I shan’t look up. I use my fingers to sew and I move them rapidly. He glances down into my face as the softness of the candlelight warms me. Our congregation is blessed to have Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale here in Boston.
I, a mere youth, took to fancy the warmth of Roger’s offer of matrimony, for he was my superior in intellect, wisdom, and wealth. The safe hearth his home provided gave me all the reasons I needed to marry him. As an advancement of Roger’s age took away his desire, I resigned myself to the comfort of conversation.
The Reverend took this confession with little shock contrary to my fears. Tis a relief to confide in such a man of upmost character.
Arthur began to instruct me in my ignorance not long after Roger’s voyage across the Atlantic began. As a member of the church, the attention seemed not out of the ordinary at first.
This, the third month since we began our course of instruction, has proven to be the most wonderful of all my years. Arthur, he has insisted I pray call him Arthur, has moved his finger across my hand again. I shall not give in to the enjoyment of the closeness of his finger to the palm of my hand as he twists it as to see the way I stitch the letters. My vanity must not stir, and the beauty of my needlepoint speaketh for my heart. The letter “A” only a seamstress of skill could create is my silent profession of desire.
My face blushes as he asks me. “Hester, pray tell, what it doth represent?”
I see his eyes full of fire as he speaketh. My finger trembles as he caresses my palm. The letter I hold presses dearer to my heart than my thumb. The fancy scarlet color as bright as the hottest embers give his name new meaning. The letter “A” has only one desire in my breast, for Arthur to forgetteth his duty to the church and become a mortal man. Mortal man of Adam’s heritage, to see the woman before him as part of him as the rib to which she was formed forth! Two are one and flesh will not deny my churning for his touch!
The slowness of his response brings forth a sorrow too harrowing for me to carry as a bundle! His love denied, his truth revealed. My scarlet letter as rich as fancy will be cast aside by his collar!
Lo, Arthur takes his hand and moves it to my head and I breathe rapidly as he loosens the pin which holds my hair fast. As my hair falls, my lover kisses my lips as the candle burns. He stoops low and his sweetest sigh tells me his name has been burned in my breast.
When my husband Roger was reported lost at sea, I knew tis meant he had gone to his reward. When my Reverend spoke at his memorial, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” I knew he had the heart of a man close to God’s love.
Four months passed since the vows we severed brought forth the child in my womb. No longer shall I hide the secret from the townsfolk. Out of love God giveth desire, and from our love springs forth his child and my heart will never deny him. Henceforth, the church will turn against me and band me an adulterer. Tis truth pray I shall not deny, but his name shall never part from my lips. The last call he maketh upon our secret rendezvous, my heart speaketh truth again. Long will I live with my sin hidden. I spoketh the fear and folly for I have fallen far from God! My Arthur insists on his punishment being observed, yet I reproach him! Two to live a burden would break my heart, and secrets are meant to be held in reserve. My lover shakes his head and I plead!
“If I bear the shame alone, I feel atonement for my sin!” My Arthur turns his ear to listen. Methinks he has heard! He breaks down with his gentle hands placed into mine. As I kiss them with softness, I feel them tremble.
“No, dearest, do not weep,” I sayeth, “For my joy is to be born through labor’s pains. The child shall be my pearl and our love will bear her name.”