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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


With the wane of the afternoon went her hopes, her courage, and
her strength. She had been astonishingly persistent. So earnest an
effort was well deserving of a better reward. On every hand, to
her fatigued senses, the great business portion grew larger, harder,
more stolid in its indifference. It seemed as if it was all closed to
her, that the struggle was too fierce for her to hope to do anything
at all. Men and women hurried by in long, shifting lines. She felt
the flow of the tide of effort and interest-felt her own helplessness
without quite realising the wisp on the tide that she was. She cast
about vainly for some possible place to apply, but found no door
which she had the courage to enter. It would be the same thing all
over. The old humiliation of her plea, rewarded by curt denial.
Sick at heart and in body, she turned to the west, the direction of
Minnieís flat, which she had now fixed in mind, and began that
wearisome, baffled retreat which the seeker for employment at
nightfall too often makes. In passing through Fifth Avenue, south
towards Van Buren Street, where she intended to take a car, she
passed the door of a large wholesale shoe house, through the
plate-glass window of which she could see a middle-aged
gentleman sitting a a small desk. One of those forlorn impulses
which often grow out of a fixed sense of defeat, the last sprouting
of a baffled and uprooted growth of ideas, seized upon her. She
walked deliberately through the door and up to the gentleman,
who looked at her weary face with partially awakened interest.

"What is it?" he said.

"Can you give me something to do?" said Carrie.

"Now, I really donít know," he said kindly. "What kind of work is
it you want-youíre not a typewriter, are you?"

"Oh, no," answered Carrie.

"Well, we only employ book-keepers and typewriters here. You
might go around to the side and inquire upstairs. They did want
some help upstairs a few days ago. Ask for Mr. Brown."

She hastened around to the side entrance and was taken up by the
elevator to the fourth floor.

"Call Mr. Brown, Willie," said the elevator man to a boy near by.

Willie went off and presently returned with the information that
Mr. Brown said she should sit down and that he would be around
in a little while.

It was a portion of the stock room which gave no idea of the
general character of the place, and Carrie could form no opinion
of the nature of the work.

"So you want something to do," said Mr. Brown, after he inquired
concerning the nature of her errand. "Have you ever been
employed in a shoe factory before?"

"No, sir," said Carrie.

"What is your name?" he inquired, and being informed, "Well, I
donít know as I have anything for you. Would you work for four
and a half a week?"

Carrie was too worn by defeat not to feel that it was considerable.
She had not expected that he would offer her less than six. She
acquiesced, however, and he took her name and address.

"Well," he said, finally, "you report here at eight oíclock Monday
morning. I think I can find something for you to do."

He left her revived by the possibilities, sure that she had found
something at last. Instantly the blood crept warmly over her body.
Her nervous tension relaxed. She walked out into the busy street
and discovered a new atmosphere. Behold, the throng was moving
with a lightsome step. She noticed that men and women were
smiling. Scraps of conversation and notes of laughter floated to
her. The air was light. People were already pouring out of the
buildings, their labour ended for the day. She noticed that they
were pleased, and thoughts of her sisterís home and the meal that
would be awaiting her quickened her steps. She hurried on, tired
perhaps, but no longer weary of foot. What would not Minnie say!
Ah, the long winter in Chicago-the lights, the crowd, the
amusement! This was a great, pleasing metropolis after all. Her
new firm was a goodly institution. Its windows were of huge plate
glass. She could probably do well there. Thoughts of Drouet
returnedof the things he had told her. She now felt that life was
better, that it was livelier, sprightlier. She boarded a car in the best
of spirits, feeling her blood still flowing pleasantly. She would
live in Chicago, her mind kept saying to itself. She would have a
better time than she had ever had before-she would be happy.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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