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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Such childish fancies as she had had of fairy palaces and kingly
quarters now came back. She imagined that across these richly
carved entrance-ways, where the globed and crystalled lamps
shone upon panelled doors set with stained and designed panes of
glass, was neither care nor unsatisfied desire. She was perfectly
certain that here was happiness. If she could but stroll up yon
broad walk, cross that rich entrance-way, which to her was of the
beauty of a jewel, and sweep in grace and luxury to possession
and command-oh! how quickly would sadness flee; how, in an
instant, would the heartache end.

She gazed and gazed, wondering, delighting, longing, and all the
while the siren voice of the unrestful was whispering in her ear.

"If we could have such a home as that," said Mrs. Hale sadly,
"how delightful it would be."

"And yet they do say," said Carrie, "that no one is ever happy."

She had heard so much of the canting philosophy of the grapeless
fox.

"I notice," said Mrs. Hale, "that they all try mighty hard, though,
to take their misery in a mansion."

When she came to her own rooms, Carrie saw their comparative
insignificance. She was not so dull but that she could perceive
they were but three small rooms in a moderately well-furnished
boarding-house. She was not contrasting it now with what she had
had, but what she had so recently seen. The glow of the palatial
doors was still in her eye, the roll of cushioned carriages still in
her ears. What, after all, was Drouet? What was she? At her
window, she thought it over, rocking to and fro, and gazing out
across the lamp-lit park toward the lamp-lit houses on Warren and
Ashland avenues. She was too wrought up to care to go down to
eat, too pensive to do aught but rock and sing. Some old tunes
crept to her lips, and, as she sang them, her heart sank. She longed
and longed and longed. It was now for the old cottage room in
Columbia City, now the mansion upon the Shore Drive, now the
fine dress of some lady, now the elegance of some scene. She was
sad beyond measure, and yet uncertain, wishing, fancying.
Finally, it

seemed as if all her state was one of loneliness and forsakenness,
and she could scarce refrain from trembling at the lip. She
hummed and hummed as the moments went by, sitting in the
shadow by the window, and was therein as happy, though she did
not perceive it, as she ever would be.

While Carrie was still in this frame of mind, the house-servant
brought up the intelligence that Mr. Hurstwood was in the parlour
asking to see Mr. and Mrs. Drouet.

"I guess he doesnít know that Charlie is out of town," thought
Carrie.

She had seen comparatively little of the manager during the
winter, but had been kept constantly in mind of him by one thing
and another, principally by the strong impression he had made.
She was quite disturbed for the moment as to her appearance, but
soon satisfied herself by the aid of the mirror, and went below.

Hurstwood was in his best form, as usual. He hadnít heard that
Drouet was out of town. He was but slightly affected by the
intelligence, and devoted himself to the more general topics which
would interest Carrie. It was surprising-the ease with which he
conducted a conversation. He was like every man who has had the
advantage of practice and knows he has sympathy. He knew that
Carrie listened to him pleasurably, and, without the least effort, he
fell into a train of observation which absorbed her fancy. He drew
up his chair and modulated his voice to such a degree that what he
said seemed wholly confidential. He confined himself almost
exclusively to his observation of men and pleasures. He had been
here and there, he had seen this and that. Somehow he made
Carrie wish to see similar things, and all the while kept her aware
of himself. She could not shut out the consciousness of his
individuality and presence for a moment. He would raise his eyes
slowly in smiling emphasis of something, and she was fixed by
their magnetism. He would draw out, with the easiest grace, her
approval. Once he touched her hand for emphasis and she only
smiled. He seemed to radiate an atmosphere which suffused her
being. He was never dull for a minute, and seemed to make her
clever. At least, she brightened under his influence until all her
best side was exhibited. She felt that she was more clever with
him than with others. At least, he seemed to find so much in her to
applaud. There was not the slightest touch of patronage. Drouet
was full of it.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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