The Scarlet Letter (Chapter 9, page 1 of 11)


Previous Page
Next Page

Chapter 9

Under the appellation of Roger Chillingworth, the reader will
remember, was hidden another name, which its former wearer had
resolved should never more be spoken. It has been related, how,
in the crowd that witnessed Hester Prynne's ignominious
exposure, stood a man, elderly, travel-worn, who, just emerging
from the perilous wilderness, beheld the woman, in whom he hoped
to find embodied the warmth and cheerfulness of home, set up as
a type of sin before the people. Her matronly fame was trodden
under all men's feet. Infamy was babbling around her in the
public market-place. For her kindred, should the tidings ever
reach them, and for the companions of her unspotted life, there
remained nothing but the contagion of her dishonour; which would
not fail to be distributed in strict accordance and proportion
with the intimacy and sacredness of their previous relationship.

Then why--since the choice was with himself--should the
individual, whose connexion with the fallen woman had been the
most intimate and sacred of them all, come forward to vindicate
his claim to an inheritance so little desirable? He resolved not
to be pilloried beside her on her pedestal of shame. Unknown to
all but Hester Prynne, and possessing the lock and key of her
silence, he chose to withdraw his name from the roll of mankind,
and, as regarded his former ties and interest, to vanish out of
life as completely as if he indeed lay at the bottom of the
ocean, whither rumour had long ago consigned him. This purpose
once effected, new interests would immediately spring up, and
likewise a new purpose; dark, it is true, if not guilty, but of
force enough to engage the full strength of his faculties.

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.9/5 (445 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment