's name was Aylmer. He had so totally given himself to scientific
studies that he could not be weakened by a second love. His love for his young wife could only be the stronger of the two if it could link
itself with his love of science. Such a union
did take place with truly results. But one day, very soon after their marriage
, Aylmer looked at his wife with a troubled expression
"Georgiana," he said, "have you ever considered
that the mark upon your cheek might
"No," she said smiling. But seeing the seriousness
of his question, she said, "The mark has so often been called a charm
that I was simple
enough to imagine
"On another face it might
," answered her husband
, "but not on yours. No dear, Nature made you so perfectly that this small defect
shocks me as being a sign of earthly imperfection
"Shocks you!" cried Georgiana, deeply hurt. Her face reddened and she burst
into tears. "Then why did you marry me? You cannot love what shocks you!"
We must explain
that in the center
of Georgiana's left cheek there was a mark, deep in her skin. The mark was usually a deep red color. When Georgiana blushed, the mark became less visible
. But when she turned pale
, there was the mark, like a red stain upon the snow.
The birthmark would come and go with the emotions in her heart
. The mark was shaped like a very small human
hand. Georgiana's past lovers used to say that the hand of a magical fairy had touched her face when she was born. Many a gentleman would have risked his life for the honor
of kissing that mysterious
hand. But other people had different
opinions. Some women said the red hand quite destroyed the effect
of Georgiana's beauty. Male observers who did not praise
the mark simply wished it away so that they did not see it. After his marriage
, Aylmer discovered that this was the case with himself.
Had Georgiana been less beautiful, he might
have felt his love increased by the prettiness of that little hand. But because she was otherwise so perfect
, he found the mark had become unbearable
Aylmer saw the mark as a sign of his wife's eventual
sadness, sickness, and death. Soon, the birthmark caused him more pain than Georgiana's beauty had ever given him pleasure.
During a period
that should have been their happiest, Aylmer could only think of this disastrous subject
. With the morning light, Aylmer opened his eyes upon his wife's face and recognized the sign of imperfection
. When they sat together in the evening near the fire, he would look at the mark.
Georgiana soon began to fear his look. His expression
would make her face go pale
. And the birthmark would stand out like a red jewel on white stone.
"Do you remember
, dear Aylmer, about the dream
you had last night about this hateful mark?" she asked with a weak smile.
"None! None whatever!" answered Aylmer, surprised.
is in a sad state
when sleep cannot control
its ghosts and allows them to break free with their secrets. Aylmer now remembered his dream
. He had imagined himself with his assistant
Aminadab trying to remove
the birthmark with an operation
. But the deeper his knife went, the deeper the small hand sank until it had caught hold of Georgiana's heart
"Aylmer," said Georgiana, "I do not know what the cost would be to both of us to remove
this birthmark. Removing it could deform
my face or damage
." "Dearest Georgiana, I have spent much thought
on the subject
," said Aylmer. "I am sure it can be removed." "Then let the attempt
be made at any risk
," said Georgiana. "Life is not worth living while this hateful mark makes me the object
of your horror
. You have deep science and have made great discoveries. Remove this little mark for the sake of your peace and my own." "Dearest wife," cried Aylmer. "Do not doubt
. I am ready to make this cheek as perfect
as its pair
gently kissed her right
cheek, the one without the red hand.
The next day the couple
went to Aylmer's laboratory
where he had made all his famous
discoveries. Georgiana would live in a beautiful room he had prepared nearby, while he worked tirelessly in his lab. One by one, Aylmer tried a series
experiments on his wife. But the mark remained.
Georgiana waited in her room. She read through
his notebooks of scientific
observations. She could not help see that many of his experiments had ended in failure
. She decided to see for herself the scientist
The first thing that struck Georgiana when entering the laboratory
was the hot furnace
. From the amount of soot
above it, it seemed to have been burning for ages. She saw machines, tubes, cylinders, and other containers for chemical
experiments. What most drew her attention
was Aylmer himself. He was nervous
as death as he worked on preparing a liquid
. Georgiana realized that her husband
had been hiding his tension
and fear. "Think not so little of me that you cannot be honest
about the risks we are taking," she said. "I will drink whatever you make for me, even if it is a poison
." "My dear, nothing shall be hidden," Aylmer said. "I have already given you chemicals powerful
enough to change your entire physical system
. Only one thing remains to be tried and if that fails, we are ruined
He led her back to her room where she waited once more, alone with her thoughts. She hoped that for just one moment
she could satisfy
's highest ideals. But she realized then that his mind
be on the march
, always requiring something newer, better, and more perfect
Hours later, Aylmer returned carrying a crystal
glass with a colorless liquid
. "The chemical process
went perfectly," he said. "Unless all my science has tricked me, it cannot fail."
, he placed a drop
in the soil
of a dying flower growing in a pot in the room. In a few moments, the plant became healthy
and green once more. "I do not need proof
," Georgiana said quietly. "Give me the glass. I am happy to put my life in your hands." She drank the liquid
Aylmer sat next to his wife, observing her and taking notes. He noted everything -- her breathing, the movement
of an eyelid. He stared at the birthmark. And slowly, with every breath that came and went, it lost
some of its brightness.
"By Heaven! It is nearly gone," said Aylmer. "Success! Success!"
He opened the window coverings to see her face in daylight. She was so pale
. Georgiana opened her eyes and looked into the mirror her husband
held. She tried to smile as she saw the barely visible
"My poor Aylmer," she said gently. "You have aimed so high. With so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the Earth could offer. I am dying, dearest."
It was true. The hand on her face had been her link
to life. As the last trace
of color disappeared from her cheek, she gave her last breath.
"The Birthmark" was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was adapted and produced by Dana Demange.