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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter VI

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The next time he saw the doctor he told him about this girl. He decided to tell him the truth--having already made so many mistakes trying to conceal things. The doctor agreed to treat the woman, making the condition that George promise not to see her again.

The young man was rather shocked at this. "Doctor," he exclaimed, "I assure you you are mistaken. The thing you have in mind would be utterly impossible."

"I know," said the other, "you think so. But I think, young man, that I know more about life than you do. When a man and a woman have once committed such a sin, it is easy for them to slip back. The less time they spend talking about their misfortunes, and being generous and forbearing to each other, the better for them both."

"But, Doctor," cried George. "I love Henriette! I could not possibly love anyone else. It would be horrible to me!"

"Yes," said the doctor. "But you are not living with Henriette. You are wandering round, not knowing what to do with yourself next."

There was no need for anybody to tell George that. "What do you think?" he asked abruptly. "Is there any hope for me?"

"I think there is," said the other, who, in spite of his resolution, had become a sort of ambassador for the unhappy husband. He had to go to the Loches house to attend the child, and so he could not help seeing Henriette, and talking to her about the child's health and her own future. He considered that George had had his lesson, and urged upon the young wife that he would be wiser in future, and safe to trust.

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George had indeed learned much. He got new lessons every time he went to call at the physician's office--he could read them in the faces of the people he saw there. One day when he was alone in the waiting-room, the doctor came out of his inner office, talking to an elderly gentleman, whom George recognized as the father of one of his classmates at college. The father was a little shopkeeper, and the young man remembered how pathetically proud he had been of his son. Could it be, thought George, that this old man was a victim of syphilis?

But it was the son, and not the father, who was the subject of the consultation. The old man was speaking in a deeply moved voice, and he stood so that George could not help hearing what he said. "Perhaps you can't understand," he said, "just what it means to us--the hopes we had of that boy! Such a fine fellow he was, and a good fellow, too, sir! We were so proud of him; we had bled our veins to keep him in college--and now just see!"

"Don't despair, sir," said the doctor, "we'll try to cure him." And he added with that same note of sorrow in his voice which George had heard, "Why did you wait so long before you brought the boy to me?"

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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