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corset-maker, and I won't have her interfered with. My dear Clara,
have you lost your senses that you can for a moment dream of
putting a growing girl into an instrument of torture like this?" and
with a sudden gesture he plucked forth the offending corsets from
under the sofa cushion, and held them out with the expression one
would wear on beholding the thumbscrews or the rack of ancient
"Don't be absurd, Alec. There is no torture about it, for tight lacing
is out of fashion, and we have nice, sensible things nowadays.
Everyone wears them; even babies have stiffened waists to support
their weak little backs," began Mrs. Clara, rushing to the defence
of the pet delusion of most women.
"I know it, and so the poor little souls have weak backs all their
days, as their mothers had before them. It is vain to argue the
matter, and I won't try, but I wish to state, once for all, that if I ever
see a pair of corsets near Rose, I'll put them in the fire, and you
may send the bill to me."
As he spoke the corsets were on their way to destruction, but Mrs.
Jessie caught his arm, exclaiming merrily, "Don't burn them, for
mercy sake, Alec; they are full of whalebones, and will make a
dreadful odour. Give them to me. I'll see that they do no harm."
"Whalebones, indeed! A regular fence of them, and metal
gate-posts in front. As if our own bones were not enough, if we'd
give them a chance to do their duty," growled the Doctor, yielding
up the bone of contention with a last shake of contempt. Then his
face cleared suddenly, and he held up his finger, saying, with a
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