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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

In her own apartments Carrie saw things which were lessons in
the same school.

In the same house with her lived an official of one of the theatres,
Mr. Frank A. Hale, manager of the Standard, and his wife, a
pleasing-looking brunette of thirty-five. They were people of a
sort very common in America today, who live respectably from
hand to mouth. Hale received a salary of forty-five dollars a

week. His wife, quite attractive, affected the feeling of youth, and
objected to that sort of home life which means the care of a house
and the raising of a family. Like Drouet and Carrie, they also
occupied three rooms on the floor above.

Not long after she arrived Mrs. Hale established social relations
with her, and together they went about. For a long time this was
her only companionship, and the gossip of the managerís wife
formed the medium through which she saw the world. Such
trivialities, such praises of wealth, such conventional expression
of morals as sifted through this passive creatureís mind, fell upon
Carrie and for the while confused her.

On the other hand, her own feelings were a corrective influence.
The constant drag to something better was not to be denied. By
those things which address the heart was she steadily recalled. In
the apartments across the hall were a young girl and her mother.
They were from Evansville, Indiana, the wife and daughter of a
railroad treasurer. The daughter was here to study music, the
mother to keep her company.

Carrie did not make their acquaintance, but she saw the daughter
coming in and going out. A few times she had seen her at the
piano in the parlour, and not infrequently had heard her play. This
young woman was particularly dressy for her station, and wore a
jewelled ring or two which flashed upon her white fingers as she

Now Carrie was affected by music. Her nervous composition
responded to certain strains, much as certain strings of a harp
vibrate when a corresponding key of

a piano is struck. She was delicately moulded in sentiment, and
answered with vague ruminations to certain wistful chords. They
awoke longings for those things which she did not have. They
caused her to cling closer to things she possessed. One short song
the young lady played in a most soulful and tender mood. Carrie
heard it through the open door from the parlour below. It was at
that hour between afternoon and night when, for the idle, the
wanderer, things are apt to take on a wistful aspect. The mind
wanders forth on far journeys and returns with sheaves of
withered and departed joys. Carrie sat at her window looking out.
Drouet had been away since ten in the morning. She had amused
herself with a walk, a book by Bertha M. Clay which Drouet had
left there, though she did not wholly enjoy the latter, and by
changing her dress for the evening. Now she sat looking out
across the park as wistful and depressed as the nature which
craves variety and life can be under such circumstances. As she
contemplated her new state, the strain from the parlour below
stole upward. With it her thoughts became coloured and
enmeshed. She reverted to the things which were best and saddest
within the small limit of her experience. She became for the
moment a repentant.

While she was in this mood Drouet came in, bringing with him an
entirely different atmosphere. It was dusk and Carrie had
neglected to light the lamp. The fire in the grate, too, had burned

"Where are you, Cad?" he said, using a pet name he had given

"Here," she answered.

There was something delicate and lonely in her voice, but he
could not hear it. He had not the poetry in him that would seek a
woman out under such circumstances and console her for the
tragedy of life. Instead, he struck a match and lighted the gas.

"Hello," he exclaimed, "youíve been crying."

Her eyes were still wet with a few vague tears.

"Pshaw," he said, "you donít want to do that."

He took her hand, feeling in his good-natured egotism that it was
probably lack of his presence which had made her lonely.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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