"Then why not reveal it here?" asked Roger Chillingworth,
glancing quietly aside at the minister. "Why should not the
guilty ones sooner avail themselves of this unutterable solace?"
"They mostly do," said the clergyman, griping hard at his
breast, as if afflicted with an importunate throb of pain.
"Many, many a poor soul hath given its confidence to me, not
only on the death-bed, but while strong in life, and fair in
reputation. And ever, after such an outpouring, oh, what a
relief have I witnessed in those sinful brethren! even as in one
who at last draws free air, after a long stifling with his own
polluted breath. How can it be otherwise? Why should a wretched
man--guilty, we will say, of murder--prefer to keep the dead
corpse buried in his own heart, rather than fling it forth at
once, and let the universe take care of it!"
"Yet some men bury their secrets thus," observed the calm