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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Drouet, for one, was lured as much by his longing for pleasure as
by his desire to shine among his betters. The many friends he met
here dropped in because they craved, without, perhaps,
consciously analysing it, the company, the glow, the atmosphere
which they found. One might take it, after all, as an augur of the
better social order, for the things which they satisfied here, though
sensory were not evil. No evil could come out of the
contemplation of an expensively decorated chamber. The worst
effect of such a thing would be, perhaps, to stir up in the material-
minded an ambition to arrange their lives upon a similarly
splendid basis. In the last analysis, that would scarcely be called
the fault of the decorations, but rather of the innate trend of the
mind. That such a scene might stir the less expensively dressed to
emulate the more expensively dressed could scarcely be laid at the
door of anything save the false ambition of the minds of those so
affected. Remove the element so thoroughly and solely
complained of-liquor-and there would not be one to gainsay the
qualities of beauty and enthusiasm which would remain. The
pleased eye with which our modern restaurants of fashion are
looked upon is proof of this assertion.

Yet, here is the fact of the lighted chamber, the dressy, greedy
company, the small, self-interested palaver, the disorganized,
aimless, wandering mental action which it represents-the love of
light and show and finery which, to one outside, under the serene
light of the eternal stars, must seem a strange and shiny thing.
Under the stars and sweeping night winds, what a lamp-flower it
must bloom; a strange, glittering night-flower, odour-yielding,
insect-drawing, insect-infested rose of pleasure.

"See that fellow coming in there?" said Hurstwood, glancing at a
gentleman just entering, arrayed in a high hat and Prince Albert
coat, his fat cheeks puffed and red as with good eating.

"No, where?" said Drouet.

"There," said Hurstwood, indicating the direction by a cast of his
eye, "the man with the silk hat."

"Oh, yes," said Drouet, now affecting not to see. "Who is he?"

"Thatís Jules Wallace, the spiritualist."

Drouet followed him with his eyes, much interested.

"Doesnít look much like a man who sees spirits, does he?" said

"Oh, I donít know," returned Hurstwood. "Heís got the money, all
right," and a little twinkle passed over his eyes.

"I donít go much on those things, do you?" asked Drouet.

"Well, you never can tell," said Hurstwood. "There may be
something to it. I wouldnít bother about it myself, though. By the
way," he added, "are you going anywhere to-night?"

"íThe Hole in the Ground,í" said Drouet, mentioning the popular
farce of the time.

"Well, youíd better be going. Itís half after eight already," and he
drew out his watch.

The crowd was already thinning out considerably-some bound for
the thea-tres, some to their clubs, and some to that most
fascinating of all the pleasuresfor the type of man there
represented, at least-the ladies.

"Yes, I will," said Drouet.

"Come around after the show. I have something I want to show
you," said Hurstwood.

"Sure," said Drouet, elated.

"You havenít anything on hand for the night, have you?" added

"Not a thing."

"Well, come round, then."

"I struck a little peach coming in on the train Friday," remarked
Drouet, by way of parting. "By George, thatís so, I must go and
call on her before I go away."

"Oh, never mind her," Hurstwood remarked.

"Say, she was a little dandy, I tell you," went on Drouet
confidentially, and trying to impress his friend.

"Twelve oíclock," said Hurstwood.

"Thatís right," said Drouet, going out.

Thus was Carrieís name bandied about in the most frivolous and
gay of places, and that also when the little toiler was bemoaning
her narrow lot, which was almost inseparable from the early
stages of this, her unfolding fate.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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