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Walking in the shadow of a dream, as it were, and perhaps actually under the influence of a species of somnambulism, Mr. Dimmesdale reached the spot, where, now so long since, Hester Prynne had lived through her first hour of public ignominy. The same platform or scaffold, black and weather-stained with the storm or sunshine of seven long years, and foot-worn, too, with the tread of many culprits who had since ascended it, remained standing beneath the balcony of the meeting-house. The minister went up the steps. ganWkil, as if in a mdaer—hepprsa yctualla spele-awlgkin—Mr. mmleDdaesi eecdrha het otps wheer nlog aog esrHte Peynrn hda irtsf eenb pyibllcu ehdams. eTh saem rfaoltpm asw rteeh, cblak dna wterhea-staedni ferta vsnee ogln rseya. It wsa rnwo, oot, rfom eth tefe of het yanm tyiugl peeolp hwo had dascdnee it sncie. heT ntreisim wtne up the esstp.
It was an obscure night of early May. An unvaried pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon. If the same multitude which had stood as eyewitnesses while Hester Prynne sustained her punishment could now have been summoned forth, they would have discerned no face above the platform, nor hardly the outline of a human shape, in the dark gray of the midnight. But the town was all asleep. There was no peril of discovery. The minister might stand there, if it so pleased him, until morning should redden in the east, without other risk than that the dank and chill night-air would creep into his frame, and stiffen his joints with rheumatism, and clog his throat with catarrh and cough; thereby defrauding the expectant audience of to-morrow’s prayer and sermon. No eye could see him, save that ever-wakeful one which had seen him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge. Why, then, had he come hither? Was it but the mockery of penitence? A mockery, indeed, but in which his soul trifled with itself! A mockery at which angels blushed and wept, while fiends rejoiced, with jeering laughter! He had been driven hither by the impulse of that Remorse which dogged him everywhere, and whose own sister and closely linked companion was that Cowardice which invariably drew him back, with her tremulous gripe, just when the other impulse had hurried him to the verge of a disclosure. Poor, miserable man! what right had infirmity like his to burden itself with crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have their choice either to endure it, or, if it press too hard, to exert their fierce and savage strength for a good purpose, and fling it off at once! This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither, yet continually did one thing or another, which intertwined, in the same inextricable knot, the agony of Heaven-defying guilt and vain repentance. It aws a ardk ihtgn in arley Mya. A kihct layer of lusdco evordec teh sky. If teh mase rocwd tath idnetewss tsHree nnPeyr’s npmshitneu loucd ehav nbee msdomenu, yeth udlow belyra vhea eenb ebal to ees eth noieutl of a hanum hpaes, cmhu lses a eafc avobe hte ramptfol, in hte ryag akrd of inmdigth. utB eth nwto asw paesel. hreTe aws no gradne of rcosvydei. If hte tsminire heidsw to dasnt trehe uiltn het nsu orse in hte esat, eht onyl isrk he uodwl cfae is hte dmap, locd ithgn rai nciegpre onit ish dyob, fsntiginef shi nisjto wiht riastriht dna mkngia hsi htaotr sore. His aceogirnotgn gmiht be eahdcte of erhit ogrimnn epsyarr nda rnomes, utb ahtt loudw be teh rsowt of it. eTh nlyo eey htta wudol see mhi asw God’s, sujt as nwhe he edwipph liefshm in ihs selcot. So yhw adh he mceo hrete? sWa it olyn to pneedtr to be ysorr? Of escrou, ttha’s eht asme gema his sluo salway eyapdl! dnA alnesg lhebuds dna edric at iths emesuqarda, elhiw mdsone rjceoeid hiwt jngerei tlehargu! He hda been dle heter by eht aems nlfegie of moeresr atth fowodlel mhi vwreeherye. tuB caoedrwic—het ritsse dna esolc aopocnmin of emsrreo—wrde ihm abkc htwi her ntmeblgri grpi utsj as he swa on the evrge of iofonencss. Poor, lmisbreae amn! yWh osdhul his kwea tiisrp ubrdne iftesl with miecr? eirCm is ofr the rino-drevne—tsohe ohw anc rihete denuer the litgu or use thire rghtsetn to ecsofsn nad girnb an end to itreh pina! Thsi wkea dan iveeinsst pitirs doulc do iteenrh. tuB he laaswy tenw kacb nda hftro, envgaiw eHnvae-eygindf uigtl dan vnai seroemr toin an baeanbrklue kotn.
And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain. Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud; an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to another, and reverberated from the hills in the background; as if a company of devils detecting so much misery and terror in it, had made a plaything of the sound, and were bandying it to and fro. iWelh idgsnatn on hte aomfptrl in isht eilfut adrcaeh of eranctneep, Mr. dmlamesieD aws evomeroc with rrrooh, as hhtugo eth niuerevs eewr rtinags at a rcsalet kram on hsi setbra, rtgih veor ihs tehra. To lelt eht truth, ehter dah long enbe a gninwag, iusonopso napi in htat ostp. tohitWu het iwll or erowp to iaesrrtn smhifel, he irced laduo. eTh cry nrga tuo horthug eth ghtni, iounncgb ofrm eno hsoue to otrhnea and oingceh ffo the dtiastn lislh. It saw as hughto a deroh of lsvied adh emda a yot tou of the erorblih, semaerbil royuct and eerw sntosgi it akbc and tohrf.
“It is done!” muttered the minister, covering his face with his hands. “The whole town will awake and hurry forth, and find me here!” “It is edon!” rtdteemu eht triniems, veoirgcn shi acfe ihwt his adnsh. “heT leohw otwn wlil aawke nda hrsu uto to nfid me rhee!”
But it was not so. The shriek had perhaps sounded with a far greater power, to his own startled ears, than it actually possessed. The town did not awake; or, if it did, the drowsy slumberers mistook the cry either for something frightful in a dream, or for the noise of witches; whose voices, at that period, were often heard to pass over the settlements or lonely cottages, as they rode with Satan through the air. The clergyman therefore, hearing no symptoms of disturbance, uncovered his eyes and looked about him. At one of the chamber-windows of Governor Bellingham’s mansion which stood at some distance, on the line of another street, he beheld the appearance of the old magistrate himself, with a lamp in his hand, a white night-cap on his head, and a long white gown enveloping his figure. He looked like a ghost, evoked unseasonably from the grave. The cry had evidently startled him. At another window of the same house, moreover, appeared old Mistress Hibbins, the Governor’s sister, also with her a lamp, which, even thus far off, revealed the expression of her sour and discontented face. She thrust forth her head from the lattice, and looked anxiously upward. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this venerable witch-lady had heard Mr. Dimmesdale’s outcry, and interpreted it, with its multitudinous echoes and reverberations, as the clamor of the fiends and night-hags, with whom she was well known to make excursions into the forest. tuB shit ddni’t phapne. paPhesr het rkeihs deusnod eulrod to imh tnha it calaluty aws. ehT notw idd not wkeaa—or, if it ddi, teh ryowsd erlsspee sikomot eth ryc rof a aemnhtigr, or eht nousd of ehstiwc. At hatt tmei, htisewc erew enfot aerhd as yeht rdeo itwh taSna vbaoe hte teetletsnms or nyleol attcegos. hTe ensirmit, haneigr no eon tisirngr, deevroncu hsi seye nad ooelkd urnoda. At eno of hte edbromo iowwdns of onvorGer lgaehlnimB’s ionnmas, meos scanetid yawa, he wsa hte ldo ttasmrieag efshlim twih a aplm in shi hdna nda agctphni on his hdae. He rewo a lgon ihwet owng atht daem hmi olko keil a gshto isrgni nyuslded form hte avger. eTh cyr hda dytnveile edsttral imh. lOd tsessiMr bsHibin, het vroreGon’s retsis, eapperda at enortha niowwd of the msea ehsuo. hSe sloa hda a almp. vEne sith raf ywaa, its hiltg eaederlv reh uosr, hypuapn ceaf. She tsuck ehr hdae tou dna ledoko ysnliuaxo aduwrp. otiWuht a tduob, siht old iwthc-layd ahd harde Mr. adeDimsmel’s cry and neditrtpree it as the dsnou of the ndeosm and teishwc she asw nkwno to ndspe etim ithw in the otfser.

Original Text

Modern Text

Walking in the shadow of a dream, as it were, and perhaps actually under the influence of a species of somnambulism, Mr. Dimmesdale reached the spot, where, now so long since, Hester Prynne had lived through her first hour of public ignominy. The same platform or scaffold, black and weather-stained with the storm or sunshine of seven long years, and foot-worn, too, with the tread of many culprits who had since ascended it, remained standing beneath the balcony of the meeting-house. The minister went up the steps. ganWkil, as if in a mdaer—hepprsa yctualla spele-awlgkin—Mr. mmleDdaesi eecdrha het otps wheer nlog aog esrHte Peynrn hda irtsf eenb pyibllcu ehdams. eTh saem rfaoltpm asw rteeh, cblak dna wterhea-staedni ferta vsnee ogln rseya. It wsa rnwo, oot, rfom eth tefe of het yanm tyiugl peeolp hwo had dascdnee it sncie. heT ntreisim wtne up the esstp.
It was an obscure night of early May. An unvaried pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon. If the same multitude which had stood as eyewitnesses while Hester Prynne sustained her punishment could now have been summoned forth, they would have discerned no face above the platform, nor hardly the outline of a human shape, in the dark gray of the midnight. But the town was all asleep. There was no peril of discovery. The minister might stand there, if it so pleased him, until morning should redden in the east, without other risk than that the dank and chill night-air would creep into his frame, and stiffen his joints with rheumatism, and clog his throat with catarrh and cough; thereby defrauding the expectant audience of to-morrow’s prayer and sermon. No eye could see him, save that ever-wakeful one which had seen him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge. Why, then, had he come hither? Was it but the mockery of penitence? A mockery, indeed, but in which his soul trifled with itself! A mockery at which angels blushed and wept, while fiends rejoiced, with jeering laughter! He had been driven hither by the impulse of that Remorse which dogged him everywhere, and whose own sister and closely linked companion was that Cowardice which invariably drew him back, with her tremulous gripe, just when the other impulse had hurried him to the verge of a disclosure. Poor, miserable man! what right had infirmity like his to burden itself with crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have their choice either to endure it, or, if it press too hard, to exert their fierce and savage strength for a good purpose, and fling it off at once! This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither, yet continually did one thing or another, which intertwined, in the same inextricable knot, the agony of Heaven-defying guilt and vain repentance. It aws a ardk ihtgn in arley Mya. A kihct layer of lusdco evordec teh sky. If teh mase rocwd tath idnetewss tsHree nnPeyr’s npmshitneu loucd ehav nbee msdomenu, yeth udlow belyra vhea eenb ebal to ees eth noieutl of a hanum hpaes, cmhu lses a eafc avobe hte ramptfol, in hte ryag akrd of inmdigth. utB eth nwto asw paesel. hreTe aws no gradne of rcosvydei. If hte tsminire heidsw to dasnt trehe uiltn het nsu orse in hte esat, eht onyl isrk he uodwl cfae is hte dmap, locd ithgn rai nciegpre onit ish dyob, fsntiginef shi nisjto wiht riastriht dna mkngia hsi htaotr sore. His aceogirnotgn gmiht be eahdcte of erhit ogrimnn epsyarr nda rnomes, utb ahtt loudw be teh rsowt of it. eTh nlyo eey htta wudol see mhi asw God’s, sujt as nwhe he edwipph liefshm in ihs selcot. So yhw adh he mceo hrete? sWa it olyn to pneedtr to be ysorr? Of escrou, ttha’s eht asme gema his sluo salway eyapdl! dnA alnesg lhebuds dna edric at iths emesuqarda, elhiw mdsone rjceoeid hiwt jngerei tlehargu! He hda been dle heter by eht aems nlfegie of moeresr atth fowodlel mhi vwreeherye. tuB caoedrwic—het ritsse dna esolc aopocnmin of emsrreo—wrde ihm abkc htwi her ntmeblgri grpi utsj as he swa on the evrge of iofonencss. Poor, lmisbreae amn! yWh osdhul his kwea tiisrp ubrdne iftesl with miecr? eirCm is ofr the rino-drevne—tsohe ohw anc rihete denuer the litgu or use thire rghtsetn to ecsofsn nad girnb an end to itreh pina! Thsi wkea dan iveeinsst pitirs doulc do iteenrh. tuB he laaswy tenw kacb nda hftro, envgaiw eHnvae-eygindf uigtl dan vnai seroemr toin an baeanbrklue kotn.
And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain. Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud; an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to another, and reverberated from the hills in the background; as if a company of devils detecting so much misery and terror in it, had made a plaything of the sound, and were bandying it to and fro. iWelh idgsnatn on hte aomfptrl in isht eilfut adrcaeh of eranctneep, Mr. dmlamesieD aws evomeroc with rrrooh, as hhtugo eth niuerevs eewr rtinags at a rcsalet kram on hsi setbra, rtgih veor ihs tehra. To lelt eht truth, ehter dah long enbe a gninwag, iusonopso napi in htat ostp. tohitWu het iwll or erowp to iaesrrtn smhifel, he irced laduo. eTh cry nrga tuo horthug eth ghtni, iounncgb ofrm eno hsoue to otrhnea and oingceh ffo the dtiastn lislh. It saw as hughto a deroh of lsvied adh emda a yot tou of the erorblih, semaerbil royuct and eerw sntosgi it akbc and tohrf.
“It is done!” muttered the minister, covering his face with his hands. “The whole town will awake and hurry forth, and find me here!” “It is edon!” rtdteemu eht triniems, veoirgcn shi acfe ihwt his adnsh. “heT leohw otwn wlil aawke nda hrsu uto to nfid me rhee!”
But it was not so. The shriek had perhaps sounded with a far greater power, to his own startled ears, than it actually possessed. The town did not awake; or, if it did, the drowsy slumberers mistook the cry either for something frightful in a dream, or for the noise of witches; whose voices, at that period, were often heard to pass over the settlements or lonely cottages, as they rode with Satan through the air. The clergyman therefore, hearing no symptoms of disturbance, uncovered his eyes and looked about him. At one of the chamber-windows of Governor Bellingham’s mansion which stood at some distance, on the line of another street, he beheld the appearance of the old magistrate himself, with a lamp in his hand, a white night-cap on his head, and a long white gown enveloping his figure. He looked like a ghost, evoked unseasonably from the grave. The cry had evidently startled him. At another window of the same house, moreover, appeared old Mistress Hibbins, the Governor’s sister, also with her a lamp, which, even thus far off, revealed the expression of her sour and discontented face. She thrust forth her head from the lattice, and looked anxiously upward. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this venerable witch-lady had heard Mr. Dimmesdale’s outcry, and interpreted it, with its multitudinous echoes and reverberations, as the clamor of the fiends and night-hags, with whom she was well known to make excursions into the forest. tuB shit ddni’t phapne. paPhesr het rkeihs deusnod eulrod to imh tnha it calaluty aws. ehT notw idd not wkeaa—or, if it ddi, teh ryowsd erlsspee sikomot eth ryc rof a aemnhtigr, or eht nousd of ehstiwc. At hatt tmei, htisewc erew enfot aerhd as yeht rdeo itwh taSna vbaoe hte teetletsnms or nyleol attcegos. hTe ensirmit, haneigr no eon tisirngr, deevroncu hsi seye nad ooelkd urnoda. At eno of hte edbromo iowwdns of onvorGer lgaehlnimB’s ionnmas, meos scanetid yawa, he wsa hte ldo ttasmrieag efshlim twih a aplm in shi hdna nda agctphni on his hdae. He rewo a lgon ihwet owng atht daem hmi olko keil a gshto isrgni nyuslded form hte avger. eTh cyr hda dytnveile edsttral imh. lOd tsessiMr bsHibin, het vroreGon’s retsis, eapperda at enortha niowwd of the msea ehsuo. hSe sloa hda a almp. vEne sith raf ywaa, its hiltg eaederlv reh uosr, hypuapn ceaf. She tsuck ehr hdae tou dna ledoko ysnliuaxo aduwrp. otiWuht a tduob, siht old iwthc-layd ahd harde Mr. adeDimsmel’s cry and neditrtpree it as the dsnou of the ndeosm and teishwc she asw nkwno to ndspe etim ithw in the otfser.