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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter IV

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The nurse was not to be persuaded; she thought they were getting ready to scold her. "Humph," she said, "that's a fine thing--the doctors! If they couldn't always find something wrong you'd say they didn't know their business."

"But our doctor is a great doctor; and you have seen yourself that our child has some little pimples."

"Ah, ma'am," said the nurse, "that's the heat--it's nothing but the heat of the blood breaking out. You don't need to bother yourself; I tell you it's only the child's blood. It's not my fault; I swear to you that she had not lacked anything, and that I have always kept her proper."

"I am not reproaching you--"

"What is there to reproach me for? Oh, what bad luck! She's tiny--the little one--she's a bit feeble; but Lord save us, she's a city child! And she's getting along all right, I tell you."

"No," persisted Madame Dupont, "I tell you--she has got a cold in her head, and she has an eruption at the back of the throat."

"Well," cried the nurse, angrily, "if she has, it's because the doctor scratched her with that spoon he put into her mouth wrong end first! A cold in the head? Yes, that's true; but if she has caught cold, I can't say when, I don't know anything about it-- nothing, nothing at all. I have always kept her well covered; she's always had as much as three covers on her. The truth is, it was when you came, the time before last; you were all the time insisting upon opening the windows in the house!"

"But once more I tell you," cried Madame Dupont, "we are not putting any blame on you."

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"Yes," cried the woman, more vehemently. "I know what that kind of talk means. It's no use--when you're a poor country woman."

"What are you imagining now?" demanded the other.

"Oh, that's all right. It's no use when you're a poor country woman."

"I repeat to you once more," cried Madame Dupont, with difficulty controlling her impatience, "we have nothing whatever to blame you for."

But the nurse began to weep. "If I had known that anything like this was coming to me--"

"We have nothing to blame you for," declared the other. "We only wish to warn you that you might possibly catch the disease of the child."

The woman pouted. "A cold in the head!" she exclaimed. "Well, if I catch it, it won't be the first time. I know how to blow my nose."

"But you might also get the pimples."

At this the nurse burst into laughter so loud that the bric-a-brac rattled. "Oh, oh, oh! Dear lady, let me tell you, we ain't city folks, we ain't; we don't have such soft skins. What sort of talk is that? Pimples--what difference would that make to poor folks like us? We don't have a white complexion like the ladies of Paris. We are out all day in the fields, in the sun and the rain, instead of rubbing cold cream on our muzzles! No offense, ma'am--but I say if you're looking for an excuse to get rid of me, you must get a better one than that."

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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