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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Suddenly a pair of eyes met Carrie’s in recognition. They were
looking out from a group of poorly dressed girls. Their clothes
were faded and loose-hanging, their jackets old, their general
make-up shabby.

Carrie recognised the glance and the girl. She was one of those
who worked at the machines in the shoe factory. The latter
looked, not quite sure, and then turned her head and looked.
Carrie felt as if some great tide had rolled between them. The old
dress and the old machine came back. She actually started. Drouet
didn’t notice until Carrie bumped into a pedestrian.

"You must be thinking," he said.

They dined and went to the theatre. That spectacle pleased Carrie
immensely. The colour and grace of it caught her eye. She had
vain imaginings about place

and power, about far-off lands and magnificent people. When it
was over, the clatter of coaches and the throng of fine ladies made
her stare.

"Wait a minute," said Drouet, holding her back in the showy foyer
where ladies and gentlemen were moving in a social crush, skirts
rustling, lace-covered heads nodding, white teeth showing through
parted lips. "Let’s see."

"Sixty-seven," the coach-caller was saying, his voice lifted in a
sort of euphonious cry. "Sixty-seven."

"Isn’t it fine?" said Carrie.

"Great," said Drouet. He was as much affected by this show of
finery and gayety as she. He pressed her arm warmly. Once she
looked up, her even teeth glistening through her smiling lips, her
eyes alight. As they were moving out he whispered down to her,
"You look lovely!" They were right where the coach-caller was
swinging open a coach-door and ushering in two ladies.

"You stick to me and we’ll have a coach," laughed Drouet.

Carrie scarcely heard, her head was so full of the swirl of life.

They stopped in at a restaurant for a little after-theatre lunch. Just
a shade of a thought of the hour entered Carrie’s head, but there
was no household law to govern her now. If any habits ever had
time to fix upon her, they would have operated here. Habits are
peculiar things. They will drive the really non-religious mind out
of bed to say prayers that are only a custom and not a devotion.
The victim of habit, when he has neglected the thing which it was
his custom to do, feels a little

scratching in the brain, a little irritating something which comes
of being out of the rut, and imagines it to be the prick of
conscience, the still, small voice that is urging him ever to
righteousness. If the digression is unusual enough, the drag of
habit will be heavy enough to cause the unreasoning victim to
return and perform the perfunctory thing. "Now, bless me," says
such a mind, "I have done my duty," when, as a matter of fact, it
has merely done its old, unbreakable trick once again.

Carrie had no excellent home principles fixed upon her. If she
had, she would have been more consciously distressed. Now the
lunch went off with considerable warmth. Under the influence of
the varied occurrences, the fine, invisible passion which was
emanating from Drouet, the food, the still unusual luxury, she
relaxed and heard with open ears. She was again the victim of the
city’s hypnotic influence.

"Well," said Drouet at last, "we had better be going."

They had been dawdling over the dishes, and their eyes had
frequently met. Carrie could not help but feel the vibration of
force which followed, which, indeed, was his gaze. He had a way
of touching her hand in explanation, as if to impress a fact upon
her. He touched it now as he spoke of going.

They arose and went out into the street. The downtown section
was now bare, save for a few whistling strollers, a few owl cars, a
few open resorts whose windows were still bright. Out Wabash
Avenue they strolled, Drouet still pouring forth his volume of
small information. He had Carrie’s arm in his, and held it closely
as he explained. Once in a while, after some witticism, he would
look down, and his eyes would meet hers. At last they came to the
steps, and Carrie stood up on the first one, her head now coming
even with his own. He took her hand and held it genially. He
looked steadily at her as she glanced about, warmly musing.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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