❤❤❤ What Does The Meteor Symbolize In The Scarlet Letter

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What Does The Meteor Symbolize In The Scarlet Letter

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The Symbolism of the Scarlet Letter

Why, the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler! And yet, let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine. Gradually, they have sunk almost out of sight; as old houses, here and there about the streets, get covered half-way to the eaves by the accumulation of new soil. From father to son, for above a hundred years, they followed the sea; a gray-headed shipmaster, in each generation, retiring from the quarter-deck to the homestead, while a boy of fourteen took the hereditary place before the mast, confronting the salt spray and the gale, which had blustered against his sire and grandsire.

The boy, also, in due time, passed from the forecastle to the cabin, spent a tempestuous manhood, and returned from his world-wanderings, to grow old, and die, and mingle his dust with the natal earth. This long connection of a family with one spot, as its place of birth and burial, creates a kindred between the human being and the locality, quite independent of any charm in the scenery or moral circumstances that surround him. It is not love, but instinct.

The new inhabitant—who came himself from a foreign land, or whose father or grandfather came—has little claim to be called a Salemite; he has no conception of the oyster-like tenacity with which an old settler, over whom his third century is creeping, clings to the spot where his successive generations have been imbedded. It is no matter that the place is joyless for him; that he is weary of the old wooden houses, the mud and dust, the dead level of site and sentiment, the chill east wind, and the chillest of social atmospheres;—all these, and whatever [11] faults besides he may see or imagine, are nothing to the purpose. The spell survives, and just as powerfully as if the natal spot were an earthly paradise.

So has it been in my case. I felt it almost as a destiny to make Salem my home; so that the mould of features and cast of character which had all along been familiar here,—ever, as one representative of the race lay down in his grave, another assuming, as it were, his sentry-march along the main street,—might still in my little day be seen and recognized in the old town. Nevertheless, this very sentiment is an evidence that the connection, which has become an unhealthy one, should at last be severed. Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.

My doom was on me. It was not the first time, nor the second, that I had gone away,—as it seemed, permanently,—but yet returned, like the bad half-penny; or as if Salem were for me the inevitable centre of the universe. I doubt greatly—or, rather, I do not doubt at all—whether any public functionary of the United States, either in the civil [12] or military line, has ever had such a patriarchal body of veterans under his orders as myself. The whereabouts of the Oldest Inhabitant was at once settled, when I looked at them. For upwards of twenty years before this epoch, the independent position of the Collector had kept the Salem Custom-House out of the whirlpool of political vicissitude, which makes the tenure of office generally so fragile.

General Miller was radically conservative; a man over whose kindly nature habit had no slight influence; attaching himself strongly to familiar faces, and with difficulty moved to change, even when change might have brought unquestionable improvement. Thus, on taking charge of my department, I found few but aged men. Though by no means less liable than their fellow-men to age and infirmity, they had evidently some talisman or other that kept death at bay.

Two or three of their number, as I was assured, being gouty and rheumatic, or perhaps bedridden, never dreamed of making their appearance at the Custom-House, during a large part of the year; but, after a torpid winter, would creep out into the warm sunshine of May or June, go lazily about what they termed duty, and, at their own leisure [13] and convenience, betake themselves to bed again.

I must plead guilty to the charge of abbreviating the official breath of more than one of these venerable servants of the republic. It is a pious consolation to me, that, through my interference, a sufficient space was allowed them for repentance of the evil and corrupt practices into which, as a matter of course, every Custom-House officer must be supposed to fall. Neither the front nor the back entrance of the Custom-House opens on the road to Paradise.

The greater part of my officers were Whigs. It was well for their venerable brotherhood that the new Surveyor was not a politician, and though a faithful Democrat in principle, neither received nor held his office with any reference to political services. Had it been otherwise,—had an active politician been put into this influential post, to assume the easy task of making head against a Whig Collector, whose infirmities withheld him from the personal administration of his office,—hardly a man of the old corps would have drawn the breath of official life, within a month after the exterminating angel had come up the Custom-House steps. According to the received code in such matters, it would have been nothing short of duty, in a politician, to bring every one of those white heads under the axe of the guillotine.

It was plain enough to discern, that the old fellows dreaded some such discourtesy at my hands. It pained, and at the same time amused me, to behold the terrors that attended my advent; to see a furrowed cheek, weather-beaten by half a century of storm, turn ashy pale at the glance of so harmless an [14] individual as myself; to detect, as one or another addressed me, the tremor of a voice, which, in long-past days, had been wont to bellow through a speaking-trumpet, hoarsely enough to frighten Boreas himself to silence.

They knew, these excellent old persons, that, by all established rule,—and, as regarded some of them, weighed by their own lack of efficiency for business,—they ought to have given place to younger men, more orthodox in politics, and altogether fitter than themselves to serve our common Uncle. I knew it too, but could never quite find in my heart to act upon the knowledge. Much and deservedly to my own discredit, therefore, and considerably to the detriment of my official conscience, they continued, during my incumbency, to creep about the wharves, and loiter up and down the Custom-House steps.

They spent a good deal of time, also, asleep in their accustomed corners, with their chairs tilted back against the wall; awaking, however, once or twice in a forenoon, to bore one another with the several thousandth repetition of old sea-stories, and mouldy jokes, that had grown to be passwords and countersigns among them. The discovery was soon made, I imagine, that the new Surveyor had no great harm in him. So, with lightsome hearts, and the happy consciousness of being usefully employed,—in their own behalf, at least, if not for our beloved country,—these good old gentlemen went through the various formalities of office.

Sagaciously, under their spectacles, did they peep into the holds of vessels! Mighty was their fuss about little matters, and marvellous, sometimes, the obtuseness that allowed greater ones to slip between their fingers! Whenever such a mischance occurred,—when a wagon-load of valuable merchandise had been smuggled ashore, at noonday, perhaps, and directly beneath [15] their unsuspicious noses,—nothing could exceed the vigilance and alacrity with which they proceeded to lock, and double-lock, and secure with tape and sealing-wax, all the avenues of the delinquent vessel. Instead of a reprimand for their previous negligence, the case seemed rather to require an eulogium on their praiseworthy caution, after the mischief had happened; a grateful recognition of the promptitude of their zeal, the moment that there was no longer any remedy.

Unless people are more than commonly disagreeable, it is my foolish habit to contract a kindness for them. As most of these old Custom-House officers had good traits, and as my position in reference to them, being paternal and protective, was favorable to the growth of friendly sentiments, I soon grew to like them all. It was pleasant, in the summer forenoons,—when the fervent heat, that almost liquefied the rest of the human family, merely communicated a genial warmth to their half-torpid systems,—it was pleasant to hear them chatting in the back entry, a row of them all tipped against the wall, as usual; while the frozen witticisms of past generations were thawed out, and came bubbling with laughter from their lips.

Externally, the jollity of aged men has much in common with the mirth of children; the intellect, any more than a deep sense of humor, has little to do with the matter; it is, with both, a gleam that plays upon the surface, and imparts a sunny and cheery aspect alike to the green branch, and gray, mouldering trunk. In one case, however, it is real sunshine; in the other, it more resembles the phosphorescent glow of decaying wood. It would be sad injustice, the reader must understand, to represent all my excellent old friends as in their dotage.

In the first place, my coadjutors were not invariably old; there were men among them in their strength and prime, of marked ability and energy, and altogether superior to the sluggish and dependent mode of life on which their evil stars had cast them. Then, moreover, the white locks of age were sometimes found to be the thatch of an intellectual tenement in good repair. But, as respects the majority of my corps of veterans, there will be no wrong done, if I characterize them generally as a set of wearisome old souls, who had gathered nothing worth preservation from their varied experience of life.

They seemed to have flung away all the golden grain of practical wisdom, which they had enjoyed so many opportunities of harvesting, and most carefully to have stored their memories with the husks. The father of the Custom-House—the patriarch, not only of this little squad of officials, but, I am bold to say, of the respectable body of tide-waiters all over the United States—was a certain permanent Inspector. He might truly be termed a legitimate son of the revenue system, dyed in the wool, or, rather, born in the purple; since his sire, a Revolutionary colonel, and formerly collector of the port, had created an office for him, and appointed him to fill it, at a period of the early ages which few living men can now remember.

With his florid cheek, his compact figure, smartly arrayed in a bright-buttoned blue coat, his brisk and vigorous step, and his hale and hearty aspect, altogether he seemed—not young, indeed—but a kind of new contrivance of Mother Nature in the shape of man, whom age and infirmity had no business to touch. Looking at him merely as an animal,—and there was very little else to look at,—he was a most satisfactory object, from the thorough healthfulness and wholesomeness of his system, and his capacity, at that extreme age, to enjoy all, or nearly all, the delights which he had ever aimed at, or conceived of. The careless security of his life in the Custom-House, on a regular income, and with but slight and infrequent apprehensions of removal, had no doubt contributed to make time pass lightly over him.

The original and more potent causes, however, lay in the rare perfection of his animal nature, the moderate proportion of intellect, and the very trifling admixture of moral and spiritual ingredients; these latter qualities, indeed, being in barely enough measure to keep the old gentleman from walking on all-fours. He possessed no power of thought, no depth of feeling, no troublesome sensibilities; nothing, in short, but a few commonplace instincts, which, aided by the cheerful temper that grew inevitably out of his physical well-being, did duty very respectably, and to general acceptance, in lieu of a heart.

He had been the husband of three wives, all long since dead; the father of twenty children, most of whom, at every age of childhood or maturity, had likewise [18] returned to dust. Here, one would suppose, might have been sorrow enough to imbue the sunniest disposition, through and through, with a sable tinge. Not so with our old Inspector! One brief sigh sufficed to carry off the entire burden of these dismal reminiscences.

I used to watch and study this patriarchal personage with, I think, livelier curiosity, than any other form of humanity there presented to my notice. He was, in truth, a rare phenomenon; so perfect, in one point of view; so shallow, so delusive, so impalpable, such an absolute nonentity, in every other. My conclusion was that he had no soul, no heart, no mind; nothing, as I have already said, but instincts: and yet, withal, so cunningly had the few materials of his character been put together, that there was no painful perception of deficiency, but, on my part, an entire contentment with what I found in him.

It might be difficult—and it was so—to conceive how he should exist hereafter, so earthly and sensuous did he seem; but surely his existence here, admitting that it was to terminate with his last breath, had been not unkindly given; with no higher moral responsibilities than the beasts of the field, but with a larger scope of enjoyment than theirs, and with all their blessed immunity from the dreariness and duskiness of age.

One point, in which he had vastly the advantage over his four-footed brethren, was his ability to recollect the good dinners which it had made no small portion of the happiness of his life to eat. His gourmandism was a highly agreeable trait; and to hear him talk of roast-meat was as appetizing as a pickle or [19] an oyster. There were flavors on his palate that had lingered there not less than sixty or seventy years, and were still apparently as fresh as that of the mutton-chop which he had just devoured for his breakfast.

I have heard him smack his lips over dinners, every guest at which, except himself, had long been food for worms. It was marvellous to observe how the ghosts of bygone meals were continually rising up before him; not in anger or retribution, but as if grateful for his former appreciation and seeking to resuscitate an endless series of enjoyment, at once shadowy and sensual. A tender-loin of beef, a hind-quarter of veal, a spare-rib of pork, a particular chicken, or a remarkably praiseworthy turkey, which had perhaps adorned his board in the days of the elder Adams, would be remembered; while all the subsequent experience of our race, and all the events that brightened or darkened his individual career, had gone over him with as little permanent effect as the passing breeze.

But it is time to quit this sketch; on which, however, I should be glad to dwell at considerably more length because, of all men whom I have ever known, this individual was fittest to be a Custom-House officer. Most persons, owing to causes which I may not have space to hint at, suffer moral detriment from this peculiar mode of life. The old Inspector was incapable of it, and, were he to continue in office to the end of time, would be just as good as he was then, and sit down to dinner with just as good an appetite.

There is one likeness, without which my gallery of Custom-House portraits would be strangely incomplete; but which my comparatively few opportunities for observation enable me to sketch only in the merest outline. It is that of the Collector, our gallant old General, who, after his brilliant military service, subsequently to which he had ruled over a wild Western territory, had come hither, twenty years before, to spend the decline of his varied and honorable life.

The brave soldier had already numbered, nearly or quite, his threescore years and ten, and was pursuing the remainder of his earthly march, burdened with infirmities which even the martial music of his own spirit-stirring recollections could do little towards lightening. The step was palsied now that had been foremost in the charge. It was only with the assistance of a servant, and by leaning his hand heavily on the iron balustrade, that he could slowly and painfully ascend the Custom-House steps, and, with a toilsome progress across the floor, attain his customary chair beside the fireplace.

There he used to sit, gazing with a somewhat dim serenity of aspect at the figures that came and went; amid the rustle of papers, the administering of oaths, the discussion of business, and the casual talk of the office; all which sounds and circumstances [21] seemed but indistinctly to impress his senses, and hardly to make their way into his inner sphere of contemplation. His countenance, in this repose, was mild and kindly. If his notice was sought, an expression of courtesy and interest gleamed out upon his features; proving that there was light within him, and that it was only the outward medium of the intellectual lamp that obstructed the rays in their passage.

The closer you penetrated to the substance of his mind, the sounder it appeared. When no longer called upon to speak, or listen, either of which operations cost him an evident effort, his face would briefly subside into its former not uncheerful quietude. It was not painful to behold this look; for, though dim, it had not the imbecility of decaying age. The framework of his nature, originally strong and massive, was not yet crumbled into ruin. To observe and define his character, however, under such disadvantages, was as difficult a task as to trace out and build up anew, in imagination, an old fortress, like Ticonderoga, from a view of its gray and broken ruins.

Here and there, perchance, the walls may remain almost complete, but elsewhere may be only a shapeless mound, cumbrous with its very strength, and overgrown, through long years of peace and neglect, with grass and alien weeds. Nevertheless, looking at the old warrior with affection,—for, slight as was the communication between us, my feeling towards him, like that of all bipeds and quadrupeds who knew him, might not improperly be termed so,—I could discern the main points of his portrait. It was marked with the noble and heroic qualities which showed it to be not by a mere accident, but of good right, that he had won a distinguished name. His spirit could never, I conceive, have been characterized by an [22] uneasy activity; it must, at any period of his life, have required an impulse to set him in motion; but, once stirred up, with obstacles to overcome, and an adequate object to be attained, it was not in the man to give out or fail.

The heat that had formerly pervaded his nature, and which was not yet extinct, was never of the kind that flashes and flickers in a blaze; but, rather, a deep, red glow, as of iron in a furnace. Weight, solidity, firmness; this was the expression of his repose, even in such decay as had crept untimely over him, at the period of which I speak. And, in so intense a moment, his demeanor would have still been calm. Such an exhibition, however, was but to be pictured in fancy; not to be anticipated, nor desired. What I saw in him—as evidently as the indestructible ramparts of Old Ticonderoga already cited as the most appropriate simile—were the features of stubborn and ponderous endurance, which might well have amounted to obstinacy in his earlier days; of integrity, that, like most of his other endowments, lay in a somewhat heavy mass, and was just as unmalleable and unmanageable as a ton of iron ore; and of benevolence, which, fiercely as he led the bayonets on at Chippewa or Fort Erie, I take to be of quite as genuine a stamp as what actuates any or all the polemical philanthropists of the age.

I have not known the man to whose innate kindliness I would more confidently make an appeal. Many characteristics—and those, too, which contribute not the least forcibly to impart resemblance in a sketch—must have vanished, or been obscured, before I met the General. All merely graceful attributes are usually the most evanescent; nor does Nature adorn the human ruin with blossoms of new beauty, that have their roots and proper nutriment only in the chinks and crevices of decay, as she sows wall-flowers over the ruined fortress of Ticonderoga.

Still, even in respect of grace and beauty, there were points well worth noting. A ray of humor, now and then, would make its way through the veil of dim obstruction, and glimmer pleasantly upon our faces. There, beside the fireplace, the brave old General used to sit; while the Surveyor—though seldom, when it could be avoided, taking upon himself the difficult task of engaging him in conversation—was fond of standing at a distance, and watching his quiet and almost slumberous countenance. He seemed away from us, although we saw him but a few yards off; remote, though we passed close beside his chair; unattainable, though we might have stretched forth our hands and touched his own.

The evolutions of the parade; the tumult of the battle; the flourish of old, heroic music, heard thirty years before;—such scenes and sounds, perhaps, were all alive before his intellectual sense. Meanwhile, the merchants and shipmasters, the spruce clerks and uncouth sailors, entered and departed; the bustle of this commercial and custom-house life kept up its little murmur round about him; and neither with the men nor their affairs did the General appear to sustain the most distant relation. There was one thing that much aided me in renewing and re-creating the stalwart soldier of the Niagara frontier,—the man of true and simple energy.

There was one man, especially, the observation of whose character gave me a new idea of talent. Bred up from boyhood in the Custom-House, it was his proper field of activity; and the many intricacies of business, so harassing to the interloper, presented themselves before him with the regularity of a perfectly comprehended system. In my contemplation, he stood as the ideal of his class.

He was, indeed, the Custom-House in himself; or, at all events, the main-spring that kept its variously revolving wheels in motion; for, in an institution like this, where its officers are appointed to subserve their own profit and convenience, and seldom with a leading reference to their fitness for the duty to be performed, they must perforce seek elsewhere the dexterity which is not in them. Thus, by an inevitable necessity, as a magnet attracts steel-filings, so did our man of business draw to himself the difficulties which everybody met with. With an easy condescension, and kind forbearance towards our stupidity,—which, to his order of mind, must have seemed little short of crime,—would he forthwith, by the merest touch of his finger, make the incomprehensible as clear as daylight.

The merchants valued him not less than we, his esoteric friends. His integrity was perfect: it was a law of nature with him, rather than a choice or a principle; nor can it be otherwise than the main condition of an intellect so remarkably clear and accurate as his, to be honest and regular in the administration [26] of affairs. A stain on his conscience, as to anything that came within the range of his vocation, would trouble such a man very much in the same way, though to a far greater degree, that an error in the balance of an account or an ink-blot on the fair page of a book of record.

Here, in a word,—and it is a rare instance in my life,—I had met with a person thoroughly adapted to the situation which he held. Such were some of the people with whom I now found myself connected. I took it in good part, at the hands of Providence, that I was thrown into a position so little akin to my past habits, and set myself seriously to gather from it whatever profit was to be had. Even the old Inspector was desirable, as a change of diet, to a man who had known Alcott.

I look upon it as an evidence, in some measure, of a system naturally well balanced, and lacking no essential part of a thorough organization, that, with such associates to remember, I could mingle at once with men of altogether different qualities, and never murmur at the change. Literature, its exertions and objects, were now of little moment [27] in my regard. I cared not, at this period, for books; they were apart from me.

Nature,—except it were human nature,—the nature that is developed in earth and sky, was, in one sense, hidden from me; and all the imaginative delight, wherewith it had been spiritualized, passed away out of my mind. A gift, a faculty if it had not departed, was suspended and inanimate within me. There would have been something sad, unutterably dreary, in all this, had I not been conscious that it lay at my own option to recall whatever was valuable in the past. It might be true, indeed, that this was a life which could not with impunity be lived too long; else, it might have made me permanently other than I had been without transforming me into any shape which it would be worth my while to take. But I never considered it as other than a transitory life.

There was always a prophetic instinct, a low whisper in my ear, that, within no long period, and whenever a new change of custom should be essential to my good, a change would come. Meanwhile, there I was, a Surveyor of the Revenue, and, so far as I have been able to understand, as good a Surveyor as need be. My fellow-officers, and the merchants and sea-captains with whom my official duties brought me into any manner of connection, viewed me in no other light, and probably knew me in no other character.

None of them, I presume, had ever read a page of my inditing, or would have cared a fig the more for me, if they had read them all; nor would it have mended the matter, in the least, had those same unprofitable pages been written with a pen like that of Burns or of Chaucer, each of [28] whom was a custom-house officer in his day, as well as I. I know not that I especially needed the lesson, either in the way of warning or rebuke; but, at any rate, I learned it thoroughly: nor, it gives me pleasure to reflect, did the truth, as it came home to my perception, ever cost me a pang, or require to be thrown off in a sigh.

In the way of literary talk, it is true, the Naval Officer—an excellent fellow, who came into office with me and went out only a little later—would often engage me in a discussion about one or the other of his favorite topics, Napoleon or Shakespeare. This was my all of lettered intercourse; and it was quite sufficient for my necessities. No longer seeking nor caring that my name should be blazoned abroad on title-pages, I smiled to think that it had now another kind of vogue. The Custom-House marker imprinted it, with a stencil and black paint, on pepper-bags, and baskets of anatto, and cigar-boxes, and bales of all kinds of dutiable merchandise, in testimony that these commodities had paid the impost, and gone regularly through the office.

Borne on such queer vehicle of fame, a knowledge of my existence, so far as a [29] name conveys it, was carried where it had never been before, and, I hope, will never go again. But the past was not dead. Once in a great while the thoughts that had seemed so vital and so active, yet had been put to rest so quietly, revived again. One of the most remarkable occasions, when the habit of bygone days awoke in me, was that which brings it within the law of literary propriety to offer the public the sketch which I am now writing. In the second story of the Custom-House there is a large room, in which the brick-work and naked rafters have never been covered with panelling and plaster.

The edifice—originally projected on a scale adapted to the old commercial enterprise of the port, and with an idea of subsequent prosperity destined never to be realized—contains far more space than its occupants know what to do with. At one end of the room, in a recess, were a number of barrels, piled one upon another, containing bundles of official documents. Large quantities of similar rubbish lay lumbering the floor. It was sorrowful to think how many days and weeks and months and years of toil had been wasted on these musty papers, which were now only an encumbrance on earth, and were hidden away in this forgotten corner, never more to be glanced at by human eyes. But, then, what reams of other manuscripts—filled not with the dulness of official formalities, but with the thought of inventive brains and the rich effusion of deep hearts—had gone equally to oblivion; and that, moreover, without serving a purpose in their day, as these heaped-up papers had, and—saddest of all—without [30] purchasing for their writers the comfortable livelihood which the clerks of the Custom-House had gained by these worthless scratchings of the pen!

Yet not altogether worthless, perhaps, as materials of local history. Here, no doubt, statistics of the former commerce of Salem might be discovered, and memorials of her princely merchants,—old King Derby, old Billy Gray, old Simon Forrester, and many another magnate in his day; whose powdered head, however, was scarcely in the tomb, before his mountain pile of wealth began to dwindle. The founders of the greater part of the families which now compose the aristocracy of Salem might here be traced, from the petty and obscure beginnings of their traffic, at periods generally much posterior to the Revolution, upward to what their children look upon as long-established rank.

It has often been a matter of regret with me; for, going back, perhaps, to the days of the Protectorate, those papers must have contained many references to forgotten or remembered men, and to antique customs, which would have affected me with the same pleasure as when I used to pick up Indian arrow-heads in the field near the Old Manse. But, one idle and rainy day, it was my fortune to make a discovery of some little interest. This envelope had the air of an official record of some period long past, when clerks engrossed their stiff and formal chirography on more substantial materials than at present.

There was something about it that quickened an instinctive curiosity, and made me undo the faded red tape, that tied up the package, with the sense that a treasure would here be brought to light. Surveyor Pue, about fourscore years ago; and likewise, in a newspaper of recent times, an account of the digging up of his remains in the little graveyard of St. Nothing, if I rightly call to mind, was left of my respected predecessor, save an imperfect skeleton, and some fragments of apparel, and a wig of majestic frizzle; which, unlike the head that it once adorned, was in very satisfactory preservation.

But, on examining the papers which the parchment commission served to envelop, I found more traces of Mr. They were documents, in short, not official, but of a private nature, or at least written in his private capacity, and apparently with his own hand. I could account for their being included in the heap of Custom-House lumber only by the fact that Mr. On the transfer of the archives to Halifax, this package, proving to be of no public concern, was left behind, and had remained ever since unopened.

The ancient Surveyor—being little molested, I suppose, at that early day, with business pertaining to his office—seems to have devoted some of his many leisure hours to researches as a local antiquarian, and other inquisitions of a similar nature. These supplied material for petty activity to a mind that would otherwise have been eaten up with rust. The remainder may perhaps be applied to purposes equally valuable, hereafter; or not impossibly may be worked up, so far as they go, into a regular history of Salem, should my veneration for the natal soil ever impel me to so pious a task. Meanwhile, they shall be at the command of any gentleman, inclined, and competent, to take the unprofitable labor off my hands.

As a final disposition, I contemplate depositing them with the Essex Historical Society. But the object that most drew my attention, in the mysterious package, was a certain affair of fine red cloth, much worn and faded. There were traces about it of gold embroidery, which, however, was greatly frayed and defaced; so that none, or very [33] little, of the glitter was left. It had been wrought, as was easy to perceive, with wonderful skill of needlework; and the stitch as I am assured by ladies conversant with such mysteries gives evidence of a now forgotten art, not to be recovered even by the process of picking out the threads. This rag of scarlet cloth,—for time and wear and a sacrilegious moth had reduced it to little other than a rag,—on careful examination, assumed the shape of a letter.

It was the capital letter A. By an accurate measurement, each limb proved to be precisely three inches and a quarter in length. It had been intended, there could be no doubt, as an ornamental article of dress; but how it was to be worn, or what rank, honor, and dignity, in by-past times, were signified by it, was a riddle which so evanescent are the fashions of the world in these particulars I saw little hope of solving. And yet it strangely interested me.

My eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter, and would not be turned aside. Certainly, there was some deep meaning in it, most worthy of interpretation, and which, as it were, streamed forth from the mystic symbol, subtly communicating itself to my sensibilities, but evading the analysis of my mind. While thus perplexed,—and cogitating, among other hypotheses, whether the letter might not have been one of those decorations which the white men used to contrive, in order to take the eyes of Indians,—I happened to place it on my breast. It seemed to me,—the reader may smile, but must not doubt my word,—it seemed to me, then, that I experienced a sensation not altogether physical, yet almost so, of burning heat; and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron.

I shuddered, and involuntarily let it fall upon the floor. Delighted to make your acquaintance. Naganohara Yoimiya. We have Kushikatsu, Egg Roll Wait, no, we're not a restaurant. We make fireworks! Like these, see? Whew, but if you don't need me right now, I'm gonna grab some sleep. I would've gone myself, but I probably would've got about halfway before falling asleep.

Sangonomiya Kokomi. Each fish in the ocean swims in its own direction. Kokomi: The people of Watatsumi Island need a perfect leader, not some girl who likes to wile away her time at home. Teppei A soldier of the resistance who, due to being unable to fully complete his training due to the need for troops, was assigned to the logistics division. Blade on a Stick : Like most basic footsoldiers, this is his Weapon of Choice. Cast from Lifespan : Teppei's Fatui Delusion eats into his life the more he taps into its power. Distressed Dude : The Traveler first encounters him being bullied by two Shogunate samurai, rescuing him by fighting them off. Forgotten Fallen Friend : Averted. Zig-Zagged in Kokomi's Character Quest. He's not mentioned during the quest, but when the player finds Kokomi's journal while searching the cave for a book she was reading, they'll find that under the entry about the Traveler's return, she stated that it would probably be best to not bring Teppei up in fear of bringing down the mood.

I Just Want to Be Special : Teppei has high aspirations and desires to be more than just a logistics guy to make a greater contribution to the resistance. Miles Gloriosus : Tries to come off as more badass than he actually is in all of his accounts and stories. This likely contributed him into accepting a Delusion without question which backfired on him. Exposition : Serves as the Traveler's guide regarding the matters of the Sangonomiya Resistance and their deity, Orobashi.

Rapid Aging : Due to using a Delusion provided by the Resistance's backers, the Fatui, he suffers rapid aging and effectively dies of old age. The Smart Guy : Teppei is knowledgeable in several fields from medicine to strategy. Too bad he wants to be useful on the front lines of the war. This caused him to accept a Delusion without knowing its side effects until it's too late. Took a Level in Badass : Next time The Traveler and Paimon meet him after their first mission as Captain of Swordfish II, he's made great contributions in dealing with the Shogunate Navy and is being made Captain of his own squadron as a result. As it turns out, this is because he was given a Delusion. Too Dumb to Live : Ends up trusting shadowy figures, the Fatui, and uses a secret weapon resembling a Vision given to him, not questioning its origins or the potential negative side-effects.

Scaramouche and La Signora, in very Kick the Dog fashions, frequently Lampshade this, albeit when referring to everyone in the Resistance who took their Delusions. Walking Spoiler : It's hard to talk about him without mentioning his untimely death, and how it ignites an even deeper grudge against the Fatui in The Traveler. Kouzen A resistance member involved in a plot to hinder the peace talks and continue the war. Accidental Truth : As it turns out, there is some truth to the rumours of the Tenyou Commission colluding with the Fatui; it turns out some Tenryou soldiers were approached by the Fatui with offers for cooperation if the war with Watatsumi continued.

Blood Knight : He, along with other like-minded soldiers, are too used to all the fighting to accept peace and go back to normal lives, which prompts them to spread unsavoury rumours about the Tenryou Commission to hinder the peace talks and keep the war going. When you first meet him, he's quick to challenge you to a fight to see your worth for himself, and possibly gauge if they're like him and the other soldiers. Easily Forgiven : Downplayed. While they're called out on their actions and the possible ramifications they could have had, Kokomi's "punishment" for them is essentially just putting them in charge of the islands security, with the worst repercussion from this being the gruelling training.

However, she also states that there will be harsh consequences if they try such a thing again. Hypocrite : Under the paranoid belief that the Tenryou Commission will backstab them, he and his co-conspirators intend to backstab them first during the Peace Talks, and betray Kokomi's trust in the process. In " Rapunzel's Return ", Rapunzel is reunited with her parents but is shocked to learn they don't recognise her. Rapunzel discovers Varian and Andrew have teamed up and manage to take control of the kingdom by using Saporian magic to erase Arianna and Frederic's memories, causing them to believe Varian is their trusted advisor.

They are later taken to the outskirts of Corona to watch as Andrew and the Saporians destroy the kingdom but are successfully rescued by Eugene and Lance. In the aftermath, Rapunzel is appointed as acting Queen of Corona until her parents' memories return. In " Beginnings ", Arianna and Frederic appear in a flashback two years prior during the days when Rapunzel and Cassandra first became friends. Together, they inform Rapunzel of the upcoming Contest of Crowns in which princesses from the Seven Kingdoms come together to compete. They witness Rapunzel and Cassandra's participation and remain supportive of Rapunzel's efforts throughout the competition. It's also shown in the earlier days, Arianna and Frederic were still getting used to Eugene's presence within the castle and were unhappy whenever he spoke of his former past.

However, Arianna was shown to be slightly more welcoming, compared to Frederic. In " The King and Queen of Hearts ", Arianna and Frederic's memories remain lost despite Varian's efforts to undo the effects of the Saporian's magic memory wand. Rapunzel is determined to help her parents by reminding them of their love for each other during the Day of Hearts celebration since they proclaimed their love and wrote their names in King Herz Der Sonne's journal. However, Arianna and Frederic's amnesia prevents them from remembering why they even love each other.

Due to their strong differences with Arianna seeking adventure and excitement in her life and Frederic only caring about his egg collection, Arianna believes it's best if they spend some time apart to figure out their feelings. Refusing to give up and determined to get her parents back together, Rapunzel plans a romantic date to make her parents fall in love again with the help of her friends. Rapunzel brings Arianna out into the forest to go riding together, but secretly brings her to Frederic to set their date into motion. Throughout Arianna and Frederic's date, Arianna expresses her strong adventurous spirit and shows off her talents for horseback riding, but unfortunately, Frederic is not and falls off while riding Maximus, unable to keep pace with her.

They later go to the Snuggly Duckling , but Frederic bores Arianna with his love for eggs and soon a brawl occurs with Arianna joining them and fighting against Vladimir. Finally, during a romantic boat ride together, Arianna and Frederic's love once again begins to blossom as they express their wish to remember more of Rapunzel and acknowledge each other's positive qualities in their daughter.

Frederic and Arianna almost kiss, until their moment is interrupted upon the arrival of King Trevor. It's revealed in the past, Trevor and Frederic were also rivals for Arianna's love until she chose Frederic, causing Trevor to remain obsessed for years. However, upon learning of their recent amnesia, Trevor intends to take advantage of their memory loss to win Arianna's affections for himself once and for all and invites her to go sea serpent watching the following day which she gladly accepts.

The next day during their outing together, Trevor presents Arianna with a rare sea crystal and asks her to become his queen, believing they are a better match than her and Frederic. However, Arianna expresses her love for Frederic, finding him fascinating, but Trevor intends to win her heart through a grand romantic gesture and reveals he has in his possession Herz Der Sonne's journal and asks her to sign it with him.

Arianna tries to refuse Trevor's affections until they notice Rapunzel and the group following them. Trevor sends out his "Navy Seals" to attack Rapunzel and the group, but seeing her daughter in danger, Arianna knocks out Trevor and goes to rescue Rapunzel. Arianna arrives in time to rescue the group and quickly dives into the water to save Frederic since he cannot swim. However, they find themselves captured by the sea serpent. Believing this is the end, Arianna and Frederic declare their love and kiss until they are rescued by Rapunzel before the creature can devour them. Frederic ultimately saves the day when he realizes the sea serpent was after Trevor's sea crystal which is revealed to actually be the serpent's unhatched egg.

Arianna embraces Frederic, impressed by his bravery in facing the sea serpent. Rapunzel and the group return to shore, but unfortunately, Herz Der Sonne's journal was destroyed, saddening Rapunzel since it contained precious memories for her parents. However, Arianna assures Rapunzel they can make new memories and is happy they are all safe and together. Inspired, Rapunzel creates a new Book of Hearts to symbolize the start of making new memories.

Rapunzel and Eugene are the first to sign their names in the new book, and through their love, Arianna and Frederic's memories finally begin to slowly return. Later, Arianna is among the citizens of Corona who surprise Eugene for his 26th birthday in " Cassandra's Revenge ". She and Frederic are also shown to have become acquainted with Eugene's father, King Edmund. However, the surprise birthday is cut short when Cassandra arrives and demands Rapunzel to give her the Graphtic Scroll.

Arianna and Frederic later witness the creation of Cassandra's fortress. In " Flynnposter ", Arianna and Frederic meet with the Captain of the Guards who reveals his decision to retire, due to his unwillingness to once again battle Cassandra. Understanding and respecting his decision, Arianna and Frederic accept his retirement and show gratitude for his service to the crown. The Captain also announces his decision to appoint Eugene as his replacement which is greatly supported and encouraged by everyone. Arianna begins to advise Rapunzel by revealing a previous fight between her and Willow in their youth, encouraging Rapunzel not to give her and to remind her that only she can get through to Cassandra.

Arianna and Rapunzel return to the Snuggly Duckling and rally the others for a battle to retake Corona.

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