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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter I

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"You will have to try hard," he persisted. "You will find that you have a very jealous husband."

"Will I?" said Henriette, beaming with happiness--for when a woman is very much in love she doesn't in the least object to the man's being jealous.

"Yes, indeed," smiled George. "I'll always be watching you."

"Watching me?" echoed the girl with a surprised look.

And immediately he felt ashamed of himself for his jest. There could be no need to watch Henriette, and it was bad taste even to joke about it at such a time. That was one of the ideas which he had brought with him from his world of evil.

The truth was, however, that George would always be a suspicious husband; nothing could ever change that fact, for there was something in his own conscience which he could not get out, and which would make it impossible for him to be at ease as a married man. It was the memory of something which had happened earlier in his life before he met Lizette. There had been one earlier experience, with the wife of his dearest friend. She had been much younger than her husband, and had betrayed an interest in George, who had yielded to the temptation. For several years the intrigue continued, and George considered it a good solution of a young man's problem. There had been no danger of contamination, for he knew that his friend was a man of pure and rigid morals, a jealous man who watched his wife, and did not permit her to contract those new relations which are always dangerous. As for George, he helped in this worthy work, keeping the woman in terror of some disease. He told her that almost all men were infected, for he hoped by this means to keep her from deceiving him.

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I am aware that this may seem a dreadful story. As I do not want anyone to think too ill of George Dupont, I ought, perhaps, to point out that people feel differently about these matters in France. In judging the unfortunate young man, we must judge him by the customs of his own country, and not by ours. In France, they are accustomed to what is called the MARIAGE DE CONVENANCE. The young girl is not permitted to go about and make her own friends and decide which one of them she prefers for her husband; on the contrary, she is strictly guarded, her training often is of a religious nature, and her marriage is a matter of business, to be considered and decided by her parents and those of the young man. Now, whatever we may think right, it is humanly certain that where marriages are made in that way, the need of men and women for sympathy and for passionate interest will often lead to the forming of irregular relationships after marriage. It is not possible to present statistics as to the number of such irregular relationships in Parisian society; but in the books which he read and in the plays which he saw, George found everything to encourage him to think that it was a romantic and delightful thing to keep up a secret intrigue with the wife of his best friend.

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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