Dimmesdale appears in the procession of officials and looks more energetic than ever before. Pearl barely recognizes him as the man who kissed her in the forest. Hester tells Pearl not to mention the forest in the town. When Hester and Dimmesdale see each other no gesture of recognition passes between them. Hester fears that the bond she felt had been restored in the forest was an illusion.
Mistress Hibbins approaches Hester. She says she can always tell a servant of the Black Man, and that both Hester and Dimmesdale are such servants. Hibbins also compares Hester's scarlet letter to Dimmesdale's habit of covering his heart.
The Scarlet Letter flips conventional ideas about religion and the occult. The occult stands for honesty, while Puritanism creates repressed liars.
Pearl asks Mistress Hibbins if she has seen what lies beneath Dimmesdale's hand. Mistress Hibbins invites her to ride to see the Black Man (who she calls Pearl's father) to learn what Dimmesdale conceals.
Pearl is the daughter of the devil in the sense that she is unconstrained by Puritanism, not in the sense that she's evil.
Some Indians standing in the gathered crowd think Hester's scarlet letter is a mark of distinction.
The scarlet letter contains no innate badge of shame.