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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Chapter XXXVIII
IN ELF LAND DISPORTING: THE GRIM
WORLD WITHOUT


When Carrie renewed her search, as she did the next day, going to
the Casino, she found that in the opera chorus, as in other fields,
employment is difficult to secure. Girls who can stand in a line
and look pretty are as numerous as labourers who can swing a
pick. She found there was no discrimination between one and the
other of applicants, save as regards a conventional standard of
prettiness and form. Their own opinion or knowledge of their
ability went for nothing.

"Where shall I find Mr. Gray?" she asked of a sulky doorman at
the stage en-trance of the Casino.

"You canít see him now; heís busy."

"Do you know when I can see him?"

"Got an appointment with him?"

"No."

"Well, youíll have to call at his office."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Carrie. "Where is his office?"

He gave her the number.

She knew there was no need of calling there now. He would not
be in. Nothing remained but to employ the intermediate hours in
search.

The dismal story of ventures in other places is quickly told. Mr.
Daly saw no one save by appointment. Carrie waited an hour in a
dingy office, quite in spite of obstacles, to learn this fact of the
placid, indifferent Mr. Dorney.

"You will have to write and ask him to see you."

So she went away.

At the Empire Theatre she found a hive of peculiarly listless and
indifferent individuals. Everything ornately upholstered,
everything carefully finished, everything remarkably reserved.

At the Lyceum she entered one of those secluded, under-stairway
closets, berugged and bepanneled, which causes one to feel the
greatness of all positions of authority. Here was reserve itself
done into a box-office clerk, a doorman, and an assistant, glorying
in their fine positions.

"Ah, be very humble now-very humble indeed. Tell us what it is
you require. Tell it quickly, nervously, and without a vestige of
self-respect. If no trouble to us in any way, we may see what we
can do."

This was the atmosphere of the Lyceum-the attitude, for that
matter, of every managerial office in the city. These little
proprietors of businesses are lords indeed on their own ground.

Carrie came away wearily, somewhat more abashed for her pains.

Hurstwood heard the details of the weary and unavailing search
that evening.

"I didnít get to see any one," said Carrie. "I just walked, and
walked, and waited around."

Hurstwood only looked at her.

"I suppose you have to have some friends before you can get in,"
she added, disconsolately.

Hurstwood saw the difficulty of this thing, and yet it did not seem
so terrible. Carrie was tired and dispirited, but now she could rest.
Viewing the world from his rocking-chair, its bitterness did not
seem to approach so rapidly. To-morrow was another day.

To-morrow came, and the next, and the next.

Carrie saw the manager at the Casino once.

"Come around," he said, "the first of next week. I may make some
changes then."

He was a large and corpulent individual, surfeited with good
clothes and good eating, who judged women as another would
horseflesh. Carrie was pretty and graceful. She might be put in
even if she did not have any experience. One of the proprietors
had suggested that the chorus was a little weak on looks.

The first of next week was some days off yet. The first of the
month was drawing near. Carrie began to worry as she had never
worried before.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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