The sexton was pulling the bell at the Milford meeting-house. People were busy heading to the church, with children frolicking in their Sunday clothes while adults exchanged glances. Once the majority of the villagers were in the church, the sight of Reverend Mr. Hooper caused a stir.
The minister had a black veil over his face, causing everyone to express surprise and wonder as to the cleric's strange appearance.
But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face?
Despite the mystery surrounding the veil, Mr. Hooper was allowed to continue his duties as a clergyman, delivering sermons and assisting in rituals. However, the obscurity cast by the veil had profound effects on Mr. Hooper and his congregation. The veil seemed to put a dark cloud over everything he did. It made him more efficient in his duties, and he became a figure of great power, particularly amongst those who were struggling with guilt or sin.
One day, Mr. Hooper was expected to attend a wedding. The guests at the wedding were hopeful that he would remove the veil for the happy occasion. However, when Mr. Hooper arrived, he was still wearing the veil. The sight of the black veil filled the room with a sense of dread and fear, causing a significant disturbance.
Elizabeth, Mr. Hooper's fiancée, tried to convince him to remove the veil.
However, he insisted that he had to continue wearing it both in solitude and in public. Heartbroken, Elizabeth decided to leave Mr. Hooper. The town's residents had started to believe that the veil was a sign of Reverend Hooper trying to hide a serious sin.
Over the years, Reverend Hooper became a respected figure, earning the nickname "Father Hooper". However, even when he was on his deathbed, he refused to remove the veil. His last words were directed at his fearful onlookers, stating that on each face he saw a black veil.
I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a black veil!
He reminded everyone that all humans harbor secret sins. With that, he drew his last breath and passed away with the veil still covering his face. His grave was eventually covered by grass and moss, and his face returned to dust beneath the black veil.