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Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
A Glimpse Through The Gateway--
Hope Lightens The Eye
The, to Carrie, very important
theatrical performance was to take place at the Avery on conditions which
were to make it more noteworthy than was at first anticipated.
The little dramatic student had written to Hurstwood the very
morning her part was brought her that she was going to take part in a
"I really am," she
wrote, feeling that he might take it as a jest; "I have my part now,
Hurstwood smiled in an indulgent
way as he read this.
"I wonder what it is going
to be? I must see that."
He answered at once, making a
pleasant reference to her ability. "I haven't the slightest doubt you
will make a success. You must
come to the park to-morrow morning and tell me all about it." Carrie gladly complied, and revealed all the details of the
undertaking as she understood it.
"Well," he said,
"that's fine. I'm glad
to hear it. Of course, you
will do well, you're so clever."
He had truly never seen so much
spirit in the girl before. Her
tendency to discover a touch of sadness had for the nonce disappeared.
As she spoke her eyes were bright, her cheeks red. She radiated
much of the pleasure which her undertakings gave her.
For all her misgivings--and they were as plentiful as the moments
of the day--she was still happy. She
could not repress her delight in doing this little thing which, to an
ordinary observer, had no importance at all.
Hurstwood was charmed by the
development of the fact that the girl had capabilities.
There is nothing so inspiring in life as the sight of a legitimate
ambition, no matter how incipient. It
gives colour, force, and beauty to the possessor.
Carrie was now lightened by a
touch of this divine afflatus. She
drew to herself commendation from her two admirers which she had not earned.
Their affection for her naturally heightened their perception of what
she was trying to do and their approval of what she did.
Her inexperience conserved her own exuberant fancy, which ran riot
with every straw of opportunity, making of it a golden divining rod whereby
the treasure of life was to be discovered.
"Let's see," said
Hurstwood, "I ought to know some of the boys in the lodge. I'm an Elk myself."
"Oh, you mustn't let him
know I told you."
"That's so," said the
"I'd like for you to be
there, if you want to come, but I don't see how you can unless he asks
"I'll be there," said
Hurstwood affectionately. "I
can fix it so he won't know you told me.
You leave it to me."
This interest of the manager was
a large thing in itself for the performance, for his standing among the Elks
was something worth talking about. Already
he was thinking of a box with some friends, and flowers for Carrie.
He would make it a dress-suit affair and give the little girl a
Within a day or two, Drouet
dropped into the Adams Street resort, and he was at once spied by Hurstwood.
It was at five in the afternoon and the place was crowded with
merchants, actors, managers, politicians, a goodly company of rotund, rosy
figures, silk-hatted, starchy-bosomed, beringed and bescarfpinned to the
queen's taste. John L.
Sullivan, the pugilist, was at one end of the glittering bar, surrounded by
a company of loudly dressed sports, who were holding a most animated
conversation. Drouet came
across the floor with a festive stride, a new pair of tan shoes squeaking
audibly at his progress.
"Well, sir," said
Hurstwood, "I was wondering what had become of you.
I thought you had gone out of town again."
"If you don't report more
regularly we'll have to cut you off the list."
"Couldn't help it,"
said the drummer, "I've been busy."
They strolled over toward the bar
amid the noisy, shifting company of notables.
The dressy manager was shaken by the hand three times in as many
"I hear your lodge is going
to give a performance," observed Hurstwood, in the most offhand manner.
"Yes, who told you?"
"No one," said
Hurstwood. "They just sent
me a couple of tickets, which I can have for two dollars.
Is it going to be any good?"
"I don't know," replied
the drummer. "They've been
trying to get me to get some woman to take a part."
"I wasn't intending to
go," said the manager easily. "I'll
subscribe, of course. How are
things over there?"
"All right. They're going to fit things up out of the proceeds."
"Well," said the
manager, "I hope they make a success of it. Have another?"
He did not intend to say any
more. Now, if he should appear
on the scene with a few friends, he could say that he had been urged to come
along. Drouet had a desire to
wipe out the possibility of confusion.
"I think the girl is going
to take a part in it," he said abruptly, after thinking it over.
"You don't say so! How did
"Well, they were short and
wanted me to find them some one. I
told Carrie, and she seems to want to try."
"Good for her," said
the manager. "It'll be a
real nice affair. Do her good, too. Has
she ever had any experience?"
"Not a bit."
"Oh, well, it isn't anything
"She's clever, though,"
said Drouet, casting off any imputation against Carrie's ability.
"She picks up her part quick enough."
"You don't say so!"
said the manager.
"Yes, sir; she surprised me
the other night. By George, if
"We must give her a nice
little send-off," said the manager. "I'll look after the
Drouet smiled at his good-nature.
"After the show you must
come with me and we'll have a little supper."
"I think she'll do all
right," said Drouet.
"I want to see her.
She's got to do all right. We'll
make her," and the manager gave one of his quick, steely half-smiles,
which was a compound of good-nature and shrewdness.
Carrie, meanwhile, attended the
first rehearsal. At this
performance Mr. Quincel presided, aided by Mr. Millice, a young man who had
some qualifications of past experience, which were not exactly understood by
any one. He was so experienced
and so business-like, however, that he came very near being rude-- failing
to remember, as he did, that the individuals he was trying to instruct were
volunteer players and not salaried underlings.
"Now, Miss Madenda," he
said, addressing Carrie, who stood in one part uncertain as to what move to
make, "you don't want to stand like that.
Put expression in your face. Remember,
you are troubled over the intrusion of the stranger.
Walk so," and he struck out across the Avery stage in almost
Carrie did not exactly fancy the
suggestion, but the novelty of the situation, the presence of strangers, all
more or less nervous, and the desire to do anything rather than make a
failure, made her timid. She
walked in imitation of her mentor as requested, inwardly feeling that there
was something strangely lacking.
"Now, Mrs. Morgan,"
said the director to one young married woman who was to take the part of
Pearl, "you sit here. Now,
Mr. Bamberger, you stand here, so. Now,
what is it you say?"
"Explain," said Mr.
Bamberger feebly. He had the
part of Ray, Laura's lover, the society individual who was to waver in his
thoughts of marrying her, upon finding that she was a waif and a nobody by
"How is that--what does your
"Explain," repeated Mr.
Bamberger, looking intently at his part.
"Yes, but it also
says," the director remarked, "that you are to look shocked.
Now, say it again, and see if you can't look shocked."
"Explain!" demanded Mr.
"No, no, that won't do! Say
it this way--EXPLAIN."
"Explain," said Mr.
Bamberger, giving a modified imitation.
Now go on."
"One night," resumed
Mrs. Morgan, whose lines came next, "father and mother were going to
the opera. When they were
crossing Broadway, the usual crowd of children accosted them for
"Hold on," said the
director, rushing forward, his arm extended. "Put more feeling into
what you are saying."
Mrs. Morgan looked at him as if
she feared a personal assault. Her eye lightened with resentment.
Morgan," he added, ignoring the gleam, but modifying his manner,
"that you're detailing a pathetic story. You are now supposed to be
telling something that is a grief to you.
It requires feeling, repression, thus: 'The usual crowd of children
accosted them for alms.'"
"All right," said Mrs.
"Now, go on."
"As mother felt in her
pocket for some change, her fingers touched a cold and trembling hand which
had clutched her purse."
interrupted the director, nodding his head significantly.
"A pickpocket! Well!"
exclaimed Mr. Bamberger, speaking the lines that here fell to him.
"No, no, Mr. Bamberger,"
said the director, approaching, "not that way.
'A pickpocket--well?' so. That's
"Don't you think," said
Carrie weakly, noticing that it had not been proved yet whether the members
of the company knew their lines, let alone the details of expression,
"that it would be better if we just went through our lines once to see
if we know them? We might pick up some points."
"A very good idea, Miss
Madenda," said Mr. Quincel, who sat at the side of the stage, looking
serenely on and volunteering opinions which the director did not heed.
"All right," said the
latter, somewhat abashed, "it might be well to do it." Then
brightening, with a show of authority, "Suppose we run right through,
putting in as much expression as we can."
"Good," said Mr.
"This hand," resumed
Mrs. Morgan, glancing up at Mr. Bamberger and down at her book, as the lines
proceeded, "my mother grasped in her own, and so tight that a small,
feeble voice uttered an exclamation of pain.
Mother looked down, and there beside her was a little ragged
"Very good," observed
the director, now hopelessly idle.
"The thief!" exclaimed
"Louder," put in the
director, finding it almost impossible to keep his hands off.
"The thief!" roared
"Yes, but a thief hardly six
years old, with a face like an angel's.
'Stop,' said my mother. 'What
are you doing?'
"'Trying to steal,' said the
"'Don't you know that it is
wicked to do so?' asked my father.
"'No,' said the girl, 'but
it is dreadful to be hungry.'
"'Who told you to steal?'
asked my mother.
"'She--there,' said the
child, pointing to a squalid woman in a doorway opposite, who fled suddenly
down the street. 'That is old
Judas,' said the girl."
Mrs. Morgan read this rather
flatly, and the director was in despair.
He fidgeted around, and then went over to Mr. Quincel.
"What do you think of
them?" he asked.
"Oh, I guess we'll be able
to whip them into shape," said the latter, with an air of strength
"I don't know," said
the director. "That fellow
Bamberger strikes me as being a pretty poor shift for a lover."
"He's all we've got,"
said Quincel, rolling up his eyes. "Harrison went back on me at the
last minute. Who else can we
"I don't know," said
the director. "I'm afraid
he'll never pick up."
At this moment Bamberger was
exclaiming, "Pearl, you are joking with me." "Look at that
now," said the director, whispering behind his hand.
"My Lord! what can you do with a man who drawls out a sentence
"Do the best you can,"
said Quincel consolingly.
The rendition ran on in this wise
until it came to where Carrie, as Laura, comes into the room to explain to
Ray, who, after hearing Pearl's statement about her birth, had written the
letter repudiating her, which, however, he did not deliver. Bamberger was just concluding the words of Ray, "I must
go before she returns. Her
step! Too late," and was cramming the letter in his pocket, when she
began sweetly with:
Bamberger faltered weakly.
Carrie looked at him a moment and
forgot all about the company present. She
began to feel the part, and summoned an indifferent smile to her lips,
turning as the lines directed and going to a window, as if he were not
present. She did it with a
grace which was fascinating to look upon.
"Who is that woman?"
asked the director, watching Carrie in her little scene with Bamberger.
"Miss Madenda," said
"I know her name," said
the director, "but what does she do?"
"I don't know," said
Quincel. "She's a friend
of one of our members."
"Well, she's got more
gumption than any one I've seen here so far--seems to take an interest in
what she's doing." "Pretty,
too, isn't she?" said Quincel.
The director strolled away
In the second scene, where she
was supposed to face the company in the ball-room, she did even better,
winning the smile of the director, who volunteered, because of her
fascination for him, to come over and speak with her.
"Were you ever on the
stage?" he asked insinuatingly.
"No," said Carrie.
"You do so well, I thought
you might have had some experience."
Carrie only smiled consciously.
He walked away to listen to
Bamberger, who was feebly spouting some ardent line.
Mrs. Morgan saw the drift of
things and gleamed at Carrie with envious and snapping black eyes.
"She's some cheap
professional," she gave herself the satisfaction of thinking, and
scorned and hated her accordingly.
The rehearsal ended for one day,
and Carrie went home feeling that she had acquitted herself satisfactorily.
The words of the director were ringing in her ears, and she longed
for an opportunity to tell Hurstwood. She
wanted him to know just how well she was doing.
Drouet, too, was an object for her confidences.
She could hardly wait until he should ask her, and yet she did not
have the vanity to bring it up. The
drummer, however, had another line of thought to-night, and her little
experience did not appeal to him as important.
He let the conversation drop, save for what she chose to recite
without solicitation, and Carrie was not good at that.
He took it for granted that she was doing very well and he was
relieved of further worry. Consequently
he threw Carrie into repression, which was irritating.
She felt his indifference keenly and longed to see Hurstwood.
It was as if he were now the only friend she had on earth.
The next morning Drouet was interested again, but the damage had been
She got a pretty letter from the
manager, saying that by the time she got it he would be waiting for her in
the park. When she came, he
shone upon her as the morning sun.
"Well, my dear," he
asked, "how did you come out?"
"Well enough," she
said, still somewhat reduced after Drouet.
"Now, tell me just what you
did. Was it pleasant?"
Carrie related the incidents of
the rehearsal, warming up as she proceeded.
delightful," said Hurstwood. "I'm
so glad. I must get over there
to see you. When is the next
"Tuesday," said Carrie,
"but they don't allow visitors."
"I imagine I could get
in," said Hurstwood significantly.
She was completely restored and
delighted by his consideration, but she made him promise not to come around.
"Now, you must do your best
to please me," he said encouragingly. "Just remember that I want
you to succeed. We will make
the performance worth while. You
do that now."
"I'll try," said
Carrie, brimming with affection and enthusiasm.
"That's the girl," said
Hurstwood fondly. "Now,
remember," shaking an affectionate finger at her, "your
"I will," she answered,
The whole earth was brimming
sunshine that morning. She
tripped along, the clear sky pouring liquid blue into her soul.
Oh, blessed are the children of endeavour in this, that they try and
are hopeful. And blessed also
are they who, knowing, smile and approve.
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