"And I!--how am I to live longer, breathing the same air with
this deadly enemy?" exclaimed Arthur Dimmesdale, shrinking
within himself, and pressing his hand nervously against his
heart--a gesture that had grown involuntary with him. "Think for
me, Hester! Thou art strong. Resolve for me!"
"Thou must dwell no longer with this man," said Hester, slowly
and firmly. "Thy heart must be no longer under his evil eye!"
"It were far worse than death!" replied the minister. "But how
to avoid it? What choice remains to me? Shall I lie down again
on these withered leaves, where I cast myself when thou didst
tell me what he was? Must I sink down there, and die at once?"
"Alas! what a ruin has befallen thee!" said Hester, with the
tears gushing into her eyes. "Wilt thou die for very weakness?
There is no other cause!"
"The judgment of God is on me," answered the conscience-stricken
priest. "It is too mighty for me to struggle with!"
"Heaven would show mercy," rejoined Hester, "hadst thou but the
strength to take advantage of it."
"Be thou strong for me!" answered he. "Advise me what to do."