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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter II

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George was putting the prescription into the outside pocket of his coat, stupidly, as if he did not know what he was doing. "But, sir," he exclaimed, "I should have been spared!"

"Why?" inquired the other. "Because you are a man of position, because you are rich? Look around you, sir. See these works of art in my room. Do you imagine that such things have been presented to me by chimney-sweeps?"

"But, Doctor," cried George, with a moan, "I have never been a libertine. There was never any one, you understand me, never any one could have been more careful in his pleasures. If I were to tell you that in all my life I have only had two mistresses, what would you answer to that?"

"I would answer, that a single one would have been sufficient to bring you to me."

"No, sir!" cried George. "It could not have been either of those women." He went on to tell the doctor about his first mistress, and then about Lizette. Finally he told about Henriette, how much he adored her. He could really use such a word--he loved her most tenderly. She was so good--and he had thought himself so lucky!

As he went on, he could hardly keep from going to pieces. "I had everything," he exclaimed, "everything a man needed! All who knew me envied me. And then I had to let those fellows drag me off to that miserable supper-party! And now here I am! My future is ruined, my whole existence poisoned! What is to become of me? Everybody will avoid me--I shall be a pariah, a leper!"

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He paused, and then in sudden wild grief exclaimed, "Come, now! Would it not be better that I should take myself out of the way? At least, I should not suffer any more. You see that there could not be any one more unhappy than myself--not any one, I tell you, sir, not any one!" Completely overcome, he began to weep in his handkerchief.

The doctor got up, and went to him. "You must be a man," he said, "and not cry like a child."

"But sir," cried the young man, with tears running down his cheeks, "if I had led a wild life, if I had passed my time in dissipation with chorus girls, then I could understand it. Then I would say that I had deserved it."

The doctor exclaimed with emphasis, "No, no! You would not say it. However, it is of no matter--go on."

"I tell you that I would say it. I am honest, and I would say that I had deserved it. But no, I have worked, I have been a regular grind. And now, when I think of the shame that is in store for me, the disgusting things, the frightful catastrophes to which I am condemned--"

"What is all this you are telling me?" asked the doctor, laughing.

"Oh, I know, I know!" cried the other, and repeated what his friend had told him about the man in a wheel-chair. "And they used to call me handsome Raoul! That was my name--handsome Raoul!"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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