The struggle, if there were one, need not be described. Let it
suffice that the clergyman resolved to flee, and not alone.
"If in all these past seven years," thought he, "I could recall
one instant of peace or hope, I would yet endure, for the sake
of that earnest of Heaven's mercy. But now--since I am
irrevocably doomed--wherefore should I not snatch the solace
allowed to the condemned culprit before his execution? Or, if
this be the path to a better life, as Hester would persuade me,
I surely give up no fairer prospect by pursuing it! Neither can
I any longer live without her companionship; so powerful is she
to sustain--so tender to soothe! O Thou to whom I dare not lift
mine eyes, wilt Thou yet pardon me?"
"Thou wilt go!" said Hester calmly, as he met her glance.
The decision once made, a glow of strange enjoyment threw its
flickering brightness over the trouble of his breast. It was the
exhilarating effect--upon a prisoner just escaped from the
dungeon of his own heart--of breathing the wild, free atmosphere
of an unredeemed, unchristianised, lawless region. His spirit
rose, as it were, with a bound, and attained a nearer prospect
of the sky, than throughout all the misery which had kept him
grovelling on the earth. Of a deeply religious temperament,
there was inevitably a tinge of the devotional in his mood.