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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Chapter XVIII

By the evening of the 16th the subtle hand of Hurstwood had
made itself apparent. He had given the word among his friends-
and they were many and influential-that here was something
which they ought to attend, and, as a consequence, the sale of
tickets by Mr. Quincel, acting for the lodge, had been large. Small
four-line notes had appeared in all of the daily newspapers. These
he had arranged for by the aid of one of his newspaper friends on
the "Times," Mr. Harry McGarren, the managing editor.

"Say, Harry," Hurstwood said to him one evening, as the latter
stood at the bar drinking before wending his belated way
homeward, "you can help the boys out, I guess."

"What is it?" said McGarren, pleased to be consulted by the
opulent manager.

"The Custer Lodge is getting up a little entertainment for their
own good, and they’d like a little newspaper notice. You know
what I mean-a squib or two saying that it’s going to take place."

"Certainly," said McGarren, "I can fix that for you, George."

At the same time Hurstwood kept himself wholly in the
background. The members of Custer Lodge could scarcely
understand why their little affair was

taking so well. Mr. Harry Quincel was looked upon as quite a star
for this sort of work.

By the time the 16th had arrived Hurstwood’s friends had rallied
like Romans to a senator’s call. A well-dressed, good-natured,
flatteringly-inclined audience was assured from the moment he
thought of assisting Carrie.

That little student had mastered her part to her own satisfaction,
much as she trembled for her fate when she should once face the
gathered throng, behind the glare of the footlights. She tried to
console herself with the thought that a score of other persons, men
and women, were equally tremulous concerning the outcome of
their efforts, but she could not disassociate the general danger
from her own individual liability. She feared that she would forget
her lines, that she might be unable to master the feeling which she
now felt concerning her own movements in the play. At times she
wished that she had never gone into the affair; at others, she
trembled lest she should be paralysed with fear and stand white
and gasping, not knowing what to say and spoiling the entire

In the matter of the company, Mr. Bamberger had disappeared.
That hopeless example had fallen under the lance of the director’s
criticism. Mrs. Morgan was still present, but envious and
determined, if for nothing more than spite, to do as well as Carrie
at least. A loafing professional had been called in to assume the
role of Ray, and, while he was a poor stick of his kind, he was not
troubled by any of those qualms which attack the spirit of those
who have never faced an audience. He swashed about (cautioned
though he was to maintain silence concerning

his past theatrical relationships) in such a self-confident manner
that he was like to convince every one of his identity by mere
matter of circumstantial evidence.

"It is so easy," he said to Mrs. Morgan, in the usual affected stage
voice. "An audience would be the last thing to trouble me. It’s the
spirit of the part, you know, that is difficult."

Carrie disliked his appearance, but she was too much the actress
not to swallow his qualities with complaisance, seeing that she
must suffer his fictitious love for the evening.

At six she was ready to go. Theatrical paraphernalia had been
provided over and above her care. She had practised her make-up
in the morning, had rehearsed and arranged her material for the
evening by one o’clock, and had gone home to have a final look at
her part, waiting for the evening to come.

On this occasion the lodge sent a carriage. Drouet rode with her as
far as the door, and then went about the neighbouring stores,
looking for some good cigars. The little actress marched
nervously into her dressing-room and began that painfully
anticipated matter of make-up which was to transform her, a
simple maiden, to Laura, The Belle of Society.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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