"Ah!--aha!--I conceive you," said the stranger with a bitter
smile. "So learned a man as you speak of should have learned
this too in his books. And who, by your favour, Sir, may be the
father of yonder babe--it is some three or four months old, I
should judge--which Mistress Prynne is holding in her arms?"
"Of a truth, friend, that matter remaineth a riddle; and the
Daniel who shall expound it is yet a-wanting," answered the
townsman. "Madame Hester absolutely refuseth to speak, and the
magistrates have laid their heads together in vain. Peradventure
the guilty one stands looking on at this sad spectacle, unknown
of man, and forgetting that God sees him."
"The learned man," observed the stranger with another smile,
"should come himself to look into the mystery."