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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter III

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"I believe you," said the father. "The child can certainly boast of having a grandmother who loves her."

"Also, I adore your mother," declared Henriette. "She makes me forget my misfortune in not having my own mother. She is so good!"

"We are all like that in our family," put in George.

"Really," laughed the wife. "Well, anyhow--the last time that we went down in the country with her--you had gone out, I don't know where you had gone--"

"To see the sixteenth-century chest," suggested the other.

"Oh, yes," laughed Henriette; "your famous chest!" (You must excuse this little family chatter of theirs--they were so much in love with each other!)

"Don't let's talk about that," objected George. "You were saying--?"

"You were not there. The nurse was out at mass, I think--"

"Or at the wine merchant's! Go on, go on."

"Well, I was in the little room, and mother dear thought she was all alone with Gervaise. I was listening; she was talking to the baby--all sorts of nonsense, pretty little words--stupid, if you like, but tender. I wanted to laugh, and at the same time I wanted to weep."

"Perhaps she called her 'my dear little Savior'?"

"Exactly! Did you hear her?"

"No--but that is what she used to call me when I was little."

"It was that day she swore that the little one had recognized her, and laughed!"

"Oh, yes!"

"And then another time, when I went into her room--mother's room--she didn't hear me because the door was open, but I saw her. She was in ecstasy before the little boots which the baby wore at baptism--you know?"

"Yes, yes."

"Listen, then. She had taken them and she was embracing them!"

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"And what did you say then?"

"Nothing; I stole out very softly, and I sent across the threshold a great kiss to the dear grandmother!"

Henriette sat for a moment in thought. "It didn't take her very long," she remarked, "today when she got the letter from the nurse. I imagine she caught the eight-fifty-nine train!"

"Any yet," laughed George, "it was really nothing at all."

"Oh no," said his wife. "Yet after all, perhaps she was right-- and perhaps I ought to have gone with her."

"How charming you are, my poor Henriette! You believe everything you are told. I, for my part, divined right away the truth. The nurse was simply playing a game on us; she wanted a raise. Will you bet? Come, I'll bet you something. What would you like to bet? You don't want to? Come, I'll bet you a lovely necklace-- you know, with a big pearl."

"No," said Henriette, who had suddenly lost her mood of gayety. "I should be too much afraid of winning."

"Stop!" laughed her husband. "Don't you believe I love her as much as you love her--my little duck? Do you know how old she is? I mean her EXACT age?"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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