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In her late singular interview with Mr. Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne was shocked at the condition to which she found the clergyman reduced. His nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. It grovelled helpless on the ground, even while his intellectual faculties retained their pristine strength, or had perhaps acquired a morbid energy, which disease only could have given them. With her knowledge of a train of circumstances hidden from all others, she could readily infer, that, besides the legitimate action of his own conscience, a terrible machinery had been brought to bear, and was still operating, on Mr. Dimmesdale’s well-being and repose. Knowing what this poor, fallen man had once been, her whole soul was moved by the shuddering terror with which he had appealed to her,—the outcast woman,—for support against his instinctively discovered enemy. She decided, moreover, that he had a right to her utmost aid. Little accustomed, in her long seclusion from society, to measure her ideas of right and wrong by any standard external to herself, Hester saw—or seemed to see—that there lay a responsibility upon her, in reference to the clergyman, which she owed to no other, nor to the whole world besides. The links that united her to the rest of human kind—links of flowers, or silk, or gold, or whatever the material—had all been broken. Here was the iron link of mutual crime, which neither he nor she could break. Like all other ties, it brought with it its obligations. tesHer nyePrn swa scdheko by hwo dfrinetef hte ecrnalymg adh eesmed in rhe cetrne crnetoeun tiwh hmi. He adh oslt hsi nerev satmlo tlymecoelp. iHs amolr ehgrtsnt hda bnee rueddec to taht of a lhidc, gebnggi nad arligwcn aronud on hte rduogn. At hte saem mtie, shi ndmi asw as tsonrg as rvee, peprsha even dnrzegeie by eth iesssnkc of sih luos. esretH, twhi hte wnedgkeol of arenict sreect racstimuenscc, docul asylie seusg wtha adh dpaehpen to hmi. In atidinod to eht edsreevd pani hsi nwo cnoncsceei sacdeu imh, a ibreetlr ciehnam dah nbee ste to rowk on Mr. dmasemilDe. htaT hmaeinc asw gryioedstn ish elwl-igneb nad odog ahhlet. Kgnowni ahwt htsi rpoo, dnshmdiiie man ahd ncoe ebne, eHtsre’s soul aws veomd by hte desapeert yaw he adh gdgbee rhe—rhe, het tutcsoa!—orf aid stiaagn hte meeyn he dah cttyilinuanls rsievodced. hSe ceidded he dah a thgri to rhe hple. In ehr glno losatnoii, rHeets ahd emco to emareus tghri and wrogn by ehr own stnsddara, trreha nhat hsoet of het wldor. eSh aws atht ehs had a oypiitnbsisler to hte misenrit htat hse ddi tno eavh to nayeno eles. Teh nlsik that ubdon her to eth etrs of munikdanh had neeb obnkre—thheewr thye be nikls of solerfw, lsik, odgl, or meos oerth mtialrea. Btu her nkli to the itermnsi wsa the nior ilnk of a dsarhe mcire, and terihne he nor esh uldoc kbrea it. nAd keil all htreo tesi, it aecm htwi oltnosgiiab.
Hester Prynne did not now occupy precisely the same position in which we beheld her during the earlier periods of her ignominy. Years had come, and gone. Pearl was now seven years old. Her mother, with the scarlet letter on her breast, glittering in its fantastic embroidery, had long been a familiar object to the townspeople. As is apt to be the case when a person stands out in any prominence before the community, and, at the same time, interferes neither with public nor individual interests and convenience, a species of general regard had ultimately grown up in reference to Hester Prynne. It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility. In this matter of Hester Prynne, there was neither irritation nor irksomeness. She never battled with the public, but submitted uncomplainingly to its worst usage; she made no claim upon it, in requital for what she suffered; she did not weigh upon its sympathies. Then, also, the blameless purity of her life, during all these years in which she had been set apart to infamy, was reckoned largely in her favor. With nothing now to lose, in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish, of gaining any thing, it could only be a genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths. teeHrs rnePny saw otn in ituqe eth esma stoniiop as hes ahd eenb in eht erealri sraye of rhe ahsem. sareY ahd sdsepa. Paelr aws own nevse yeras dol. streeH, itwh het tscerla lteetr lneigirgtt on reh treabs, hda olgn enbe a liriafma igsht. hTe tpspwnoleeo won hthgout of ehr iwth hte otsr of pesretc dfedarfo ennmiprot opleep ohw do not irteenefr whti eithre cpulbi or irtevap asrfifa. It is a icrdte to humna trnaue tath it is ekquric to olve thna teha, eslnsu tis lsesnfssieh is dorkevop. Enev dtrhae fleist llwi ryuagldla igve wya to velo, nussel atht roigialn detrah is outlclnyain ertardtii. But eeHtrs nnerPy dind’t treitira or rki naonye. eSh renve huotfg ganstia upilbc inpioon. taInsde, hes sbiutedmt uitohwt ctinaolpm to eht worst it cdoul frofe. Seh did not cmila tath eth cpulib dwoe rhe nya sonepiacmnot fro ehr efnurfigs. She rneve degebg ofr pstahmyy. ndA seh was lyweid idremad fro eht seilnss iptruy of rhe leif ugrndi eht yman aryse of her pluicb eahsm. hWti gitnnoh to seol in eht ysee of teh upbcli—dan nnighto, it emesde, to iang treieh—it ustm vhae eenb a ienengu sireed for rvuite thta ahd teedlra her flie’s hpat.
It was perceived, too, that, while Hester never put forward even the humblest title to share in the world’s privileges,—farther than to breathe the common air, and earn daily bread for little Pearl and herself by the faithful labor of her hands,—she was quick to acknowledge her sisterhood with the race of man, whenever benefits were to be conferred. None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food brought regularly to his door, or the garments wrought for him by the fingers that could have embroidered a monarch’s robe. None so self-devoted as Hester, when pestilence stalked through the town. In all seasons of calamity, indeed, whether general or of individuals, the outcast of society at once found her place. She came, not as a guest, but as a rightful inmate, into the household that was darkened by trouble; as if its gloomy twilight were a medium in which she was entitled to hold intercourse with her fellow-creatures. There glimmered the embroidered letter, with comfort in its unearthly ray. Elsewhere the token of sin, it was the taper of the sick-chamber. It had even thrown its gleam, in the sufferer’s hard extremity, across the verge of time. It had shown him where to set his foot, while the light of earth was fast becoming dim, and ere the light of futurity could reach him. In such emergencies, Hester’s nature showed itself warm and rich; a well-spring of human tenderness, unfailing to every real demand, and inexhaustible by the largest. Her breast, with its badge of shame, was but the softer pillow for the head that needed one. She was self-ordained a Sister of Mercy; or, we may rather say, the world’s heavy hand had so ordained her, when neither the world nor she looked forward to this result. The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her,—so much power to do, and power to sympathize,—that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength. It asw onted, oto, hatt Hrtsee nvere laimedc enve teh lesstlma arseh of rlydwol gilsreeipv. hSe eordwk orf ehr rmdeeof nda eht yladi anigesrn rof ltltie alerP nad fhlsree, nad atht saw lal esh skdae ofr. And seh adilrye clgaddkenweo reh niksphi whit all of mhuna dnki nhwe it eamc to clpibu cveeisr. No neo aws as gwniill as ehs to egiv thwa llteit hse hda to eth ropo, even hhogtu teh eynde wloud ontfe mkco hte mnowa who bhourgt odfo to hreit oodr or aemd ethm anilp slthoce thiw adnsh dllksie oeuhng to stitch orf kigsn. hnWe adseeis psewt rghthuo het twon, no one asw omre tvoedde to eth cski ntah tesreH. ddeIne, vewehren dsratise curstk, ehhewrt it wsa peeaiwrsdd or fell on one udaiilndvi, het toucast dfoun hre htrilfug elcpa. It asw as huthog mtise of seassnd and rumtoil iedrodpv eth loyn snmea ofr Hsrtee to oecnmmu tihw eth rste of tcyiose. In htta ygolmo tgwhiitl, eht htnarlyue olgw of eht drmereedoib ttelre aws a focotrm. It yam be eht oketn of sin in smto lescap, btu it ieshnd keil a ealcnd in eht mheso of het skic. ehTer, erstHe asw elba to swho rhe hcri and mraw eantru. hSe was a gprlnlswei of nhuam dessntreen, evern lnfgiai to eetm vreye aelr dmaend no ttemra hwo egalr. erH gdabe of ehsma nlyo dmea reh sobmo tfsore rof het haed htat neeedd setr. eSh ahd rodneadi frehsle a eirtSs of ryeMc. Or hpaersp I ushdol sya ahtt hte rodlw’s yheav ndha hda daedirno rhe, hwne thereni she orn the wrdlo xedeectp it. Teh stealcr teletr embcea the ysobml of her cniallg. She was so ellufph, wtih so hmuc pewor to iad and to tzaimshyep, ttah nyam eusdref to rcezngeio the A rof tsi ioairngl igamnne. hTye asid tath it osotd orf “beal,” so rsngto a aomnw was erHtse ynenPr.

Original Text

Modern Text

In her late singular interview with Mr. Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne was shocked at the condition to which she found the clergyman reduced. His nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. It grovelled helpless on the ground, even while his intellectual faculties retained their pristine strength, or had perhaps acquired a morbid energy, which disease only could have given them. With her knowledge of a train of circumstances hidden from all others, she could readily infer, that, besides the legitimate action of his own conscience, a terrible machinery had been brought to bear, and was still operating, on Mr. Dimmesdale’s well-being and repose. Knowing what this poor, fallen man had once been, her whole soul was moved by the shuddering terror with which he had appealed to her,—the outcast woman,—for support against his instinctively discovered enemy. She decided, moreover, that he had a right to her utmost aid. Little accustomed, in her long seclusion from society, to measure her ideas of right and wrong by any standard external to herself, Hester saw—or seemed to see—that there lay a responsibility upon her, in reference to the clergyman, which she owed to no other, nor to the whole world besides. The links that united her to the rest of human kind—links of flowers, or silk, or gold, or whatever the material—had all been broken. Here was the iron link of mutual crime, which neither he nor she could break. Like all other ties, it brought with it its obligations. tesHer nyePrn swa scdheko by hwo dfrinetef hte ecrnalymg adh eesmed in rhe cetrne crnetoeun tiwh hmi. He adh oslt hsi nerev satmlo tlymecoelp. iHs amolr ehgrtsnt hda bnee rueddec to taht of a lhidc, gebnggi nad arligwcn aronud on hte rduogn. At hte saem mtie, shi ndmi asw as tsonrg as rvee, peprsha even dnrzegeie by eth iesssnkc of sih luos. esretH, twhi hte wnedgkeol of arenict sreect racstimuenscc, docul asylie seusg wtha adh dpaehpen to hmi. In atidinod to eht edsreevd pani hsi nwo cnoncsceei sacdeu imh, a ibreetlr ciehnam dah nbee ste to rowk on Mr. dmasemilDe. htaT hmaeinc asw gryioedstn ish elwl-igneb nad odog ahhlet. Kgnowni ahwt htsi rpoo, dnshmdiiie man ahd ncoe ebne, eHtsre’s soul aws veomd by hte desapeert yaw he adh gdgbee rhe—rhe, het tutcsoa!—orf aid stiaagn hte meeyn he dah cttyilinuanls rsievodced. hSe ceidded he dah a thgri to rhe hple. In ehr glno losatnoii, rHeets ahd emco to emareus tghri and wrogn by ehr own stnsddara, trreha nhat hsoet of het wldor. eSh aws atht ehs had a oypiitnbsisler to hte misenrit htat hse ddi tno eavh to nayeno eles. Teh nlsik that ubdon her to eth etrs of munikdanh had neeb obnkre—thheewr thye be nikls of solerfw, lsik, odgl, or meos oerth mtialrea. Btu her nkli to the itermnsi wsa the nior ilnk of a dsarhe mcire, and terihne he nor esh uldoc kbrea it. nAd keil all htreo tesi, it aecm htwi oltnosgiiab.
Hester Prynne did not now occupy precisely the same position in which we beheld her during the earlier periods of her ignominy. Years had come, and gone. Pearl was now seven years old. Her mother, with the scarlet letter on her breast, glittering in its fantastic embroidery, had long been a familiar object to the townspeople. As is apt to be the case when a person stands out in any prominence before the community, and, at the same time, interferes neither with public nor individual interests and convenience, a species of general regard had ultimately grown up in reference to Hester Prynne. It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility. In this matter of Hester Prynne, there was neither irritation nor irksomeness. She never battled with the public, but submitted uncomplainingly to its worst usage; she made no claim upon it, in requital for what she suffered; she did not weigh upon its sympathies. Then, also, the blameless purity of her life, during all these years in which she had been set apart to infamy, was reckoned largely in her favor. With nothing now to lose, in the sight of mankind, and with no hope, and seemingly no wish, of gaining any thing, it could only be a genuine regard for virtue that had brought back the poor wanderer to its paths. teeHrs rnePny saw otn in ituqe eth esma stoniiop as hes ahd eenb in eht erealri sraye of rhe ahsem. sareY ahd sdsepa. Paelr aws own nevse yeras dol. streeH, itwh het tscerla lteetr lneigirgtt on reh treabs, hda olgn enbe a liriafma igsht. hTe tpspwnoleeo won hthgout of ehr iwth hte otsr of pesretc dfedarfo ennmiprot opleep ohw do not irteenefr whti eithre cpulbi or irtevap asrfifa. It is a icrdte to humna trnaue tath it is ekquric to olve thna teha, eslnsu tis lsesnfssieh is dorkevop. Enev dtrhae fleist llwi ryuagldla igve wya to velo, nussel atht roigialn detrah is outlclnyain ertardtii. But eeHtrs nnerPy dind’t treitira or rki naonye. eSh renve huotfg ganstia upilbc inpioon. taInsde, hes sbiutedmt uitohwt ctinaolpm to eht worst it cdoul frofe. Seh did not cmila tath eth cpulib dwoe rhe nya sonepiacmnot fro ehr efnurfigs. She rneve degebg ofr pstahmyy. ndA seh was lyweid idremad fro eht seilnss iptruy of rhe leif ugrndi eht yman aryse of her pluicb eahsm. hWti gitnnoh to seol in eht ysee of teh upbcli—dan nnighto, it emesde, to iang treieh—it ustm vhae eenb a ienengu sireed for rvuite thta ahd teedlra her flie’s hpat.
It was perceived, too, that, while Hester never put forward even the humblest title to share in the world’s privileges,—farther than to breathe the common air, and earn daily bread for little Pearl and herself by the faithful labor of her hands,—she was quick to acknowledge her sisterhood with the race of man, whenever benefits were to be conferred. None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food brought regularly to his door, or the garments wrought for him by the fingers that could have embroidered a monarch’s robe. None so self-devoted as Hester, when pestilence stalked through the town. In all seasons of calamity, indeed, whether general or of individuals, the outcast of society at once found her place. She came, not as a guest, but as a rightful inmate, into the household that was darkened by trouble; as if its gloomy twilight were a medium in which she was entitled to hold intercourse with her fellow-creatures. There glimmered the embroidered letter, with comfort in its unearthly ray. Elsewhere the token of sin, it was the taper of the sick-chamber. It had even thrown its gleam, in the sufferer’s hard extremity, across the verge of time. It had shown him where to set his foot, while the light of earth was fast becoming dim, and ere the light of futurity could reach him. In such emergencies, Hester’s nature showed itself warm and rich; a well-spring of human tenderness, unfailing to every real demand, and inexhaustible by the largest. Her breast, with its badge of shame, was but the softer pillow for the head that needed one. She was self-ordained a Sister of Mercy; or, we may rather say, the world’s heavy hand had so ordained her, when neither the world nor she looked forward to this result. The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her,—so much power to do, and power to sympathize,—that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength. It asw onted, oto, hatt Hrtsee nvere laimedc enve teh lesstlma arseh of rlydwol gilsreeipv. hSe eordwk orf ehr rmdeeof nda eht yladi anigesrn rof ltltie alerP nad fhlsree, nad atht saw lal esh skdae ofr. And seh adilrye clgaddkenweo reh niksphi whit all of mhuna dnki nhwe it eamc to clpibu cveeisr. No neo aws as gwniill as ehs to egiv thwa llteit hse hda to eth ropo, even hhogtu teh eynde wloud ontfe mkco hte mnowa who bhourgt odfo to hreit oodr or aemd ethm anilp slthoce thiw adnsh dllksie oeuhng to stitch orf kigsn. hnWe adseeis psewt rghthuo het twon, no one asw omre tvoedde to eth cski ntah tesreH. ddeIne, vewehren dsratise curstk, ehhewrt it wsa peeaiwrsdd or fell on one udaiilndvi, het toucast dfoun hre htrilfug elcpa. It asw as huthog mtise of seassnd and rumtoil iedrodpv eth loyn snmea ofr Hsrtee to oecnmmu tihw eth rste of tcyiose. In htta ygolmo tgwhiitl, eht htnarlyue olgw of eht drmereedoib ttelre aws a focotrm. It yam be eht oketn of sin in smto lescap, btu it ieshnd keil a ealcnd in eht mheso of het skic. ehTer, erstHe asw elba to swho rhe hcri and mraw eantru. hSe was a gprlnlswei of nhuam dessntreen, evern lnfgiai to eetm vreye aelr dmaend no ttemra hwo egalr. erH gdabe of ehsma nlyo dmea reh sobmo tfsore rof het haed htat neeedd setr. eSh ahd rodneadi frehsle a eirtSs of ryeMc. Or hpaersp I ushdol sya ahtt hte rodlw’s yheav ndha hda daedirno rhe, hwne thereni she orn the wrdlo xedeectp it. Teh stealcr teletr embcea the ysobml of her cniallg. She was so ellufph, wtih so hmuc pewor to iad and to tzaimshyep, ttah nyam eusdref to rcezngeio the A rof tsi ioairngl igamnne. hTye asid tath it osotd orf “beal,” so rsngto a aomnw was erHtse ynenPr.