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|Damaged Goods||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 8 of 9||
Henriette sat knitting her brows, trying to figure.
"Ah!" he exploded. "You see you don't know! She is ninety-one days and eight hours! Ha, ha! Imagine when she will be able to walk all alone. Then we will take her back with us; we must wait at least six months." Then, too late, poor George realized that he had spoken the fatal phrase again.
"If only you hadn't put off our marriage, she would be able to walk now," said Henriette.
He rose suddenly. "Come," he said, "didn't you say you had to dress and pay some calls?"
Henriette laughed, but took the hint.
"Run along, little wife," he said. "I have a lot of work to do in the meantime. You won't be down-stairs before I shall have my nose buried in my papers. Bye-bye."
"Bye-bye," said Henriette. But they paused to exchange a dozen or so kisses before she went away to dress.
Then George lighted a cigarette and stretched himself out in the big armchair. He seemed restless; he seemed to be disturbed about something. Could it be that he had not been so much at ease as he had pretended to be, since the letter had come from the baby's nurse? Madame Dupont had gone by the earliest train that morning. She had promised to telegraph at once--but she had not done so, and now it was late afternoon.
George got up and wandered about. He looked at himself in the glass for a moment; then he went back to the chair and pulled up another to put his geet upon. He puffed away at his cigarette until he was calmer. But then suddenly he heard the rustle of a dress behind him, and glanced about, and started up with an exclamation, "Mother!"
Madame Dupont stood in the doorway. She did not speak. Her veil was thrown back and George noted instantly the look of agitation upon her countenance.
"What's the matter?" he cried. "We didn't get any telegram from you; we were not expecting you till tomorrow."
Still his mother did not speak.
"Henriette was just going out," he exclaimed nervously; "I had better call her."
"No!" said his mother quickly. Her voice was low and trembling. "I did not want Henriette to be here when I arrived."
"But what's the matter?" cried George.
Again there was a silence before the reply came. He read something terrible in the mother's manner, and he found himself trembling violently.
"I have brought back the child and the nurse," said Madame Dupont.
"What! Is the little one sick?"
"What's the matter with her?"
"Nothing dangerous--for the moment, at least."
"We must send and get the doctor!" cried George.
"I have just come from the doctor's," was the reply. "He said it was necessary to take out child from the nurse and bring her up on the bottle."
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