Part 5 out of 11
this season of the year.
"Not yet," he said, "I'm very busy just now."
"Well, you'll want to make up your mind pretty soon, won't you,
if we're going?" she returned.
"I guess we have a few days yet," he said.
"Hmff," she returned. "Don't wait until the season's over."
She stirred in aggravation as she said this.
"There you go again," he observed. "One would think I never did
anything, the way you begin."
"Well, I want to know about it," she reiterated.
"You've got a few days yet," he insisted. "You'll not want to
start before the races are over."
He was irritated to think that this should come up when he wished
to have his thoughts for other purposes.
"Well, we may. Jessica doesn't want to stay until the end of the
"What did you want with a season ticket, then?"
"Uh!" she said, using the sound as an exclamation of disgust,
"I'll not argue with you," and therewith arose to leave the
"Say," he said, rising, putting a note of determination in his
voice which caused her to delay her departure, "what's the matter
with you of late? Can't I talk with you any more?"
"Certainly, you can TALK with me," she replied, laying emphasis
on the word.
"Well, you wouldn't think so by the way you act. Now, you want
to know when I'll be ready--not for a month yet. Maybe not
"We'll go without you."
"You will, eh?" he sneered.
"Yes, we will."
He was astonished at the woman's determination, but it only
irritated him the more.
"Well, we'll see about that. It seems to me you're trying to run
things with a pretty high hand of late. You talk as though you
settled my affairs for me. Well, you don't. You don't regulate
anything that's connected with me. If you want to go, go, but
you won't hurry me by any such talk as that."
He was thoroughly aroused now. His dark eyes snapped, and he
crunched his paper as he laid it down. Mrs. Hurstwood said
nothing more. He was just finishing when she turned on her heel
and went out into the hall and upstairs. He paused for a moment,
as if hesitating, then sat down and drank a little coffee, and
thereafter arose and went for his hat and gloves upon the main
His wife had really not anticipated a row of this character. She
had come down to the breakfast table feeling a little out of
sorts with herself and revolving a scheme which she had in her
mind. Jessica had called her attention to the fact that the
races were not what they were supposed to be. The social
opportunities were not what they had thought they would be this
year. The beautiful girl found going every day a dull thing.
There was an earlier exodus this year of people who were anybody
to the watering places and Europe. In her own circle of
acquaintances several young men in whom she was interested had
gone to Waukesha. She began to feel that she would like to go
too, and her mother agreed with her.
Accordingly, Mrs. Hurstwood decided to broach the subject. She
was thinking this over when she came down to the table, but for
some reason the atmosphere was wrong. She was not sure, after it
was all over, just how the trouble had begun. She was determined
now, however, that her husband was a brute, and that, under no
circumstances, would she let this go by unsettled. She would
have more lady-like treatment or she would know why.
For his part, the manager was loaded with the care of this new
argument until he reached his office and started from there to
meet Carrie. Then the other complications of love, desire, and
opposition possessed him. His thoughts fled on before him upon
eagles' wings. He could hardly wait until he should meet Carrie
face to face. What was the night, after all, without her--what
the day? She must and should be his.
For her part, Carrie had experienced a world of fancy and feeling
since she had left him, the night before. She had listened to
Drouet's enthusiastic maunderings with much regard for that part
which concerned herself, with very little for that which affected
his own gain. She kept him at such lengths as she could, because
her thoughts were with her own triumph. She felt Hurstwood's
passion as a delightful background to her own achievement, and
she wondered what he would have to say. She was sorry for him,
too, with that peculiar sorrow which finds something
complimentary to itself in the misery of another. She was now
experiencing the first shades of feeling of that subtle change
which removes one out of the ranks of the suppliants into the
lines of the dispensers of charity. She was, all in all,
On the morrow, however, there was nothing in the papers
concerning the event, and, in view of the flow of common,
everyday things about, it now lost a shade of the glow of the
previous evening. Drouet himself was not talking so much OF as
FOR her. He felt instinctively that, for some reason or other,
he needed reconstruction in her regard.
"I think," he said, as he spruced around their chambers the next
morning, preparatory to going down town, "that I'll straighten
out that little deal of mine this month and then we'll get
married. I was talking with Mosher about that yesterday."
"No, you won't," said Carrie, who was coming to feel a certain
faint power to jest with the drummer.
"Yes, I will," he exclaimed, more feelingly than usual, adding,
with the tone of one who pleads, "Don't you believe what I've
Carrie laughed a little.
"Of course I do," she answered.
Drouet's assurance now misgave him. Shallow as was his mental
observation, there was that in the things which had happened
which made his little power of analysis useless. Carrie was
still with him, but not helpless and pleading. There was a lilt
in her voice which was new. She did not study him with eyes
expressive of dependence. The drummer was feeling the shadow of
something which was coming. It coloured his feelings and made
him develop those little attentions and say those little words
which were mere forefendations against danger.
Shortly afterward he departed, and Carrie prepared for her
meeting with Hurstwood. She hurried at her toilet, which was
soon made, and hastened down the stairs. At the corner she
passed Drouet, but they did not see each other.
The drummer had forgotten some bills which he wished to turn into
his house. He hastened up the stairs and burst into the room,
but found only the chambermaid, who was cleaning up.
"Hello," he exclaimed, half to himself, "has Carrie gone?"
"Your wife? Yes, she went out just a few minutes ago."
"That's strange," thought Drouet. "She didn't say a word to me.
I wonder where she went?"
He hastened about, rummaging in his valise for what he wanted,
and finally pocketing it. Then he turned his attention to his
fair neighbour, who was good-looking and kindly disposed towards
"What are you up to?" he said, smiling.
"Just cleaning," she replied, stopping and winding a dusting
towel about her hand.
"Tired of it?"
"Not so very."
"Let me show you something," he said, affably, coming over and
taking out of his pocket a little lithographed card which had
been issued by a wholesale tobacco company. On this was printed
a picture of a pretty girl, holding a striped parasol, the
colours of which could be changed by means of a revolving disk in
the back, which showed red, yellow, green, and blue through
little interstices made in the ground occupied by the umbrella
"Isn't that clever?" he said, handing it to her and showing her
how it worked. "You never saw anything like that before."
"Isn't it nice?" she answered.
"You can have it if you want it," he remarked.
"That's a pretty ring you have," he said, touching a commonplace
setting which adorned the hand holding the card he had given her.
"Do you think so?"
"That's right," he answered, making use of a pretence at
examination to secure her finger. "That's fine."
The ice being thus broken, he launched into further observation
pretending to forget that her fingers were still retained by his.
She soon withdrew them, however, and retreated a few feet to rest
against the window-sill.
"I didn't see you for a long time," she said, coquettishly,
repulsing one of his exuberant approaches. "You must have been
"I was," said Drouet.
"Do you travel far?"
"Do you like it?"
"Oh, not very well. You get tired of it after a while."
"I wish I could travel," said the girl, gazing idly out of the
"What has become of your friend, Mr. Hurstwood?" she suddenly
asked, bethinking herself of the manager, who, from her own
observation, seemed to contain promising material.
"He's here in town. What makes you ask about him?"
"Oh, nothing, only he hasn't been here since you got back."
"How did you come to know him?"
"Didn't I take up his name a dozen times in the last month?"
"Get out," said the drummer, lightly. "He hasn't called more
than half a dozen times since we've been here."
"He hasn't, eh?" said the girl, smiling. "That's all you know
Drouet took on a slightly more serious tone. He was uncertain as
to whether she was joking or not.
"Tease," he said, "what makes you smile that way?"
"Have you seen him recently?"
"Not since you came back," she laughed.
"Why, nearly every day."
She was a mischievous newsmonger, and was keenly wondering what
the effect of her words would be.
"Who did he come to see?" asked the drummer, incredulously.
He looked rather foolish at this answer, and then attempted to
correct himself so as not to appear a dupe.
"Well," he said, "what of it?"
"Nothing," replied the girl, her head cocked coquettishly on one
"He's an old friend," he went on, getting deeper into the mire.
He would have gone on further with his little flirtation, but the
taste for it was temporarily removed. He was quite relieved when
the girl's named was called from below.
"I've got to go," she said, moving away from him airily.
"I'll see you later," he said, with a pretence of disturbance at
When she was gone, he gave freer play to his feelings. His face,
never easily controlled by him, expressed all the perplexity and
disturbance which he felt. Could it be that Carrie had received
so many visits and yet said nothing about them? Was Hurstwood
lying? What did the chambermaid mean by it, anyway? He had
thought there was something odd about Carrie's manner at the
time. Why did she look so disturbed when he had asked her how
many times Hurstwood had called? By George! He remembered now.
There was something strange about the whole thing.
He sat down in a rocking-chair to think the better, drawing up
one leg on his knee and frowning mightily. His mind ran on at a
And yet Carrie hadn't acted out of the ordinary. It couldn't be,
by George, that she was deceiving him. She hadn't acted that
way. Why, even last night she had been as friendly toward him as
could be, and Hurstwood too. Look how they acted! He could
hardly believe they would try to deceive him.
His thoughts burst into words.
"She did act sort of funny at times. Here she had dressed, and
gone out this morning and never said a word."
He scratched his head and prepared to go down town. He was still
frowning. As he came into the hall he encountered the girl, who
was now looking after another chamber. She had on a white
dusting cap, beneath which her chubby face shone good-naturedly.
Drouet almost forgot his worry in the fact that she was smiling
on him. He put his hand familiarly on her shoulder, as if only
to greet her in passing.
"Got over being mad?" she said, still mischievously inclined.
"I'm not mad," he answered.
"I thought you were," she said, smiling.
"Quit your fooling about that," he said, in an offhand way.
"Were you serious?"
"Certainly," she answered. Then, with an air of one who did not
intentionally mean to create trouble, "He came lots of times. I
thought you knew."
The game of deception was up with Drouet. He did not try to
simulate indifference further.
"Did he spend the evenings here?" he asked.
"Sometimes. Sometimes they went out."
"In the evening?"
"Yes. You mustn't look so mad, though."
"I'm not," he said. "Did any one else see him?"
"Of course," said the girl, as if, after all, it were nothing in
"How long ago was this?"
"Just before you came back."
The drummer pinched his lip nervously.
"Don't say anything, will you?" he asked, giving the girl's arm a
"Certainly not," she returned. "I wouldn't worry over it."
"All right," he said, passing on, seriously brooding for once,
and yet not wholly unconscious of the fact that he was making a
most excellent impression upon the chambermaid.
"I'll see her about that," he said to himself, passionately,
feeling that he had been unduly wronged. "I'll find out,
b'George, whether she'll act that way or not."
THE LURE OF THE SPIRIT--THE FLESH IN PURSUIT
When Carrie came Hurstwood had been waiting many minutes. His
blood was warm; his nerves wrought up. He was anxious to see the
woman who had stirred him so profoundly the night before.
"Here you are," he said, repressedly, feeling a spring in his
limbs and an elation which was tragic in itself.
"Yes," said Carrie.
They walked on as if bound for some objective point, while
Hurstwood drank in the radiance of her presence. The rustle of
her pretty skirt was like music to him.
"Are you satisfied?" he asked, thinking of how well she did the
He tightened his fingers as he saw the smile she gave him.
"It was wonderful."
Carrie laughed ecstatically.
"That was one of the best things I've seen in a long time," he
He was dwelling on her attractiveness as he had felt it the
evening before, and mingling it with the feeling her presence
Carrie was dwelling in the atmosphere which this man created for
her. Already she was enlivened and suffused with a glow. She
felt his drawing toward her in every sound of his voice.
"Those were such nice flowers you sent me," she said, after a
moment or two. "They were beautiful."
"Glad you liked them," he answered, simply.
He was thinking all the time that the subject of his desire was
being delayed. He was anxious to turn the talk to his own
feelings. All was ripe for it. His Carrie was beside him. He
wanted to plunge in and expostulate with her, and yet he found
himself fishing for words and feeling for a way.
"You got home all right," he said, gloomily, of a sudden, his
tune modifying itself to one of self-commiseration.
"Yes," said Carrie, easily.
He looked at her steadily for a moment, slowing his pace and
fixing her with his eye.
She felt the flood of feeling.
"How about me?" he asked.
This confused Carrie considerably, for she realised the flood-
gates were open. She didn't know exactly what to answer.
"I don't know," she answered.
He took his lower lip between his teeth for a moment, and then
let it go. He stopped by the walk side and kicked the grass with
his toe. He searched her face with a tender, appealing glance.
"Won't you come away from him?" he asked, intensely.
"I don't know," returned Carrie, still illogically drifting and
finding nothing at which to catch.
As a matter of fact, she was in a most hopeless quandary. Here
was a man whom she thoroughly liked, who exercised an influence
over her, sufficient almost to delude her into the belief that
she was possessed of a lively passion for him. She was still the
victim of his keen eyes, his suave manners, his fine clothes.
She looked and saw before her a man who was most gracious and
sympathetic, who leaned toward her with a feeling that was a
delight to observe. She could not resist the glow of his
temperament, the light of his eye. She could hardly keep from
feeling what he felt.
And yet she was not without thoughts which were disturbing. What
did he know? What had Drouet told him? Was she a wife in his
eyes, or what? Would he marry her? Even while he talked, and she
softened, and her eyes were lighted with a tender glow, she was
asking herself if Drouet had told him they were not married.
There was never anything at all convincing about what Drouet
And yet she was not grieved at Hurstwood's love. No strain of
bitterness was in it for her, whatever he knew. He was evidently
sincere. His passion was real and warm. There was power in what
he said. What should she do? She went on thinking this,
answering vaguely, languishing affectionately, and altogether
drifting, until she was on a borderless sea of speculation.
"Why don't you come away?" he said, tenderly. "I will arrange
for you whatever--"
"Oh, don't," said Carrie.
"Don't what?" he asked. "What do you mean?"
There was a look of confusion and pain in her face. She was
wondering why that miserable thought must be brought in. She was
struck as by a blade with the miserable provision which was
outside the pale of marriage.
He himself realized that it was a wretched thing to have dragged
in. He wanted to weigh the effects of it, and yet he could not
see. He went beating on, flushed by her presence, clearly
awakened, intensely enlisted in his plan.
"Won't you come?" he said, beginning over and with a more
reverent feeling. "You know I can't do without you--you know it--
it can't go on this way--can it?"
"I know," said Carrie.
"I wouldn't ask if I--I wouldn't argue with you if I could help
it. Look at me, Carrie. Put yourself in my place. You don't
want to stay away from me, do you?"
She shook her head as if in deep thought.
"Then why not settle the whole thing, once and for all?"
"I don't know," said Carrie.
"Don't know! Ah, Carrie, what makes you say that? Don't torment
me. Be serious."
"I am," said Carrie, softly.
"You can't be, dearest, and say that. Not when you know how I
love you. Look at last night."
His manner as he said this was the most quiet imaginable. His
face and body retained utter composure. Only his eyes moved, and
they flashed a subtle, dissolving fire. In them the whole
intensity of the man's nature was distilling itself.
Carrie made no answer.
"How can you act this way, dearest?" he inquired, after a time.
"You love me, don't you?"
He turned on her such a storm of feeling that she was
overwhelmed. For the moment all doubts were cleared away.
"Yes," she answered, frankly and tenderly.
"Well, then you'll come, won't you--come to-night?"
Carrie shook her head in spite of her distress.
"I can't wait any longer," urged Hurstwood. "If that is too
soon, come Saturday."
"When will we be married?" she asked, diffidently, forgetting in
her difficult situation that she had hoped he took her to be
The manager started, hit as he was by a problem which was more
difficult than hers. He gave no sign of the thoughts that
flashed like messages to his mind.
"Any time you say," he said, with ease, refusing to discolour his
present delight with this miserable problem.
"Saturday?" asked Carrie.
He nodded his head.
"Well, if you will marry me then," she said, "I'll go."
The manager looked at his lovely prize, so beautiful, so winsome,
so difficult to be won, and made strange resolutions. His
passion had gotten to that stage now where it was no longer
coloured with reason. He did not trouble over little barriers of
this sort in the face of so much loveliness. He would accept the
situation with all its difficulties; he would not try to answer
the objections which cold truth thrust upon him. He would
promise anything, everything, and trust to fortune to disentangle
him. He would make a try for Paradise, whatever might be the
result. He would be happy, by the Lord, if it cost all honesty
of statement, all abandonment of truth.
Carrie looked at him tenderly. She could have laid her head upon
his shoulder, so delightful did it all seem.
"Well," she said, "I'll try and get ready then."
Hurstwood looked into her pretty face, crossed with little
shadows of wonder and misgiving, and thought he had never seen
anything more lovely.
"I'll see you again to-morrow," he said, joyously, "and we'll
talk over the plans."
He walked on with her, elated beyond words, so delightful had
been the result. He impressed a long story of joy and affection
upon her, though there was but here and there a word. After a
half-hour he began to realise that the meeting must come to an
end, so exacting is the world.
"To-morrow," he said at parting, a gayety of manner adding
wonderfully to his brave demeanour.
"Yes," said Carrie, tripping elatedly away.
There had been so much enthusiasm engendered that she was
believing herself deeply in love. She sighed as she thought of
her handsome adorer. Yes, she would get ready by Saturday. She
would go, and they would be happy.
THE BLAZE OF THE TINDER--FLESH WARS WITH THE FLESH
The misfortune of the Hurstwood household was due to the fact
that jealousy, having been born of love, did not perish with it.
Mrs. Hurstwood retained this in such form that subsequent
influences could transform it into hate. Hurstwood was still
worthy, in a physical sense, of the affection his wife had once
bestowed upon him, but in a social sense he fell short. With his
regard died his power to be attentive to her, and this, to a
woman, is much greater than outright crime toward another. Our
self-love dictates our appreciation of the good or evil in
another. In Mrs. Hurstwood it discoloured the very hue of her
husband's indifferent nature. She saw design in deeds and
phrases which sprung only from a faded appreciation of her
As a consequence, she was resentful and suspicious. The jealousy
that prompted her to observe every falling away from the little
amenities of the married relation on his part served to give her
notice of the airy grace with which he still took the world. She
could see from the scrupulous care which he exercised in the
matter of his personal appearance that his interest in life had
abated not a jot. Every motion, every glance had something in it
of the pleasure he felt in Carrie, of the zest this new pursuit
of pleasure lent to his days. Mrs. Hurstwood felt something,
sniffing change, as animals do danger, afar off.
This feeling was strengthened by actions of a direct and more
potent nature on the part of Hurstwood. We have seen with what
irritation he shirked those little duties which no longer
contained any amusement of satisfaction for him, and the open
snarls with which, more recently, he resented her irritating
goads. These little rows were really precipitated by an
atmosphere which was surcharged with dissension. That it would
shower, with a sky so full of blackening thunderclouds, would
scarcely be thought worthy of comment. Thus, after leaving the
breakfast table this morning, raging inwardly at his blank
declaration of indifference at her plans, Mrs. Hurstwood
encountered Jessica in her dressing-room, very leisurely
arranging her hair. Hurstwood had already left the house.
"I wish you wouldn't be so late coming down to breakfast," she
said, addressing Jessica, while making for her crochet basket.
"Now here the things are quite cold, and you haven't eaten."
Her natural composure was sadly ruffled, and Jessica was doomed
to feel the fag end of the storm.
"I'm not hungry," she answered.
"Then why don't you say so, and let the girl put away the things,
instead of keeping her waiting all morning?"
"She doesn't mind," answered Jessica, coolly.
"Well, I do, if she doesn't," returned the mother, "and, anyhow,
I don't like you to talk that way to me. You're too young to put
on such an air with your mother."
"Oh, mamma, don't row,"; answered Jessica. "What's the matter
this morning, anyway?"
"Nothing's the matter, and I'm not rowing. You mustn't think
because I indulge you in some things that you can keep everybody
waiting. I won't have it."
"I'm not keeping anybody waiting," returned Jessica, sharply,
stirred out of a cynical indifference to a sharp defence. "I
said I wasn't hungry. I don't want any breakfast."
"Mind how you address me, missy. I'll not have it. Hear me now;
I'll not have it!"
Jessica heard this last while walking out of the room, with a
toss of her head and a flick of her pretty skirts indicative of
the independence and indifference she felt. She did not propose
to be quarrelled with.
Such little arguments were all too frequent, the result of a
growth of natures which were largely independent and selfish.
George, Jr., manifested even greater touchiness and exaggeration
in the matter of his individual rights, and attempted to make all
feel that he was a man with a man's privileges--an assumption
which, of all things, is most groundless and pointless in a youth
Hurstwood was a man of authority and some fine feeling, and it
irritated him excessively to find himself surrounded more and
more by a world upon which he had no hold, and of which he had a
Now, when such little things, such as the proposed earlier start
to Waukesha, came up, they made clear to him his position. He
was being made to follow, was not leading. When, in addition, a
sharp temper was manifested, and to the process of shouldering
him out of his authority was added a rousing intellectual kick,
such as a sneer or a cynical laugh, he was unable to keep his
temper. He flew into hardly repressed passion, and wished
himself clear of the whole household. It seemed a most
irritating drag upon all his desires and opportunities.
For all this, he still retained the semblance of leadership and
control, even though his wife was straining to revolt. Her
display of temper and open assertion of opposition were based
upon nothing more than the feeling that she could do it. She had
no special evidence wherewith to justify herself--the knowledge
of something which would give her both authority and excuse. The
latter was all that was lacking, however, to give a solid
foundation to what, in a way, seemed groundless discontent. The
clear proof of one overt deed was the cold breath needed to
convert the lowering clouds of suspicion into a rain of wrath.
An inkling of untoward deeds on the part of Hurstwood had come.
Doctor Beale, the handsome resident physician of the
neighbourhood, met Mrs. Hurstwood at her own doorstep some days
after Hurstwood and Carrie had taken the drive west on Washington
Boulevard. Dr. Beale, coming east on the same drive, had
recognised Hurstwood, but not before he was quite past him. He
was not so sure of Carrie--did not know whether it was
Hurstwood's wife or daughter.
"You don't speak to your friends when you meet them out driving,
do you?" he said, jocosely, to Mrs. Hurstwood.
"If I see them, I do. Where was I?"
"On Washington Boulevard." he answered, expecting her eye to
light with immediate remembrance.
She shook her head.
"Yes, out near Hoyne Avenue. You were with your husband."
"I guess you're mistaken," she answered. Then, remembering her
husband's part in the affair, she immediately fell a prey to a
host of young suspicions, of which, however, she gave no sign.
"I know I saw your husband," he went on. "I wasn't so sure about
you. Perhaps it was your daughter."
"Perhaps it was," said Mrs. Hurstwood, knowing full well that
such was not the case, as Jessica had been her companion for
weeks. She had recovered herself sufficiently to wish to know
more of the details.
"Was it in the afternoon?" she asked, artfully, assuming an air
of acquaintanceship with the matter.
"Yes, about two or three."
"It must have been Jessica," said Mrs. Hurstwood, not wishing to
seem to attach any importance to the incident.
The physician had a thought or two of his own, but dismissed the
matter as worthy of no further discussion on his part at least.
Mrs. Hurstwood gave this bit of information considerable thought
during the next few hours, and even days. She took it for
granted that the doctor had really seen her husband, and that he
had been riding, most likely, with some other woman, after
announcing himself as BUSY to her. As a consequence, she
recalled, with rising feeling, how often he had refused to go to
places with her, to share in little visits, or, indeed, take part
in any of the social amenities which furnished the diversion of
her existence. He had been seen at the theatre with people whom
he called Moy's friends; now he was seen driving, and, most
likely, would have an excuse for that. Perhaps there were others
of whom she did not hear, or why should he be so busy, so
indifferent, of late? In the last six weeks he had become
strangely irritable--strangely satisfied to pick up and go out,
whether things were right or wrong in the house. Why?
She recalled, with more subtle emotions, that he did not look at
her now with any of the old light of satisfaction or approval in
his eye. Evidently, along with other things, he was taking her
to be getting old and uninteresting. He saw her wrinkles,
perhaps. She was fading, while he was still preening himself in
his elegance and youth. He was still an interested factor in the
merry-makings of the world, while she--but she did not pursue the
thought. She only found the whole situation bitter, and hated
him for it thoroughly.
Nothing came of this incident at the time, for the truth is it
did not seem conclusive enough to warrant any discussion. Only
the atmosphere of distrust and ill-feeling was strengthened,
precipitating every now and then little sprinklings of irritable
conversation, enlivened by flashes of wrath. The matter of the
Waukesha outing was merely a continuation of other things of the
The day after Carrie's appearance on the Avery stage, Mrs.
Hurstwood visited the races with Jessica and a youth of her
acquaintance, Mr. Bart Taylor, the son of the owner of a local
house-furnishing establishment. They had driven out early, and,
as it chanced, encountered several friends of Hurstwood, all
Elks, and two of whom had attended the performance the evening
before. A thousand chances the subject of the performance had
never been brought up had Jessica not been so engaged by the
attentions of her young companion, who usurped as much time as
possible. This left Mrs. Hurstwood in the mood to extend the
perfunctory greetings of some who knew her into short
conversations, and the short conversations of friends into long
ones. It was from one who meant but to greet her perfunctorily
that this interesting intelligence came.
"I see," said this individual, who wore sporting clothes of the
most attractive pattern, and had a field-glass strung over his
shoulder, "that you did not get over to our little entertainment
"No?" said Mrs. Hurstwood, inquiringly, and wondering why he
should be using the tone he did in noting the fact that she had
not been to something she knew nothing about. It was on her lips
to say, "What was it?" when he added, "I saw your husband."
Her wonder was at once replaced by the more subtle quality of
"Yes," she said, cautiously, "was it pleasant? He did not tell me
much about it."
"Very. Really one of the best private theatricals I ever
attended. There was one actress who surprised us all."
"Indeed," said Mrs. Hurstwood.
"It's too bad you couldn't have been there, really. I was sorry
to hear you weren't feeling well."
Feeling well! Mrs. Hurstwood could have echoed the words after
him open-mouthed. As it was, she extricated herself from her
mingled impulse to deny and question, and said, almost raspingly:
"Yes, it is too bad."
"Looks like there will be quite a crowd here to-day, doesn't it?"
the acquaintance observed, drifting off upon another topic.
The manager's wife would have questioned farther, but she saw no
opportunity. She was for the moment wholly at sea, anxious to
think for herself, and wondering what new deception was this
which caused him to give out that she was ill when she was not.
Another case of her company not wanted, and excuses being made.
She resolved to find out more.
"Were you at the performance last evening?" she asked of the next
of Hurstwood's friends who greeted her as she sat in her box.
"Yes. You didn't get around."
"No," she answered, "I was not feeling very well."
"So your husband told me," he answered. "Well, it was really
very enjoyable. Turned out much better than I expected."
"Were there many there?"
"The house was full. It was quite an Elk night. I saw quite a
number of your friends--Mrs. Harrison, Mrs. Barnes, Mrs.
"Quite a social gathering."
"Indeed it was. My wife enjoyed it very much."
Mrs. Hurstwood bit her lip.
"So," she thought, "that's the way he does. Tells my friends I
am sick and cannot come."
She wondered what could induce him to go alone. There was
something back of this. She rummaged her brain for a reason.
By evening, when Hurstwood reached home, she had brooded herself
into a state of sullen desire for explanation and revenge. She
wanted to know what this peculiar action of his imported. She
was certain there was more behind it all than what she had heard,
and evil curiosity mingled well with distrust and the remnants of
her wrath of the morning. She, impending disaster itself, walked
about with gathered shadow at the eyes and the rudimentary
muscles of savagery fixing the hard lines of her mouth.
On the other hand, as we may well believe, the manager came home
in the sunniest mood. His conversation and agreement with Carrie
had raised his spirits until he was in the frame of mind of one
who sings joyously. He was proud of himself, proud of his
success, proud of Carrie. He could have been genial to all the
world, and he bore no grudge against his wife. He meant to be
pleasant, to forget her presence, to live in the atmosphere of
youth and pleasure which had been restored to him.
So now, the house, to his mind, had a most pleasing and
comfortable appearance. In the hall he found an evening paper,
laid there by the maid and forgotten by Mrs. Hurstwood. In the
dining-room the table was clean laid with linen and napery and
shiny with glasses and decorated china. Through an open door he
saw into the kitchen, where the fire was crackling in the stove
and the evening meal already well under way. Out in the small
back yard was George, Jr., frolicking with a young dog he had
recently purchased, and in the parlour Jessica was playing at the
piano, the sounds of a merry waltz filling every nook and corner
of the comfortable home. Every one, like himself, seemed to have
regained his good spirits, to be in sympathy with youth and
beauty, to be inclined to joy and merry-making. He felt as if he
could say a good word all around himself, and took a most genial
glance at the spread table and polished sideboard before going
upstairs to read his paper in the comfortable armchair of the
sitting-room which looked through the open windows into the
street. When he entered there, however, he found his wife
brushing her hair and musing to herself the while.
He came lightly in, thinking to smooth over any feeling that
might still exist by a kindly word and a ready promise, but Mrs.
Hurstwood said nothing. He seated himself in the large chair,
stirred lightly in making himself comfortable, opened his paper,
and began to read. In a few moments he was smiling merrily over
a very comical account of a baseball game which had taken place
between the Chicago and Detroit teams.
The while he was doing this Mrs. Hurstwood was observing him
casually through the medium of the mirror which was before her.
She noticed his pleasant and contented manner, his airy grace and
smiling humour, and it merely aggravated her the more. She
wondered how he could think to carry himself so in her presence
after the cynicism, indifference, and neglect he had heretofore
manifested and would continue to manifest so long as she would
endure it. She thought how she should like to tell him--what
stress and emphasis she would lend her assertions, how she should
drive over this whole affair until satisfaction should be
rendered her. Indeed, the shining sword of her wrath was but
weakly suspended by a thread of thought.
In the meanwhile Hurstwood encountered a humorous item concerning
a stranger who had arrived in the city and became entangled with
a bunco-steerer. It amused him immensely, and at last he stirred
and chuckled to himself. He wished that he might enlist his
wife's attention and read it to her.
"Ha, ha," he exclaimed softly, as if to himself, "that's funny."
Mrs. Hurstwood kept on arranging her hair, not so much as
deigning a glance.
He stirred again and went on to another subject. At last he felt
as if his good-humour must find some outlet. Julia was probably
still out of humour over that affair of this morning, but that
could easily be straightened. As a matter of fact, she was in
the wrong, but he didn't care. She could go to Waukesha right
away if she wanted to. The sooner the better. He would tell her
that as soon as he got a chance, and the whole thing would blow
"Did you notice," he said, at last, breaking forth concerning
another item which he had found, "that they have entered suit to
compel the Illinois Central to get off the lake front, Julia?" he
She could scarcely force herself to answer, but managed to say
Hurstwood pricked up his ears. There was a note in her voice
which vibrated keenly.
"It would be a good thing if they did," he went on, half to
himself, half to her, though he felt that something was amiss in
that quarter. He withdrew his attention to his paper very
circumspectly, listening mentally for the little sounds which
should show him what was on foot.
As a matter of fact, no man as clever as Hurstwood--as observant
and sensitive to atmospheres of many sorts, particularly upon his
own plane of thought--would have made the mistake which he did in
regard to his wife, wrought up as she was, had he not been
occupied mentally with a very different train of thought. Had
not the influence of Carrie's regard for him, the elation which
her promise aroused in him, lasted over, he would not have seen
the house in so pleasant a mood. It was not extraordinarily
bright and merry this evening. He was merely very much mistaken,
and would have been much more fitted to cope with it had he come
home in his normal state.
After he had studied his paper a few moments longer, he felt that
he ought to modify matters in some way or other. Evidently his
wife was not going to patch up peace at a word. So he said:
"Where did George get the dog he has there in the yard?"
"I don't know," she snapped.
He put his paper down on his knees and gazed idly out of the
window. He did not propose to lose his temper, but merely to be
persistent and agreeable, and by a few questions bring around a
mild understanding of some sort.
"Why do you feel so bad about that affair of this morning? he
said, at last. "We needn't quarrel about that. You know you can
go to Waukesha if you want to."
"So you can stay here and trifle around with some one else?" she
exclaimed, turning to him a determined countenance upon which was
drawn a sharp and wrathful sneer.
He stopped as if slapped in the face. In an instant his
persuasive, conciliatory manner fled. He was on the defensive at
a wink and puzzled for a word to reply.
"What do you mean?" he said at last, straightening himself and
gazing at the cold, determined figure before him, who paid no
attention, but went on arranging herself before the mirror.
"You know what I mean," she said, finally, as if there were a
world of information which she held in reserve--which she did not
need to tell.
"Well, I don't," he said, stubbornly, yet nervous and alert for
what should come next. The finality of the woman's manner took
away his feeling of superiority in battle.
She made no answer.
"Hmph!" he murmured, with a movement of his head to one side. It
was the weakest thing he had ever done. It was totally
Mrs. Hurstwood noticed the lack of colour in it. She turned upon
him, animal-like, able to strike an effectual second blow.
"I want the Waukesha money to-morrow morning," she said.
He looked at her in amazement. Never before had he seen such a
cold, steely determination in her eye--such a cruel look of
indifference. She seemed a thorough master of her mood--
thoroughly confident and determined to wrest all control from
him. He felt that all his resources could not defend him. He
"What do you mean?" he said, jumping up. "You want! I'd like to
know what's got into you to-night."
"Nothing's GOT into me," she said, flaming. "I want that money.
You can do your swaggering afterwards."
"Swaggering, eh! What! You'll get nothing from me. What do you
mean by your insinuations, anyhow?"
"Where were you last night?" she answered. The words were hot as
they came. "Who were you driving with on Washington Boulevard?
Who were you with at the theatre when George saw you? Do you
think I'm a fool to be duped by you? Do you think I'll sit at
home here and take your 'too busys' and 'can't come,' while you
parade around and make out that I'm unable to come? I want you to
know that lordly airs have come to an end so far as I am
concerned. You can't dictate to me nor my children. I'm through
with you entirely."
"It's a lie," he said, driven to a corner and knowing no other
"Lie, eh!" she said, fiercely, but with returning reserve; "you
may call it a lie if you want to, but I know."
"It's a lie, I tell you," he said, in a low, sharp voice.
"You've been searching around for some cheap accusation for
months and now you think you have it. You think you'll spring
something and get the upper hand. Well, I tell you, you can't.
As long as I'm in this house I'm master of it, and you or any one
else won't dictate to me--do you hear?"
He crept toward her with a light in his eye that was ominous.
Something in the woman's cool, cynical, upper-handish manner, as
if she were already master, caused him to feel for the moment as
if he could strangle her.
She gazed at him--a pythoness in humour.
"I'm not dictating to you," she returned; "I'm telling you what I
The answer was so cool, so rich in bravado, that somehow it took
the wind out of his sails. He could not attack her, he could not
ask her for proofs. Somehow he felt evidence, law, the
remembrance of all his property which she held in her name, to be
shining in her glance. He was like a vessel, powerful and
dangerous, but rolling and floundering without sail.
"And I'm telling you," he said in the end, slightly recovering
himself, "what you'll not get."
"We'll see about it," she said. "I'll find out what my rights
are. Perhaps you'll talk to a lawyer, if you won't to me."
It was a magnificent play, and had its effect. Hurstwood fell
back beaten. He knew now that he had more than mere bluff to
contend with. He felt that he was face to face with a dull
proposition. What to say he hardly knew. All the merriment had
gone out of the day. He was disturbed, wretched, resentful.
What should he do?
"Do as you please," he said, at last. "I'll have nothing more to
do with you," and out he strode.
A SPIRIT IN TRAVAIL--ONE RUNG PUT BEHIND
When Carrie reached her own room she had already fallen a prey to
those doubts and misgivings which are ever the result of a lack
of decision. She could not persuade herself as to the
advisability of her promise, or that now, having given her word,
she ought to keep it. She went over the whole ground in
Hurstwood's absence, and discovered little objections that had
not occurred to her in the warmth of the manager's argument. She
saw where she had put herself in a peculiar light, namely, that
of agreeing to marry when she was already supposedly married.
She remembered a few things Drouet had done, and now that it came
to walking away from him without a word, she felt as if she were
doing wrong. Now, she was comfortably situated, and to one who
is more or less afraid of the world, this is an urgent matter,
and one which puts up strange, uncanny arguments. "You do not
know what will come. There are miserable things outside. People
go a-begging. Women are wretched. You never can tell what will
happen. Remember the time you were hungry. Stick to what you
Curiously, for all her leaning towards Hurstwood, he had not
taken a firm hold on her understanding. She was listening,
smiling, approving, and yet not finally agreeing. This was due
to a lack of power on his part, a lack of that majesty of passion
that sweeps the mind from its seat, fuses and melts all arguments
and theories into a tangled mass, and destroys for the time being
the reasoning power. This majesty of passion is possessed by
nearly every man once in his life, but it is usually an attribute
of youth and conduces to the first successful mating.
Hurstwood, being an older man, could scarcely be said to retain
the fire of youth, though he did possess a passion warm and
unreasoning. It was strong enough to induce the leaning toward
him which, on Carrie's part, we have seen. She might have been
said to be imagining herself in love, when she was not. Women
frequently do this. It flows from the fact that in each exists a
bias toward affection, a craving for the pleasure of being loved.
The longing to be shielded, bettered, sympathised with, is one of
the attributes of the sex. This, coupled with sentiment and a
natural tendency to emotion, often makes refusing difficult. It
persuades them that they are in love.
Once at home, she changed her clothes and straightened the rooms
for herself. In the matter of the arrangement of the furniture
she never took the housemaid's opinion. That young woman
invariably put one of the rocking-chairs in the corner, and
Carrie as regularly moved it out. To-day she hardly noticed that
it was in the wrong place, so absorbed was she in her own
thoughts. She worked about the room until Drouet put in
appearance at five o'clock. The drummer was flushed and excited
and full of determination to know all about her relations with
Hurstwood. Nevertheless, after going over the subject in his
mind the livelong day, he was rather weary of it and wished it
over with. He did not foresee serious consequences of any sort,
and yet he rather hesitated to begin. Carrie was sitting by the
window when he came in, rocking and looking out.
"Well," she said innocently, weary of her own mental discussion
and wondering at his haste and ill-concealed excitement, "what
makes you hurry so?"
Drouet hesitated, now that he was in her presence, uncertain as
to what course to pursue. He was no diplomat. He could neither
read nor see.
"When did you get home?" he asked foolishly.
"Oh, an hour or so ago. What makes you ask that?"
"You weren't here," he said, "when I came back this morning, and
I thought you had gone out."
"So I did," said Carrie simply. "I went for a walk."
Drouet looked at her wonderingly. For all his lack of dignity in
such matters he did not know how to begin. He stared at her in
the most flagrant manner until at last she said:
"What makes you stare at me so? What's the matter?"
"Nothing," he answered. "I was just thinking."
"Just thinking what?" she returned smilingly, puzzled by his
"Oh, nothing--nothing much."
"Well, then, what makes you look so?"
Drouet was standing by the dresser, gazing at her in a comic
manner. He had laid off his hat and gloves and was now fidgeting
with the little toilet pieces which were nearest him. He
hesitated to believe that the pretty woman before him was
involved in anything so unsatisfactory to himself. He was very
much inclined to feel that it was all right, after all. Yet the
knowledge imparted to him by the chambermaid was rankling in his
mind. He wanted to plunge in with a straight remark of some
sort, but he knew not what.
"Where did you go this morning?" he finally asked weakly.
"Why, I went for a walk," said Carrie.
"Sure you did?" he asked.
"Yes, what makes you ask?"
She was beginning to see now that he knew something. Instantly
she drew herself into a more reserved position. Her cheeks
"I thought maybe you didn't," he said, beating about the bush in
the most useless manner.
Carrie gazed at him, and as she did so her ebbing courage halted.
She saw that he himself was hesitating, and with a woman's
intuition realised that there was no occasion for great alarm.
"What makes you talk like that?" she asked, wrinkling her pretty
forehead. "You act so funny to-night."
"I feel funny," he answered.
They looked at one another for a moment, and then Drouet plunged
desperately into his subject.
"What's this about you and Hurstwood?" he asked.
"Me and Hurstwood--what do you mean?"
"Didn't he come here a dozen times while I was away?"
"A dozen times," repeated Carrie, guiltily. "No, but what do you
"Somebody said that you went out riding with him and that he came
here every night."
"No such thing," answered Carrie. "It isn't true. Who told you
She was flushing scarlet to the roots of her hair, but Drouet did
not catch the full hue of her face, owing to the modified light
of the room. He was regaining much confidence as Carrie defended
herself with denials.
"Well, some one," he said. "You're sure you didn't?"
"Certainly," said Carrie. "You know how often he came."
Drouet paused for a moment and thought.
"I know what you told me," he said finally.
He moved nervously about, while Carrie looked at him confusedly.
"Well, I know that I didn't tell you any such thing as that,"
said Carrie, recovering herself.
"If I were you," went on Drouet, ignoring her last remark, "I
wouldn't have anything to do with him. He's a married man, you
"Who--who is?" said Carrie, stumbling at the word.
"Why, Hurstwood," said Drouet, noting the effect and feeling that
he was delivering a telling blow.
"Hurstwood!" exclaimed Carrie, rising. Her face had changed
several shades since this announcement was made. She looked
within and without herself in a half-dazed way.
"Who told you this?" she asked, forgetting that her interest was
out of order and exceedingly incriminating.
"Why, I know it. I've always known it," said Drouet.
Carrie was feeling about for a right thought. She was making a
most miserable showing, and yet feelings were generating within
her which were anything but crumbling cowardice.
"I thought I told you," he added.
"No, you didn't," she contradicted, suddenly recovering her
voice. "You didn't do anything of the kind."
Drouet listened to her in astonishment. This was something new.
"I thought I did," he said.
Carrie looked around her very solemnly, and then went over to the
"You oughtn't to have had anything to do with him," said Drouet
in an injured tone, "after all I've done for you."
"You," said Carrie, "you! What have you done for me?"
Her little brain had been surging with contradictory feelings--
shame at exposure, shame at Hurstwood's perfidy, anger at
Drouet's deception, the mockery he had made at her. Now one
clear idea came into her head. He was at fault. There was no
doubt about it. Why did he bring Hurstwood out--Hurstwood, a
married man, and never say a word to her? Never mind now about
Hurstwood's perfidy--why had he done this? Why hadn't he warned
her? There he stood now, guilty of this miserable breach of
confidence and talking about what he had done for her!
"Well, I like that," exclaimed Drouet, little realising the fire
his remark had generated. "I think I've done a good deal."
"You have, eh?" she answered. "You've deceived me--that's what
you've done. You've brought your old friends out here under
false pretences. You've made me out to be--Oh," and with this
her voice broke and she pressed her two little hands together
"I don't see what that's got to do with it," said the drummer
"No," she answered, recovering herself and shutting her teeth.
"No, of course you don't see. There isn't anything you see. You
couldn't have told me in the first place, could you? You had to
make me out wrong until it was too late. Now you come sneaking
around with your information and your talk about what you have
Drouet had never suspected this side of Carrie's nature. She was
alive with feeling, her eyes snapping, her lips quivering, her
whole body sensible of the injury she felt, and partaking of her
"Who's sneaking?" he asked, mildly conscious of error on his
part, but certain that he was wronged.
"You are," stamped Carrie. "You're a horrid, conceited coward,
that's what you are. If you had any sense of manhood in you, you
wouldn't have thought of doing any such thing."
The drummer stared.
"I'm not a coward," he said. "What do you mean by going with
other men, anyway?"
"Other men!" exclaimed Carrie. "Other men--you know better than
that. I did go with Mr. Hurstwood, but whose fault was it?
Didn't you bring him here? You told him yourself that he should
come out here and take me out. Now, after it's all over, you
come and tell me that I oughtn't to go with him and that he's a
She paused at the sound of the last two words and wrung her
hands. The knowledge of Hurstwood's perfidy wounded her like a
"Oh," she sobbed, repressing herself wonderfully and keeping her
eyes dry. "Oh, oh!"
"Well, I didn't think you'd be running around with him when I was
away," insisted Drouet.
"Didn't think!" said Carrie, now angered to the core by the man's
peculiar attitude. "Of course not. You thought only of what
would be to your satisfaction. You thought you'd make a toy of
me--a plaything. Well, I'll show you that you won't. I'll have
nothing more to do with you at all. You can take your old things
and keep them," and unfastening a little pin he had given her,
she flung it vigorously upon the floor and began to move about as
if to gather up the things which belonged to her.
By this Drouet was not only irritated but fascinated the more.
He looked at her in amazement, and finally said:
"I don't see where your wrath comes in. I've got the right of
this thing. You oughtn't to have done anything that wasn't right
after all I did for you."
"What have you done for me?" asked Carrie blazing, her head
thrown back and her lips parted.
"I think I've done a good deal," said the drummer, looking
around. "I've given you all the clothes you wanted, haven't I?
I've taken you everywhere you wanted to go. You've had as much
as I've had, and more too."
Carrie was not ungrateful, whatever else might be said of her.
In so far as her mind could construe, she acknowledged benefits
received. She hardly knew how to answer this, and yet her wrath
was not placated. She felt that the drummer had injured her
"Did I ask you to?" she returned.
"Well, I did it," said Drouet, "and you took it."
"You talk as though I had persuaded you," answered Carrie. "You
stand there and throw up what you've done. I don't want your old
things. I'll not have them. You take them to-night and do what
you please with them. I'll not stay here another minute."
"That's nice!" he answered, becoming angered now at the sense of
his own approaching loss. "Use everything and abuse me and then
walk off. That's just like a woman. I take you when you haven't
got anything, and then when some one else comes along, why I'm no
good. I always thought it'd come out that way."
He felt really hurt as he thought of his treatment, and looked as
if he saw no way of obtaining justice.
"It's not so," said Carrie, "and I'm not going with anybody else.
You have been as miserable and inconsiderate as you can be. I
hate you, I tell you, and I wouldn't live with you another
minute. You're a big, insulting"--here she hesitated and used no
word at all--"or you wouldn't talk that way."
She had secured her hat and jacket and slipped the latter on over
her little evening dress. Some wisps of wavy hair had loosened
from the bands at the side of her head and were straggling over
her hot, red cheeks. She was angry, mortified, grief-stricken.
Her large eyes were full of the anguish of tears, but her lids
were not yet wet. She was distracted and uncertain, deciding and
doing things without an aim or conclusion, and she had not the
slightest conception of how the whole difficulty would end.
"Well, that's a fine finish," said Drouet. "Pack up and pull
out, eh? You take the cake. I bet you were knocking around with
Hurstwood or you wouldn't act like that. I don't want the old
rooms. You needn't pull out for me. You can have them for all I
care, but b'George, you haven't done me right."
"I'll not live with you," said Carrie. "I don't want to live
with you. You've done nothing but brag around ever since you've
"Aw, I haven't anything of the kind," he answered.
Carrie walked over to the door.
"Where are you going?" he said, stepping over and heading her
"Let me out," she said.
"Where are you going?" he repeated.
He was, above all, sympathetic, and the sight of Carrie wandering
out, he knew not where, affected him, despite his grievance.
Carrie merely pulled at the door.
The strain of the situation was too much for her, however. She
made one more vain effort and then burst into tears.
"Now, be reasonable, Cad," said Drouet gently. "What do you want
to rush out for this way? You haven't any place to go. Why not
stay here now and be quiet? I'll not bother you. I don't want to
stay here any longer."
Carrie had gone sobbing from the door to the window. She was so
overcome she could not speak.
"Be reasonable now," he said. "I don't want to hold you. You
can go if you want to, but why don't you think it over? Lord
knows, I don't want to stop you."
He received no answer. Carrie was quieting, however, under the
influence of his plea.
"You stay here now, and I'll go," he added at last.
Carrie listened to this with mingled feelings. Her mind was
shaken loose from the little mooring of logic that it had. She
was stirred by this thought, angered by that--her own injustice,
Hurstwood's, Drouet's, their respective qualities of kindness and
favour, the threat of the world outside, in which she had failed
once before, the impossibility of this state inside, where the
chambers were no longer justly hers, the effect of the argument
upon her nerves, all combined to make her a mass of jangling
fibres--an anchorless, storm-beaten little craft which could do
absolutely nothing but drift.
"Say," said Drouet, coming over to her after a few moments, with
a new idea, and putting his hand upon her.
"Don't!" said Carrie, drawing away, but not removing her
handkerchief from her eyes.
"Never mind about this quarrel now. Let it go. You stay here
until the month's out, anyhow, and then you can tell better what
you want to do. Eh?"
Carrie made no answer.
"You'd better do that," he said. "There's no use your packing up
now. You can't go anywhere."
Still he got nothing for his words.
"If you'll do that, we'll call it off for the present and I'll
Carrie lowered her handkerchief slightly and looked out of the
"Will you do that?" he asked.
Still no answer.
"Will you?" he repeated.
She only looked vaguely into the street.
"Aw! come on," he said, "tell me. Will you?"
"I don't know," said Carrie softly, forced to answer.
"Promise me you'll do that," he said, "and we'll quit talking
about it. It'll be the best thing for you."
Carrie heard him, but she could not bring herself to answer
reasonably. She felt that the man was gentle, and that his
interest in her had not abated, and it made her suffer a pang of
regret. She was in a most helpless plight.
As for Drouet, his attitude had been that of the jealous lover.
Now his feelings were a mixture of anger at deception, sorrow at
losing Carrie, misery at being defeated. He wanted his rights in
some way or other, and yet his rights included the retaining of
Carrie, the making her feel her error.
"Will you?" he urged.
"Well, I'll see," said Carrie.
This left the matter as open as before, but it was something. It
looked as if the quarrel would blow over, if they could only get
some way of talking to one another. Carrie was ashamed, and
Drouet aggrieved. He pretended to take up the task of packing
some things in a valise.
Now, as Carrie watched him out of the corner of her eye, certain
sound thoughts came into her head. He had erred, true, but what
had she done? He was kindly and good-natured for all his egotism.
Throughout this argument he had said nothing very harsh. On the
other hand, there was Hurstwood--a greater deceiver than he. He
had pretended all this affection, all this passion, and he was
lying to her all the while. Oh, the perfidy of men! And she had
loved him. There could be nothing more in that quarter. She
would see Hurstwood no more. She would write him and let him
know what she thought. Thereupon what would she do? Here were
these rooms. Here was Drouet, pleading for her to remain.
Evidently things could go on here somewhat as before, if all were
arranged. It would be better than the street, without a place to
lay her head.
All this she thought of as Drouet rummaged the drawers for
collars and laboured long and painstakingly at finding a shirt-
stud. He was in no hurry to rush this matter. He felt an
attraction to Carrie which would not down. He could not think
that the thing would end by his walking out of the room. There
must be some way round, some way to make her own up that he was
right and she was wrong--to patch up a peace and shut out
Hurstwood for ever. Mercy, how he turned at the man's shameless
"Do you think," he said, after a few moments' silence, "that
you'll try and get on the stage?"
He was wondering what she was intending.
"I don't know what I'll do yet," said Carrie.
"If you do, maybe I can help you. I've got a lot of friends in
She made no answer to this.
"Don't go and try to knock around now without any money. Let me
help you," he said. "It's no easy thing to go on your own hook
Carrie only rocked back and forth in her chair.
"I don't want you to go up against a hard game that way."
He bestirred himself about some other details and Carrie rocked
"Why don't you tell me all about this thing," he said, after a
time, "and let's call it off? You don't really care for
Hurstwood, do you?"
"Why do you want to start on that again?" said Carrie. "You were
"No, I wasn't," he answered.
"Yes, you were, too," said Carrie. "You shouldn't have ever told
me such a story as that."
"But you didn't have much to do with him, did you?" went on
Drouet, anxious for his own peace of mind to get some direct
denial from her.
"I won't talk about it," said Carrie, pained at the quizzical
turn the peace arrangement had taken.
"What's the use of acting like that now, Cad?" insisted the
drummer, stopping in his work and putting up a hand expressively.
"You might let me know where I stand, at least."
"I won't," said Carrie, feeling no refuge but in anger.
"Whatever has happened is your own fault."
"Then you do care for him?" said Drouet, stopping completely and
experiencing a rush of feeling.
"Oh, stop!" said Carrie.
"Well, I'll not be made a fool of," exclaimed Drouet. "You may
trifle around with him if you want to, but you can't lead me.
You can tell me or not, just as you want to, but I won't fool any
He shoved the last few remaining things he had laid out into his
valise and snapped it with a vengeance. Then he grabbed his
coat, which he had laid off to work, picked up his gloves, and
"You can go to the deuce as far as I am concerned," he said, as
he reached the door. "I'm no sucker," and with that he opened it
with a jerk and closed it equally vigorously.
Carrie listened at her window view, more astonished than anything
else at this sudden rise of passion in the drummer. She could
hardly believe her senses--so good-natured and tractable had he
invariably been. It was not for her to see the wellspring of
human passion. A real flame of love is a subtle thing. It burns
as a will-o'-the-wisp, dancing onward to fairylands of delight.
It roars as a furnace. Too often jealousy is the quality upon
which it feeds.
ASHES OF TINDER--A FACE AT THE WINDOW
That night Hurstwood remained down town entirely, going to the
Palmer House for a bed after his work was through. He was in a
fevered state of mind, owing to the blight his wife's action
threatened to cast upon his entire future. While he was not sure
how much significance might be attached to the threat she had
made, he was sure that her attitude, if long continued, would
cause him no end of trouble. She was determined, and had worsted
him in a very important contest. How would it be from now on? He
walked the floor of his little office, and later that of his
room, putting one thing and another together to no avail.
Mrs. Hurstwood, on the contrary, had decided not to lose her
advantage by inaction. Now that she had practically cowed him,
she would follow up her work with demands, the acknowledgment of
which would make her word LAW in the future. He would have to
pay her the money which she would now regularly demand or there
would be trouble. It did not matter what he did. She really did
not care whether he came home any more or not. The household
would move along much more pleasantly without him, and she could
do as she wished without consulting any one. Now she proposed to
consult a lawyer and hire a detective. She would find out at
once just what advantages she could gain.
Hurstwood walked the floor, mentally arranging the chief points
of his situation. "She has that property in her name," he kept
saying to himself. "What a fool trick that was. Curse it! What
a fool move that was."
He also thought of his managerial position. "If she raises a row
now I'll lose this thing. They won't have me around if my name
gets in the papers. My friends, too!" He grew more angry as he
thought of the talk any action on her part would create. How
would the papers talk about it? Every man he knew would be
wondering. He would have to explain and deny and make a general
mark of himself. Then Moy would come and confer with him and
there would be the devil to pay.
Many little wrinkles gathered between his eyes as he contemplated
this, and his brow moistened. He saw no solution of anything--
not a loophole left.
Through all this thoughts of Carrie flashed upon him, and the
approaching affair of Saturday. Tangled as all his matters were,
he did not worry over that. It was the one pleasing thing in
this whole rout of trouble. He could arrange that
satisfactorily, for Carrie would be glad to wait, if necessary.
He would see how things turned out to-morrow, and then he would
talk to her. They were going to meet as usual. He saw only her
pretty face and neat figure and wondered why life was not
arranged so that such joy as he found with her could be steadily
maintained. How much more pleasant it would be. Then he would
take up his wife's threat again, and the wrinkles and moisture
In the morning he came over from the hotel and opened his mail,
but there was nothing in it outside the ordinary run. For some
reason he felt as if something might come that way, and was
relieved when all the envelopes had been scanned and nothing
suspicious noticed. He began to feel the appetite that had been
wanting before he had reached the office, and decided before
going out to the park to meet Carrie to drop in at the Grand
Pacific and have a pot of coffee and some rolls. While the
danger had not lessened, it had not as yet materialised, and with
him no news was good news. If he could only get plenty of time
to think, perhaps something would turn up. Surely, surely, this
thing would not drift along to catastrophe and he not find a way
His spirits fell, however, when, upon reaching the park, he
waited and waited and Carrie did not come. He held his favourite
post for an hour or more, then arose and began to walk about
restlessly. Could something have happened out there to keep her
away? Could she have been reached by his wife? Surely not. So
little did he consider Drouet that it never once occurred to him
to worry about his finding out. He grew restless as he
ruminated, and then decided that perhaps it was nothing. She had
not been able to get away this morning. That was why no letter
notifying him had come. He would get one to-day. It would
probably be on his desk when he got back. He would look for it
After a time he gave up waiting and drearily headed for the
Madison car. To add to his distress, the bright blue sky became
overcast with little fleecy clouds which shut out the sun. The
wind veered to the east, and by the time he reached his office it
was threatening to drizzle all afternoon.
He went in and examined his letters, but there was nothing from
Carrie. Fortunately, there was nothing from his wife either. He
thanked his stars that he did not have to confront that
proposition just now when he needed to think so much. He walked
the floor again, pretending to be in an ordinary mood, but
secretly troubled beyond the expression of words.
At one-thirty he went to Rector's for lunch, and when he returned
a messenger was waiting for him. He looked at the little chap
with a feeling of doubt.
"I'm to bring an answer," said the boy.
Hurstwood recognised his wife's writing. He tore it open and
read without a show of feeling. It began in the most formal
manner and was sharply and coldly worded throughout.
"I want you to send the money I asked for at once. I need it to
carry out my plans. You can stay away if you want to. It
doesn't matter in the least. But I must have some money. So
don't delay, but send it by the boy."
When he had finished it, he stood holding it in his hands. The
audacity of the thing took his breath. It roused his ire also--
the deepest element of revolt in him. His first impulse was to
write but four words in reply--"Go to the devil!"--but he
compromised by telling the boy that there would be no reply.
Then he sat down in his chair and gazed without seeing,
contemplating the result of his work. What would she do about
that? The confounded wretch! Was she going to try to bulldoze him
into submission? He would go up there and have it out with her,
that's what he would do. She was carrying things with too high a
hand. These were his first thoughts.
Later, however, his old discretion asserted itself. Something
had to be done. A climax was near and she would not sit idle.
He knew her well enough to know that when she had decided upon a
plan she would follow it up. Possibly matters would go into a
lawyer's hands at once.
"Damn her!" he said softly, with his teeth firmly set, "I'll make
it hot for her if she causes me trouble. I'll make her change
her tone if I have to use force to do it!"
He arose from his chair and went and looked out into the street.
The long drizzle had begun. Pedestrians had turned up collars,
and trousers at the bottom. Hands were hidden in the pockets of
the umbrellaless; umbrellas were up. The street looked like a
sea of round black cloth roofs, twisting, bobbing, moving.
Trucks and vans were rattling in a noisy line and everywhere men
were shielding themselves as best they could. He scarcely
noticed the picture. He was forever confronting his wife,
demanding of her to change her attitude toward him before he
worked her bodily harm.
At four o'clock another note came, which simply said that if the
money was not forthcoming that evening the matter would be laid
before Fitzgerald and Moy on the morrow, and other steps would be
taken to get it.
Hurstwood almost exclaimed out loud at the insistency of this
thing. Yes, he would send her the money. He'd take it to her--
he would go up there and have a talk with her, and that at once.
He put on his hat and looked around for his umbrella. He would
have some arrangement of this thing.
He called a cab and was driven through the dreary rain to the
North Side. On the way his temper cooled as he thought of the
details of the case. What did she know? What had she done? Maybe
she'd got hold of Carrie, who knows--or--or Drouet. Perhaps she
really had evidence, and was prepared to fell him as a man does
another from secret ambush. She was shrewd. Why should she
taunt him this way unless she had good grounds?
He began to wish that he had compromised in some way or other--
that he had sent the money. Perhaps he could do it up here. He
would go in and see, anyhow. He would have no row. By the time
he reached his own street he was keenly alive to the difficulties
of his situation and wished over and over that some solution
would offer itself, that he could see his way out. He alighted
and went up the steps to the front door, but it was with a
nervous palpitation of the heart. He pulled out his key and
tried to insert it, but another key was on the inside. He shook
at the knob, but the door was locked. Then he rang the bell. No
answer. He rang again--this time harder. Still no answer. He
jangled it fiercely several times in succession, but without
avail. Then he went below.
There was a door which opened under the steps into the kitchen,
protected by an iron grating, intended as a safeguard against
burglars. When he reached this he noticed that it also was
bolted and that the kitchen windows were down. What could it
mean? He rang the bell and then waited. Finally, seeing that no
one was coming, he turned and went back to his cab.
"I guess they've gone out," he said apologetically to the
individual who was hiding his red face in a loose tarpaulin
"I saw a young girl up in that winder," returned the cabby.
Hurstwood looked, but there was no face there now. He climbed
moodily into the cab, relieved and distressed.
So this was the game, was it? Shut him out and make him pay.
Well, by the Lord, that did beat all!
ASHES OF TINDER--THE LOOSING OF STAYS
When Hurstwood got back to his office again he was in a greater
quandary than ever. Lord, Lord, he thought, what had he got
into? How could things have taken such a violent turn, and so
quickly? He could hardly realise how it had all come about. It
seemed a monstrous, unnatural, unwarranted condition which had
suddenly descended upon him without his let or hindrance.
Meanwhile he gave a thought now and then to Carrie. What could
be the trouble in that quarter? No letter had come, no word of
any kind, and yet here it was late in the evening and she had
agreed to meet him that morning. To-morrow they were to have met
and gone off--where? He saw that in the excitement of recent
events he had not formulated a plan upon that score. He was
desperately in love, and would have taken great chances to win
her under ordinary circumstances, but now--now what? Supposing
she had found out something? Supposing she, too, wrote him and
told him that she knew all--that she would have nothing more to
do with him? It would be just like this to happen as things were
going now. Meanwhile he had not sent the money.
He strolled up and down the polished floor of the resort, his
hands in his pockets, his brow wrinkled, his mouth set. He was
getting some vague comfort out of a good cigar, but it was no
panacea for the ill which affected him. Every once in a while he
would clinch his fingers and tap his foot--signs of the stirring
mental process he was undergoing. His whole nature was
vigorously and powerfully shaken up, and he was finding what
limits the mind has to endurance. He drank more brandy and soda
than he had any evening in months. He was altogether a fine
example of great mental perturbation.
For all his study nothing came of the evening except this--he
sent the money. It was with great opposition, after two or three
hours of the most urgent mental affirmation and denial, that at
last he got an envelope, placed in it the requested amount, and
slowly sealed it up.
Then he called Harry, the boy of all work around the place.
"You take this to this address," he said, handing him the
envelope, "and give it to Mrs. Hurstwood."
"Yes, sir," said the boy.
"If she isn't there bring it back."
"You've seen my wife?" he asked as a precautionary measure as the
boy turned to go.
"Oh, yes, sir. I know her."
"All right, now. Hurry right back."
"I guess not."
The boy hastened away and the manager fell to his musings. Now
he had done it. There was no use speculating over that. He was
beaten for to-night and he might just as well make the best of
it. But, oh, the wretchedness of being forced this way! He could
see her meeting the boy at the door and smiling sardonically.
She would take the envelope and know that she had triumphed. If
he only had that letter back he wouldn't send it. He breathed
heavily and wiped the moisture from his face.
For relief, he arose and joined in conversation with a few
friends who were drinking. He tried to get the interest of
things about him, but it was not to be. All the time his
thoughts would run out to his home and see the scene being
therein enacted. All the time he was wondering what she would
say when the boy handed her the envelope.
In about an hour and three-quarters the boy returned. He had
evidently delivered the package, for, as he came up, he made no
sign of taking anything out of his pocket.
"Well?" said Hurstwood.
"I gave it to her."
"She said it was high time."
Hurstwood scowled fiercely.
There was no more to be done upon that score that night. He went
on brooding over his situation until midnight, when he repaired
again to the Palmer House. He wondered what the morning would
bring forth, and slept anything but soundly upon it.
Next day he went again to the office and opened his mail,
suspicious and hopeful of its contents. No word from Carrie.
Nothing from his wife, which was pleasant.
The fact that he had sent the money and that she had received it
worked to the ease of his mind, for, as the thought that he had
done it receded, his chagrin at it grew less and his hope of
peace more. He fancied, as he sat at his desk, that nothing
would be done for a week or two. Meanwhile, he would have time
This process of THINKING began by a reversion to Carrie and the
arrangement by which he was to get her away from Drouet. How
about that now? His pain at her failure to meet or write him
rapidly increased as he devoted himself to this subject. He
decided to write her care of the West Side Post-office and ask
for an explanation, as well as to have her meet him. The thought
that this letter would probably not reach her until Monday chafed
him exceedingly. He must get some speedier method--but how?
He thought upon it for a half-hour, not contemplating a messenger
or a cab direct to the house, owing to the exposure of it, but
finding that time was slipping away to no purpose, he wrote the
letter and then began to think again.
The hours slipped by, and with them the possibility of the union
he had contemplated. He had thought to be joyously aiding Carrie
by now in the task of joining her interests to his, and here it
was afternoon and nothing done. Three o'clock came, four, five,
six, and no letter. The helpless manager paced the floor and
grimly endured the gloom of defeat. He saw a busy Saturday
ushered out, the Sabbath in, and nothing done. All day, the bar
being closed, he brooded alone, shut out from home, from the
excitement of his resort, from Carrie, and without the ability to
alter his condition one iota. It was the worst Sunday he had
spent in his life.
In Monday's second mail he encountered a very legal-looking
letter, which held his interest for some time. It bore the
imprint of the law offices of McGregor, James and Hay, and with a
very formal "Dear Sir," and "We beg to state," went on to inform
him briefly that they had been retained by Mrs. Julia Hurstwood
to adjust certain matters which related to her sustenance and
property rights, and would he kindly call and see them about the
matter at once.
He read it through carefully several times, and then merely shook
his head. It seemed as if his family troubles were just
"Well!" he said after a time, quite audibly, "I don't know."
Then he folded it up and put it in his pocket.
To add to his misery there was no word from Carrie. He was quite
certain now that she knew he was married and was angered at his
perfidy. His loss seemed all the more bitter now that he needed
her most. He thought he would go out and insist on seeing her if
she did not send him word of some sort soon. He was really
affected most miserably of all by this desertion. He had loved
her earnestly enough, but now that the possibility of losing her