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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter III

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It was very painful and very trying. But there was nothing that could be done about it; the marriage had been put off for six months, and in the meantime he and Henriette had to control their impatience and make the best of their situation. Six months was a long time; but what if it had been three or four years, as the other doctor had demanded? That would have been a veritable sentence of death.

George, as we have seen, was conscientious, and regular and careful in his habits. He took the medicine which the new doctor prescribed for him; and day by day he watched, and to his great relief saw the troublesome symptoms gradually disappearing. He began to take heart, and to look forward to life with his former buoyancy. He had had a bad scare, but now everything was going to be all right.

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Three or four months passed, and the doctor told him he was cured. He really was cured, so far as he could see. He was sorry, now, that he had asked for so long a delay from Henriette; but the new date for the wedding had been announced, and it would be awkward to change it again. George told himself that he was being "extra careful," and he was repaid for the inconvenience by the feeling of virtue derived from the delay. He was relieved that he did not have to cough any more, or to invent any more tales of his interviews with the imaginary lung-specialist. Sometimes he had guilty feelings because of all the lying he had had to do; but he told himself that it was for Henriette's sake. She loved him as much as he loved her. She would have suffered needless agonies had she known the truth; she would never have got over it--so it would have been a crime to tell her.

He really loved her devotedly, thoroughly. From the beginning he had thought as much of her mental sufferings as he had of any physical harm that the dread disease might do to him. How could he possibly persuade himself to give her up, when he knew that the separation would break her heart and ruin her whole life? No; obviously, in such a dilemma, it was his duty to use his own best judgment, and get himself cured as quickly as possible. After that he would be true to her, he would take no more chances of a loathsome disease.

The secret he was hiding made him feel humble--made him unusually gentle in his attitude towards the girl. He was a perfect lover, and she was ravished with happiness. She thought that all his sufferings were because of his love for her, and the delay which he had imposed out of his excess of conscientiousness. So she loved him more and more, and never was there a happier bride than Henriette Loches, when at last the great day arrived.

They went to the Riveria for their honeymoon, and then returned to live in the home which had belonged to George's father. The investment in the notary's practice had proven a good one, and so life held out every promise for the young couple. They were divinely happy.

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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