Hester shook her head.
"Woman, transgress not beyond the limits of Heaven's mercy!"
cried the Reverend Mr. Wilson, more harshly than before. "That
little babe hath been gifted with a voice, to second and confirm
the counsel which thou hast heard. Speak out the name! That, and
thy repentance, may avail to take the scarlet letter off thy
"Never," replied Hester Prynne, looking, not at Mr. Wilson, but
into the deep and troubled eyes of the younger clergyman. "It is
too deeply branded. Ye cannot take it off. And would that I
might endure his agony as well as mine!"
"Speak, woman!" said another voice, coldly and sternly,
proceeding from the crowd about the scaffold, "Speak; and give
your child a father!"
"I will not speak!" answered Hester, turning pale as death, but
responding to this voice, which she too surely recognised. "And
my child must seek a heavenly father; she shall never know an
"She will not speak!" murmured Mr. Dimmesdale, who, leaning over
the balcony, with his hand upon his heart, had awaited the
result of his appeal. He now drew back with a long respiration.
"Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman's heart! She will