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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Thus was Hurstwood installed in the Broadway Central, but not
for long. He was in no shape or mood to do the scrub work that
exists about the foundation of every hotel. Nothing better offering,
he was set to aid the fireman, to work about the basement, to do
anything and everything that might offer. Porters, cooks, fire-

men, clerks-all were over him. Moreover his appearance did not
please these individuals-his temper was too lonely-and they made
it disagreeable for him.

With the stolidity and indifference of despair, however, he
endured it all, sleeping in an attic at the roof of the house, eating
what the cook gave him, accepting a few dollars a week, which he
tried to save. His constitution was in no shape to endure.

One day the following February he was sent on an errand to a
large coal companyís office. It had been snowing and thawing and
the streets were sloppy. He soaked his shoes in his progress and
came back feeling dull and weary. All the next day he felt
unusually depressed and sat about as much as possible, to the
irritation of those who admired energy in others.

In the afternoon some boxes were to be moved to make room for
new culinary supplies. He was ordered to handle a truck.
Encountering a big box, he could not lift it.

"Whatís the matter there?" said the head porter. "Canít you handle

He was straining hard to lift it, but now he quit.

"No," he said, weakly.

The man looked at him and saw that he was deathly pale.

"Not sick, are you?" he asked.

"I think I am," returned Hurstwood.

"Well, youíd better go sit down, then."

This he did, but soon grew rapidly worse. It seemed all he could
do to crawl to his room, where he remained for a day.

"That man Wheelerís sick," reported one of the lackeys to the
night clerk.

"Whatís the matter with him?"

"I donít know. Heís got a high fever."

The hotel physician looked at him.

"Better send him to Bellevue," he recommended. "Heís got

Accordingly, he was carted away.

In three weeks the worst was over, but it was nearly the first of
May before his strength permitted him to be turned out. Then he
was discharged.

No more weakly looking object ever strolled out into the spring
sunshine than the once hale, lusty manager. All his corpulency
had fled. His face was thin and pale, his hands white, his body
flabby. Clothes and all, he weighed but one hundred and thirty-
five pounds. Some old garments had been given him-a cheap
brown coat and misfit pair of trousers. Also some change and
advice. He was told to apply to the charities.

Again he resorted to the Bowery lodging-house, brooding over
where to look. From this it was but a step to beggary.

"What can a man do?" he said. "I canít starve."

His first application was in sunny Second Avenue. A well-dressed
man came leisurely strolling toward him out of Stuyvesant Park.
Hurstwood nerved himself and sidled near.

"Would you mind giving me ten cents?" he said, directly. "Iím in
a position where I must ask someone."

The man scarcely looked at him, but fished in his vest pocket and
took out a dime.

"There you are," he said.

"Much obliged," said Hurstwood, softly, but the other paid no
more attention to him.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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