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The Scarlet Letter

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“You speak, my friend, with a strange earnestness,” said old Roger Chillingworth, smiling at him. “You speak with strange conviction, my friend,” said old Roger Chillingworth, smiling at him.
“And there is weighty import in what my young brother hath spoken,” added the Reverend Mr. Wilson. “What say you, worshipful Master Bellingham? Hath he not pleaded well for the poor woman?” “And there is deep meaning in what my young brother has said,” added the Reverend Mr. Wilson. “What do you say, my honorable Master Bellingham? Hasn’t he made a good case for the poor woman?”
“Indeed hath he,” answered the magistrate, “and hath adduced such arguments, that we will even leave the matter as it now stands; so long, at least, as there shall be no further scandal in the woman. Care must be had, nevertheless, to put the child to due and stated examination in the catechism at thy hands or Master Dimmesdale’s. Moreover, at a proper season, the tithing-men must take heed that she go both to school and to meeting.” “So he has,” answered the magistrate. “He’s convinced me that we should leave things as they are, at least as long as the woman causes no further scandals. Even so, we must take care to give the child a proper religious education, whether at your hands or at Master Dimmesdale’s. And when she is old enough, the leaders of our congregation must see that she goes to both school and church.”
The young minister, on ceasing to speak, had withdrawn a few steps from the group, and stood with his face partially concealed in the heavy folds of the window-curtain; while the shadow of his figure, which the sunlight cast upon the floor, was tremulous with the vehemence of his appeal. Pearl, that wild and flighty little elf, stole softly towards him, and, taking his hand in the grasp of both her own, laid her cheek against it; a caress so tender, and withal so unobtrusive, that her mother, who was looking on, asked herself,—“Is that my Pearl?” Yet she knew that there was love in the child’s heart, although it mostly revealed itself in passion, and hardly twice in her lifetime had been softened by such gentleness as now. The minister,—for, save the long-sought regards of woman, nothing is sweeter than these marks of childish preference, accorded spontaneously by a spiritual instinct, and therefore seeming to imply in us something truly worthy to be loved,—the minister looked round, laid his hand on the child’s head, hesitated an instant, and then kissed her brow. Little Pearl’s unwonted mood of sentiment lasted no longer; she laughed, and went capering down the hall, so airily, that old Mr. Wilson raised a question whether even her tiptoes touched the floor. After he finished speaking, the young minister withdrew a few steps from the group. He stood with his face half-hidden in the heavy folds of the window curtain. His shadow, thrown onto the floor by the sunlight, shook from the passion of his appeal. Pearl, that wild and unpredictable little elf, crept over to him. She took his hand in both of hers and laid her cheek against it. Her caress was so tender and gentle that her mother, watching this, asked herself, “Is that my Pearl?” She knew there was love in the child’s heart, though it mostly exhibited wild passion. Hester had rarely seen Pearl’s heart softened with such gentleness as it was now. Only the long-sought love of a woman is sweeter than the spontaneous, instinctual love of a child—a fact that seems to suggest there is something truly worthy of love in all of us. The minister looked around, laid his hand on the child’s head, and, after hesitating for an instant, kissed her on the forehead. Little Pearl’s unusually sweet mood came to an end: She laughed and went skipping down the hall so lightly that old Mr. Wilson wondered whether her toes even touched the floor.
“The little baggage hath witchcraft in her, I profess,” said he to Mr. Dimmesdale. “She needs no old woman’s broomstick to fly withal!” “That little thing is bewitched, I swear,” he said to Mr. Dimmesdale. “She doesn’t need any broomstick to fly!”
“A strange child!” remarked old Roger Chillingworth. “It is easy to see the mother’s part in her. Would it be beyond a philosopher’s research, think ye, gentlemen, to analyze that child’s nature, and, from its make and mould, to give a shrewd guess at the father?” “A strange child!” remarked old Roger Chillingworth. “It’s easy to see her mother in her. Do you think, gentlemen, that some scientific research into that child’s nature would allow us to make a shrewd guess at the identity of her father?”
“Nay; it would be sinful, in such a question, to follow the clew of profane philosophy,” said Mr. Wilson. “Better to fast and pray upon it; and still better, it may be, to leave the mystery as we find it, unless Providence reveal it of its own accord. Thereby, every good Christian man hath a title to show a father’s kindness towards the poor, deserted babe.” “No—it would be sinful to use worldly science to answer such a question,” said Mr. Wilson. “Better to fast and pray on it. Even better, perhaps, to leave the mystery be, unless God himself chooses to reveal it. That way, every good Christian will have the right to show a father’s kindness to the poor, deserted child.”
The affair being so satisfactorily concluded, Hester Prynne, with Pearl, departed from the house. As they descended the steps, it is averred that the lattice of a chamber-window was thrown open, and forth into the sunny day was thrust the face of Mistress Hibbins, Governor Bellingham’s bitter-tempered sister, and the same who, a few years later, was executed as a witch. The matter being satisfactorily concluded, Hester Prynne and Pearl left the house. It is rumored that as they descended the steps, a window was thrown open and revealed the face of Mistress Hibbins, Governor Bellingham’s ill-tempered sister. This was the same sister who was executed as a witch a few years later.
“Hist, hist!” said she, while her ill-omened physiognomy seemed to cast a shadow over the cheerful newness of the house. “Wilt thou go with us to-night? There will be a merry company in the forest; and I wellnigh promised the Black Man that comely Hester Prynne should make one.” “Psst—psst!” she said, while her ominous face seemed to cast a shadow over the bright and cheerful house. “Will you go with us tonight? There will be a party in the forest, and I promised the Devil that lovely Hester Prynne would join us.”
“Make my excuse to him, so please you!” answered Hester, with a triumphant smile. “I must tarry at home, and keep watch over my little Pearl. Had they taken her from me, I would willingly have gone with thee into the forest, and signed my name in the Black Man’s book too, and that with mine own blood!” “Send my regrets, if you like!” answered Hester, with a triumphant smile. “I must stay at home and take care of my little Pearl. If they had taken her from me, I would have gladly gone to the forest with you and signed my name in the Devil’s book—with my own blood!”
“We shall have thee there anon!” said the witch-lady, frowning, as she drew back her head. “We’ll have you there some day!” said the witch-lady, frowning, as she pulled her head back in.
But here—if we suppose this interview betwixt Mistress Hibbins and Hester Prynne to be authentic, and not a parable—was already an illustration of the young minister’s argument against sundering the relation of a fallen mother to the offspring of her frailty. Even thus early had the child saved her from Satan’s snare. Now, if we believe this encounter between Mistress Hibbins and Hester Prynne was authentic—not simply a fable—then we already have evidence supporting the young minister’s argument against breaking the bond between the sinful mother and the fruit of her sin. Even this young, the child had saved the mother from Satan’s snare.

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