Chapter 12 THE MINISTER'S VIGIL
There was a singular circumstance that characterised Mr. Dimmesdale's psychological
state at this moment. All the time that he gazed upward to the zenith
, he was, nevertheless, perfectly aware that little Pearl was pointing her finger towards old Roger Chillingworth, who stood at no great distance from the scaffold
. The minister appeared to see him, with the same glance that discerned the miraculous
letter. To his features, as to all other objects, the meteoric
light imparted a new expression; or it might well be that the physician was not careful then, as at all other times, to hide the malevolence
with which he looked upon his victim. Certainly, if the meteor
kindled up the sky, and disclosed the earth, with an awfulness that admonished
Hester Prynne and the clergyman of the day of judgment, then might Roger Chillingworth have passed with them for the arch-fiend, standing there with a smile and scowl, to claim his own. So vivid was the expression, or so intense the minister's perception
of it, that it seemed still to remain painted on the darkness, after the meteor had vanished, with an effect as if the street and all things else were at once annihilated
"Who is that man, Hester?" gasped Mr. Dimmesdale, overcome with terror. "I shiver
at him! Dost thou know the man? I hate him, Hester!"
She remembered her oath
, and was silent.
"I tell thee, my soul shivers at him!" muttered the minister again. "Who is he? Who is he? Canst thou do nothing for me? I have a nameless horror of the man!"
"Minister," said little Pearl, "I can tell thee who he is!"
"Quickly, then, child!" said the minister, bending his ear close to her lips. "Quickly!- and as low as thou canst whisper."