There was a singular circumstance that characterised Mr.
Dimmesdale's psychological state at this moment. All the time
that he gazed upward to the zenith, he was, nevertheless,
perfectly aware that little Pearl was pointing her finger towards
old Roger Chillingworth, who stood at no great distance from the
scaffold. The minister appeared to see him, with the same glance
that discerned the miraculous letter. To his feature as to all
other objects, the meteoric light imparted a new expression; or
it might well be that the physician was not careful then, as at
all other times, to hide the malevolence with which he looked
upon his victim. Certainly, if the meteor kindled up the sky,
and disclosed the earth, with an awfulness that admonished
Hester Prynne and the clergyman of the day of judgment, then
might Roger Chillingworth have passed with them for the
arch-fiend, standing there with a smile and scowl, to claim his
own. So vivid was the expression, or so intense the minister's
perception of it, that it seemed still to remain painted on the
darkness after the meteor had vanished, with an effect as if the
street and all things else were at once annihilated.
"Who is that man, Hester?" gasped Mr. Dimmesdale, overcome with
terror. "I shiver at him! Dost thou know the man? I hate him,
She remembered her oath, and was silent.
"I tell thee, my soul shivers at him!" muttered the minister
again. "Who is he? Who is he? Canst thou do nothing for me? I
have a nameless horror of the man!"
"Minister," said little Pearl, "I can tell thee who he is!"