"This rag of scarlet cloth --for time and wear and a sacrilegious moth had reduced it to little other than a rag -- on careful examination, assumed the shape of a letter. It was the capital letter A.
In the absorbing contemplation of the scarlet letter, I had hitherto neglected to examine a small roll of dingy paper, around which it had been twisted. This I now opened, and had the satisfaction to find, recorded by the old surveyor's pen, a reasonably complete explanation of the whole affair. There were several foolscap sheets containing many particulars respecting the life and conversation of one Hester Prynne, who had appeared to be rather a noteworthy personage in the view of our ancestors. She had flourished during the period between the early days of Massachusetts and the close of the seventeenth century."
Introductory to The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne