a moment near her husband, took its heavenward flight.

32: Yet, had Aylmer reached a profounder wisdom, he need not thus have flung away the happiness, which would have woven his mortal life of the self-same texture with the celestial. The momentary circumstance was too strong for him; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of Time, and living once for all in Eternity, to find the perfect Future in the present.

34: The End

35: Picture Credits 1.Birthmark - http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://bp1.blogger.com/_qhUdaKdD7zQ/SBZ_TCGhLHI/AAAAAAAAAN8/nPPwVxZMSTI/s400/becky-birthmark.gif&imgrefurl=http://eschechtman.blogspot.com/2008/04/birthmark.html&h=400&w=302&sz=252&hl=en&start=90&um=1&tbnid=tMCkrm7m3AijgM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=94&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dnathanial%2Bhawthorn%2Bthe%2Bbirth%2Bmark%26start%3D72%26ndsp%3D18%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rls%3DGGLD,GGLD:2005-09,GGLD:en%26sa%3DN 2.Scientist - http://www.hgocreations.ca/images/scientist_430.jpg 3.Bride -http://www.theweescottishweddingshop.co.uk/resources/_wsb_169x227_cartoon+bride.jpg 4.Hospital - http://wiki.nectec.or.th/dpuwiki/pub/CC613Students/SutassanaReport/Hospital-cartoon.jpg 5.Lucky Charm - http://farm1.static.flickr.com/12/15984215_ce0dc92e92.jpg?v=0

36: 6.Surgery - https://www.managerslogin.com/sites/folder14327/site_images_system/user/Laser_surgery_comp.jpg 7.Curtains - http://www.collectinghouse.co.uk/curtains.jpg 8.Liquid Gold - http://penitence.eu/d/428-2/Liquid-Gold.jpg 9.Throne - http://rougeforthewin.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/throne.jpg 10.Large book - http://www.birthpangs.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/book-large-1.jpg 11.Concoction - http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/img/cache/bcb9b8db117ee64376aedaf7af3595ca/bubbling-lavalamp-51908-340x340.jpg 12.dying plant - http://www.accenture-blogpodium.nl/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/dying.jpg

37: 13.geranium - http://www.countryliving.com/cm/countryliving/images/potted-geranium-de.jpg 14.girl drinking liquid - http://content.goodhealth.com/FormData/EditorialContent/img/asian_girl_drinking_water.jpg 15.sleeping beauty - http://www.illusionsgallery.com/Sleeping-Beauty-Spence-L.jpg 16.Rainbow - http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/photogrpah-a-rainbow.jpg 17.clapping hands - http://www.jackysherman.com/images/mn-clap.jpg 18.dying princess - http://cache.kotaku.com/assets/resources/2007/01/deathbed.jpg 19.soul - http://www.i-am.cc/Mind_Spa/AscendingSoul-1992_compressed.jpg 20.sad man - http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/files/u45/sad_man.jpg

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  • By: Jason L.
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  • Title: The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Adapted for children
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  • Published: over 8 years ago

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