the elder traveller had listened with due
gravity; but now burst into a fit of irrepressible
mirth, shaking himself so violently that
his snakelike staff actually seemed to wriggle
"Ha! ha! ha!" shouted he again
and again; then composing himself, "Well,
go on, Goodman Brown, go on; but, prithee,
don't kill me with laughing."
"Well, then, to end the matter at
once," said Goodman Brown, considerably
nettled, "there is my wife, Faith.
It would break her dear little heart; and
I'd rather break my own."
"Nay, if that be the case," answered
the other, "e'en go thy ways, Goodman
Brown. I would not for twenty old women
like the one hobbling before us that Faith
should come to any harm."
As he spoke he pointed his staff at a
female figure on the path, in whom Goodman
Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary
dame, who had taught him his catechism
in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual
adviser, jointly with the minister and
Deacon Gookin. "A marvel, truly, that
Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness
at nightfall," said he. "But
with your leave, friend, I shall take a
cut through the woods until we have left
this Christian woman behind. Being a stranger
to you, she might ask whom I was consorting
with and whither I was going."