"The Scarlet Letter"
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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     "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."

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