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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter I

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It should also, perhaps, be pointed out that we are here telling the truth, and the while truth, about George Dupont; and that it is not customary to tell this about men, either in real life or in novels. There is a great deal of concealment in the world about matters of sex; and in such matters the truth-telling man is apt to suffer in reputation in comparison with the truth-concealing one.

Nor had George really been altogether callous about the thing. It had happened that his best friend had died in his arms; and this had so affected the guilty pair that they had felt their relationship was no longer possible. She had withdrawn to nurse her grief alone, and George had been so deeply affected that he had avoided affairs and entanglements with women until his meeting with Lizette.

All this was now in the far distant past, but it had made a deeper impression upon George than he perhaps realized, and it was now working in his mind and marring his happiness. Here was a girl who loved him with a noble and unselfish and whole-hearted love--and yet he would never be able to trust her as she deserved, but would always have suspicions lurking in the back of his mind. He would be unable to have his friends intimate in his home, because of the memory of what he had once done to a friend. It was a subtle kind of punishment. But so it is that Nature often finds ways of punishing us, without our even being aware of it.

That was all for the future, however. At present, George was happy. He put his black sin behind him, feeling that he had obtained absolution by his confession to Henriette. Day by day, as he realized his good fortune, his round face beamed with more and yet more joy.

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He went for a little trip to Henriette's home in the country. It was a simple village, and they took walks in the country, and stopped to refresh themselves at a farmhouse occupied by one of M. Loches' tenants. Here was a rosy and buxom peasant woman, with a nursing child in her arms. She was destined a couple of years later to be the foster-mother of Henriette's little girl and to play an important part in her life. But the pair had no idea of that at present. They simply saw a proud and happy mother, and Henriette played with the baby, giving vent to childish delight. Then suddenly she looked up and saw that George was watching her, and as she read his thoughts a beautiful blush suffused her cheeks.

As for George, he turned away and went out under the blue sky in a kind of ecstasy. Life seemed very wonderful to him just then; he had found its supreme happiness, which was love. He was really getting quite mad about Henriette, he told himself. He could hardly believe that the day was coming when he would be able to clasp her in his arms.

But in the blue sky of George's happiness there was one little cloud of storm. As often happens with storm-clouds, it was so small that at first he paid no attention to it at all.

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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