There on the table, with the inky pen beside it, was an
unfinished sermon, with a sentence broken in the midst, where
his thoughts had ceased to gush out upon the page two days
before. He knew that it was himself, the thin and white-cheeked
minister, who had done and suffered these things, and written
thus far into the Election Sermon! But he seemed to stand apart,
and eye this former self with scornful pitying, but half-envious
curiosity. That self was gone. Another man had returned out of
the forest--a wiser one--with a knowledge of hidden mysteries
which the simplicity of the former never could have reached. A
bitter kind of knowledge that!
While occupied with these reflections, a knock came at the door
of the study, and the minister said, "Come in!"--not wholly
devoid of an idea that he might behold an evil spirit. And so he
did! It was old Roger Chillingworth that entered. The minister
stood white and speechless, with one hand on the Hebrew
Scriptures, and the other spread upon his breast.
"Welcome home, reverend sir," said the physician "And how found
you that godly man, the Apostle Eliot? But methinks, dear sir,
you look pale, as if the travel through the wilderness had been
too sore for you. Will not my aid be requisite to put you in
heart and strength to preach your Election Sermon?"