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Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
A Pilgrim, An Outlaw--The Spirit Detained
The cab had not travelled a short
block before Carrie, settling herself and thoroughly waking in the night
"What's the matter with him?
Is he hurt badly?"
"It isn't anything very
serious," Hurstwood said solemnly.
He was very much disturbed over his own situation, and now that he
had Carrie with him, he only wanted to get safely out of reach of the law.
Therefore he was in no mood for anything save such words as would
further his plans distinctly.
Carrie did not forget that there
was something to be settled between her and Hurstwood, but the thought was
ignored in her agitation. The
one thing was to finish this strange pilgrimage.
"Where is he?"
"Way out on the South
Side," said Hurstwood. "We'll
have to take the train. It's
the quickest way."
Carrie said nothing, and the
horse gambolled on. The
weirdness of the city by night held her attention.
She looked at the long receding rows of lamps and studied the dark,
"How did he hurt
himself?" she asked--meaning what was the nature of his injuries. Hurstwood understood. He
hated to lie any more than necessary, and yet he wanted no protests until
he was out of danger.
"I don't know exactly,"
he said. "They just
called me up to go and get you and bring you out.
They said there wasn't any need for alarm, but that I shouldn't
fail to bring you."
The man's serious manner
convinced Carrie, and she became silent, wondering.
Hurstwood examined his watch and
urged the man to hurry. For
one in so delicate a position he was exceedingly cool.
He could only think of how needful it was to make the train and get
quietly away. Carrie seemed
quite tractable, and he congratulated himself.
In due time they reached the
depot, and after helping her out he handed the man a five-dollar bill and
"You wait here," he
said to Carrie, when they reached the waiting-room, "while I get the
"Have I much time to catch
that train for Detroit?" he asked of the agent.
"Four minutes," said
He paid for two tickets as
circumspectly as possible.
"Is it far?" said
Carrie, as he hurried back.
"Not very," he said.
"We must get right in."
He pushed her before him at the
gate, stood between her and the ticket man while the latter punched their
tickets, so that she could not see, and then hurried after.
There was a long line of express
and passenger cars and one or two common day coaches. As the train had only recently been made up and few
passengers were expected, there were only one or two brakemen waiting.
They entered the rear day coach and sat down. Almost immediately,
"All aboard," resounded faintly from the outside, and the train
Carrie began to think it was a
little bit curious--this going to a depot--but said nothing. The whole incident was so out of the natural that she did not
attach too much weight to anything she imagined.
"How have you been?"
asked Hurstwood gently, for he now breathed easier.
"Very well," said
Carrie, who was so disturbed that she could not bring a proper attitude to
bear in the matter. She was
still nervous to reach Drouet and see what could be the matter. Hurstwood
contemplated her and felt this. He
was not disturbed that it should be so.
He did not trouble because she was moved sympathetically in the
matter. It was one of the qualities in her which pleased him
exceedingly. He was only
thinking how he should explain. Even
this was not the most serious thing in his mind, however.
His own deed and present flight were the great shadows which weighed
"What a fool I was to do
that," he said over and over. "What
In his sober senses, he could
scarcely realise that the thing had been done.
He could not begin to feel that he was a fugitive from justice.
He had often read of such things, and had thought they must be
terrible, but now that the thing was upon him, he only sat and looked into
the past. The future was a
thing which concerned the Canadian line.
He wanted to reach that. As
for the rest he surveyed his actions for the evening, and counted them parts
of a great mistake.
"Still," he said,
"what could I have done?"
Then he would decide to make the
best of it, and would begin to do so by starting the whole inquiry over
again. It was a fruitless,
harassing round, and left him in a queer mood to deal with the proposition
he had in the presence of Carrie.
The train clacked through the
yards along the lake front, and ran rather slowly to Twenty-fourth Street.
Brakes and signals were visible without.
The engine gave short calls with its whistle, and frequently the bell
rang. Several brakemen came through, bearing lanterns.
They were locking the vestibules and putting the cars in order for a
Presently it began to gain speed,
and Carrie saw the silent streets flashing by in rapid succession.
The engine also began its whistle-calls of four parts, with which it
signalled danger to important crossings.
"Is it very far?" asked
Carrie. "Not so very," said Hurstwood.
He could hardly repress a smile at her simplicity.
He wanted to explain and conciliate her, but he also wanted to be
well out of Chicago.
In the lapse of another half-hour
it became apparent to Carrie that it was quite a run to wherever he was
taking her, anyhow.
"Is it in Chicago?" she
asked nervously. They were now
far beyond the city limits, and the train was scudding across the Indiana
line at a great rate.
"No," he said,
"not where we are going."
There was something in the way he
said this which aroused her in an instant.
Her pretty brow began to
"We are going to see
Charlie, aren't we?" she asked.
He felt that the time was up.
An explanation might as well come now as later.
Therefore, he shook his head in the most gentle negative.
"What?" said Carrie.
She was nonplussed at the possibility of the errand being different
from what she had thought.
He only looked at her in the most
kindly and mollifying way.
"Well, where are you taking
me, then?" she asked, her voice showing the quality of fright.
"I'll tell you, Carrie, if
you'll be quiet. I want you to
come along with me to another city,"
"Oh," said Carrie, her
voice rising into a weak cry. "Let
me off. I don't want to go with
She was quite appalled at the
man's audacity. This was
something which had never for a moment entered her head.
Her one thought now was to get off and away. If only the flying train could be stopped, the terrible trick
would be amended.
She arose and tried to push out
into the aisle--anywhere. She
knew she had to do something. Hurstwood
laid a gentle hand on her.
"Sit still, Carrie," he
said. "Sit still.
It won't do you any good to get up here.
Listen to me and I'll tell you what I'll do.
Wait a moment."
She was pushing at his knees, but
he only pulled her back. No one
saw this little altercation, for very few persons were in the car, and they
were attempting to doze.
"I won't," said Carrie,
who was, nevertheless, complying against her will.
"Let me go," she said.
"How dare you?" and large tears began to gather in her
Hurstwood was now fully aroused
to the immediate difficulty, and ceased to think of his own situation.
He must do something with this girl, or she would cause him trouble.
He tried the art of persuasion with all his powers aroused.
"Look here now,
Carrie," he said, "you mustn't act this way.
I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.
I don't want to do anything to make you feel bad."
"Oh," sobbed Carrie,
"There, there," he
said, "you mustn't cry. Won't
you listen to me? Listen to me a minute, and I'll tell you why I came to do
this thing. I couldn't help it.
I assure you I couldn't. Won't
Her sobs disturbed him so that he
was quite sure she did not hear a word he said.
"Won't you listen?" he
"No, I won't," said
Carrie, flashing up. "I
want you to take me out of this, or I'll tell the conductor.
I won't go with you. It's a shame," and again sobs of fright cut
off her desire for expression.
Hurstwood listened with some
astonishment. He felt that she
had just cause for feeling as she did, and yet he wished that he could
straighten this thing out quickly. Shortly
the conductor would come through for the tickets.
He wanted no noise, no trouble of any kind.
Before everything he must make her quiet.
"You couldn't get out until
the train stops again," said Hurstwood.
"It won't be very long until we reach another station.
You can get out then if you want to.
I won't stop you. All I want you to do is to listen a moment.
You'll let me tell you, won't you?"
Carrie seemed not to listen.
She only turned her head toward the window, where outside all was
black. The train was speeding
with steady grace across the fields and through patches of wood.
The long whistles came with sad, musical effect as the lonely
woodland crossings were approached.
Now the conductor entered the car
and took up the one or two fares that had been added at Chicago.
He approached Hurstwood, who handed out the tickets.
Poised as she was to act, Carrie made no move.
She did not look about.
When the conductor had gone again
Hurstwood felt relieved.
"You're angry at me because
I deceived you," he said. "I
didn't mean to, Carrie. As I
live I didn't. I couldn't help
it. I couldn't stay away from
you after the first time I saw you."
He was ignoring the last
deception as something that might go by the board.
He wanted to convince her that his wife could no longer be a factor
in their relationship. The
money he had stolen he tried to shut out of his mind.
"Don't talk to me,"
said Carrie, "I hate you. I
want you to go away from me. I
am going to get out at the very next station."
She was in a tremble of
excitement and opposition as she spoke.
"All right," he said,
"but you'll hear me out, won't you? After all you have said about
loving me, you might hear me. I
don't want to do you any harm. I'll
give you the money to go back with when you go.
I merely want to tell you, Carrie.
You can't stop me from loving you, whatever you may think."
He looked at her tenderly, but
received no reply. "You think I have deceived you badly, but I haven't.
I didn't do it willingly. I'm
through with my wife. She
hasn't any claims on me. I'll
never see her any more. That's
why I'm here to- night. That's
why I came and got you."
"You said Charlie was
hurt," said Carrie, savagely. "You
deceived me. You've been
deceiving me all the time, and now you want to force me to run away with
She was so excited that she got
up and tried to get by him again. He let her, and she took another seat.
Then he followed.
"Don't run away from me,
Carrie," he said gently. "Let
me explain. If you will only
hear me out you will see where I stand.
I tell you my wife is nothing to me.
She hasn't been anything for years or I wouldn't have ever come near
you. I'm going to get a divorce
just as soon as I can. I'll
never see her again. I'm done
with all that. You're the only
person I want. If I can have you I won't ever think of another woman
Carrie heard all this in a very
ruffled state. It sounded
sincere enough, however, despite all he had done.
There was a tenseness in Hurstwood's voice and manner which could but
have some effect. She did not
want anything to do with him. He
was married, he had deceived her once, and now again, and she thought him
terrible. Still there is
something in such daring and power which is fascinating to a woman,
especially if she can be made to feel that it is all prompted by love of
The progress of the train was
having a great deal to do with the solution of this difficult situation.
The speeding wheels and disappearing country put Chicago farther and
farther behind. Carrie could feel that she was being borne a long distance
off-- that the engine was making an almost through run to some distant city.
She felt at times as if she could cry out and make such a row that
some one would come to her aid; at other times it seemed an almost useless
thing--so far was she from any aid, no matter what she did.
All the while Hurstwood was endeavouring to formulate his plea in
such a way that it would strike home and bring her into sympathy with him.
"I was simply put where I
didn't know what else to do."
Carrie deigned no suggestion of
"When I say you wouldn't
come unless I could marry you, I decided to put everything else behind me
and get you to come away with me. I'm
going off now to another city. I
want to go to Montreal for a while, and then anywhere you want to.
We'll go and live in New York, if you say."
"I'll not have anything to
do with you," said Carrie. "I
want to get off this train. Where
are we going?"
"To Detroit," said
"Oh!" said Carrie, in a
burst of anguish. So distant
and definite a point seemed to increase the difficulty.
"Won't you come along with
me?" he said, as if there was great danger that she would not.
"You won't need to do anything but travel with me.
I'll not trouble you in any way.
You can see Montreal and New York, and then if you don't want to stay
you can go back. It will be
better than trying to go back to-night."
The first gleam of fairness shone
in this proposition for Carrie. It seemed a plausible thing to do, much as
she feared his opposition if she tried to carry it out.
Montreal and New York! Even now she was speeding toward those great,
strange lands, and could see them if she liked. She thought, but made no sign.
Hurstwood thought he saw a shade
of compliance in this. He
redoubled his ardour.
"Think," he said,
"what I've given up. I
can't go back to Chicago any more. I've
got to stay away and live alone now, if you don't come with me.
You won't go back on me entirely, will you, Carrie?"
"I don't want you to talk to
me," she answered forcibly.
Hurstwood kept silent for a
Carrie felt the train to be
slowing down. It was the moment
to act if she was to act at all. She
"Don't think of going,
Carrie," he said. "If
you ever cared for me at all, come along and let's start right.
I'll do whatever you say. I'll
marry you, or I'll let you go back. Give
yourself time to think it over. I
wouldn't have wanted you to come if I hadn't loved you.
I tell you, Carrie, before God, I can't live without you.
There was the tensity of
fierceness in the man's plea which appealed deeply to her sympathies. It was a dissolving fire which was actuating him now.
He was loving her too intensely to think of giving her up in this,
his hour of distress. He
clutched her hand nervously and pressed it with all the force of an appeal.
The train was now all but
stopped. It was running by some
cars on a side track. Everything
outside was dark and dreary. A
few sprinkles on the window began to indicate that it was raining. Carrie
hung in a quandary, balancing between decision and helplessness.
Now the train stopped, and she was listening to his plea. The engine backed a few feet and all was still.
She wavered, totally unable to
make a move. Minute after
minute slipped by and still she hesitated, he pleading.
"Will you let me come back
if I want to?" she asked, as if she now had the upper hand and her
companion was utterly subdued.
"Of course," he
answered, "you know I will."
Carrie only listened as one who
has granted a temporary amnesty. She began to feel as if the matter were in
her hands entirely.
The train was again in rapid
motion. Hurstwood changed the
"Aren't you very
tired?" he said.
"No," she answered.
"Won't you let me get you a
berth in the sleeper?"
She shook her head, though for
all her distress and his trickery she was beginning to notice what she had
always felt--his thoughtfulness.
"Oh, yes," he said,
"you will feel so much better."
She shook her head.
"Let me fix my coat for you,
anyway," and he arose and arranged his light coat in a comfortable
position to receive her head.
"There," he said
tenderly, "now see if you can't rest a little." He could have
kissed her for her compliance. He
took his seat beside her and thought a moment.
"I believe we're in for a
heavy rain," he said.
"So it looks," said
Carrie, whose nerves were quieting under the sound of the rain drops, driven
by a gusty wind, as the train swept on frantically through the shadow to a
The fact that he had in a measure
mollified Carrie was a source of satisfaction to Hurstwood, but it furnished
only the most temporary relief. Now
that her opposition was out of the way, he had all of his time to devote to
the consideration of his own error.
His condition was bitter in the
extreme, for he did not want the miserable sum he had stolen. He did not want to be a thief. That sum or any other could
never compensate for the state which he had thus foolishly doffed.
It could not give him back his host of friends, his name, his house
and family, nor Carrie, as he had meant to have her.
He was shut out from Chicago--from his easy, comfortable state.
He had robbed himself of his dignity, his merry meetings, his
pleasant evenings. And for
what? The more he thought of it the more unbearable it became.
He began to think that he would try and restore himself to his old
state. He would return the
miserable thievings of the night and explain. Perhaps Moy would understand. Perhaps they would forgive him and let him come back.
By noontime the train rolled into
Detroit and he began to feel exceedingly nervous.
The police must be on his track by now. They had probably notified
all the police of the big cities, and detectives would be watching for him.
He remembered instances in which defaulters had been captured.
Consequently, he breathed heavily and paled somewhat.
His hands felt as if they must have something to do.
He simulated interest in several scenes without which he did not
feel. He repeatedly beat his
foot upon the floor.
Carrie noticed his agitation, but
said nothing. She had no idea
what it meant or that it was important.
He wondered now why he had not
asked whether this train went on through to Montreal or some Canadian point.
Perhaps he could have saved time.
He jumped up and sought the conductor.
"Does any part of this train
go to Montreal?" he asked.
"Yes, the next sleeper back
He would have asked more, but it
did not seem wise, so he decided to inquire at the depot.
The train rolled into the yards,
clanging and puffing.
"I think we had better go
right on through to Montreal," he said to Carrie.
"I'll see what the connections are when we get off."
He was exceedingly nervous, but
did his best to put on a calm exterior.
Carrie only looked at him with large, troubled eyes. She was drifting
mentally, unable to say to herself what to do.
The train stopped and Hurstwood
led the way out. He looked
warily around him, pretending to look after Carrie.
Seeing nothing that indicated studied observation, he made his way to
the ticket office.
"The next train for Montreal
leaves when?" he asked.
"In twenty minutes,"
said the man.
He bought two tickets and Pullman
berths. Then he hastened back
"We go right out
again," he said, scarcely noticing that Carrie looked tired and weary.
"I wish I was out of all
this," she exclaimed gloomily.
"You'll feel better when we
reach Montreal," he said.
"I haven't an earthly thing
with me," said Carrie; "not even a handkerchief."
"You can buy all you want as
soon as you get there, dearest," he explained.
"You can call in a dressmaker."
Now the crier called the train
ready and they got on. Hurstwood
breathed a sigh of relief as it started.
There was a short run to the river, and there they were ferried over.
They had barely pulled the train off the ferry-boat when he settled
back with a sigh.
"It won't be so very long
now," he said, remembering her in his relief.
"We get there the first thing in the morning."
Carrie scarcely deigned to reply.
"I'll see if there is a
dining-car," he added. "I'm
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