"Goodwives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I'll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof if we women, being of mature age and church-membersin good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knottogether, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not"
"People say," said another, "that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor,takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation."
"The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch--that is a truth," added a thirdautumnal matron. "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead. Madame Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she--the naughty baggage-- little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like. heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever"