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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Chapter XIV
WITH EYES AND NOT SEEING: ONE
INFLUENCE WANES


Carrie in her rooms that evening was in a fine glow, physically
and mentally. She was deeply rejoicing in her affection for
Hurstwood and his love, and looked forward with fine fancy to
their next meeting Sunday night. They had agreed, without any
feeling of enforced secrecy, that she should come down town and
meet him, though, after all, the need of it was the cause.

Mrs. Hale, from her upper window, saw her come in.

"Um," she thought to herself, "she goes riding with another man
when her husband is out of the city. He had better keep an eye on
her."

The truth is that Mrs. Hale was not the only one who had a
thought on this score. The house-maid who had welcomed
Hurstwood had her opinion also. She had no particular regard for
Carrie, whom she took to be cold and disagreeable. At the same
time, she had a fancy for the merry and easy-mannered Drouet,
who threw her a pleasant remark now and then, and in other ways
extended her the evidence of that regard which he had for all
members of the sex. Hurstwood was more reserved and critical in
his manner. He did not appeal to this bodiced functionary in the
same pleasant way. She wondered that he came so frequently, that
Mrs. Drouet should go out with him this afternoon when Mr.
Drouet was absent.

She gave vent to her opinions in the kitchen where the cook was.
As a result, a hum of gossip was set going which moved about the
house in that secret manner common to gossip.

Carrie, now that she had yielded sufficiently to Hurstwood to
confess her affection, no longer troubled about her attitude
towards him. Temporarily she gave little thought to Drouet,
thinking only of the dignity and grace of her lover and of his
consuming affection for her. On the first evening, she did little but
go over the details of the afternoon. It was the first time her
sympathies had ever been thor-oughly aroused, and they threw a
new light on her character. She had some power of initiative,
latent before, which now began to exert itself. She looked more
practically upon her state and began to see glimmerings of a way
out. Hurstwood seemed a drag in the direction of honour. Her
feelings were exceedingly creditable, in that they constructed out
of these recent developments something which conquered
freedom from dishonour. She had no idea what Hurstwoodís next
word would be. She only took his affection to be a fine thing, and
appended better, more generous results accordingly.

As yet, Hurstwood had only a thought of pleasure without
responsibility. He did not feel that he was doing anything to
complicate his life. His position was secure, his home-life, if not
satisfactory, was at least undisturbed, his personal liberty rather
untrammelled. Carrieís love represented only so much added
pleasure. He would enjoy this new gift over and above his
ordinary allowance of pleasure.

He would be happy with her and his own affairs would go on as
they had, undisturbed.

On Sunday evening Carrie dined with him at a place he had
selected in East Adams Street, and thereafter they took a cab to
what was then a pleasant evening resort out on Cottage Grove
Avenue near 39th Street. In the process of his declaration he soon
realised that Carrie took his love upon a higher basis than he had
anticipated. She kept him at a distance in a rather earnest way, and
submitted only to those tender tokens of affection which better
become the inexperienced lover. Hurstwood saw that she was not
to be possessed for the asking, and deferred pressing his suit too
warmly.

Since he feigned to believe in her married state he found that he
had to carry out the part. His triumph, he saw, was still at a little
distance. How far he could not guess.

They were returning to Ogden Place in the cab, when he asked:

"When will I see you again?"

"I donít know," she answered, wondering herself.

"Why not come down to The Fair," he suggested, "next Tuesday?"

She shook her head.

"Not so soon," she answered.

"Iíll tell you what Iíll do," he added. "Iíll write you, care of this
West Side Post-office. Could you call next Tuesday?"

Carrie assented.

The cab stopped one door out of the way according to his call.

"Good-night," he whispered, as the cab rolled away.

Unfortunately for the smooth progression of this affair, Drouet
returned. Hurstwood was sitting in his imposing little office the
next afternoon when he saw Drouet enter.

"Why, hello, Charles," he called affably; "back again?"

"Yes," smiled Drouet, approaching and looking in at the door.

Hurstwood arose.

"Well," he said, looking the drummer over, "rosy as ever, eh?"

They began talking of the people they knew and things that had
happened.

"Been home yet?" finally asked Hurstwood.

"No, I am going, though," said Drouet.

"I remembered the little girl out there," said Hurstwood, "and
called once. Thought you wouldnít want her left quite alone."

"Right you are," agreed Drouet. "How is she?"

"Very well," said Hurstwood. "Rather anxious about you, though.
Youíd better go out now and cheer her up."

"I will," said Drouet, smilingly.

"Like to have you both come down and go to the show with me
Wednesday," concluded Hurstwood at parting.

"Thanks, old man," said his friend, "Iíll see what the girl says and
let you know."

They separated in the most cordial manner.

"Thereís a nice fellow," Drouet thought to himself as he turned
the corner towards Madison.

"Drouet is a good fellow," Hurstwood thought to himself as he
went back into his office, "but heís no man for Carrie."

The thought of the latter turned his mind into a most pleasant
vein, and he wondered how he would get ahead of the drummer.

When Drouet entered Carrieís presence, he caught her in his arms
as usual, but she responded to his kiss with a tremour of
opposition.

"Well," he said, "I had a great trip."

"Did you? How did you come out with that La Crosse man you
were telling me about?"

"Oh, fine; sold him a complete line. There was another fellow
there, representing Burnstein, a regular hook-nosed sheeny, but he
wasnít in it. I made him look like nothing at all."

As he undid his collar and unfastened his studs, preparatory to
washing his face and changing his clothes, he dilated upon his
trip. Carrie could not help listening with amusement to his
animated descriptions.

"I tell you," he said, "I surprised the people at the office. Iíve sold
more goods this last quarter than any other man of our house on
the road. I sold three thousand dollarsí worth in La Crosse."

He plunged his face in a basin of water, and puffed and blew as he
rubbed his neck and ears with his hands, while Carrie gazed upon
him with mingled thoughts of recollection and present judgment.
He was still wiping his face, when he continued:

"Iím going to strike for a raise in June. They can afford to pay it,
as much business as I turn in. Iíll get it too, donít you forget."

"I hope you do," said Carrie.

"And then if that little real estate deal Iíve got on goes through,
weíll get married," he said with a great show of earnestness, the
while he took his place before the mirror and began brushing his
hair.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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