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"Oh, I donít know," she would reply, feeling delight in the fact
that one should think so, hesitating to believe, though she really
did, that she was vain enough to think so much of herself.
Her conscience, however, was not a Drouet, interested to praise.
There she heard a different voice, with which she argued, pleaded,
excused. It was no just and sapient counsellor, in its last analysis.
It was only an average little conscience, a thing which represented
the world, her past environment, habit, convention, in a confused
way. With it, the voice of the people was truly the voice of God.
"Oh, thou failure!" said the voice.
"Why?" she questioned.
"Look at those about," came the whispered answer. "Look at those
who are good. How would they scorn to do what you have done.
Look at the good girls; how will they draw away from such as you
when they know you have been weak. You had not tried before
It was when Carrie was alone, looking out across the park, that
she would be listening to this. It would come infrequently-when
something else did not interfere, when the pleasant side was not
too apparent, when Drouet was not there. It was somewhat clear
in utterance at first, but never wholly convincing. There was
always an answer, always the December days threatened. She was
alone; she was desireful; she was fearful of the whistling wind.
The voice of want made answer for her.
Once the bright days of summer pass by, a city takes on that
sombre garb of grey, wrapt in which it goes about its labours
during the long winter. Its endless buildings look grey, its sky and
its streets assume a sombre hue; the scattered, leafless trees and
wind-blown dust and paper but add to the general solemnity of
colour. There seems to be something in the chill breezes which
scurry through the long, narrow thoroughfares productive of
rueful thoughts. Not poets alone, nor art-
ists, nor that superior order of mind which arrogates to itself all
refinement, feel this, but dogs and all men. These feel as much as
the poet, though they have not the same power of expression. The
sparrow upon the wire, the cat in the doorway, the dray horse
tugging his weary load, feel the long, keen breaths of winter. It
strikes to the heart of all life, animate and inanimate. If it were not
for the artificial fires of merriment, the rush of profit-seeking
trade, and pleasure-selling amusements; if the various merchants
failed to make the customary display within and without their
establishments; if our streets were not strung with signs of
gorgeous hues and thronged with hurrying purchasers, we would
quickly discover how firmly the chill hand of winter lays upon the
heart; how dispiriting are the days during which the sun withholds
a portion of our allowance of light and warmth. We are more
dependent upon these things than is often thought. We are insects
produced by heat, and pass without it.
In the drag of such a grey day the secret voice would reassert
itself, feebly and more feebly.
Such mental conflict was not always uppermost. Carrie was not
by any means a gloomy soul. More, she had not the mind to get
firm hold upon a definite truth. When she could not find her way
out of the labyrinth of ill-logic which thought upon the subject
created, she would turn away entirely.