Without a word more spoken--neither he nor she assuming the
guidance, but with an unexpressed consent--they glided back into
the shadow of the woods whence Hester had emerged, and sat down
on the heap of moss where she and Pearl had before been sitting.
When they found voice to speak, it was at first only to utter
remarks and inquiries such as any two acquaintances might have
made, about the gloomy sky, the threatening storm, and, next,
the health of each. Thus they went onward, not boldly, but step
by step, into the themes that were brooding deepest in their
hearts. So long estranged by fate and circumstances, they needed
something slight and casual to run before and throw open the
doors of intercourse, so that their real thoughts might be led
across the threshold.
After awhile, the minister fixed his eyes on Hester Prynne's.
"Hester," said he, "hast thou found peace?"
She smiled drearily, looking down upon her bosom.
"Hast thou?" she asked.