"She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain," remarked
one of her female spectators; "but did ever a woman, before this brazen
hussy, contrive such a way of showing it! Why, gossips, what is it but to
laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what
they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?"
"It were well," muttered the most iron visage of the old dames,
"if we stripped Madame Hester's rich gown off her dainty shoulders,
and as for the red letter, which she hath stitched so curiously, I'll bestow
a rag of mine own rheumatic flannel, to make a fitter one!"
"Oh, peace, neighbors, peace!" whispered their youngest companion;
"Do not let her hear you! Not a stitch in that embroidered letter,
but she has felt it in her heart."