"God gave me the child!" cried she. "He gave her in requital of
all things else which ye had taken from me. She is my
happiness--she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here
in life! Pearl punishes me, too! See ye not, she is the scarlet
letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a
millionfold the power of retribution for my sin? Ye shall not
take her! I will die first!"
"My poor woman," said the not unkind old minister, "the child
shall be well cared for--far better than thou canst do for it."
"God gave her into my keeping!" repeated Hester Prynne, raising
her voice almost to a shriek. "I will not give her up!" And here
by a sudden impulse, she turned to the young clergyman, Mr.
Dimmesdale, at whom, up to this moment, she had seemed hardly so
much as once to direct her eyes. "Speak thou for me!" cried she.
"Thou wast my pastor, and hadst charge of my soul, and knowest
me better than these men can. I will not lose the child! Speak
for me! Thou knowest--for thou hast sympathies which these men
lack--thou knowest what is in my heart, and what are a mother's
rights, and how much the stronger they are when that mother has
but her child and the scarlet letter! Look thou to it! I will
not lose the child! Look to it!"