Chapter 16 Summary and Analysis
Hester decides to speak to Dimmesdale. However, because of her social standing, she can't approach him directly about their secret. It takes days for her to arrange a meeting. Finally, she learns that he's going to be returning from a trip that afternoon and she'll be able cross paths with him in the woods. On the way there, Pearl makes the callous observation that the sun "does not love" Hester and won't shine on her. Pearl dances around, enjoying the sun.
Pearl asks Hester to tell her a story about the "Black Man," or the Devil. She has heard a story about witches like old Mistress Hibbins meeting with the Black Man in the woods and performing various satanic rituals. There are rumors that Hester participates in these rituals, but she denies them. Hester and Pearl walk hand in hand toward a babbling brook. Hester asks the girl to play while she talks to Dimmesdale, who is coming up the road, looking miserable.