The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It is no secret that I read the classics often. Many of them, for differing reasons, are among my favorite works of all time. The Scarlet Letter is no exception to this, as it ranks very highly among my personal favorites.
With that said, here we go.
She was on her pedestal, the babe in her arms and the scarlet reminder upon her breast a feast for the eyes of those who would mock her, and would enjoy doing so. There was a man, a stranger among the crowd, who found a place in the distance. She had no problem finding him, for the stranger transfixed Hester Prynne, as she searched the faces of those gawking at her. Her sight of him was such that all else faded beyond him, blurring as it were, leaving only the two of them in all the world.
To meet like this was a terrible thought to her mind, the heat of the sun on her pale face, burning; all the while her infamy worn as a badge for all to see and know. As though the infant, born without a father in a heinous and Godless manner, was not enough to declare her guilt to the world. And the people, drawn to this sight in full view of day, could view her shame without cover, and this stranger, this man she found herself inexorably drawn to, now gets to see her shame in all its glory.
Odd though it may seem, she preferred it this way. For here she could be with the stranger, safe to see him and feel him without reproach or whispers. It was better to be here, protected by the many who stood as a curtain between him and her, than to be in his presence alone. Yes, if given an option between this and the alternative, this would be her desire, as the public presence acted as a refuge, and she feared the moment this protection would be withdrawn.
So deep within herself she was, that the voice calling out to her was but a faint and distant call, and one that didn’t snap her from her reverie until her name had been called several times, loud enough for the whole of the square to hear.
“Hester Prynne! Lend me your eyes and ears!” said the voice.
The proclamation was made over the assembly from above the platform where Hester stood. There was a balcony of sorts, added some time ago to the meeting house as a place from which to address the crowds. A place from where the tribunal, complete with their assemblage, and all the pomp of those in charge, would mete out their just words for the masses.