This idea was countenanced by the strong interest which the
physician ever manifested in the young clergyman; he attached
himself to him as a parishioner, and sought to win a friendly
regard and confidence from his naturally reserved sensibility.
He expressed great alarm at his pastor's state of health, but
was anxious to attempt the cure, and, if early undertaken,
seemed not despondent of a favourable result. The elders, the
deacons, the motherly dames, and the young and fair maidens of
Mr. Dimmesdale's flock, were alike importunate that he should
make trial of the physician's frankly offered skill. Mr.
Dimmesdale gently repelled their entreaties.
"I need no medicine," said he.
But how could the young minister say so, when, with every
successive Sabbath, his cheek was paler and thinner, and his
voice more tremulous than before--when it had now become a
constant habit, rather than a casual gesture, to press his hand
over his heart? Was he weary of his labours? Did he wish to die?
These questions were solemnly propounded to Mr. Dimmesdale by
the elder ministers of Boston, and the deacons of his church,
who, to use their own phrase, "dealt with him," on the sin of
rejecting the aid which Providence so manifestly held out. He
listened in silence, and finally promised to confer with the