"Be it sin or no," said Hester Prynne bitterly, as she still gazed after
him, "I hate the man!"
She upbraided herself for the sentiment, but could not overcome or lessen
it. Attempting to do so, she thought of those long-past days, in a distant
land, when he used to emerge at eventide from the seclusion of his study,
and sit down in the fire-light of their home, and in the light of her
nuptial smile. He needed to bask himself in that smile, he said, in order
that the chill of so many lonely hours among his books might be taken off
the scholar's heart. Such scenes had once appeared not otherwise than
happy, but now, as viewed through the dismal medium of her subsequent life,
they classed themselves among her ugliest remembrances. She marvelled how
such scenes could have been! She marvelled how she could ever have been
wrought upon to marry him! She deemed it her crime most to be repented of,
that she had ever endured, and reciprocated, the lukewarm grasp of his
hand, and had suffered the smile of her lips and eyes to mingle and melt
into his own. And it seemed a fouler offence committed by Roger
Chillingworth, than any which had since been done him, that, in the time
when her heart knew no better, he had persuaded her to fancy herself happy
by his side.
"Yes, I hate him!" repeated Hester, more bitterly than before. "He betrayed
me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!"
Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the
utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, as it
was Roger Chillingworth's, when some mightier touch than their own may have
awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content,
the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the
warm reality. But Hester ought long ago to have done with this injustice.
What did it betoken? Had seven long years, under the torture of the scarlet
letter, inflicted so much of misery, and wrought out no repentance?
The emotions of that brief space, while she stood gazing after the crooked
figure of old Roger Chillingworth, threw a dark light on Hester's state of
mind, revealing much that she might not otherwise have acknowledged to