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|Damaged Goods||Upton Sinclair|
|Page 5 of 13||
"What won't they stoop to," exclaimed Madame Dupont--"those filthy journals!"
"Ah," said the other, "and see what a scandal? What a shame it would be to you!"
"The doctor is right, mother," exclaimed the young man.
But Madame Dupont was not yet convinced. "We will prevent the woman from taking any steps; we will give her what she demands from us."
"But then," said the other, "you will give yourselves up to the risk of blackmail. I know a family which has been thus held up for over twelve years."
"If you will permit me, Doctor," said George, timidly, "she could be made to sign a receipt."
"For payment in full?" asked the doctor, scornfully.
"And then," added his mother, "she would be more than delighted to go back to her country with a full purse. She would be able to buy a little house and a bit of ground--in that country one doesn't need so much in order to live."
At this moment there was a tap upon the door, and the nurse entered. She was a country woman, robust, rosy-cheeked, fairly bursting with health. When she spoke one got the impression that her voice was more than she could contain. It did not belong in a drawing-room, but under the open sky of her country home. "Sir," she said, addressing the doctor, "the baby is awake."
"I will go and see her," was the reply; and then to Madame Dupont, "We will take up this conversation later on."
"Certainly," said the mother. "Will you have need of the nurse?"
"No, Madame," the doctor answered.
"Nurse," said the mother, "sit down and rest. Wait a minute, I wish to speak to you." As the doctor went out, she took her son to one side and whispered to him, "I know the way to arrange everything. If we let her know what is the matter, and if she accepts, the doctor will have nothing more to say. Isn't that so?"
"Obviously," replied the son.
"I am going to promise that we will give her two thousand francs when she goes away, if she will consent to continue nursing the child."
"Two thousand francs?" said the other. "Is that enough?"
"I will see," was the reply. "If she hesitates, I will go further. Let me attend to it."
George nodded his assent, and Madame Dupont returned to the nurse. "You know," she said, "that our child is a little sick?"
The other looked at her in surprise. "Why no, ma'am!"
"Yes," said the grandmother.
"But, ma'am, I have taken the best of care of her; I have always kept her proper."
"I am not saying anything to the contrary," said Madame Dupont, "but the child is sick, the doctors have said it."
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