Slowly as the minister walked, he had almost gone by before
Hester Prynne could gather voice enough to attract his
observation. At length she succeeded.
"Arthur Dimmesdale!" she said, faintly at first, then louder,
but hoarsely--"Arthur Dimmesdale!"
"Who speaks?" answered the minister. Gathering himself quickly
up, he stood more erect, like a man taken by surprise in a mood
to which he was reluctant to have witnesses. Throwing his eyes
anxiously in the direction of the voice, he indistinctly beheld
a form under the trees, clad in garments so sombre, and so
little relieved from the gray twilight into which the clouded
sky and the heavy foliage had darkened the noontide, that he
knew not whether it were a woman or a shadow. It may be that his
pathway through life was haunted thus by a spectre that had
stolen out from among his thoughts.
He made a step nigher, and discovered the scarlet letter.