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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The Scarlet Letter.
own interest in this worn-out subject languidly reviving itself, by sympathy with what they saw others feel) lounged idly to the same quarter, and tormented Hester Prynne, perhaps more than all the rest, with their cool, well-acquainted gaze at her familiar shame.  Hester saw and recognized the selfsame faces of that group of matrons, who had awaited her forthcoming from the prison-door seven years ago; all save one, the youngest and only compassionate among them, whose burial-robe she had since made.  At the final hour, when she was so soon to fling aside the burning letter, it had strangely become the centre of more remark and excitement, and was thus made to sear her breast more painfully, than at any time since the first day she put it on.

While Hester stood in that magic circle of ignominy, where the cunning cruelty of her sentence seemed to have fixed her for ever, the admirable preacher was looking down from the sacred pulpit upon an audience whose very inmost spirits had yielded to his control.  The sainted minister in the church!  The woman of the scarlet letter in the marketplace!  What imagination would have been irreverent enough to surmise that the same scorching stigma was on them both!

XXIII.  THE REVELATION OF THE SCARLET LETTER

The eloquent voice, on which the souls of the listening audience had been borne aloft as on the swelling waves of the sea, at length came to a pause.  There was a momentary silence, profound as what should follow the utterance of oracles.  Then ensued a murmur and half-hushed tumult, as if the auditors, released from the high spell that had transported them into the region of another’s mind, were returning into themselves, with all their awe and wonder still heavy on them.  In a moment more the crowd began to gush forth from the doors of the church.  Now that there was an end, they needed more breath, more fit to support the gross and earthly life into which they relapsed, than that atmosphere which the preacher had converted into words of flame, and had burdened with the rich fragrance of his thought.

In the open air their rapture broke into speech.  The street and the market-place absolutely babbled, from side to side, with applauses of the minister.  His hearers could not rest until they had told one another of what each knew better than he could tell or hear.

According to their united testimony, never had man spoken in so wise, so high, and so holy a spirit, as he that spake this day; nor had inspiration ever breathed through mortal lips more evidently than it did through his.  Its influence could be seen, as it were, descending upon him, and possessing him, and continually lifting him out of the written discourse that lay before him, and filling him with ideas that must have been as marvellous to himself as to his audience.  His subject, it appeared, had been the relation between the Deity and the communities

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