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|Damaged Goods||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 3 of 10||
"Now, my dear sir," said the doctor, cheerfully, "wipe your eyes one last time, blow your nose, put your handkerchief into your pocket, and hear me dry-eyed."
George obeyed mechanically. "But I give you fair warning," he said, "you are wasting your time."
"I tell you--" began the other.
"I know exactly what you are going to tell me!" cried George.
"Well, in that case, there is nothing more for you to do here-- run along."
"Since I am here," said the patient submissively, "I will hear you."
"Very well, then. I tell you that if you have the will and the perseverance, none of the things you fear will happen to you."
"Of course, it is your duty to tell me that."
"I will tell you that there are one hundred thousand like you in Paris, alert, and seemingly well. Come, take what you were just saying--wheel-chairs. One doesn't see so many of them."
"No, that's true," said George.
"And besides," added the doctor, "a good many people who ride in them are not there for the cause you think. There is no more reason why you should be the victim of a catastrophe than any of the one hundred thousand. The disease is serious, nothing more."
"You admit that it is a serious disease?" argued George.
"One of the most serious?"
"Yes, but you have the good fortune--"
"The GOOD fortune?"
"Relatively, if you please. You have the good fortune to be infected with one of the diseases over which we have the most certain control."
"Yes, yes," exclaimed George, "but the remedies are worse than the disease."
"You deceive yourself," replied the other.
"You are trying to make me believe that I can be cured?"
"You can be."
"And that I am not condemned?"
"I swear it to you."
"You are not deceiving yourself, you are not deceiving me? Why, I was told--"
The doctor laughed, contemptuously. "You were told, you were told! I'll wager that you know the laws of the Chinese concerning party-walls."
"Yes, naturally," said George. "But I don't see what they have to do with it."
"Instead of teaching you such things," was the reply, "it would have been a great deal better to have taught you about the nature and cause of diseases of this sort. Then you would have known how to avoid the contagion. Such knowledge should be spread abroad, for it is the most important knowledge in the world. It should be found in every newspaper."
This remark gave George something of a shock, for his father had owned a little paper in the provinces, and he had a sudden vision of the way subscribers would have fallen off, if he had printed even so much as the name of this vile disease.
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