Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser

Part 11 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

That's all right, shake hands."

Carrie put out her hand, smiling, if for nothing more than the
man's exuberant good-nature. Though older, he was but slightly
changed. The same fine clothes, the same stocky body, the same
rosy countenance.

"That fellow at the door there didn't want to let me in, until I
paid him. I knew it was you, all right. Say, you've got a great
show. You do your part fine. I knew you would. I just happened
to be passing to night and thought I'd drop in for a few minutes.
I saw your name on the programme, but I didn't remember it until
you came on the stage. Then it struck me all at once. Say, you
could have knocked me down with a feather. That's the same name
you used out there in Chicago, isn't it?"

"Yes," answered Carrie, mildly, overwhelmed by the man's

"I knew it was, the moment I saw you. Well, how have you been,

"Oh, very well," said Carrie, lingering in her dressing-room.
She was rather dazed by the assault. "How have you been?"

"Me? Oh, fine. I'm here now."

"Is that so?" said Carrie.

"Yes. I've been here for six months. I've got charge of a
branch here."

"How nice!"

"Well, when did you go on the stage, anyhow?" inquired Drouet.

"About three years ago," said Carrie.

"You don't say so! Well, sir, this is the first I've heard of it.
I knew you would, though. I always said you could act--didn't

Carrie smiled.

"Yes, you did," she said.

"Well, you do look great," he said. "I never saw anybody improve
so. You're taller, aren't you?"

"Me? Oh, a little, maybe."

He gazed at her dress, then at her hair, where a becoming hat was
set jauntily, then into her eyes, which she took all occasion to
avert. Evidently he expected to restore their old friendship at
once and without modification.

"Well," he said, seeing her gather up her purse, handkerchief,
and the like, preparatory to departing, "I want you to come out
to dinner with me; won't you? I've got a friend out here."

"Oh, I can't," said Carrie. "Not to-night. I have an early
engagement to-morrow."

"Aw, let the engagement go. Come on. I can get rid of him. I
want to have a good talk with you."

"No, no," said Carrie; "I can't. You mustn't ask me any more. I
don't care for a late dinner."

"Well, come on and have a talk, then, anyhow."

"Not to-night," she said, shaking her head. "We'll have a talk
some other time."

As a result of this, she noticed a shade of thought pass over his
face, as if he were beginning to realise that things were
changed. Good-nature dictated something better than this for one
who had always liked her.

"You come around to the hotel to-morrow," she said, as sort of
penance for error. "You can take dinner with me."

"All right," said Drouet, brightening. "Where are you stopping?"

"At the Waldorf," she answered, mentioning the fashionable
hostelry then but newly erected.

"What time?"

"Well, come at three," said Carrie, pleasantly.

The next day Drouet called, but it was with no especial delight
that Carrie remembered her appointment. However, seeing him,
handsome as ever, after his kind, and most genially disposed, her
doubts as to whether the dinner would be disagreeable were swept
away. He talked as volubly as ever.

"They put on a lot of lugs here, don't they?" was his first

"Yes; they do," said Carrie.

Genial egotist that he was, he went at once into a detailed
account of his own career.

"I'm going to have a business of my own pretty soon," he observed
in one place. "I can get backing for two hundred thousand

Carrie listened most good-naturedly.

"Say," he said, suddenly; "where is Hurstwood now?"

Carrie flushed a little.

"He's here in New York, I guess," she said. "I haven't seen him
for some time."

Drouet mused for a moment. He had not been sure until now that
the ex-manager was not an influential figure in the background.
He imagined not; but this assurance relieved him. It must be
that Carrie had got rid of him--as well she ought, he thought.
"A man always makes a mistake when he does anything like that,"
he observed.

"Like what?" said Carrie, unwitting of what was coming.

"Oh, you know," and Drouet waved her intelligence, as it were,
with his hand.

"No, I don't," she answered. "What do you mean?"

"Why that affair in Chicago--the time he left."

"I don't know what you are talking about," said Carrie. Could it
be he would refer so rudely to Hurstwood's flight with her?

"Oho!" said Drouet, incredulously. "You knew he took ten
thousand dollars with him when he left, didn't you?"

"What!" said Carrie. "You don't mean to say he stole money, do

"Why," said Drouet, puzzled at her tone, "you knew that, didn't

"Why, no," said Carrie. "Of course I didn't."

"Well, that's funny," said Drouet. "He did, you know. It was in
all the papers."

"How much did you say he took?" said Carrie.

"Ten thousand dollars. I heard he sent most of it back
afterwards, though."

Carrie looked vacantly at the richly carpeted floor. A new light
was shining upon all the years since her enforced flight. She
remembered now a hundred things that indicated as much. She also
imagined that he took it on her account. Instead of hatred
springing up there was a kind of sorrow generated. Poor fellow!
What a thing to have had hanging over his head all the time.

At dinner Drouet, warmed up by eating and drinking and softened
in mood, fancied he was winning Carrie to her old-time good-
natured regard for him. He began to imagine it would not be so
difficult to enter into her life again, high as she was. Ah,
what a prize! he thought. How beautiful, how elegant, how
famous! In her theatrical and Waldorf setting, Carrie was to him
the all desirable.

"Do you remember how nervous you were that night at the Avery?"
he asked.

Carrie smiled to think of it.

"I never saw anybody do better than you did then, Cad," he added
ruefully, as he leaned an elbow on the table; "I thought you and
I were going to get along fine those days."

"You mustn't talk that way," said Carrie, bringing in the least
touch of coldness.

"Won't you let me tell you----"

"No," she answered, rising. "Besides, it's time I was getting
ready for the theatre. I'll have to leave you. Come, now."
"Oh, stay a minute," pleaded Drouet. "You've got plenty of

"No," said Carrie, gently.

Reluctantly Drouet gave up the bright table and followed. He saw
her to the elevator and, standing there, said:

"When do I see you again?"

"Oh, some time, possibly," said Carrie. "I'll be here all
summer. Good-night!"

The elevator door was open.

"Good-night!" said Drouet, as she rustled in.

Then he strolled sadly down the hall, all his old longing
revived, because she was now so far off. The merry frou-frou of
the place spoke all of her. He thought himself hardly dealt
with. Carrie, however, had other thoughts.

That night it was that she passed Hurstwood, waiting at the
Casino, without observing him.

The next night, walking to the theatre, she encountered him face
to face. He was waiting, more gaunt than ever, determined to see
her, if he had to send in word. At first she did not recognise
the shabby, baggy figure. He frightened her, edging so close, a
seemingly hungry stranger.

"Carrie," he half whispered, "can I have a few words with you?"

She turned and recognised him on the instant. If there ever had
lurked any feeling in her heart against him, it deserted her now.
Still, she remembered what Drouet said about his having stolen
the money.

"Why, George," she said; "what's the matter with you?"

"I've been sick," he answered. "I've just got out of the
hospital. For God's sake, let me have a little money, will you?"

"Of course," said Carrie, her lip trembling in a strong effort to
maintain her composure. "But what's the matter with you,

She was opening her purse, and now pulled out all the bills in
it--a five and two twos.

"I've been sick, I told you," he said, peevishly, almost
resenting her excessive pity. It came hard to him to receive it
from such a source.

"Here," she said. "It's all I have with me."

"All right," he answered, softly. "I'll give it back to you some

Carrie looked at him, while pedestrians stared at her. She felt
the strain of publicity. So did Hurstwood.

"Why don't you tell me what's the matter with you?" she asked,
hardly knowing what to do. "Where are you living?"

"Oh, I've got a room down in the Bowery," he answered. "There's
no use trying to tell you here. I'm all right now."

He seemed in a way to resent her kindly inquiries--so much better
had fate dealt with her.

"Better go on in," he said. "I'm much obliged, but I won't
bother you any more."

She tried to answer, but he turned away and shuffled off toward
the east.

For days this apparition was a drag on her soul before it began
to wear partially away. Drouet called again, but now he was not
even seen by her. His attentions seemed out of place.

"I'm out," was her reply to the boy.

So peculiar, indeed, was her lonely, self-withdrawing temper,
that she was becoming an interesting figure in the public eye--
she was so quiet and reserved.

Not long after the management decided to transfer the show to
London. A second summer season did not seem to promise well

"How would you like to try subduing London?" asked her manager,
one afternoon.

"It might be just the other way," said Carrie.

"I think we'll go in June," he answered.

In the hurry of departure, Hurstwood was forgotten. Both he and
Drouet were left to discover that she was gone. The latter
called once, and exclaimed at the news. Then he stood in the
lobby, chewing the ends of his moustache. At last he reached a
conclusion--the old days had gone for good.

"She isn't so much," he said; but in his heart of hearts he did
not believe this.

Hurstwood shifted by curious means through a long summer and
fall. A small job as janitor of a dance hall helped him for a
month. Begging, sometimes going hungry, sometimes sleeping in
the park, carried him over more days. Resorting to those
peculiar charities, several of which, in the press of hungry
search, he accidentally stumbled upon, did the rest. Toward the
dead of winter, Carrie came back, appearing on Broadway in a new
play; but he was not aware of it. For weeks he wandered about
the city, begging, while the fire sign, announcing her
engagement, blazed nightly upon the crowded street of amusements.
Drouet saw it, but did not venture in.

About this time Ames returned to New York. He had made a little
success in the West, and now opened a laboratory in Wooster
Street. Of course, he encountered Carrie through Mrs. Vance; but
there was nothing responsive between them. He thought she was
still united to Hurstwood, until otherwise informed. Not knowing
the facts then, he did not profess to understand, and refrained
from comment.

With Mrs. Vance, he saw the new play, and expressed himself

"She ought not to be in comedy," he said. "I think she could do
better than that."

One afternoon they met at the Vances' accidentally, and began a
very friendly conversation. She could hardly tell why the one-
time keen interest in him was no longer with her.
Unquestionably, it was because at that time he had represented
something which she did not have; but this she did not
understand. Success had given her the momentary feeling that she
was now blessed with much of which he would approve. As a matter
of fact, her little newspaper fame was nothing at all to him. He
thought she could have done better, by far.

"You didn't go into comedy-drama, after all?" he said,
remembering her interest in that form of art.

"No," she answered; "I haven't, so far."

He looked at her in such a peculiar way that she realised she had
failed. It moved her to add: "I want to, though."

"I should think you would," he said. "You have the sort of
disposition that would do well in comedy-drama."

It surprised her that he should speak of disposition. Was she,
then, so clearly in his mind?

"Why?" she asked.

"Well," he said, "I should judge you were rather sympathetic in
your nature."

Carrie smiled and coloured slightly. He was so innocently frank
with her that she drew nearer in friendship. The old call of the
ideal was sounding.

"I don't know," she answered, pleased, nevertheless, beyond all

"I saw your play," he remarked. "It's very good."

"I'm glad you liked it."

"Very good, indeed," he said, "for a comedy."

This is all that was said at the time, owing to an interruption,
but later they met again. He was sitting in a corner after
dinner, staring at the floor, when Carrie came up with another of
the guests. Hard work had given his face the look of one who is
weary. It was not for Carrie to know the thing in it which
appealed to her.

"All alone?" she said.

"I was listening to the music."

"I'll be back in a moment," said her companion, who saw nothing
in the inventor.

Now he looked up in her face, for she was standing a moment,
while he sat.

"Isn't that a pathetic strain?" he inquired, listening.

"Oh, very," she returned, also catching it, now that her
attention was called.

"Sit down," he added, offering her the chair beside him.

They listened a few moments in silence, touched by the same
feeling, only hers reached her through the heart. Music still
charmed her as in the old days.

"I don't know what it is about music," she started to say, moved
by the inexplicable longings which surged within her; "but it
always makes me feel as if I wanted something--I----"

"Yes," he replied; "I know how you feel."

Suddenly he turned to considering the peculiarity of her
disposition, expressing her feelings so frankly.

"You ought not to be melancholy," he said.

He thought a while, and then went off into a seemingly alien
observation which, however, accorded with their feelings.

"The world is full of desirable situations, but, unfortunately,
we can occupy but one at a time. It doesn't do us any good to
wring our hands over the far-off things."

The music ceased and he arose, taking a standing position before
her, as if to rest himself.

"Why don't you get into some good, strong comedy-drama?" he said.
He was looking directly at her now, studying her face. Her
large, sympathetic eyes and pain-touched mouth appealed to him as
proofs of his judgment.

"Perhaps I shall," she returned.

"That's your field," he added.

"Do you think so?"

"Yes," he said; "I do. I don't suppose you're aware of it, but
there is something about your eyes and mouth which fits you for
that sort of work."

Carrie thrilled to be taken so seriously. For the moment,
loneliness deserted her. Here was praise which was keen and

"It's in your eyes and mouth," he went on abstractedly. "I
remember thinking, the first time I saw you, that there was
something peculiar about your mouth. I thought you were about to

"How odd," said Carrie, warm with delight. This was what her
heart craved.

"Then I noticed that that was your natural look, and to-night I
saw it again. There's a shadow about your eyes, too, which gives
your face much this same character. It's in the depth of them, I

Carrie looked straight into his face, wholly aroused.

"You probably are not aware of it," he added.

She looked away, pleased that he should speak thus, longing to be
equal to this feeling written upon her countenance. It unlocked
the door to a new desire.
She had cause to ponder over this until they met again--several
weeks or more. It showed her she was drifting away from the old
ideal which had filled her in the dressing-rooms of the Avery
stage and thereafter, for a long time. Why had she lost it?

"I know why you should be a success," he said, another time, "if
you had a more dramatic part. I've studied it out----"

"What is it?" said Carrie.

"Well," he said, as one pleased with a puzzle, "the expression in
your face is one that comes out in different things. You get the
same thing in a pathetic song, or any picture which moves you
deeply. It's a thing the world likes to see, because it's a
natural expression of its longing."

Carrie gazed without exactly getting the import of what he meant.

"The world is always struggling to express itself," he went on.
"Most people are not capable of voicing their feelings. They
depend upon others. That is what genius is for. One man
expresses their desires for them in music; another one in poetry;
another one in a play. Sometimes nature does it in a face--it
makes the face representative of all desire. That's what has
happened in your case."

He looked at her with so much of the import of the thing in his
eyes that she caught it. At least, she got the idea that her
look was something which represented the world's longing. She
took it to heart as a creditable thing, until he added:

"That puts a burden of duty on you. It so happens that you have
this thing. It is no credit to you--that is, I mean, you might
not have had it. You paid nothing to get it. But now that you
have it, you must do something with it."

"What?" asked Carrie.

"I should say, turn to the dramatic field. You have so much
sympathy and such a melodious voice. Make them valuable to
others. It will make your powers endure."

Carrie did not understand this last. All the rest showed her
that her comedy success was little or nothing.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Why, just this. You have this quality in your eyes and mouth
and in your nature. You can lose it, you know. If you turn away
from it and live to satisfy yourself alone, it will go fast
enough. The look will leave your eyes. Your mouth will change.
Your power to act will disappear. You may think they won't, but
they will. Nature takes care of that."

He was so interested in forwarding all good causes that he
sometimes became enthusiastic, giving vent to these preachments.
Something in Carrie appealed to him. He wanted to stir her up.

"I know," she said, absently, feeling slightly guilty of neglect.

"If I were you," he said, "I'd change."

The effect of this was like roiling helpless waters. Carrie
troubled over it in her rocking-chair for days.

"I don't believe I'll stay in comedy so very much longer," she
eventually remarked to Lola.

"Oh, why not?" said the latter.

"I think," she said, "I can do better in a serious play."

"What put that idea in your head?"

"Oh, nothing," she answered; "I've always thought so."

Still, she did nothing--grieving. It was a long way to this
better thing--or seemed so--and comfort was about her; hence the
inactivity and longing.

Chapter XLVII


In the city, at that time, there were a number of charities
similar in nature to that of the captain's, which Hurstwood now
patronised in a like unfortunate way. One was a convent mission-
house of the Sisters of Mercy in Fifteenth Street--a row of red
brick family dwellings, before the door of which hung a plain
wooden contribution box, on which was painted the statement that
every noon a meal was given free to all those who might apply and
ask for aid. This simple announcement was modest in the extreme,
covering, as it did, a charity so broad. Institutions and
charities are so large and so numerous in New York that such
things as this are not often noticed by the more comfortably
situated. But to one whose mind is upon the matter, they grow
exceedingly under inspection. Unless one were looking up this
matter in particular, he could have stood at Sixth Avenue and
Fifteenth Street for days around the noon hour and never have
noticed that out of the vast crowd that surged along that busy
thoroughfare there turned out, every few seconds, some weather-
beaten, heavy-footed specimen of humanity, gaunt in countenance
and dilapidated in the matter of clothes. The fact is none the
less true, however, and the colder the day the more apparent it
became. Space and a lack of culinary room in the mission-house,
compelled an arrangement which permitted of only twenty-five or
thirty eating at one time, so that a line had to be formed
outside and an orderly entrance effected. This caused a daily
spectacle which, however, had become so common by repetition
during a number of years that now nothing was thought of it. The
men waited patiently, like cattle, in the coldest weather--waited
for several hours before they could be admitted. No questions
were asked and no service rendered. They ate and went away
again, some of them returning regularly day after day the winter

A big, motherly looking woman invariably stood guard at the door
during the entire operation and counted the admissible number.
The men moved up in solemn order. There was no haste and no
eagerness displayed. It was almost a dumb procession. In the
bitterest weather this line was to be found here. Under an icy
wind there was a prodigious slapping of hands and a dancing of
feet. Fingers and the features of the face looked as if severely
nipped by the cold. A study of these men in broad light proved
them to be nearly all of a type. They belonged to the class that
sit on the park benches during the endurable days and sleep upon
them during the summer nights. They frequent the Bowery and
those down-at-the-heels East Side streets where poor clothes and
shrunken features are not singled out as curious. They are the
men who are in the lodginghouse sitting-rooms during bleak and
bitter weather and who swarm about the cheaper shelters which
only open at six in a number of the lower East Side streets.
Miserable food, ill-timed and greedily eaten, had played havoc
with bone and muscle. They were all pale, flabby, sunken-eyed,
hollow-chested, with eyes that glinted and shone and lips that
were a sickly red by contrast. Their hair was but half attended
to, their ears anaemic in hue, and their shoes broken in leather
and run down at heel and toe. They were of the class which
simply floats and drifts, every wave of people washing up one, as
breakers do driftwood upon a stormy shore.

For nearly a quarter of a century, in another section of the
city, Fleischmann, the baker, had given a loaf of bread to any
one who would come for it to the side door of his restaurant at
the corner of Broadway and Tenth Street, at midnight. Every
night during twenty years about three hundred men had formed in
line and at the appointed time marched past the doorway, picked
their loaf from a great box placed just outside, and vanished
again into the night. From the beginning to the present time
there had been little change in the character or number of these
men. There were two or three figures that had grown familiar to
those who had seen this little procession pass year after year.
Two of them had missed scarcely a night in fifteen years. There
were about forty, more or less, regular callers. The remainder
of the line was formed of strangers. In times of panic and
unusual hardships there were seldom more than three hundred. In
times of prosperity, when little is heard of the unemployed,
there were seldom less. The same number, winter and summer, in
storm or calm, in good times and bad, held this melancholy
midnight rendezvous at Fleischmann's bread box.

At both of these two charities, during the severe winter which
was now on, Hurstwood was a frequent visitor. On one occasion it
was peculiarly cold, and finding no comfort in begging about the
streets, he waited until noon before seeking this free offering
to the poor. Already, at eleven o'clock of this morning, several
such as he had shambled forward out of Sixth Avenue, their thin
clothes flapping and fluttering in the wind. They leaned against
the iron railing which protects the walls of the Ninth Regiment
Armory, which fronts upon that section of Fifteenth Street,
having come early in order to be first in. Having an hour to
wait, they at first lingered at a respectful distance; but others
coming up, they moved closer in order to protect their right of
precedence. To this collection Hurstwood came up from the west
out of Seventh Avenue and stopped close to the door, nearer than
all the others. Those who had been waiting before him, but
farther away, now drew near, and by a certain stolidity of
demeanour, no words being spoken, indicated that they were first.

Seeing the opposition to his action, he looked sullenly along the
line, then moved out, taking his place at the foot. When order
had been restored, the animal feeling of opposition relaxed.

"Must be pretty near noon," ventured one.

"It is," said another. "I've been waiting nearly an hour."

"Gee, but it's cold!"

They peered eagerly at the door, where all must enter. A grocery
man drove up and carried in several baskets of eatables. This
started some words upon grocery men and the cost of food in

"I see meat's gone up," said one.

"If there wuz war, it would help this country a lot."

The line was growing rapidly. Already there were fifty or more,
and those at the head, by their demeanour, evidently
congratulated themselves upon not having so long to wait as those
at the foot. There was much jerking of heads, and looking down
the line.

"It don't matter how near you get to the front, so long as you're
in the first twenty-five," commented one of the first twenty-
five. "You all go in together."

"Humph!" ejaculated Hurstwood, who had been so sturdily

"This here Single Tax is the thing," said another. "There ain't
going to be no order till it comes."

For the most part there was silence; gaunt men shuffling,
glancing, and beating their arms.

At last the door opened and the motherly-looking sister appeared.
She only looked an order. Slowly the line moved up and, one by
one, passed in, until twenty-five were counted. Then she
interposed a stout arm, and the line halted, with six men on the
steps. Of these the ex-manager was one. Waiting thus, some
talked, some ejaculated concerning the misery of it; some
brooded, as did Hurstwood. At last he was admitted, and, having
eaten, came away, almost angered because of his pains in getting

At eleven o'clock of another evening, perhaps two weeks later, he
was at the midnight offering of a loaf--waiting patiently. It
had been an unfortunate day with him, but now he took his fate
with a touch of philosophy. If he could secure no supper, or was
hungry late in the evening, here was a place he could come. A
few minutes before twelve, a great box of bread was pushed out,
and exactly on the hour a portly, round-faced German took
position by it, calling "Ready." The whole line at once moved
forward each taking his loaf in turn and going his separate way.
On this occasion, the ex-manager ate his as he went plodding the
dark streets in silence to his bed.

By January he had about concluded that the game was up with him.
Life had always seemed a precious thing, but now constant want
and weakened vitality had made the charms of earth rather dull
and inconspicuous. Several times, when fortune pressed most
harshly, he thought he would end his troubles; but with a change
of weather, or the arrival of a quarter or a dime, his mood would
change, and he would wait. Each day he would find some old paper
lying about and look into it, to see if there was any trace of
Carrie, but all summer and fall he had looked in vain. Then he
noticed that his eyes were beginning to hurt him, and this
ailment rapidly increased until, in the dark chambers of the
lodgings he frequented, he did not attempt to read. Bad and
irregular eating was weakening every function of his body. The
one recourse left him was to doze when a place offered and he
could get the money to occupy it.

He was beginning to find, in his wretched clothing and meagre
state of body, that people took him for a chronic type of bum and
beggar. Police hustled him along, restaurant and lodginghouse
keepers turned him out promptly the moment he had his due;
pedestrians waved him off. He found it more and more difficult
to get anything from anybody.

At last he admitted to himself that the game was up. It was
after a long series of appeals to pedestrians, in which he had
been refused and refused--every one hastening from contact.

"Give me a little something, will you, mister?" he said to the
last one. "For God's sake, do; I'm starving."

"Aw, get out," said the man, who happened to be a common type
himself. "You're no good. I'll give you nawthin'."

Hurstwood put his hands, red from cold, down in his pockets.
Tears came into his eyes.

"That's right," he said; "I'm no good now. I was all right. I
had money. I'm going to quit this," and, with death in his
heart, he started down toward the Bowery. People had turned on
the gas before and died; why shouldn't he? He remembered a
lodginghouse where there were little, close rooms, with gas-jets
in them, almost pre-arranged, he thought, for what he wanted to
do, which rented for fifteen cents. Then he remembered that he
had no fifteen cents.

On the way he met a comfortable-looking gentleman, coming, clean-
shaven, out of a fine barber shop.

"Would you mind giving me a little something?" he asked this man

The gentleman looked him over and fished for a dime. Nothing but
quarters were in his pocket.

"Here," he said, handing him one, to be rid of him. "Be off,

Hurstwood moved on, wondering. The sight of the large, bright
coin pleased him a little. He remembered that he was hungry and
that he could get a bed for ten cents. With this, the idea of
death passed, for the time being, out of his mind. It was only
when he could get nothing but insults that death seemed worth

One day, in the middle of the winter, the sharpest spell of the
season set in. It broke grey and cold in the first day, and on
the second snowed. Poor luck pursuing him, he had secured but
ten cents by nightfall, and this he had spent for food. At
evening he found himself at the Boulevard and Sixty-seventh
Street, where he finally turned his face Bowery-ward. Especially
fatigued because of the wandering propensity which had seized him
in the morning, he now half dragged his wet feet, shuffling the
soles upon the sidewalk. An old, thin coat was turned up about
his red ears--his cracked derby hat was pulled down until it
turned them outward. His hands were in his pockets.

"I'll just go down Broadway," he said to himself.

When he reached Forty-second Street, the fire signs were already
blazing brightly. Crowds were hastening to dine. Through bright
windows, at every corner, might be seen gay companies in
luxuriant restaurants. There were coaches and crowded cable

In his weary and hungry state, he should never have come here.
The contrast was too sharp. Even he was recalled keenly to
better things.
"What's the use?" he thought. "It's all up with me. I'll quit

People turned to look after him, so uncouth was his shambling
figure. Several officers followed him with their eyes, to see
that he did not beg of anybody.

Once he paused in an aimless, incoherent sort of way and looked
through the windows of an imposing restaurant, before which
blazed a fire sign, and through the large, plate windows of which
could be seen the red and gold decorations, the palms, the white
napery, and shining glassware, and, above all, the comfortable
crowd. Weak as his mind had become, his hunger was sharp enough
to show the importance of this. He stopped stock still, his
frayed trousers soaking in the slush, and peered foolishly in.

"Eat," he mumbled. "That's right, eat. Nobody else wants any."

Then his voice dropped even lower, and his mind half lost the
fancy it had.

"It's mighty cold," he said. "Awful cold."

At Broadway and Thirty-ninth Street was blazing, in incandescent
fire, Carrie's name. "Carrie Madenda," it read, "and the Casino
Company." All the wet, snowy sidewalk was bright with this
radiated fire. It was so bright that it attracted Hurstwood's
gaze. He looked up, and then at a large, gilt-framed
posterboard, on which was a fine lithograph of Carrie, lifesize.

Hurstwood gazed at it a moment, snuffling and hunching one
shoulder, as if something were scratching him. He was so run
down, however, that his mind was not exactly clear.

He approached that entrance and went in.

"Well?" said the attendant, staring at him. Seeing him pause, he
went over and shoved him. "Get out of here," he said.

"I want to see Miss Madenda," he said.

"You do, eh?" the other said, almost tickled at the spectacle.
"Get out of here," and he shoved him again. Hurstwood had no
strength to resist.

"I want to see Miss Madenda," he tried to explain, even as he was
being hustled away. "I'm all right. I----"

The man gave him a last push and closed the door. As he did so,
Hurstwood slipped and fell in the snow. It hurt him, and some
vague sense of shame returned. He began to cry and swear

"God damned dog!" he said. "Damned old cur," wiping the slush
from his worthless coat. "I--I hired such people as you once."

Now a fierce feeling against Carrie welled up--just one fierce,
angry thought before the whole thing slipped out of his mind.

"She owes me something to eat," he said. "She owes it to me."

Hopelessly he turned back into Broadway again and slopped onward
and away, begging, crying, losing track of his thoughts, one
after another, as a mind decayed and disjointed is wont to do.

It was truly a wintry evening, a few days later, when his one
distinct mental decision was reached. Already, at four o'clock,
the sombre hue of night was thickening the air. A heavy snow was
falling--a fine picking, whipping snow, borne forward by a swift
wind in long, thin lines. The streets were bedded with it--six
inches of cold, soft carpet, churned to a dirty brown by the
crush of teams and the feet of men. Along Broadway men picked
their way in ulsters and umbrellas. Along the Bowery, men
slouched through it with collars and hats pulled over their ears.
In the former thoroughfare businessmen and travellers were making
for comfortable hotels. In the latter, crowds on cold errands
shifted past dingy stores, in the deep recesses of which lights
were already gleaming. There were early lights in the cable
cars, whose usual clatter was reduced by the mantle about the
wheels. The whole city was muffled by this fast-thickening

In her comfortable chambers at the Waldorf, Carrie was reading at
this time "Pere Goriot," which Ames had recommended to her. It
was so strong, and Ames's mere recommendation had so aroused her
interest, that she caught nearly the full sympathetic
significance of it. For the first time, it was being borne in
upon her how silly and worthless had been her earlier reading, as
a whole. Becoming wearied, however, she yawned and came to the
window, looking out upon the old winding procession of carriages
rolling up Fifth Avenue.

"Isn't it bad?" she observed to Lola.

"Terrible!" said that little lady, joining her. "I hope it snows
enough to go sleigh riding."

"Oh, dear," said Carrie, with whom the sufferings of Father
Goriot were still keen. "That's all you think of. Aren't you
sorry for the people who haven't anything to-night?"

"Of course I am," said Lola; "but what can I do? I haven't

Carrie smiled.

"You wouldn't care, if you had," she returned.

"I would, too," said Lola. "But people never gave me anything
when I was hard up."

"Isn't it just awful?" said Carrie, studying the winter's storm.

"Look at that man over there," laughed Lola, who had caught sight
of some one falling down. "How sheepish men look when they fall,
don't they?"

"We'll have to take a coach to-night," answered Carrie absently.

In the lobby of the Imperial, Mr. Charles Drouet was just
arriving, shaking the snow from a very handsome ulster. Bad
weather had driven him home early and stirred his desire for
those pleasures which shut out the snow and gloom of life. A
good dinner, the company of a young woman, and an evening at the
theatre were the chief things for him.

"Why, hello, Harry!" he said, addressing a lounger in one of the
comfortable lobby chairs. "How are you?"

"Oh, about six and six," said the other.
"Rotten weather, isn't it?"

"Well, I should say," said the other. "I've been just sitting
here thinking where I'd go to-night."

"Come along with me," said Drouet. "I can introduce you to
something dead swell."

"Who is it?" said the other.

"Oh, a couple of girls over here in Fortieth Street. We could
have a dandy time. I was just looking for you."

"Supposing you get 'em and take 'em out to dinner?"

"Sure," said Drouet. "Wait'll I go upstairs and change my

"Well, I'll be in the barber shop," said the other. "I want to
get a shave."

"All right," said Drouet, creaking off in his good shoes toward
the elevator. The old butterfly was as light on the wing as

On an incoming vestibuled Pullman, speeding at forty miles an
hour through the snow of the evening, were three others, all

"First call for dinner in the dining-car," a Pullman servitor was
announcing, as he hastened through the aisle in snow-white apron
and jacket.

"I don't believe I want to play any more," said the youngest, a
black-haired beauty, turned supercilious by fortune, as she
pushed a euchre hand away from her.

"Shall we go into dinner?" inquired her husband, who was all that
fine raiment can make.

"Oh, not yet," she answered. "I don't want to play any more,

"Jessica," said her mother, who was also a study in what good
clothing can do for age, "push that pin down in your tie--it's
coming up."

Jessica obeyed, incidentally touching at her lovely hair and
looking at a little jewel-faced watch. Her husband studied her,
for beauty, even cold, is fascinating from one point of view.

"Well, we won't have much more of this weather," he said. "It
only takes two weeks to get to Rome."

Mrs. Hurstwood nestled comfortably in her corner and smiled. It
was so nice to be the mother-in-law of a rich young man--one
whose financial state had borne her personal inspection.

"Do you suppose the boat will sail promptly?" asked Jessica, "if
it keeps up like this?"

"Oh, yes," answered her husband. "This won't make any

Passing down the aisle came a very fair-haired banker's son, also
of Chicago, who had long eyed this supercilious beauty. Even now
he did not hesitate to glance at her, and she was conscious of
it. With a specially conjured show of indifference, she turned
her pretty face wholly away. It was not wifely modesty at all.
By so much was her pride satisfied.

At this moment Hurstwood stood before a dirty four story building
in a side street quite near the Bowery, whose one-time coat of
buff had been changed by soot and rain. He mingled with a crowd
of men--a crowd which had been, and was still, gathering by

It began with the approach of two or three, who hung about the
closed wooden doors and beat their feet to keep them warm. They
had on faded derby hats with dents in them. Their misfit coats
were heavy with melted snow and turned up at the collars. Their
trousers were mere bags, frayed at the bottom and wobbling over
big, soppy shoes, torn at the sides and worn almost to shreds.
They made no effort to go in, but shifted ruefully about, digging
their hands deep in their pockets and leering at the crowd and
the increasing lamps. With the minutes, increased the number.
There were old men with grizzled beards and sunken eyes, men who
were comparatively young but shrunken by diseases, men who were
middle-aged. None were fat. There was a face in the thick of
the collection which was as white as drained veal. There was
another red as brick. Some came with thin, rounded shoulders,
others with wooden legs, still others with frames so lean that
clothes only flapped about them. There were great ears, swollen
noses, thick lips, and, above all, red, blood-shot eyes. Not a
normal, healthy face in the whole mass; not a straight figure;
not a straightforward, steady glance.

In the drive of the wind and sleet they pushed in on one another.
There were wrists, unprotected by coat or pocket, which were red
with cold. There were ears, half covered by every conceivable
semblance of a hat, which still looked stiff and bitten. In the
snow they shifted, now one foot, now another, almost rocking in

With the growth of the crowd about the door came a murmur. It
was not conversation, but a running comment directed at any one
in general. It contained oaths and slang phrases.

"By damn, I wish they'd hurry up."

"Look at the copper watchin'."

"Maybe it ain't winter, nuther!"

"I wisht I was in Sing Sing."

Now a sharper lash of wind cut down and they huddled closer. It
was an edging, shifting, pushing throng. There was no anger, no
pleading, no threatening words. It was all sullen endurance,
unlightened by either wit or good fellowship.

A carriage went jingling by with some reclining figure in it.
One of the men nearest the door saw it.

"Look at the bloke ridin'."

"He ain't so cold."

"Eh, eh, eh!" yelled another, the carriage having long since
passed out of hearing.

Little by little the night crept on. Along the walk a crowd
turned out on its way home. Men and shop-girls went by with
quick steps. The cross-town cars began to be crowded. The gas
lamps were blazing, and every window bloomed ruddy with a steady
flame. Still the crowd hung about the door, unwavering.

"Ain't they ever goin' to open up?" queried a hoarse voice,

This seemed to renew the general interest in the closed door, and
many gazed in that direction. They looked at it as dumb brutes
look, as dogs paw and whine and study the knob. They shifted and
blinked and muttered, now a curse, now a comment. Still they
waited and still the snow whirled and cut them with biting
flakes. On the old hats and peaked shoulders it was piling. It
gathered in little heaps and curves and no one brushed it off.
In the centre of the crowd the warmth and steam melted it, and
water trickled off hat rims and down noses, which the owners
could not reach to scratch. On the outer rim the piles remained
unmelted. Hurstwood, who could not get in the centre, stood with
head lowered to the weather and bent his form.

A light appeared through the transom overhead. It sent a thrill
of possibility through the watchers. There was a murmur of
recognition. At last the bars grated inside and the crowd
pricked up its ears. Footsteps shuffled within and it murmured
again. Some one called: "Slow up there, now," and then the door
opened. It was push and jam for a minute, with grim, beast
silence to prove its quality, and then it melted inward, like
logs floating, and disappeared. There were wet hats and wet
shoulders, a cold, shrunken, disgruntled mass, pouring in between
bleak walls. It was just six o'clock and there was supper in
every hurrying pedestrian's face. And yet no supper was provided
here--nothing but beds.

Hurstwood laid down his fifteen cents and crept off with weary
steps to his allotted room. It was a dingy affair--wooden,
dusty, hard. A small gas-jet furnished sufficient light for so
rueful a corner.

"Hm!" he said, clearing his throat and locking the door.

Now he began leisurely to take off his clothes, but stopped first
with his coat, and tucked it along the crack under the door. His
vest he arranged in the same place. His old wet, cracked hat he
laid softly upon the table. Then he pulled off his shoes and lay

It seemed as if he thought a while, for now he arose and turned
the gas out, standing calmly in the blackness, hidden from view.
After a few moments, in which he reviewed nothing, but merely
hesitated, he turned the gas on again, but applied no match.
Even then he stood there, hidden wholly in that kindness which is
night, while the uprising fumes filled the room. When the odour
reached his nostrils, he quit his attitude and fumbled for the
bed. "What's the use?" he said, weakly, as he stretched himself
to rest.

And now Carrie had attained that which in the beginning seemed
life's object, or, at least, such fraction of it as human beings
ever attain of their original desires. She could look about on
her gowns and carriage, her furniture and bank account. Friends
there were, as the world takes it--those who would bow and smile
in acknowledgment of her success. For these she had once craved.
Applause there was, and publicity--once far off, essential
things, but now grown trivial and indifferent. Beauty also--her
type of loveliness--and yet she was lonely. In her rocking-chair
she sat, when not otherwise engaged--singing and dreaming.

Thus in life there is ever the intellectual and the emotional
nature--the mind that reasons, and the mind that feels. Of one
come the men of action--generals and statesmen; of the other, the
poets and dreamers--artists all.

As harps in the wind, the latter respond to every breath of
fancy, voicing in their moods all the ebb and flow of the ideal.

Man has not yet comprehended the dreamer any more than he has the
ideal. For him the laws and morals of the world are unduly
severe. Ever hearkening to the sound of beauty, straining for
the flash of its distant wings, he watches to follow, wearying
his feet in travelling. So watched Carrie, so followed, rocking
and singing.

And it must be remembered that reason had little part in this.
Chicago dawning, she saw the city offering more of loveliness
than she had ever known, and instinctively, by force of her moods
alone, clung to it. In fine raiment and elegant surroundings,
men seemed to be contented. Hence, she drew near these things.
Chicago, New York; Drouet, Hurstwood; the world of fashion and
the world of stage--these were but incidents. Not them, but that
which they represented, she longed for. Time proved the
representation false.

Oh, the tangle of human life! How dimly as yet we see. Here was
Carrie, in the beginning poor, unsophisticated. emotional;
responding with desire to everything most lovely in life, yet
finding herself turned as by a wall. Laws to say: "Be allured,
if you will, by everything lovely, but draw not nigh unless by
righteousness." Convention to say: "You shall not better your
situation save by honest labour." If honest labour be
unremunerative and difficult to endure; if it be the long, long
road which never reaches beauty, but wearies the feet and the
heart; if the drag to follow beauty be such that one abandons the
admired way, taking rather the despised path leading to her
dreams quickly, who shall cast the first stone? Not evil, but
longing for that which is better, more often directs the steps of
the erring. Not evil, but goodness more often allures the
feeling mind unused to reason.

Amid the tinsel and shine of her state walked Carrie, unhappy.
As when Drouet took her, she had thought: "Now I am lifted into
that which is best"; as when Hurstwood seemingly offered her the
better way: "Now am I happy." But since the world goes its way
past all who will not partake of its folly, she now found herself
alone. Her purse was open to him whose need was greatest. In
her walks on Broadway, she no longer thought of the elegance of
the creatures who passed her. Had they more of that peace and
beauty which glimmered afar off, then were they to be envied.

Drouet abandoned his claim and was seen no more. Of Hurstwood's
death she was not even aware. A slow, black boat setting out
from the pier at Twenty-seventh Street upon its weekly errand
bore, with many others, his nameless body to the Potter's Field.

Thus passed all that was of interest concerning these twain in
their relation to her. Their influence upon her life is
explicable alone by the nature of her longings. Time was when
both represented for her all that was most potent in earthly
success. They were the personal representatives of a state most
blessed to attain--the titled ambassadors of comfort and peace,
aglow with their credentials. It is but natural that when the
world which they represented no longer allured her, its
ambassadors should be discredited. Even had Hurstwood returned
in his original beauty and glory, he could not now have allured
her. She had learned that in his world, as in her own present
state, was not happiness.

Sitting alone, she was now an illustration of the devious ways by
which one who feels, rather than reasons, may be led in the
pursuit of beauty. Though often disillusioned, she was still
waiting for that halcyon day when she would be led forth among
dreams become real. Ames had pointed out a farther step, but on
and on beyond that, if accomplished, would lie others for her.
It was forever to be the pursuit of that radiance of delight
which tints the distant hilltops of the world.

Oh, Carrie, Carrie! Oh, blind strivings of the human heart!
Onward onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it
follows. Whether it be the tinkle of a lone sheep bell o'er some
quiet landscape, or the glimmer of beauty in sylvan places, or
the show of soul in some passing eye, the heart knows and makes
answer, following. It is when the feet weary and hope seems vain
that the heartaches and the longings arise. Know, then, that for
you is neither surfeit nor content. In your rocking-chair, by
your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-
chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may
never feel.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest