She rejoins Pearl by the seaside. Pearl has arranged seaweed to form a letter "A" on her own chest. She pleads with Hester to tell her what the scarlet letter means, and asks if Hester wears it for the same reason Dimmesdale covers his heart with his hand.
Pearl senses that understanding the letter's significance is crucial to understanding herself and her connection to Dimmesdale.
Hester lies and says she wears the letter because of its beautiful gold thread. Pearl, knowing better, seeks the real reason, and Hester threatens to punish her.
After advocating that Chillingworth be honest, Hester is "false" to her daughter.