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?"
"Nay, I think not so," rejoined the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale. "My journey, and the sight of the holy Apostle yonder, and the free air which I have breathed, have done me good, after so long confinement
in my study. I think to need no more of your drugs, my kind physician, good though they be, and administered
by a friendly hand."
All this time, Roger Chillingworth was looking at the minister with the grave and intent
regard of a physician towards his patient. But, in spite of his outward show, the latter was almost convinced of the old man's knowledge, or, at least, his confident suspicion, with respect to his own interview with Hester Prynne. The physician knew then, that, in the minister's regard, he was no longer a trusted friend, but his bitterest enemy. So much being known, it would appear natural that a part of it should be expressed. It is singular, however, how long a time often passes before words embody things; and with what security two persons, who choose to avoid a certain subject, may approach its very verge
, and retire without disturbing
it. Thus, the minister felt no apprehension that Roger Chillingworth would touch, in express words, upon the real position which they sustained towards one another. Yet did the physician, in his dark way, creep frightfully near the secret.