Skip over navigation

The Scarlet Letter

Original Text

Modern Text

“Dost thou mock me now?” said the minister. “Are you mocking me?” asked the minister.
“Thou wast not bold!—thou wast not true!” answered the child. “Thou wouldst not promise to take my hand, and mother’s hand, to-morrow noontide!” “You weren’t brave! You weren’t honest!” answered the child. “You wouldn’t promise to take my hand, and my mother’s hand, tomorrow at noon!”
“Worthy Sir,” said the physician, who had now advanced to the foot of the platform. “Pious Master Dimmesdale! can this be you? Well, well, indeed! We men of study, whose heads are in our books, have need to be straitly looked after! We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep. Come, good Sir, and my dear friend, I pray you, let me lead you home!” “My good man,” said the doctor, who had advanced to the foot of the platform, “pious Mr. Dimmesdale! Is that you? Well, well! Scholars like us, whose heads are in our books, must be looked after quite closely! We daydream when awake, and we walk in our sleep. Come, good sir and dear friend, please, let me walk you home.”
“How knewest thou that I was here?” asked the minister, fearfully. “How did you know I was here?” asked the minister, fearfully.
“Verily, and in good faith,” answered Roger Chillingworth, “I knew nothing of the matter. I had spent the better part of the night at the bedside of the worshipful Governor Winthrop, doing what my poor skill might to give him ease. He going home to a better world, I, likewise, was on my way homeward, when this strange light shone out. Come with me, I beseech you, Reverend Sir; else you will be poorly able to do Sabbath duty to-morrow. Aha! see now, how they trouble the brain,—these books!—these books! You should study less, good Sir, and take a little pastime; or these night-whimseys will grow upon you!” “Honestly,” answered Roger Chillingworth, “I didn’t know. I spent most of the night at the bedside of Governor Winthrop, doing what little I could to comfort him. He went home to a better a world. I was on my way home, too, when this light appeared. Come with me now, please, I beg you, good sir. Or you won’t give a very good sermon tomorrow. Ah, I see now how much books can trouble the brain. You should study less, good sir, and relax more often, or these nighttime fantasies will only increase.”
“I will go home with you,” said Mr. Dimmesdale. “I’ll go home with you,” said Mr. Dimmesdale.
With a chill despondency, like one awaking, all nerveless, from an ugly dream, he yielded himself to the physician, and was led away. With a chilling hopelessness, like one who wakes up trembling after a nightmare, he let the doctor lead him away.
The next day, however, being the Sabbath, he preached a discourse which was held to be the richest and most powerful, and the most replete with heavenly influences, that had ever proceeded from his lips. Souls, it is said, more souls than one, were brought to the truth by the efficacy of that sermon, and vowed within themselves to cherish a holy gratitude towards Mr. Dimmesdale throughout the long hereafter. But, as he came down the pulpit-steps, the gray-bearded sexton met him, holding up a black glove, which the minister recognized as his own. The next day, he preached a sermon considered the most powerful and inspired he had ever given. It is said that many souls were saved by the strength of that sermon, vowing to remain grateful to Mr. Dimmesdale even in Heaven. But as he descended from the pulpit, the gray-bearded

sexton

Minor church officer charged with maintaining the grounds.

sexton
met him, holding up a black glove. The minister recognized it as his own.
“It was found,” said the sexton, “this morning, on the scaffold, where evil-doers are set up to public shame. Satan dropped it there, I take it, intending a scurrilous jest against your reverence. But, indeed, he was blind and foolish, as he ever and always is. A pure hand needs no glove to cover it!” “It was found this morning,” said the sexton, “on the platform where sinners are exhibited to public shame. Satan dropped it there, I presume, in a despicable joke against you. But the Devil was blind and foolish, as he always is. A pure hand needs no glove to cover it!”
“Thank you, my good friend,” said the minister gravely, but startled at heart; for, so confused was his remembrance, that he had almost brought himself to look at the events of the past night as visionary. “Yes, it seems to be my glove indeed!” “Thank you, my good friend,” said the minister, sounding calm and serious, though fear was in his heart. His memory of the previous night was so muddled, he had nearly convinced himself it was all in his imagination. “Yes, this does seem to be my glove!”
“And, since Satan saw fit to steal it, your reverence must needs handle him without gloves, henceforward,” remarked the old sexton, grimly smiling. “But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night? A great red letter in the sky,—the letter A,—which we interpret to stand for Angel. For, as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof!” “And, since Satan saw fit to steal it, from now on the gloves must come off when you fight with him,” the old sexton said, smiling grimly. “But did you hear of the sign that was seen last night? A great red letter appeared in the sky—the letter A—which we take to stand for ‘Angel.’ Since our good Governor Winthrop became an angel last night, it is fitting that there should be some sign to mark the event.”
“No,” answered the minister. “I had not heard of it.” “No,” the minister answered, “I had not heard about that.”

More Help

Previous Next