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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter II

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"But with such a disease! People are so stupid. I myself, yesterday--I should have laughed at anyone who had got into such a plight; I should have avoided him, I should have despised him!" And suddenly George broke down again. "Oh!" he cried, "if I were the only one to suffer; but she--she is in love with me. I swear it to you! She is so good; and she will be so unhappy!"

The doctor answered, "She would be unhappier later on."

"It will be a scandal!" George exclaimed.

"You will avoid one far greater," the other replied.

Suddenly George set his lips with resolution. He rose from his seat. He took several twenty-franc pieces from his pocket and laid them quietly upon the doctor's desk--paying the fee in cash, so that he would not have to give his name and address. He took up his gloves, his cane and his hat, and rose.

"I will think it over," he said. "I thank you, Doctor. I will come back next week as you have told me. That is--probably I will."

He was about to leave.

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The doctor rose, and he spoke in a voice of furious anger. "No," he said, "I shan't see you next week, and you won't even think it over. You came here knowing what you had; you came to ask advice of me, with the intention of paying no heed to it, unless it conformed to your wishes. A superficial honesty has driven you to take that chance in order to satisfy your conscience. You wanted to have somebody upon whom you could put off, bye and bye, the consequences of an act whose culpability you understand! No, don't protest! Many of those who come here think and act as you think, and as you wish to act; but the marriage made against my will has generally been the source of such calamities that now I am always afraid of not having been persuasive enough, and it even seems to me that I am a little to blame for these misfortunes. I should have been able to prevent them; they would not have happened if those who are the authors of them knew what I know and had seen what I have seen. Swear to me, sir, that you are going to break off that marriage!"

George was greatly embarrassed, and unwilling to reply. "I cannot swear to you at all, Doctor; I can only tell you again that I will think it over."

"That WHAT over?"

"What you have told me."

"What I have told you is true! You cannot bring any new objections; and I have answered those which you have presented to me; therefore, your mind ought to be made up."

Groping for a reply, George hesitated. He could not deny that he had made inquiry about these matters before he had come to the doctor. But he said that he was not al all certain that he had this disease. The doctor declared it, and perhaps it was true, but the most learned physicians were sometimes deceived.

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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