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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter III

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After a while, the bride communicated to her husband the tidings that she was expecting a child. Then it seemed to George that the cup of his earthly bliss was full. His ailment had slipped far into the background of his thoughts, like an evil dream which he had forgotten. He put away the medicines in the bottom of his trunk and dismissed the whole matter from his mind. Henriette was well--a very picture of health, as every one agreed. The doctor had never seen a more promising young mother, he declared, and Madame Dupont, the elder, bloomed with fresh life and joy as she attended her daughter-in-law.

Henriette went for the summer to her father's place in the provinces, which she and George had visited before their marriage. They drove out one day to the farm where they had stopped. The farmer's wife had a week-old baby, the sight of which made Henriette's heart leap with delight. He was such a very healthy baby that George conceived the idea that this would be the woman to nurse his own child, in case Henriette herself should not be able to do it.

They came back to the city, and there the baby was born. As George paced the floor, waiting for the news, the memory of his evil dreams came back to him. He remembered all the dreadful monstrosities of which he had read--infants that were born of syphilitic parents. His heart stood still when the nurse came into the room to tell him the tidings.

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But it was all right; of course it was all right! He had been a fool, he told himself, as he stood in the darkened room and gazed at the wonderful little mite of life which was the fruit of his love. It was a perfect child, the doctor said--a little small, to be sure, but that was a defect which would soon be remedied. George kneeled by the bedside and kissed the hand of his wife, and went out of the room feeling as if he had escaped from a tomb.

All went well, and after a couple of weeks Henriette was about the house again, laughing all day and singing with joy. But the baby did not gain quite as rapidly as the doctor had hoped, and it was decided that the country air would be better for her. So George and his mother paid a visit to the farm in the country, and arranged that the country woman should put her own child to nurse elsewhere and should become the foster-mother of little Gervaise.

George paid a good price for the service, far more than would have been necessary, for the simple country woman was delighted with the idea of taking care of the grandchild of the deputy of her district. George came home and told his wife about this and had a merry time as he pictured the woman boasting about it to the travelers who stopped at her door. "Yes, ma'am, a great piece of luck I've got, ma'am. I've got the daughter of the daughter of our deputy--at your service ma'am. My! But she is as fat as out little calf--and so clever! She understands everything. A great piece of luck for me, ma'am. She's the daughter of the daughter of our deputy!" Henriette was vastly entertained, discovering in her husband a new talent, that of an actor.

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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