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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Now, however, they came thick and fast. Gentlemen with fortunes
did not hesitate to note, as an addition to their own amiable
collection of virtues, that they had their horses and carriages. Thus
one: --I have a million in my own right. I could give you every
luxury. There isnít anything you could ask for that you couldnít
have. I say this, not because I want to speak of my money, but
because I love you and wish to gratify your every desire. It is love
that prompts me to write. Will you not give me one half-hour in
which to plead my cause? --Such of these letters as came while
Carrie was still in the Seventeenth Street place were read with
more interest-though never delight-than those which arrived after
she was installed in her luxurious quarters at the Wellington. Even
there her vanity-or that self-appreciation which, in its more rabid
form, is called vanity-was not sufficiently cloyed to make these
things wearisome. Adulation, being new in any form, pleased her.
Only she was sufficiently wise to distinguish between her old
condition and her new one. She had not had fame or money
before. Now they had come. She had not had adulation and
affectionate propositions before. Now they had come. Wherefore?
She smiled to think that men should suddenly find her so much
more attractive. In the least way it incited her to coolness and
indifference.

"Do look here," she remarked to Lola. "See what this man says:
ĎIf you will only deign to grant me one half-hour,í" she repeated,
with an imitation of languor. "The idea. Arenít men silly?"

"He must have lots of money, the way he talks," observed Lola.

"Thatís what they all say," said Carrie, innocently.

"Why donít you see him," suggested Lola, "and hear what he has
to say?"

"Indeed I wonít," said Carrie. "I know what heíd say. I donít want
to meet anybody that way."

Lola looked at her with big, merry eyes.

"He couldnít hurt you," she returned. "You might have some fun
with him."

Carrie shook her head.

"Youíre awfully queer," returned the little, blue-eyed soldier.

Thus crowded fortune. For this whole week, though her large
salary had not yet arrived, it was as if the world understood and
trusted her. Without money-or the requisite sum, at least-she
enjoyed the luxuries which money could buy. For her the doors of
fine places seemed to open quite without the asking. These
palatial chambers, how marvellously they came to her. The
elegant apartments of Mrs. Vance in the Chelsea-these were hers.
Men sent flowers, love notes, offers of fortune. And still her
dreams ran riot. The one hundred and fifty! the one hundred and
fifty! What a door to an Aladdinís cave it seemed to be. Each day,
her head almost turned by developments, her fancies of what her
fortune must be, with ample money, grew and multiplied. She
conceived of delights which were not-saw lights of joy that never
were on land or sea. Then, at last, after a world of anticipation,
came her first installment of one hundred and fifty dollars.

It was paid to her in greenbacks-three twenties, six tens, and six
fives. Thus collected it made a very convenient roll. It was
accompanied by a smile and a salutation from the cashier who
paid it.

"Ah, yes," said the latter, when she applied; "Miss Madenda-one
hundred and fifty dollars. Quite a success the show seems to have
made."

"Yes, indeed," returned Carrie.

Right after came one of the insignificant members of the
company, and she heard the changed tone of address.

"How much?" said the same cashier, sharply. One, such as she
had only recently been, was waiting for her modest salary. It took
her back to the few weeks in which she had collected-or rather
had received-almost with the air of a domestic, four-fifty per week
from a lordly foreman in a shoe factory-a man who, in distributing
the envelopes, had the manner of a prince doling out favours to a
servile group of petitioners. She knew that out in Chicago this
very day the same factory chamber was full of poor homely-clad
girls working in long lines at clattering machines; that at noon
they would eat a miserable lunch in a half-hour; that Saturday
they would gather, as they had when she was one of them, and
accept the small pay for work a hundred times harder than she
was now doing. Oh, it was so easy now! The world was so rosy
and bright. She felt so thrilled that she must needs walk back to
the hotel to think, wondering what she should do.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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