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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter I

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He did not find any happiness in the renunciation which he imposed upon himself; he had no religious ideas about it. On the contrary, he suffered keenly, and was bitter because he had no share in the amusements of his friends. He stuck to his work and forced himself to keep regular hours, preparing for his law examinations. But all the time he was longing for adventures. And, of course, this could not go on forever, for the motive of fear alone is not sufficient to subdue the sexual urge in a full-blooded young man.

The affair with Lizette might have continued much longer had it not been for the fact that his father died. He died quite suddenly, while George was away on a trip. The son came back to console his broken-hearted mother, and in the two week they spent in the country together the mother broached a plan to him. The last wish of the dying man had been that his son should be fixed in life. In the midst of his intense suffering he had been able to think about the matter, and had named the girl whom he wished George to marry. Naturally, George waited with some interest to learn who this might be. He was surprised when his mother told him that it was his cousin, Henriette Loches.

He could not keep his emotion from revealing itself in his face. "It doesn't please you?" asked his mother, with a tone disappointment.

"Why no, mother," he answered. "It's not that. It just surprises me."

"But why?" asked the mother. "Henriette is a lovely girl and a good girl."

"Yes, I know," said George; "but then she is my cousin, and--" He blushed a little with embarrassment. "I had never thought of her in that way."

Madame Dupont laid her hand upon her son's. "Yes, George," she said tenderly. "I know. You are such a good boy."

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Now, of course, George did not feel that he was quite such a good boy; but his mother was a deeply religious woman, who had no idea of the truth about the majority of men. She would never have got over the shock if he had told her about himself, and so he had to pretend to be just what she thought him.

"Tell me," she continued, after a pause, "have you never felt the least bit in love?"

"Why no--I don't think so," George stammered, becoming conscious of a sudden rise of temperature in his cheeks.

"Because," said his mother, "it is really time that you were settled in life. Your father said that we should have seen to it before, and now it is my duty to see to it. It is not good for you to live alone so long."

"But, mother, I have YOU," said George generously.

"Some day the Lord may take me away," was the reply. "I am getting old. And, George, dear--" Here suddenly her voice began to tremble with feeling-- "I would like to see my baby grandchildren before I go. You cannot imagine what it would mean to me."

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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