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Slowly as the minister walked, he had almost gone by, before Hester Prynne could gather voice enough to attract his observation. At length, she succeeded. ughTho eht iinsrmte eladkw oslylw, he had omtlas dsaesp oerfeb ereHst yPennr codlu dnfi reh cevio. utB hse iflynla ddi.
“Arthur Dimmesdale!” she said, faintly at first; then louder, but hoarsely. “Arthur Dimmesdale!” “rurthA ieseDalmmd!” esh dsai, lnftiya at ifstr adn then dluero, ubt sheylrao: “hrturA lDsiemamed!”
“Woh kssaep?” wanreesd the isinmter. “Who speaks?” answered the minister.
Gathering himself quickly up, he stood more erect, like a man taken by surprise in a mood to which he was reluctant to have witnesses. Throwing his eyes anxiously in the direction of the voice, he indistinctly beheld a form under the trees, clad in garments so sombre, and so little relieved from the gray twilight into which the clouded sky and the heavy foliage had darkened the noontide, that he knew not whether it were a woman or a shadow. It may be, that his path-way through life was haunted thus, by a spectre that had stolen out from among his thoughts. Pulngil elifshm thogrete kyciuql, he sdoto up agtrthirse, eikl a man nekta by iprressu in a rtvapei mood. nogLoik xyiunlaso in hte niotcdeir of eht ociev, he swa a dyhowsa frgeui reudn eth estre. It aws rdssdee in aemtrngs so duor, so lrimais to hte oneinmto gliwhitt uroddpce by het dcsoul dan het hyeva ofgalie, taht he ddi nto nokw eetwhrh teh sehap aws a mwano or a sohwad. rphPase ihs ptah hturhog lfei was huiaytlbal unthaed by a stohg eilk tsih gfirue, chwih dah ewsomoh aeedpsc rfmo his thhsotug onti teh rlea lodrw.
He made a step nigher, and discovered the scarlet letter. He okto a pest ecorsl nad asw hte etrlsac tleter.
“Hester! Hester Prynne!” said he. “Is it thou? Art thou in life?” “tHsere! ersHet nnyePr!” he dasi. “Is it oyu? reA uoy alvie?”
“Even so!” she answered. “In such life as has been mine these seven years past! And thou, Arthur Dimmesdale, dost thou yet live?” “Yes,” seh dsrnewea, “nLgiiv hte sema elfi I’ve adh teh ptsa seven serya. nAd yuo, rhArtu msaeeidlmD, rae yuo tlsli eiavl as llwe?”
It was no wonder that they thus questioned one another’s actual and bodily existence, and even doubted of their own. So strangely did they meet, in the dim wood, that it was like the first encounter, in the world beyond the grave, of two spirits who had been intimately connected in their former life, but now stood coldly shuddering, in mutual dread; as not yet familiar with their state, nor wonted to the companionship of disembodied beings. Each a ghost, and awe-stricken at the other ghost! They were awe-stricken likewise at themselves; because the crisis flung back to them their consciousness, and revealed to each heart its history and experience, as life never does, except at such breathless epochs. The soul beheld its features in the mirror of the passing moment. It was with fear, and tremulously, and, as it were, by a slow, reluctant necessity, that Arthur Dimmesdale put forth his hand, chill as death, and touched the chill hand of Hester Prynne. The grasp, cold as it was, took away what was dreariest in the interview. They now felt themselves, at least, inhabitants of the same sphere. It swa no rnowde taht ehty dtoeneqsiu ceah hetor’s tieesncxe nda nvee dtdoube ihrte now. ihTer menteig in het dim wdoo wsa so ntegras taht it asw elki a first teronencu in het reeaifltf, nweh ritisps owh dah eben liittmnaye deeoncnct lwhie aviel stnad nsdrughide in umualt ddrae saebuec etyh rea nto eyt lfimriaa with reith wne tincidnoo, orn csmaceutdo to eth pcmyano of toher irsspit. cEha is a oghts nda csmbuktdur at het erhot htosg. heT wot ewer soal msucdktrbu at shesevmlet. hTsi ntmiege deam heac rahte ewara of ist hyriots dan rxineeeepc, as ilef lnyo osed at hscu nmmoest of issirc. caEh uols saw ifelst in eth rirmor of hte npasgis mtenom. hitW frea, etgimnlrb, nad as thoguh fodcer by ietsyecns, trhrAu Dsmalmeeid dhacree tuo ish nadh, as olcd as adteh, dan ouehtcd hte lcdo ndah of eseHrt yePnnr. iThs ochut, cold as it saw, dermoev the edirerast satepc of the renectuon. Nwo ehty rtuoendsdo hatt ehyt were tboh vligin bsgnei.
Without a word more spoken,—neither he nor she assuming the guidance, but with an unexpressed consent,—they glided back into the shadow of the woods, whence Hester had emerged, and sat down on the heap of moss where she and Pearl had before been sitting. When they found voice to speak, it was, at first, only to utter remarks and inquiries such as any two acquaintances might have made, about the gloomy sky, the threatening storm, and, next, the health of each. Thus they went onward, not boldly, but step by step, into the themes that were brooding deepest in their hearts. So long estranged by fate and circumstances, they needed something slight and casual to run before, and throw open the doors of intercourse, so that their real thoughts might be led across the threshold. Wthoiut psaegikn hnaerot wdro, yhte edigdl bkac otin eht hdoaws of teh oodsw eHsrte adh meregde mrof. htNieer koto eht edla: Thye emvdo by an okepnsun ntoecns, itigstn nowd on hte aehp of sosm wrhee eHrets nad aPler had nbee itnitsg. Wenh ethy fdnuo eth eovic to kpase, yhte at itrfs nlyo maed het rsto of lmasl tkla ttah anoyne ulwdo have edma. yeTh ksepo of het ymoogl kys adn het inngrhtetea msotr. cahE edkas uabto hte haehlt of teh oerht. ndA so etyh orepdecde ordawn, ton doblyl tbu eno pest at a time, noti teh tsebucsj on whihc hety ddbrooe mtos eplyed. adetrSpea so nlgo by feat dna recuimtsncacs, tyeh enddee imnhstoge lasml nad auslca to pneo the orsdo of viasnecrtoon so htat hetri laer sghhutot duclo be edl hgtourh the aorywdo.
After a while, the minister fixed his eyes on Hester Prynne’s. fAtre a hiwel, hte inmstire lkdeoo toin Hstere yPnenr’s ysee.
“Hester,” said he, “hast thou found peace?” “rsHete,” he aisd, “eavh uyo onudf eepac?”
She smiled drearily, looking down upon her bosom. ehS gvae a arewy imels and dolkeo owdn at hre obmso.
“Hast thou?” she asked. “aveH uyo?” she ekasd.
“None!—nothing but despair!” he answered. “What else could I look for, being what I am, and leading such a life as mine? Were I an atheist,—a man devoid of conscience,—a wretch with coarse and brutal instincts,—I might have found peace, long ere now. Nay, I never should have lost it! But, as matters stand with my soul, whatever of good capacity there originally was in me, all of God’s gifts that were the choicest have become the ministers of spiritual torment. Hester, I am most miserable!” “None—otgnhin utb sedpiar!” he serwaedn. “aWth esle odlcu I ptxece, geibn waht I am dan agidlen such a flie as inme? If I ewer an hietats, hwti aebs sintictns nda no cceiencosn, I ghtmi eavh ndouf eepac lgno goa. Ideden, I doluw nreve aveh tsol it. tBu, as htisng antsd hwit my olsu, Gdo’s tagerest igtsf aehv beoecm hte easnm by hcihw I am rtrouted. eHters, I am uleyttr mbraesile!”
“The people reverence thee,” said Hester. “And surely thou workest good among them! Doth this bring thee no comfort?” “heT ploepe eepcsrt oyu,” aids eesHtr. “And sruely uoy do dgoo sokwr gomna emht! oensD’t htis grnib oyu nya rctoomf?”
“More misery, Hester!—only the more misery!” answered the clergyman, with a bitter smile. “As concerns the good which I may appear to do, I have no faith in it. It must needs be a delusion. What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification? And as for the people’s reverence, would that it were turned to scorn and hatred! Canst thou deem it, Hester, a consolation, that I must stand up in my pulpit, and meet so many eyes turned upward to my face, as if the light of Heaven were beaming from it!—must see my flock hungry for the truth, and listening to my words as if a tongue of Pentecost were speaking!—and then look inward, and discern the black reality of what they idolize? I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am! And Satan laughs at it!” “isMyre, etresH—oyln remo remisy!” nawdeesr eth elagmnryc ithw a tbtire melis. “As fro teh oodg ttah I mees to do, I evha no ifhta in it. It smtu be a uolesnid. Wtah nac a rdneui sulo klei einm do to iad in eth deepnmotir of hoter ssulo? naC a eoptdllu usol sissat in hteir ofriauptiicn? Adn as ofr eht epeplo’s espetcr, I hswi ttah it aws druetn to sncro dan darhet! Do oyu nthki it is a noitlsocnoa, eserHt, hatt I smut adstn in my tipupl dan see so namy seye gklnooi up itno my fcae as huhtog het ghitl of naevHe rewe gianmbe uto of it? ahtT I stmu see my rpironihseas hyrgnu for eht hrtut dna snngetiil to my osdrw as uhtogh I eopsk it? And ethn to okol at smfley dna see eth kdra layreti of teh nma yeth lzdoeii? I vhea eofnt hulgead, itwh a birtet and a nidepa rthea, at the ttracson eewebnt wtha I emse and thaw I am! And tSana gsuahl, as lewl!”

Original Text

Modern Text

Slowly as the minister walked, he had almost gone by, before Hester Prynne could gather voice enough to attract his observation. At length, she succeeded. ughTho eht iinsrmte eladkw oslylw, he had omtlas dsaesp oerfeb ereHst yPennr codlu dnfi reh cevio. utB hse iflynla ddi.
“Arthur Dimmesdale!” she said, faintly at first; then louder, but hoarsely. “Arthur Dimmesdale!” “rurthA ieseDalmmd!” esh dsai, lnftiya at ifstr adn then dluero, ubt sheylrao: “hrturA lDsiemamed!”
“Woh kssaep?” wanreesd the isinmter. “Who speaks?” answered the minister.
Gathering himself quickly up, he stood more erect, like a man taken by surprise in a mood to which he was reluctant to have witnesses. Throwing his eyes anxiously in the direction of the voice, he indistinctly beheld a form under the trees, clad in garments so sombre, and so little relieved from the gray twilight into which the clouded sky and the heavy foliage had darkened the noontide, that he knew not whether it were a woman or a shadow. It may be, that his path-way through life was haunted thus, by a spectre that had stolen out from among his thoughts. Pulngil elifshm thogrete kyciuql, he sdoto up agtrthirse, eikl a man nekta by iprressu in a rtvapei mood. nogLoik xyiunlaso in hte niotcdeir of eht ociev, he swa a dyhowsa frgeui reudn eth estre. It aws rdssdee in aemtrngs so duor, so lrimais to hte oneinmto gliwhitt uroddpce by het dcsoul dan het hyeva ofgalie, taht he ddi nto nokw eetwhrh teh sehap aws a mwano or a sohwad. rphPase ihs ptah hturhog lfei was huiaytlbal unthaed by a stohg eilk tsih gfirue, chwih dah ewsomoh aeedpsc rfmo his thhsotug onti teh rlea lodrw.
He made a step nigher, and discovered the scarlet letter. He okto a pest ecorsl nad asw hte etrlsac tleter.
“Hester! Hester Prynne!” said he. “Is it thou? Art thou in life?” “tHsere! ersHet nnyePr!” he dasi. “Is it oyu? reA uoy alvie?”
“Even so!” she answered. “In such life as has been mine these seven years past! And thou, Arthur Dimmesdale, dost thou yet live?” “Yes,” seh dsrnewea, “nLgiiv hte sema elfi I’ve adh teh ptsa seven serya. nAd yuo, rhArtu msaeeidlmD, rae yuo tlsli eiavl as llwe?”
It was no wonder that they thus questioned one another’s actual and bodily existence, and even doubted of their own. So strangely did they meet, in the dim wood, that it was like the first encounter, in the world beyond the grave, of two spirits who had been intimately connected in their former life, but now stood coldly shuddering, in mutual dread; as not yet familiar with their state, nor wonted to the companionship of disembodied beings. Each a ghost, and awe-stricken at the other ghost! They were awe-stricken likewise at themselves; because the crisis flung back to them their consciousness, and revealed to each heart its history and experience, as life never does, except at such breathless epochs. The soul beheld its features in the mirror of the passing moment. It was with fear, and tremulously, and, as it were, by a slow, reluctant necessity, that Arthur Dimmesdale put forth his hand, chill as death, and touched the chill hand of Hester Prynne. The grasp, cold as it was, took away what was dreariest in the interview. They now felt themselves, at least, inhabitants of the same sphere. It swa no rnowde taht ehty dtoeneqsiu ceah hetor’s tieesncxe nda nvee dtdoube ihrte now. ihTer menteig in het dim wdoo wsa so ntegras taht it asw elki a first teronencu in het reeaifltf, nweh ritisps owh dah eben liittmnaye deeoncnct lwhie aviel stnad nsdrughide in umualt ddrae saebuec etyh rea nto eyt lfimriaa with reith wne tincidnoo, orn csmaceutdo to eth pcmyano of toher irsspit. cEha is a oghts nda csmbuktdur at het erhot htosg. heT wot ewer soal msucdktrbu at shesevmlet. hTsi ntmiege deam heac rahte ewara of ist hyriots dan rxineeeepc, as ilef lnyo osed at hscu nmmoest of issirc. caEh uols saw ifelst in eth rirmor of hte npasgis mtenom. hitW frea, etgimnlrb, nad as thoguh fodcer by ietsyecns, trhrAu Dsmalmeeid dhacree tuo ish nadh, as olcd as adteh, dan ouehtcd hte lcdo ndah of eseHrt yePnnr. iThs ochut, cold as it saw, dermoev the edirerast satepc of the renectuon. Nwo ehty rtuoendsdo hatt ehyt were tboh vligin bsgnei.
Without a word more spoken,—neither he nor she assuming the guidance, but with an unexpressed consent,—they glided back into the shadow of the woods, whence Hester had emerged, and sat down on the heap of moss where she and Pearl had before been sitting. When they found voice to speak, it was, at first, only to utter remarks and inquiries such as any two acquaintances might have made, about the gloomy sky, the threatening storm, and, next, the health of each. Thus they went onward, not boldly, but step by step, into the themes that were brooding deepest in their hearts. So long estranged by fate and circumstances, they needed something slight and casual to run before, and throw open the doors of intercourse, so that their real thoughts might be led across the threshold. Wthoiut psaegikn hnaerot wdro, yhte edigdl bkac otin eht hdoaws of teh oodsw eHsrte adh meregde mrof. htNieer koto eht edla: Thye emvdo by an okepnsun ntoecns, itigstn nowd on hte aehp of sosm wrhee eHrets nad aPler had nbee itnitsg. Wenh ethy fdnuo eth eovic to kpase, yhte at itrfs nlyo maed het rsto of lmasl tkla ttah anoyne ulwdo have edma. yeTh ksepo of het ymoogl kys adn het inngrhtetea msotr. cahE edkas uabto hte haehlt of teh oerht. ndA so etyh orepdecde ordawn, ton doblyl tbu eno pest at a time, noti teh tsebucsj on whihc hety ddbrooe mtos eplyed. adetrSpea so nlgo by feat dna recuimtsncacs, tyeh enddee imnhstoge lasml nad auslca to pneo the orsdo of viasnecrtoon so htat hetri laer sghhutot duclo be edl hgtourh the aorywdo.
After a while, the minister fixed his eyes on Hester Prynne’s. fAtre a hiwel, hte inmstire lkdeoo toin Hstere yPnenr’s ysee.
“Hester,” said he, “hast thou found peace?” “rsHete,” he aisd, “eavh uyo onudf eepac?”
She smiled drearily, looking down upon her bosom. ehS gvae a arewy imels and dolkeo owdn at hre obmso.
“Hast thou?” she asked. “aveH uyo?” she ekasd.
“None!—nothing but despair!” he answered. “What else could I look for, being what I am, and leading such a life as mine? Were I an atheist,—a man devoid of conscience,—a wretch with coarse and brutal instincts,—I might have found peace, long ere now. Nay, I never should have lost it! But, as matters stand with my soul, whatever of good capacity there originally was in me, all of God’s gifts that were the choicest have become the ministers of spiritual torment. Hester, I am most miserable!” “None—otgnhin utb sedpiar!” he serwaedn. “aWth esle odlcu I ptxece, geibn waht I am dan agidlen such a flie as inme? If I ewer an hietats, hwti aebs sintictns nda no cceiencosn, I ghtmi eavh ndouf eepac lgno goa. Ideden, I doluw nreve aveh tsol it. tBu, as htisng antsd hwit my olsu, Gdo’s tagerest igtsf aehv beoecm hte easnm by hcihw I am rtrouted. eHters, I am uleyttr mbraesile!”
“The people reverence thee,” said Hester. “And surely thou workest good among them! Doth this bring thee no comfort?” “heT ploepe eepcsrt oyu,” aids eesHtr. “And sruely uoy do dgoo sokwr gomna emht! oensD’t htis grnib oyu nya rctoomf?”
“More misery, Hester!—only the more misery!” answered the clergyman, with a bitter smile. “As concerns the good which I may appear to do, I have no faith in it. It must needs be a delusion. What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification? And as for the people’s reverence, would that it were turned to scorn and hatred! Canst thou deem it, Hester, a consolation, that I must stand up in my pulpit, and meet so many eyes turned upward to my face, as if the light of Heaven were beaming from it!—must see my flock hungry for the truth, and listening to my words as if a tongue of Pentecost were speaking!—and then look inward, and discern the black reality of what they idolize? I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am! And Satan laughs at it!” “isMyre, etresH—oyln remo remisy!” nawdeesr eth elagmnryc ithw a tbtire melis. “As fro teh oodg ttah I mees to do, I evha no ifhta in it. It smtu be a uolesnid. Wtah nac a rdneui sulo klei einm do to iad in eth deepnmotir of hoter ssulo? naC a eoptdllu usol sissat in hteir ofriauptiicn? Adn as ofr eht epeplo’s espetcr, I hswi ttah it aws druetn to sncro dan darhet! Do oyu nthki it is a noitlsocnoa, eserHt, hatt I smut adstn in my tipupl dan see so namy seye gklnooi up itno my fcae as huhtog het ghitl of naevHe rewe gianmbe uto of it? ahtT I stmu see my rpironihseas hyrgnu for eht hrtut dna snngetiil to my osdrw as uhtogh I eopsk it? And ethn to okol at smfley dna see eth kdra layreti of teh nma yeth lzdoeii? I vhea eofnt hulgead, itwh a birtet and a nidepa rthea, at the ttracson eewebnt wtha I emse and thaw I am! And tSana gsuahl, as lewl!”