"It was the old dame in the chimney corner, at the house where
you watched last night," said the child. "But she fancied me
asleep while she was talking of it. She said that a thousand and
a thousand people had met him here, and had written in his book,
and have his mark on them. And that ugly tempered lady, old
Mistress Hibbins, was one. And, mother, the old dame said that
this scarlet letter was the Black Man's mark on thee, and that
it glows like a red flame when thou meetest him at midnight,
here in the dark wood. Is it true, mother? And dost thou go to
meet him in the nighttime?"
"Didst thou ever awake and find thy mother gone?" asked Hester.
"Not that I remember," said the child. "If thou fearest to leave
me in our cottage, thou mightest take me along with thee. I
would very gladly go! But, mother, tell me now! Is there such a
Black Man? And didst thou ever meet him? And is this his mark?"
"Wilt thou let me be at peace, if I once tell thee?" asked her
"Yes, if thou tellest me all," answered Pearl.
"Once in my life I met the Black Man!" said her mother. "This
scarlet letter is his mark!"