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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter III

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As for George's mother, she was hardly to be persuaded from staying in the country with the child. She went twice a week, to make sure that all went well. Henriette and she lived with the child's picture before them; they spent their time sewing on caps and underwear--all covered with laces and frills and pink and blue ribbons. Every day, when George came home from his work, he found some new article completed, and was ravished by the scent of some new kind of sachet powder. What a lucky man he was!

You would think he must have been the happiest man in the whole city of Paris. But George, alas, had to pay the penalty for his early sins. There was, for instance, the deception he had practiced upon his friend, away back in the early days. Now he had friends of his own, and he could not keep these friends from visiting him; and so he was unquiet with the fear that some one of them might play upon him the same vile trick. Even in the midst of his radiant happiness, when he knew that Henriette was hanging upon his every word, trembling with delight when she heard his latchkey in the door--still he could not drive away the horrible thought that perhaps all this might be deception.

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There was his friend, Gustave, for example. He had been a friend of Henriette's before her marriage; he had even been in love with her at one time. And now he came sometimes to the house--once or twice when George was away! What did that mean? George wondered. He brooded over it all day, but dared not drop any hint to Henriette. But he took to setting little traps to catch her; for instance, he would call her up on the telephone, disguising his voice. "Hello! Hello! Is that you, Madame Dupont?" And when she answered, "It is I, sir," all unsuspecting, he would inquire, "Is George there?"

"No, sir," she replied. "Who is this speaking?"

He answered, "It is I, Gustave. How are you this morning?" He wanted to see what she would answer. Would she perhaps say, "Very well, Gustave. How are you?"--in a tone which would betray too great intimacy!

But Henriette was a sharp young person. The tone did not sound like Gustave's. She asked in bewilderment, "What?" and then again, "What?"

So, at last, George, afraid that his trick might be suspected, had to burst out laughing, and turn it into a joke. But when he came home and teased his wife about it, the laugh was not all on his side. Henriette had guessed the real meaning of his joke! She did not really mind--she took his jealousy as a sign of love, and was pleased with it. It is not until a third party come upon the scene that jealousy begins to be annoying.

So she had a merry time teasing George. "You are a great fellow! You have no idea how well I understand you--and after only a year of marriage!"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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