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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter III

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George Dupont had the most important decision of his life to make; but there was never very much doubt what his decision would be. One the one hand was the definite certainty that if he took the doctor's advice, he would wreck his business prospects, and perhaps also lose the woman he loved. On the other hand were vague and uncertain possibilities which it was difficult for him to make real to himself. It was all very well to wait a while to be cured of the dread disease; but to wait three or four years-- that was simply preposterous!

He decided to consult another physician. He would find one this time who would not be so particular, who would be willing to take some trouble to cure him quickly. He began to notice the advertisements which were scattered over the pages of the newspapers he read. There were apparently plenty of doctors in Paris who could cure him, who were willing to guarantee to cure him. After much hesitation, he picked out one whose advertisement sounded the most convincing.

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The office was located in a cheap quarter. It was a dingy place, not encumbered with works of art, but with a few books covered with dust. The doctor himself was stout and greasy, and he rubbed his hands with anticipation at the sight of so prosperous-looking a patient. But he was evidently a man of experience, for he knew exactly what was the matter with George, almost without the formality of an examination. Yes, he could cure him, quickly, he said. There had recently been great discoveries made--new methods which had not reached the bulk of the profession. He laughed at the idea of three or four years. That was the way with those specialists! When one got forty francs for a consultation, naturally, one was glad to drag out the case. There were tricks in the medical trade, as in all others. A doctor had to live; when he had a big name, he had to live expensively.

The new physician wrote out two prescriptions, and patted George on the shoulder as he went away. There was no need for him to worry; he would surely be well in three months. If he would put off his marriage for six months, he would be doing everything within reason. And meantime, there was no need for him to worry himself--things would come out all right. So George went away, feeling as if a mountain had been lifted from his shoulders.

He went to see Henriette that same evening, to get the matter settled. "Henriette," he said, "I have to tell you something very important--something rather painful. I hope you won't let it disturb you too much."

She was gazing at him in alarm. "What is it?"

"Why," he said, blushing in spite of himself, and regretting that he had begun the matter so precipitately, "for some time I've not been feeling quite well. I've been having a slight cough. Have you noticed it?"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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