"Hester Prynne," said he, leaning over the balcony and looking
down steadfastly into her eyes, "thou hearest what this good man
says, and seest the accountability under which I labour. If thou
feelest it to be for thy soul's peace, and that thy earthly
punishment will thereby be made more effectual to salvation, I
charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and
fellow-sufferer! Be not silent from any mistaken pity and
tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to
step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy
pedestal of shame, yet better were it so than to hide a guilty
heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it
tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin?
Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou
mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee and
the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him--who,
perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself--the
bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!"
The young pastor's voice was tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and
broken. The feeling that it so evidently manifested, rather than
the direct purport of the words, caused it to vibrate within all
hearts, and brought the listeners into one accord of sympathy.
Even the poor baby at Hester's bosom was affected by the same
influence, for it directed its hitherto vacant gaze towards Mr.
Dimmesdale, and held up its little arms with a half-pleased,
half-plaintive murmur. So powerful seemed the minister's appeal
that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would
speak out the guilty name, or else that the guilty one himself
in whatever high or lowly place he stood, would be drawn forth
by an inward and inevitable necessity, and compelled to ascend