"No, no! He has but increased the debt!" answered the
physician, and as he proceeded, his manner lost its fiercer
characteristics, and subsided into gloom. "Dost thou remember
me, Hester, as I was nine years agone? Even then I was in the
autumn of my days, nor was it the early autumn. But all my life
had been made up of earnest, studious, thoughtful, quiet years,
bestowed faithfully for the increase of mine own knowledge, and
faithfully, too, though this latter object was but casual to the
other--faithfully for the advancement of human welfare. No life
had been more peaceful and innocent than mine; few lives so rich
with benefits conferred. Dost thou remember me? Was I not,
though you might deem me cold, nevertheless a man thoughtful for
others, craving little for himself--kind, true, just and of
constant, if not warm affections? Was I not all this?"
"All this, and more," said Hester.
"And what am I now?" demanded he, looking into her face, and
permitting the whole evil within him to be written on his
features. "I have already told thee what I am--a fiend! Who made
"It was myself," cried Hester, shuddering. "It was I, not less
than he. Why hast thou not avenged thyself on me?"
"I have left thee to the scarlet letter," replied Roger
Chillingworth. "If that has not avenged me, I can do no more!"
He laid his finger on it with a smile.