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Damaged Goods Upton Sinclair

Chapter V

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"My dear Doctor," responded Monsieur Loches, "you fall into the French habit of considering the government as the cause of all evils. Show us the way, you learned gentlemen! Since that is a matter about which you are informed, and we are ignorant, begin by telling us what measures you believe to be necessary."

"Ah, ah!" exclaimed the other. "That's fine, indeed! It was about eighteen years ago that a project of that nature, worked out by the Academy of Medicine, and approved by it UNANIMOUSLY, was sent to the proper minister. We have not yet heard his reply."

"You really believe," inquired Monsieur Loches, in some bewilderment, "you believe that there are some measures--"

"Sir," broke in the doctor, "before we get though, you are going to suggest some measures yourself. Let me tell you what happened today. When I received your card I did not know that you were the father-in-law of George Dupont. I say that you were a deputy, and I thought that you wanted to get some information about these matters. There was a woman patient waiting to see me, and I kept her in my waiting-room--saying to myself, "This is just the sort of person that our deputies ought to talk to."

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The doctor paused for a moment, then continued: "Be reassured, I will take care of your nerves. This patient has no trouble that is apparent to the eye. She is simply an illustration of the argument I have been advancing--that our worst enemy is ignorance. Ignorance--you understand me? Since I have got you here, sir, I am going to hold you until I have managed to cure a little of your ignorance! For I tell you, sir, it is a thing which drives me to distraction--we MUST do something about these conditions! Take this case, for example. Here is a woman who is very seriously infected. I told her--well, wait; you shall see for yourself.

The doctor went to the door and summoned into the room a woman whom Monsieur Loches had noticed waiting there. She was verging on old age, small, frail, and ill-nourished in appearance, poorly dressed, and yet with a suggestion of refinement about her. She stood near the door, twisting her hands together nervously, and shrinking from the gaze of the strange gentleman. The doctor began in an angry voice. "Did I not tell you to come and see me once every eight days? Is that not true?"

The woman answered, in a faint voice, "Yes, sir."

"Well," he exclaimed, "and how long has it been since you were here?"

"Three months, sir."

"Three months! And you believe that I can take care of you under such conditions? I give you up! Do you understand? You discourage me, you discourage me." There was a pause. Then, seeing the woman's suffering, he began, in a gentler tone, "Come now, what is the reason that you have not come? Didn't you know that you have a serious disease--most serious?"

"Oh, yes, sir," replied the woman, "I know that very well--since my husband died of it."

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Damaged Goods
Upton Sinclair

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