"Hester Prynne," said he, fixing his naturally stern regard on
the wearer of the scarlet letter, "there hath been much question
concerning thee of late. The point hath been weightily
discussed, whether we, that are of authority and influence, do
well discharge our consciences by trusting an immortal soul,
such as there is in yonder child, to the guidance of one who
hath stumbled and fallen amid the pitfalls of this world. Speak
thou, the child's own mother! Were it not, thinkest thou, for
thy little one's temporal and eternal welfare that she be taken
out of thy charge, and clad soberly, and disciplined strictly,
and instructed in the truths of heaven and earth? What canst
thou do for the child in this kind?"
"I can teach my little Pearl what I have learned from this!"
answered Hester Prynne, laying her finger on the red token.
"Woman, it is thy badge of shame!" replied the stern magistrate.
"It is because of the stain which that letter indicates that we
would transfer thy child to other hands."
"Nevertheless," said the mother, calmly, though growing more
pale, "this badge hath taught me--it daily teaches me--it is
teaching me at this moment--lessons whereof my child may be the
wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself."