When the young woman -the mother of this child- stood fully revealed before the crowd, it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress. In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around her townspeople and her neighbors. p. 479
The youthful woman described in the paragraph is repeatedly portrayed as vulnerable, helpless even. She’s described as “fully revealed before the crowd” as though she may be bared naked before the mob of townspeople. Her grip of her child, which was clarified to be hers, despite her almost childlike portrayal, is a jerk movement in an attempt to cover herself. Yet what she wishes most to conceal is the letter on her dress. However, the apparent correlation of the two ceases her attempt. The moment following is an important transition, the cautious, yet naive young woman clearly realizes that no option available will keep her from the eyes of her spectators. In this moment, she decides as one might say to “fake it till you make it” and put on a brazen grin, letter, baby and all stands with as much composure and poise as she can muster to face her witnesses.