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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Chapter XXXVI
A GRIM RETROGRESSION: THE PHANTOM OF
CHANCE


The Vances, who had been back in the city ever since Christmas,
had not forgotten Carrie; but they, or rather Mrs. Vance, had
never called on her, for the very simple reason that Carrie had
never sent her address. True to her nature, she corresponded with
Mrs. Vance as long as she still lived in Seventy-eighth Street, but
when she was compelled to move into Thirteenth, her fear that the
latter would take it as an indication of reduced circumstances
caused her to study some way of avoiding the necessity of giving
her address. Not finding any convenient method, she sorrowfully
resigned the privilege of writing to her friend entirely. The latter
wondered at this strange silence, thought Carrie must have left the
city, and in the end gave her up as lost. So she was thoroughly
surprised to encounter her in Fourteenth Street, where she had
gone shopping. Carrie was there for the same purpose.

"Why, Mrs. Wheeler," said Mrs. Vance, looking Carrie over in a
glance, "where have you been? Why havenít you been to see me?
Iíve been wondering all this time what had become of you.
Really, I-"

"Iím so glad to see you," said Carrie, pleased and yet nonplussed.
Of all times, this was the worst to encounter Mrs. Vance. "Why,
Iím living down town here. Iíve been intending to come and see
you. Where are you living now?"

"In Fifty-eighth Street," said Mrs. Vance, "just off Seventh
Avenue-218. Why donít you come and see me?"

"I will," said Carrie. "Really, Iíve been wanting to come. I know I
ought to. Itís a shame. But you know-"

"Whatís your number?" said Mrs. Vance.

"Thirteenth Street," said Carrie, reluctantly. "112 West."

"Oh," said Mrs. Vance, "thatís right near here, isnít it?"

"Yes," said Carrie. "You must come down and see me some
time."

"Well, youíre a fine one," said Mrs. Vance, laughing, the while
noting that Carrieís appearance had modified somewhat. "The
address, too," she added to herself. "They must be hard up."

Still she liked Carrie well enough to take her in tow.

"Come with me in here a minute," she exclaimed, turning into a
store.

When Carrie returned home, there was Hurstwood, reading as
usual. He seemed to take his condition with the utmost
nonchalance. His beard was at least four days old.

"Oh," thought Carrie, "if she were to come here and see him?"

She shook her head in absolute misery. It looked as if her situation
was becoming unbearable.

Driven to desperation, she asked at dinner:

"Did you ever hear any more from that wholesale house?"

"No," he said. "They donít want an inexperienced man."

Carrie dropped the subject, feeling unable to say more.

"I met Mrs. Vance this afternoon," she said, after a time.

"Did, eh?" he answered.

"Theyíre back in New York now," Carrie went on. "She did look
so nice."

"Well, she can afford it as long as he puts up for it," returned
Hurstwood. "Heís got a soft job."

Hurstwood was looking into the paper. He could not see the look
of infinite weariness and discontent Carrie gave him.

"She said she thought sheíd call here some day."

"Sheís been long getting round to it, hasnít she?" said Hurstwood,
with a kind of sarcasm.

The woman didnít appeal to him from her spending side.

"Oh, I donít know," said Carrie, angered by the manís attitude.
"Perhaps I didnít want her to come."

"Sheís too gay," said Hurstwood, significantly. "No one can keep
up with her pace unless theyíve got a lot of money."

"Mr. Vance doesnít seem to find it very hard."
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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