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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser


Hurstwood surprised himself with his fluency. By the natural law
which governs all effort, what he wrote reacted upon him. He
began to feel those subtleties which he could find words to
express. With every expression came increased con-

ception. Those inmost breathings which there found words took
bold upon him. He thought Carrie worthy of all the affection he
could there express.

Carrie was indeed worth loving if ever youth and grace are to
command that token of acknowledgment from life in their bloom.
Experience had not yet taken away that freshness of the spirit
which is the charm of the body. Her soft eyes contained in their
liquid lustre no suggestion of the knowledge of disappointment.
She had been troubled in a way by doubt and longing, but these
had made no deeper impression than could be traced in a certain
open wistfulness of glance and speech. The mouth had the
expression at times, in talking and in repose, of one who might be
upon the verge of tears. It was not that grief was thus ever present.
The pronunciation of certain syllables gave to her lips this
peculiarity of formation-a formation as suggestive and moving as
pathos itself.

There was nothing bold in her manner. Life had not taught her
domination-superciliousness of grace, which is the lordly power
of some women. Her longing for consideration was not
sufficiently powerful to move her to demand it. Even now she
lacked self-assurance, but there was that in what she had already
experienced which left her a little less than timid. She wanted
pleasure, she wanted position, and yet she was confused as to
what these things might be. Every hour the kaleidoscope of
human affairs threw a new lustre upon something, and therewith it
became for her the desired-the all. Another shift of the box, and
some other had become the beautiful, the perfect.

On her spiritual side, also, she was rich in feeling, as such a nature
well might be. Sorrow in her was aroused by many a spectacle-an
uncritical upwelling of grief for the weak and the helpless. She
was constantly pained by the sight of the white-faced, ragged men
who slopped desperately by her in a sort of wretched mental
stupor. The poorly clad girls who went blowing by her window
evenings, hurrying home from some of the shops of the West
Side, she pitied from the depths of her heart. She would stand and
bite her lips as they passed, shaking her little head and wondering.
They had so little, she thought. It was so sad to be raagged and
poor. The hang of faded clothes pained her eyes.

"And they have to work so hard!" was her only comment.

On the street sometimes she would see men working-Irishmen
with picks, coal-heavers with great loads to shovel, Americans
busy about some work which was a mere matter of strength-and
they touched her fancy. Toil, now that she was free of it, seemed
even a more desolate thing than when she was part of it. She saw
it through a mist of fancy-a pale, sombre half-light, which was the
essence of poetic feeling. Her old father, in his flour-dusted
millerís suit, sometimes returned to her in memory, revived by a
face in a window. A shoemaker pegging at his last, a blastman
seen through a narrow window in some basement where iron was
being melted, a bench-worker seen high aloft in some window, his
coat off, his sleeves rolled up; these took her back in fancy to the
details of the mill. She felt, though she seldom expressed them,
sad thoughts upon this score. Her sympathies

were ever with that under-world of toil from which she had so
recently sprung, and which she best understood.

Though Hurstwood did not know it, he was dealing with one
whose feelings were as tender and as delicate as this. He did not
know, but it was this in her, after all, which attracted him. He
never attempted to analyse the nature of his affection. It was
sufficient that there was tenderness in her eye, weakness in her
manner, good-nature and hope, in her thoughts. He drew near this
lily, which had sucked its waxen beauty and perfume from below
a depth of waters which he had never penetrated, and out of ooze
and mould which he could not understand. He drew near because
it was waxen and fresh. It lightened his feelings for him. It made
the morning worth while.

In a material way, she was considerably improved. Her
awkwardness had all but passed, leaving, if anything, a quaint
residue which was as pleasing as perfect grace. Her little shoes
now fitted her smartly and had high heels. She had learned much
about laces and those little neck-pieces which add so much to a
womanís appearance. Her form had filled out until it was
admirably plump and well-rounded.

Hurstwood wrote her one morning, asking her to meet him in
Jefferson Park, Monroe Street. He did not consider it policy to call
any more, even when Drouet was at home.

The next afternoon he was in the pretty little park by one, and had
found a rustic bench beneath the green leaves of a lilac bush
which bordered one of the

paths. It was at that season of the year when the fulness of spring
had not yet worn quite away. At a little pond near by some cleanly
dressed children were sailing white canvas boats. In the shade of a
green pagoda a bebuttoned officer of the law was resting, his arms
folded, his club at rest in his belt. An old gardener was upon the
lawn, with a pair of pruning shears, looking after some bushes.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser



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