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"Thou knowest," said Hester,--for, depressed as she was, she could not endure this last quiet stab at the token of her shame,--"thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any." "True!" replied he. "It was my folly! I have said it. But, up to that epoch of my life, I had lived in vain. The world had been so cheerless! My heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a household fire. I longed to kindle one! It seemed not so wild a dream,--old as I was, and sombre as I was, and misshapen as I was,--that the simple bliss, which is scattered far and wide, for all mankind to gather up, might yet be mine. And so, Hester, I drew thee into my heart, into its innermost chamber, and sought to warm thee by the warmth which thy presence made there!" "I have greatly wronged thee," murmured Hester. "We have wronged each other," answered he. "Mine was the first wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation with my decay. Therefore, as a man who has not thought and philosophized in vain, I seek no vengeance, plot no evil against thee. Between thee and me, the scale hangs fairly balanced. But, Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he?" "Ask me not!" replied Hester Prynne, looking firmly into his face. "That thou shalt never know!" "Never, sayest thou?" rejoined he, with a smile of dark and self-relying intelligence. "Never know him! Believe me, Hester, there are few things,--whether in the outward world, or, to a certain depth, in the invisible sphere of thought,--few things hidden from the man, who devotes himself earnestly and unreservedly to the solution of a mystery. Thou mayest cover up thy secret from the prying multitude. Thou mayest conceal it, too, from the ministers and magistrates, even as thou didst this day, when they sought to wrench the name out of thy heart, and give thee a partner on thy pedestal. But, as for me, I come to the inquest with other senses than they possess. I shall seek this man, as I have sought truth in books; as I have sought gold in alchemy. There is a sympathy that will make me conscious of him. I shall see him tremble. I shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unawares. Sooner or later, he must needs be mine! "Thou wilt not reveal his name? Not the less he is mine," resumed he, with a look of confidence, as if destiny were at one with him. " (491-492)
"Bartleby! quick, I am waiting." I heard a slow scrape of his chair legs on the uncarpeted floor, and soon he appeared standing at the entrance of his hermitage. "What is wanted?" said he mildly. "The copies, the copies," said I hurriedly. "We are going to examine them. There"—and I held towards him the fourth quadruplicate. "I would prefer not to," he said, and gently disappeared behind the screen. "Why do you refuse?" "I would prefer not to." "These are your own copies we are about to examine. It is labor saving to you, because one examination will answer for your four papers. It is common usage. Every copyist is bound to help examine his copy. Is it not so? Will you not speak? Answer!" "I prefer not to," he replied in a flute-like tone. It seemed to me that while I had been addressing him, he carefully revolved every statement that I made; fully comprehended the meaning; could not gainsay the irresistible conclusion; but, at the same time, some paramount consideration prevailed with him to reply as he did. "Turkey," said I, "what do you think of this? Am I not right?" "With submission, sir," said Turkey, with his blandest tone, "I think that you are." "Nippers," said I, "what do you think of it?" "I think I should kick him out of the office." "Ginger Nut," said I, willing to enlist the smallest suffrage in my behalf, "what do you think of it?" "I think, sir, he's a little luny," replied Ginger Nut, with a grin. "You hear what they say," said I, turning towards the screen, "come forth and do your duty." "Bartleby," said I, "when those papers are all copied, I will compare them with you." "I would prefer not to." "How? Surely you do not mean to persist in that mulish vagary?" No answer. I threw open the folding-doors near by, and turning upon Turkey and Nippers, exclaimed in an excited manner— "He says, a second time, he won't examine his papers. What do you think of it, Turkey?" "Think of it?" roared Turkey; "I think I'll just step behind his screen, and black his eyes for him!" (1490-1492)