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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Hurstwood was something of a romanticist after his kind. He was
capable of strong feelings-often poetic ones-and under a stress of
desire, such as the present, he waxed eloquent. That is, his
feelings and his voice were coloured with that seeming repression
and pathos which is the essence of eloquence.

"You know," he said, putting his hand on her arm, and keeping a
strange silence while he formulated words, "that I love you?"

Carrie did not stir at the words. She was bound up completely in
the manís atmosphere. He would have church-like silence in order
to express his feelings, and she kept it. She did not move her eyes
from the flat, open scene before her. Hurstwood waited for a few
moments, and then repeated the words.

"You must not say that," she said, weakly.

Her words were not convincing at all. They were the result of a
feeble thought that something ought to be said. He paid no
attention to them whatever.

"Carrie," he said, using her first name with sympathetic
familiarity, "I want you to love me. You donít know how much I
need some one to waste a little affection on me. I am practically
alone. There is nothing in my life that is pleasant or delightful. Itís
all work and worry with people who are nothing to me."

As he said this, Hurstwood really imagined that his state was
pitiful. He had the ability to get off at a distance and view himself
objectively-of seeing what he wanted to see in the things which
made up his existence. Now, as he spoke, his voice trembled with
that peculiar vibration which is the result of tensity. It went
ringing home to his companionís heart.

"Why, I should think," she said, turning upon him large eyes
which were full of sympathy and feeling, "that you would be very
happy. You know so much of the world."

"That is it," he said, his voice dropping to a soft minor, "I know
too much of the world."

It was an important thing to her to hear one so well-positioned and
powerful speaking in this manner. She could not help feeling the
strangeness of her situation. How was it that, in so little a while,
the narrow life of the country had fallen from her as a garment,
and the city, with all its mystery, taken its place? Here was this
greatest mystery, the man of money and affairs sitting beside her,
appealing to her. Behold, he had ease and comfort, his strength
was great, his position high, his clothing rich, and yet he was
appealing to her. She could formulate no thought which would be
just and right. She troubled herself no more upon the

matter. She only basked in the warmth of his feeling, which was
as a grateful blaze to one who is cold. Hurstwood glowed with his
own intensity, and the heat of his passion was already melting the
wax of his companionís scruples.

"You think," he said, "I am happy; that I ought not to complain? If
you were to meet all day with people who care absolutely nothing
about you, if you went day after day to a place where there was
nothing but show and indifference, if there was not one person in
all those you knew to whom you could appeal for sympathy or
talk to with pleasure, perhaps you would be unhappy too."

He was striking a chord now which found sympathetic response in
her own situation. She knew what it was to meet with people who
were indifferent, to walk alone amid so many who cared
absolutely nothing about you. Had not she? Was not she at this
very moment quite alone? Who was there among all whom she
knew to whom she could appeal for sympathy? Not one. She was
left to herself to brood and wonder.

"I could be content," went on Hurstwood, "if I had you to love
me. If I had you to go to; you for a companion. As it is, I simply
move about from place to place without any satisfaction. Time
hangs heavily on my hands. Before you came I did nothing but
idle and drift into anything that offered itself. Since you came-
well, Iíve had you to think about."

The old illusion that here was some one who needed her aid began
to grow in Carrieís mind. She truly pitied this sad, lonely figure.
To think that all his fine

state should be so barren for want of her; that he needed to make
such an appeal when she herself was lonely and without anchor.
Surely, this was too bad.

"I am not very bad," he said, apologetically, as if he owed it to her
to explain on this score. "You think, probably, that I roam around,
and get into all sorts of evil? I have been rather reckless, but I
could easily come out of that. I need you to draw me back, if my
life ever amounts to anything."
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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