Carried away by the grotesque horror of this picture, the
minister, unawares, and to his own infinite alarm, burst into a
great peal of laughter. It was immediately responded to by a
light, airy, childish laugh, in which, with a thrill of the
heart--but he knew not whether of exquisite pain, or pleasure as
acute--he recognised the tones of little Pearl.
"Pearl! Little Pearl!" cried he, after a moment's pause; then,
suppressing his voice--"Hester! Hester Prynne! Are you there?"
"Yes; it is Hester Prynne!" she replied, in a tone of surprise;
and the minister heard her footsteps approaching from the
side-walk, along which she had been passing. "It is I, and my
"Whence come you, Hester?" asked the minister. "What sent you
"I have been watching at a death-bed," answered Hester Prynne
"at Governor Winthrop's death-bed, and have taken his measure
for a robe, and am now going homeward to my dwelling."