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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


"Now, this handle here regulates your speed. To here," he said,
pointing with his finger, "gives you about four miles an hour. This
is eight. When itís full on, you make about fourteen miles an
hour."

Hurstwood watched him calmly. He had seen motormen work
before. He knew just about how they did it, and was sure he could
do as well, with a very little practice.

The instructor explained a few more details, and then said:

"Now, weíll back her up."

Hurstwood stood placidly by, while the car rolled back into the
yard.

"One thing you want to be careful about, and that is to start easy.
Give one degree time to act before you start another. The one fault
of most men is that they always want to throw her wide open.
Thatís bad. Itís dangerous, too. Wears out the motor. You donít
want to do that."

"I see," said Hurstwood.

He waited and waited, while the man talked on.

"Now you take it," he said, finally.

The ex-manager laid hand to the lever and pushed it gently, as he
thought. It worked much easier than he imagined, however, with
the result that the car jerked quickly forward, throwing him back
against the door. He straightened up sheepishly, while the
instructor stopped the car with the brake.

"You want to be careful about that," was all he said.

Hurstwood found, however, that handling a brake and regulating
speed were not so instantly mastered as he had imagined. Once or
twice he would have ploughed through the rear fence if it had not
been for the hand and word of his companion. The latter was
rather patient with him, but he never smiled.

"Youíve got to get the knack of working both arms at once," he
said. "It takes a little practice."

One oíclock came while he was still on the car practising, and he
began to feel hungry. The day set in snowing, and he was cold. He
grew weary of running to and fro on the short track.

They ran the car to the end and both got off. Hurstwood went into
the barn and sought a car step, pulling out his paper-wrapped
lunch from his pocket. There was no water and the bread was dry,
but he enjoyed it. There was no ceremony about dining. He
swallowed and looked about, contemplating the dull, homely
labour of the thing. It was disagreeable-miserably disagreeable-in
all its phases.

Not because it was bitter, but because it was hard. It would be
hard to any one, he thought.

After eating, he stood about as before, waiting until his turn came.

The intention was to give him an afternoon of practice, but the
greater part of the time was spent in waiting about.

At last evening came, and with it hunger and a debate with
himself as to how he should spend the night. It was half-past five.
He must soon eat. If he tried to go home, it would take him two
hours and a half of cold walking and riding. Besides, he had
orders to report at seven the next morning, and going home would
necessitate his rising at an unholy and disagreeable hour. He had
only something like a dollar and fifteen cents of Carrieís money,
with which he had intended to pay the two weeksí coal bill before
the present idea struck him.

"They must have some place around here," he thought. "Where
does that fellow from Newark stay?"

Finally he decided to ask. There was a young fellow standing near
one of the doors in the cold, waiting a last turn. He was a mere
boy in years-twenty-one about-but with a body lank and long,
because of privation. A little good living would have made this
youth plump and swaggering.

"How do they arrange this, if a man hasnít any money?" inquired
Hurstwood, discreetly.

The fellow turned a keen, watchful face on the inquirer.

"You mean eat?" he replied.

"Yes, and sleep. I canít go back to New York tonight."

"The foremaníll fix that if you ask him, I guess. He did me."
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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