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406             UNCLE TOM'S CABIN; OR
Miss Ophelia well knew that it was the universal custom to send women and young girls to whipping-houses, to the hands of the lowest of men, — men vile enough to make this their profession, — there to be subjected to brutal ex­posure and shameful correction. She had known it be­fore ; but hitherto she had never realized it, till she saw the slender form of Rosa almost convulsed with distress. All the honest blood of womanhood, the strong New Eng­land blood of liberty, flushed to her cheeks, and throbbed bitterly in her indignant heart; but, with habitual pru­dence and self-control, she mastered herself, and, crushing the paper firmly in her hand, she merely said to Rosa, —
" Sit down, child, while I go to your mistress."
" Shameful! monstrous ! outrageous ! she said to her­self, as she was crossing the parlor.
She found Marie sitting up in her easy-chair, with Mammy standing by her, combing her hair; Jane sat on the ground before her, busy in chafing her feet.
" How do you find yourself, to-day ? " said Miss Ophelia.
A deep sigh, and a closing of the eyes, was the only reply, for a moment; and then Marie answered : " Oh, I don't know, cousin ; I suppose I 'm as well as I ever shall be ! " and Marie wiped her eyes with a cambric handker­chief, bordered with an inch deep of black.
" I came," said Miss Ophelia, with a short, dry cough, such as commonly introduces a difficult subject, — "I came to speak with you about poor Rosa."
Marie's eyes were open wide enough now, and a flush rose to her sallow cheeks, as she answered, sharply, —
" Well, what about her ? "
" She is very sorry for her fault."
" She is, is she ? She '11 be sorrier, before I 've done with her! I 've endured that child's impudence long enough ; and now I '11 bring her down, — I '11 make her lie in the dust! "
" But could nt)t you punish her some other way, — some way that would be less shameful ? "