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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter IV

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"The only thing of which I should repent--" began the other.

"You simply do not know," interrupted the doctor, "what such a nurse is capable of. You cannot imagine what bitterness-- legitimate bitterness, you understand--joined to the rapacity, the cupidity, the mischief-making impulse--might inspire these people to do. For them the BOURGEOIS is always somewhat of an enemy; and when they find themselves in position to avenge their inferiority, they are ferocious."

"But what could the woman do?"

"What could she do? She could bring legal proceedings against you."

"But she is much too stupid to have that idea."

"Others will put it into her mind."

"She is too poor to pay the preliminary expenses."

"And do you propose then to profit by her ignorance and stupidity? Besides, she could obtain judicial assistance."

"Why, surely," exclaimed Madame Dupont, "such a thing was never heard of! Do you mean that?"

"I know a dozen prosecutions of that sort; and always when there has been certainty, the parents have lost their case."

"But surely, Doctor, you must be mistaken! Not in a case like ours--not when it is a question of saving the life of a poor little innocent!"

"Oftentimes exactly such facts have been presented."

Here George broke in. "I can give you the dates of the decisions." He rose from his chair, glad of an opportunity to be useful. "I have the books," he said, and took one from the case and brought it to the doctor.

"All of that is no use--" interposed the mother.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

But the doctor said to George, "You will be able to convince yourself. The parents have been forced once or twice to pay the nurse a regular income, and at other times they have had to pay her an indemnity, of which the figure has varied between three and eight thousand francs."

Madame Dupont was ready with a reply to this. "Never fear, sir! If there should be a suit, we should have a good lawyer. We shall be able to pay and choose the best--and he would demand, without doubt, which of the two, the nurse or the child, has given the disease to the other."

The doctor was staring at her in horror. "Do you not perceive that would be a monstrous thing to do?"

"Oh, I would not have to say it," was the reply. "The lawyer would see to it--is not that his profession? My point is this: by one means or another he would make us win our case."

"And the scandal that would result," replied the other. "Have you thought of that?"

Here George, who had been looking over his law-books, broke in. "Doctor, permit me to give you a little information. In cases of this sort, the names are never printed."

"Yes, but they are spoken at the hearings."

"That's true."

"And are you certain that there will not be any newspaper to print the judgment?"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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