Hester Prynne stared, wide eyed at the minister beside her. Of course she had dreamed, - who would she be if she had not dreamed?—, of this very moment, this very scene that was unfolding before her. Yet never had she found it in herself to see it happening. She had always found the clergyman too destroyed, too tortured, too afraid to speak the truth of their sin.
And yet here she was. Standing atop the very same scaffold where she had been branded with the scarlet letter, watching the Reverend allow everything to be said. Little Pearl looked happy, pleased that Dimmesdale had finally found the courage to speak up. She saw the looks on the townspeople's faces. The looks ranged from those of horror, to those of sheer amazement, to those of worry and fear. She had never been more proud of the pastor than at this very moment, and she was so filled with wonder and happiness she failed to see the face of Roger Chillingworth, contorted with anger and rage and perhaps some defeat.
"I am the one who has sinned! I wear the scarlet letter, as surely as dear Hester does!" Dimmesdale yelled, his meek voice somehow projecting across what seemed like all of New England. He trembled as he spoke, the sheer effort of getting this off his shoulders enough to shake his already dwindling health even more.
"And I declare the sin I have committed," he continued, reaching down to take Pearl's hand. Hester smiled as her daughter took the hand of her father, smiling up at him. What she had been asking of him for so long had finally come.
"He is a fool!" cried Roger Chillingworth, stepping forward from the crowd, to a collective murmur from the people, "And I am her husband!" The people gasped, the sound rippling through them and exploding across Hester, the physician, the clergyman, and Pearl.
"Have I not suffered enough?" Dimmesdale shouted, his pale face contorting in pain, "Have I not been tortured enough to your liking? I am so sick of this, so sick. I do not want to live in the guilt anymore! You cannot hurt me, anymore than you already have!" The physician's face contorted yet again, enhancing the ugliness and evil that had become etched in his feature over the years.
A scream erupted from the old man as he advanced on Dimmesdale, pushing the frail man to the ground. Hester yelped in horror, as the people sat back and stared, unsure of what to do and whether or not any of this was truly real or just a figment of their overactive imaginations.
Hester moved forward as the old man continued his assault on the clergyman, and the sunshine slipped from Pearl's face as she took in the scene. Hester managed to push Chillingworth back, leaving the minister, paler than before and now slightly bloody.
"I am sorry that I took away your game," the minister said to him, "but it was time for the truth to be revealed."
Hester helped him up, a seething Roger Chillingworth behind them, now being restrained by two brave members of the onlookers.
"Hester," Dimmesdale whispered, "I want us to have a life. A real life. A life with you, and me and Pearl. A life where we do not have to hide from the shame and from the sin." She looked deeply into his eyes, a feeling like no other washing up on her from the care and the truth in his usually melancholy eyes. She wanted the same.
"I do as well," she whispered, just as softly to him. He teetered forward, unstable on his legs as he gently kissed the woman's cheek. She smiled at him, and the people behind them seemed to stir, many in anger and some in sympathy. Either way, Hester had never found herself happier than she did in that moment. The moment where everything had been revealed, and the minister seemed more at ease, and less deathly.
Hester Prynne gathered Pearl in her arms as she and Dimmesdale stood near the scaffold. The sun flooded from the heavens and shone down upon the trio.
"See, Mother? The sun is no longer afraid of you," Pearl piped up, smiling broadly first at her mother, and then at Dimmesdale, "And the minister no longer must walk around with his hand over his heart." Dimmesdale smiled at the innocent girl in front of him, and leaned in to kiss her forehead.
"I think you are right, little Pearl," he whispered softly, as he felt tears in his eyes. He had never known a day where he had felt this free. And a part inside of him wished he had done this sooner, found it inside himself to break the spell which held him to secrecy. But regrets were not what Dimmesdale wanted to focus on today.
Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne departed from New England the next morning with little Pearl, leaving away from the place that had caused them so much anguish and towards a place where he hoped that they would be able to start anew.
Not soon after their departure, Roger Chillingworth's health failed him. Deprived of his reason to live, the physician shriveled up; the life leaving his body every day until finally there was no more life left to drain.
And the people of New England never forgot the story of the Scarlet Letter. It became a happy story of the town, which people looked back on with satisfaction and amazement, a story that they enjoyed being able to retell.
When Hester Prynne finally returned, years and years later, she was respected. People wondered where Dimmesdale was, or little Pearl but she didn't speak of either of them. She still wore the "A" on her clothes and she returned to her cottage on the edge of town.
The townspeople soon concluded the good Reverend Dimmesdale must have died over in England, and that was the reason that he was not with her. But they knew Pearl was alive. Hester Prynne often received letters and gifts from her daughter and her family.
Hester continued her life, counseling women who came to her door, looking for answers to their own pain.
And Hester Prynne wore the scarlet letter, proud and displayed on her bosom, until the day she was no more.