"We have wronged each other," answered he. "Mine was the first
wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and
unnatural relation with my decay. Therefore, as a man who has
not thought and philosophised in vain, I seek no vengeance, plot
no evil against thee. Between thee and me, the scale hangs
fairly balanced. But, Hester, the man lives who has wronged us
both! Who is he?"
"Ask me not!" replied Hester Prynne, looking firmly into his
face. "Thou shalt never know!"
"Never, sayest thou?" rejoined he, with a smile of dark and
self-relying intelligence. "Never know him! Believe me, Hester,
there are few things whether in the outward world, or, to a
certain depth, in the invisible sphere of thought--few things
hidden from the man who devotes himself earnestly and
unreservedly to the solution of a mystery. Thou mayest cover up
thy secret from the prying multitude. Thou mayest conceal it,
too, from the ministers and magistrates, even as thou didst this
day, when they sought to wrench the name out of thy heart, and
give thee a partner on thy pedestal. But, as for me, I come to
the inquest with other senses than they possess. I shall seek
this man, as I have sought truth in books: as I have sought gold
in alchemy. There is a sympathy that will make me conscious of
him. I shall see him tremble. I shall feel myself shudder,
suddenly and unawares. Sooner or later, he must needs be mine."