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McTeague

CHAPTER 4
The days passed. McTeague had finished the operation on Trina's teeth. She did
not come any more to the "Parlors." Matters had readjusted themselves a little
between the two during the last sittings. Trina yet stood upon her reserve, and
McTeague still felt himself shambling and ungainly in her presence; but that
constraint and embarrassment that had followed upon McTeague's blundering
declaration broke up little by little. In spite of themselves they were gradually
resuming the same relative positions they had occupied when they had first met.
But McTeague suffered miserably for all that. He never would have Trina, he saw
that clearly. She was too good for him; too delicate, too refined, too prettily made
for him, who was so coarse, so enormous, so stupid. She was for someone
else—Marcus, no doubt—or at least for some finer-grained man. She should
have gone to some other dentist; the young fellow on the corner, for instance, the
poser, the rider of bicycles, the courser of grey-hounds. McTeague began to
loathe and to envy this fellow. He spied upon him going in and out of his office,
and noted his salmon-pink neckties and his astonishing waistcoats.
One Sunday, a few days after Trina's last sitting, McTeague met Marcus
Schouler at his table in the car conductors' coffee-joint, next to the harness shop.
"What you got to do this afternoon, Mac?" inquired the other, as they ate their
suet pudding.
"Nothing, nothing," replied McTeague, shaking his head. His mouth was full of
pudding. It made him warm to eat, and little beads of perspiration stood across
the bridge of his nose. He looked forward to an afternoon passed in his operating
chair as usual. On leaving his "Parlors" he had put ten cents into his pitcher and
had left it at Frenna's to be filled.
"What do you say we take a walk, huh?" said Marcus. "Ah, that's the thing—a
walk, a long walk, by damn! It'll be outa sight. I got to take three or four of the
dogs out for exercise, anyhow. Old Grannis thinks they need ut. We'll walk out to
the Presidio."
Of late it had become the custom of the two friends to take long walks from time
to time. On holidays and on those Sunday afternoons when Marcus was not
absent with the Sieppes they went out together, sometimes to the park,
sometimes to the Presidio, sometimes even across the bay. They took a great
pleasure in each other's company, but silently and with reservation, having the
masculine horror of any demonstration of friendship.
 
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