Part 8 out of 11
The afternoon was as grey as lead and cold. It was blowing up a
disagreeable winter wind. He visited a place far up on the east
side, near Sixty-ninth Street, and it was five o'clock, and
growing dim, when he reached there. A portly German kept this
"How about this ad of yours?" asked Hurstwood, who rather
objected to the looks of the place.
"Oh, dat iss all over," said the German. "I vill not sell now."
"Oh, is that so?"
"Yes; dere is nothing to dat. It iss all over."
"Very well," said Hurstwood, turning around.
The German paid no more attention to him, and it made him angry.
"The crazy ass!" he said to himself. "What does he want to
Wholly depressed, he started for Thirteenth Street. The flat had
only a light in the kitchen, where Carrie was working. He struck
a match and, lighting the gas, sat down in the dining-room
without even greeting her. She came to the door and looked in.
"It's you, is it?" she said, and went back.
"Yes," he said, without even looking up from the evening paper he
Carrie saw things were wrong with him. He was not so handsome
when gloomy. The lines at the sides of the eyes were deepened.
Naturally dark of skin, gloom made him look slightly sinister.
He was quite a disagreeable figure.
Carrie set the table and brought in the meal.
"Dinner's ready," she said, passing him for something.
He did not answer, reading on.
She came in and sat down at her place, feeling exceedingly
"Won't you eat now?" she asked.
He folded his paper and drew near, silence holding for a time,
except for the "Pass me's."
"It's been gloomy to-day, hasn't it?" ventured Carrie, after a
"Yes," he said.
He only picked at his food.
"Are you still sure to close up?" said Carrie, venturing to take
up the subject which they had discussed often enough.
"Of course we are," he said, with the slightest modification of
This retort angered Carrie. She had had a dreary day of it
"You needn't talk like that," she said.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, pushing back from the table, as if to say
more, but letting it go at that. Then he picked up his paper.
Carrie left her seat, containing herself with difficulty. He saw
she was hurt.
"Don't go 'way," he said, as she started back into the kitchen.
"Eat your dinner."
She passed, not answering.
He looked at the paper a few moments, and then rose up and put on
"I'm going downtown, Carrie," he said, coming out. "I'm out of
She did not answer.
"Don't be angry," he said. "It will be all right to morrow."
He looked at her, but she paid no attention to him, working at
"Good-bye!" he said finally, and went out.
This was the first strong result of the situation between them,
but with the nearing of the last day of the business the gloom
became almost a permanent thing. Hurstwood could not conceal his
feelings about the matter. Carrie could not help wondering where
she was drifting. It got so that they talked even less than
usual, and yet it was not Hurstwood who felt any objection to
Carrie. It was Carrie who shied away from him. This he noticed.
It aroused an objection to her becoming indifferent to him. He
made the possibility of friendly intercourse almost a giant task,
and then noticed with discontent that Carrie added to it by her
manner and made it more impossible.
At last the final day came. When it actually arrived, Hurstwood,
who had got his mind into such a state where a thunderclap and
raging storm would have seemed highly appropriate, was rather
relieved to find that it was a plain, ordinary day. The sun
shone, the temperature was pleasant. He felt, as he came to the
breakfast table, that it wasn't so terrible, after all.
"Well," he said to Carrie, "to-day's my last day on earth."
Carrie smiled in answer to his humour.
Hurstwood glanced over his paper rather gayly. He seemed to have
lost a load.
"I'll go down for a little while," he said after breakfast, "and
then I'll look around. To-morrow I'll spend the whole day
looking about. I think I can get something, now this thing's off
He went out smiling and visited the place. Shaughnessy was
there. They had made all arrangements to share according to
their interests. When, however, he had been there several hours,
gone out three more, and returned, his elation had departed. As
much as he had objected to the place, now that it was no longer
to exist, he felt sorry. He wished that things were different.
Shaughnessy was coolly businesslike.
"Well," he said at five o'clock, "we might as well count the
change and divide."
They did so. The fixtures had already been sold and the sum
"Good-night," said Hurstwood at the final moment, in a last
effort to be genial.
"So long," said Shaughnessy, scarcely deigning a notice.
Thus the Warren Street arrangement was permanently concluded.
Carrie had prepared a good dinner at the flat, but after his ride
up, Hurstwood was in a solemn and reflective mood.
"Well?" said Carrie, inquisitively.
"I'm out of that," he answered, taking off his coat.
As she looked at him, she wondered what his financial state was
now. They ate and talked a little.
"Will you have enough to buy in anywhere else?" asked Carrie.
"No," he said. "I'll have to get something else and save up."
"It would be nice if you could get some place," said Carrie,
prompted by anxiety and hope.
"I guess I will," he said reflectively.
For some days thereafter he put on his overcoat regularly in the
morning and sallied forth. On these ventures he first consoled
himself with the thought that with the seven hundred dollars he
had he could still make some advantageous arrangement. He
thought about going to some brewery, which, as he knew,
frequently controlled saloons which they leased, and get them to
help him. Then he remembered that he would have to pay out
several hundred any way for fixtures and that he would have
nothing left for his monthly expenses. It was costing him nearly
eighty dollars a month to live.
"No," he said, in his sanest moments, "I can't do it. I'll get
something else and save up."
This getting-something proposition complicated itself the moment
he began to think of what it was he wanted to do. Manage a
place? Where should he get such a position? The papers contained
no requests for managers. Such positions, he knew well enough,
were either secured by long years of service or were bought with
a half or third interest. Into a place important enough to need
such a manager he had not money enough to buy.
Nevertheless, he started out. His clothes were very good and his
appearance still excellent, but it involved the trouble of
deluding. People, looking at him, imagined instantly that a man
of his age, stout and well dressed, must be well off. He
appeared a comfortable owner of something, a man from whom the
common run of mortals could well expect gratuities. Being now
forty-three years of age, and comfortably built, walking was not
easy. He had not been used to exercise for many years. His legs
tired, his shoulders ached, and his feet pained him at the close
of the day, even when he took street cars in almost every
direction. The mere getting up and down, if long continued,
produced this result.
The fact that people took him to be better off than he was, he
well understood. It was so painfully clear to him that it
retarded his search. Not that he wished to be less well-
appearing, but that he was ashamed to belie his appearance by
incongruous appeals. So he hesitated, wondering what to do.
He thought of the hotels, but instantly he remembered that he had
had no experience as a clerk, and, what was more important, no
acquaintances or friends in that line to whom he could go. He
did know some hotel owners in several cities, including New York,
but they knew of his dealings with Fitzgerald and Moy. He could
not apply to them. He thought of other lines suggested by large
buildings or businesses which he knew of--wholesale groceries,
hardware, insurance concerns, and the like--but he had had no
How to go about getting anything was a bitter thought. Would he
have to go personally and ask; wait outside an office door, and,
then, distinguished and affluent looking, announce that he was
looking for something to do? He strained painfully at the
thought. No, he could not do that.
He really strolled about, thinking, and then, the weather being
cold, stepped into a hotel. He knew hotels well enough to know
that any decent individual was welcome to a chair in the lobby.
This was in the Broadway Central, which was then one of the most
important hotels in the city. Taking a chair here was a painful
thing to him. To think he should come to this! He had heard
loungers about hotels called chairwarmers. He had called them
that himself in his day. But here he was, despite the
possibility of meeting some one who knew him, shielding himself
from cold and the weariness of the streets in a hotel lobby.
"I can't do this way," he said to himself. "There's no use of my
starting out mornings without first thinking up some place to go.
I'll think of some places and then look them up."
It occurred to him that the positions of bartenders were
sometimes open, but he put this out of his mind. Bartender--he,
It grew awfully dull sitting in the hotel lobby, and so at four
he went home. He tried to put on a business air as he went in,
but it was a feeble imitation. The rocking chair in the dining-
room was comfortable. He sank into it gladly, with several
papers he had bought, and began to read.
As she was going through the room to begin preparing dinner,
"The man was here for the rent to-day."
"Oh, was he?" said Hurstwood.
The least wrinkle crept into his brow as he remembered that this
was February 2d, the time the man always called. He fished down
in his pocket for his purse, getting the first taste of paying
out when nothing is coming in. He looked at the fat, green roll
as a sick man looks at the one possible saving cure. Then he
counted off twenty-eight dollars.
"Here you are," he said to Carrie, when she came through again.
He buried himself in his papers and read. Oh, the rest of it--
the relief from walking and thinking! What Lethean waters were
these floods of telegraphed intelligence! He forgot his troubles,
in part. Here was a young, handsome woman, if you might believe
the newspaper drawing, suing a rich, fat, candy-making husband in
Brooklyn for divorce. Here was another item detailing the
wrecking of a vessel in ice and snow off Prince's Bay on Staten
Island. A long, bright column told of the doings in the
theatrical world--the plays produced, the actors appearing, the
managers making announcements. Fannie Davenport was just opening
at the Fifth Avenue. Daly was producing "King Lear." He read of
the early departure for the season of a party composed of the
Vanderbilts and their friends for Florida. An interesting
shooting affray was on in the mountains of Kentucky. So he read,
read, read, rocking in the warm room near the radiator and
waiting for dinner to be served.
THE PASSING OF EFFORT--THE VISAGE OF CARE
The next morning he looked over the papers and waded through a
long list of advertisements, making a few notes. Then he turned
to the male-help-wanted column, but with disagreeable feelings.
The day was before him--a long day in which to discover
something--and this was how he must begin to discover. He
scanned the long column, which mostly concerned bakers,
bushelmen, cooks, compositors, drivers, and the like, finding two
things only which arrested his eye. One was a cashier wanted in
a wholesale furniture house, and the other a salesman for a
whiskey house. He had never thought of the latter. At once he
decided to look that up.
The firm in question was Alsbery & Co., whiskey brokers.
He was admitted almost at once to the manager on his appearance.
"Good-morning, sir," said the latter, thinking at first that he
was encountering one of his out-of-town customers.
"Good-morning," said Hurstwood. "You advertised, I believe, for
"Oh," said the man, showing plainly the enlightenment which had
come to him. "Yes. Yes, I did."
"I thought I'd drop in," said Hurstwood, with dignity. "I've had
some experience in that line myself."
"Oh, have you?" said the man. "What experience have you had?"
"Well, I've managed several liquor houses in my time. Recently I
owned a third-interest in a saloon at Warren and Hudson streets."
"I see," said the man.
Hurstwood ceased, waiting for some suggestion.
"We did want a salesman," said the man. "I don't know as it's
anything you'd care to take hold of, though."
"I see," said Hurstwood. "Well, I'm in no position to choose,
just at present. If it were open, I should be glad to get it."
The man did not take kindly at all to his "No position to
choose." He wanted some one who wasn't thinking of a choice or
something better. Especially not an old man. He wanted some one
young, active, and glad to work actively for a moderate sum.
Hurstwood did not please him at all. He had more of an air than
"Well," he said in answer, "we'd be glad to consider your
application. We shan't decide for a few days yet. Suppose you
send us your references."
"I will," said Hurstwood.
He nodded good-morning and came away. At the corner he looked at
the furniture company's address, and saw that it was in West
Twenty-third Street. Accordingly, he went up there. The place
was not large enough, however. It looked moderate, the men in it
idle and small salaried. He walked by, glancing in, and then
decided not to go in there.
"They want a girl, probably, at ten a week," he said.
At one o'clock he thought of eating, and went to a restaurant in
Madison Square. There he pondered over places which he might
look up. He was tired. It was blowing up grey again. Across
the way, through Madison Square Park, stood the great hotels,
looking down upon a busy scene. He decided to go over to the
lobby of one and sit a while. It was warm in there and bright.
He had seen no one he knew at the Broadway Central. In all
likelihood he would encounter no one here. Finding a seat on one
of the red plush divans close to the great windows which look out
on Broadway's busy rout, he sat musing. His state did not seem
so bad in here. Sitting still and looking out, he could take
some slight consolation in the few hundred dollars he had in his
purse. He could forget, in a measure, the weariness of the
street and his tiresome searches. Still, it was only escape from
a severe to a less severe state. He was still gloomy and
disheartened. There, minutes seemed to go very slowly. An hour
was a long, long time in passing. It was filled for him with
observations and mental comments concerning the actual guests of
the hotel, who passed in and out, and those more prosperous
pedestrians whose good fortune showed in their clothes and
spirits as they passed along Broadway, outside. It was nearly
the first time since he had arrived in the city that his leisure
afforded him ample opportunity to contemplate this spectacle.
Now, being, perforce, idle himself, he wondered at the activity
of others. How gay were the youths he saw, how pretty the women.
Such fine clothes they all wore. They were so intent upon
getting somewhere. He saw coquettish glances cast by magnificent
girls. Ah, the money it required to train with such--how well he
knew! How long it had been since he had had the opportunity to do
The clock outside registered four. It was a little early, but he
thought he would go back to the flat.
This going back to the flat was coupled with the thought that
Carrie would think he was sitting around too much if he came home
early. He hoped he wouldn't have to, but the day hung heavily on
his hands. Over there he was on his own ground. He could sit in
his rocking-chair and read. This busy, distracting, suggestive
scene was shut out. He could read his papers. Accordingly, he
went home. Carrie was reading, quite alone. It was rather dark
in the flat, shut in as it was.
"You'll hurt your eyes," he said when he saw her.
After taking off his coat, he felt it incumbent upon him to make
some little report of his day.
"I've been talking with a wholesale liquor company," he said. "I
may go on the road."
"Wouldn't that be nice!" said Carrie.
"It wouldn't be such a bad thing," he answered.
Always from the man at the corner now he bought two papers--the
"Evening World" and "Evening Sun." So now he merely picked his
papers up, as he came by, without stopping.
He drew up his chair near the radiator and lighted the gas. Then
it was as the evening before. His difficulties vanished in the
items he so well loved to read.
The next day was even worse than the one before, because now he
could not think of where to go. Nothing he saw in the papers he
studied--till ten o'clock--appealed to him. He felt that he
ought to go out, and yet he sickened at the thought. Where to,
"You mustn't forget to leave me my money for this week," said
They had an arrangement by which he placed twelve dollars a week
in her hands, out of which to pay current expenses. He heaved a
little sigh as she said this, and drew out his purse. Again he
felt the dread of the thing. Here he was taking off, taking off,
and nothing coming in.
"Lord!" he said, in his own thoughts, "this can't go on."
To Carrie he said nothing whatsoever. She could feel that her
request disturbed him. To pay her would soon become a
"Yet, what have I got to do with it?" she thought. "Oh, why
should I be made to worry?"
Hurstwood went out and made for Broadway. He wanted to think up
some place. Before long, though, he reached the Grand Hotel at
Thirty-first Street. He knew of its comfortable lobby. He was
cold after his twenty blocks' walk.
"I'll go in their barber shop and get a shave," he thought.
Thus he justified himself in sitting down in here after his
Again, time hanging heavily on his hands, he went home early, and
this continued for several days, each day the need to hunt
paining him, and each day disgust, depression, shamefacedness
driving him into lobby idleness.
At last three days came in which a storm prevailed, and he did
not go out at all. The snow began to fall late one afternoon.
It was a regular flurry of large, soft, white flakes. In the
morning it was still coming down with a high wind, and the papers
announced a blizzard. From out the front windows one could see a
deep, soft bedding.
"I guess I'll not try to go out to-day," he said to Carrie at
breakfast. "It's going to be awful bad, so the papers say."
"The man hasn't brought my coal, either," said Carrie, who
ordered by the bushel.
"I'll go over and see about it," said Hurstwood. This was the
first time he had ever suggested doing an errand, but, somehow,
the wish to sit about the house prompted it as a sort of
compensation for the privilege.
All day and all night it snowed, and the city began to suffer
from a general blockade of traffic. Great attention was given to
the details of the storm by the newspapers, which played up the
distress of the poor in large type.
Hurstwood sat and read by his radiator in the corner. He did not
try to think about his need of work. This storm being so
terrific, and tying up all things, robbed him of the need. He
made himself wholly comfortable and toasted his feet.
Carrie observed his ease with some misgiving. For all the fury
of the storm she doubted his comfort. He took his situation too
Hurstwood, however, read on and on. He did not pay much
attention to Carrie. She fulfilled her household duties and said
little to disturb him.
The next day it was still snowing, and the next, bitter cold.
Hurstwood took the alarm of the paper and sat still. Now he
volunteered to do a few other little things. One was to go to
the butcher, another to the grocery. He really thought nothing
of these little services in connection with their true
significance. He felt as if he were not wholly useless--indeed,
in such a stress of weather, quite worth while about the house.
On the fourth day, however, it cleared, and he read that the
storm was over. Now, however, he idled, thinking how sloppy the
streets would be.
It was noon before he finally abandoned his papers and got under
way. Owing to the slightly warmer temperature the streets were
bad. He went across Fourteenth Street on the car and got a
transfer south on Broadway. One little advertisement he had,
relating to a saloon down in Pearl Street. When he reached the
Broadway Central, however, he changed his mind.
"What's the use?" he thought, looking out upon the slop and snow.
"I couldn't buy into it. It's a thousand to one nothing comes of
it. I guess I'll get off," and off he got. In the lobby he took
a seat and waited again, wondering what he could do.
While he was idly pondering, satisfied to be inside, a well-
dressed man passed up the lobby, stopped, looked sharply, as if
not sure of his memory, and then approached. Hurstwood
recognised Cargill, the owner of the large stables in Chicago of
the same name, whom he had last seen at Avery Hall, the night
Carrie appeared there. The remembrance of how this individual
brought up his wife to shake hands on that occasion was also on
the instant clear.
Hurstwood was greatly abashed. His eyes expressed the difficulty
"Why, it's Hurstwood!" said Cargill, remembering now, and sorry
that he had not recognised him quickly enough in the beginning to
have avoided this meeting.
"Yes," said Hurstwood. "How are you?"
"Very well," said Cargill, troubled for something to talk about.
"No," said Hurstwood, "just keeping an appointment."
"I knew you had left Chicago. I was wondering what had become of
"Oh, I'm here now," answered Hurstwood, anxious to get away.
"Doing well, I suppose?"
"Glad to hear it."
They looked at one another, rather embarrassed.
"Well, I have an engagement with a friend upstairs. I'll leave
you. So long."
Hurstwood nodded his head.
"Damn it all," he murmured, turning toward the door. "I knew
that would happen."
He walked several blocks up the street. His watch only
registered 1.30. He tried to think of some place to go or
something to do. The day was so bad he wanted only to be inside.
Finally his feet began to feel wet and cold, and he boarded a
car. This took him to Fifty-ninth Street, which was as good as
anywhere else. Landed here, he turned to walk back along Seventh
Avenue, but the slush was too much. The misery of lounging about
with nowhere to go became intolerable. He felt as if he were
Stopping at a corner, he waited for a car south bound. This was
no day to be out; he would go home.
Carrie was surprised to see him at a quarter of three.
"It's a miserable day out," was all he said. Then he took off
his coat and changed his shoes.
That night he felt a cold coming on and took quinine. He was
feverish until morning, and sat about the next day while Carrie
waited on him. He was a helpless creature in sickness, not very
handsome in a dull-coloured bath gown and his hair uncombed. He
looked haggard about the eyes and quite old. Carrie noticed
this, and it did not appeal to her. She wanted to be good-
natured and sympathetic, but something about the man held her
Toward evening he looked so badly in the weak light that she
suggested he go to bed.
"You'd better sleep alone," she said, "you'll feel better. I'll
open your bed for you now."
"All right," he said.
As she did all these things, she was in a most despondent state.
"What a life! What a life!" was her one thought.
Once during the day, when he sat near the radiator, hunched up
and reading, she passed through, and seeing him, wrinkled her
brows. In the front room, where it was not so warm, she sat by
the window and cried. This was the life cut out for her, was it?
To live cooped up in a small flat with some one who was out of
work, idle, and indifferent to her. She was merely a servant to
him now, nothing more.
This crying made her eyes red, and when, in preparing his bed,
she lighted the gas, and, having prepared it, called him in, he
noticed the fact.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked, looking into her face.
His voice was hoarse and his unkempt head only added to its
"Nothing," said Carrie, weakly.
"You've been crying," he said.
"I haven't, either," she answered.
It was not for love of him, that he knew.
"You needn't cry," he said, getting into bed. "Things will come
out all right."
In a day or two he was up again, but rough weather holding, he
stayed in. The Italian newsdealer now delivered the morning
papers, and these he read assiduously. A few times after that he
ventured out, but meeting another of his old-time friends, he
began to feel uneasy sitting about hotel corridors.
Every day he came home early, and at last made no pretence of
going anywhere. Winter was no time to look for anything.
Naturally, being about the house, he noticed the way Carrie did
things. She was far from perfect in household methods and
economy, and her little deviations on this score first caught his
eye. Not, however, before her regular demand for her allowance
became a grievous thing. Sitting around as he did, the weeks
seemed to pass very quickly. Every Tuesday Carrie asked for her
"Do you think we live as cheaply as we might?" he asked one
"I do the best I can," said Carrie.
Nothing was added to this at the moment, but the next day he
"Do you ever go to the Gansevoort Market over here?"
"I didn't know there was such a market," said Carrie.
"They say you can get things lots cheaper there."
Carrie was very indifferent to the suggestion. These were things
which she did not like at all.
"How much do you pay for a pound of meat?" he asked one day.
"Oh, there are different prices," said Carrie. "Sirloin steak is
"That's steep, isn't it?" he answered.
So he asked about other things, until finally, with the passing
days, it seemed to become a mania with him. He learned the
prices and remembered them.
His errand-running capacity also improved. It began in a small
way, of course. Carrie, going to get her hat one morning, was
stopped by him.
"Where are you going, Carrie?" he asked.
"Over to the baker's," she answered.
"I'd just as leave go for you," he said.
She acquiesced, and he went. Each afternoon he would go to the
corner for the papers.
"Is there anything you want?" he would say.
By degrees she began to use him. Doing this, however, she lost
the weekly payment of twelve dollars.
"You want to pay me to-day," she said one Tuesday, about this
"How much?" he asked.
She understood well enough what it meant.
"Well, about five dollars," she answered. "I owe the coal man."
The same day he said:
"I think this Italian up here on the corner sells coal at twenty-
five cents a bushel. I'll trade with him."
Carrie heard this with indifference.
"All right," she said.
Then it came to be:
"George, I must have some coal to-day," or, "You must get some
meat of some kind for dinner."
He would find out what she needed and order.
Accompanying this plan came skimpiness.
"I only got a half-pound of steak," he said, coming in one
afternoon with his papers. "We never seem to eat very much."
These miserable details ate the heart out of Carrie. They
blackened her days and grieved her soul. Oh, how this man had
changed! All day and all day, here he sat, reading his papers.
The world seemed to have no attraction. Once in a while he would
go out, in fine weather, it might be four or five hours, between
eleven and four. She could do nothing but view him with gnawing
It was apathy with Hurstwood, resulting from his inability to see
his way out. Each month drew from his small store. Now, he had
only five hundred dollars left, and this he hugged, half feeling
as if he could stave off absolute necessity for an indefinite
period. Sitting around the house, he decided to wear some old
clothes he had. This came first with the bad days. Only once he
apologised in the very beginning:
"It's so bad to-day, I'll just wear these around."
Eventually these became the permanent thing.
Also, he had been wont to pay fifteen cents for a shave, and a
tip of ten cents. In his first distress, he cut down the tip to
five, then to nothing. Later, he tried a ten-cent barber shop,
and, finding that the shave was satisfactory, patronised
regularly. Later still, he put off shaving to every other day,
then to every third, and so on, until once a week became the
rule. On Saturday he was a sight to see.
Of course, as his own self-respect vanished, it perished for him
in Carrie. She could not understand what had gotten into the
man. He had some money, he had a decent suit remaining, he was
not bad looking when dressed up. She did not forget her own
difficult struggle in Chicago, but she did not forget either that
she had never ceased trying. He never tried. He did not even
consult the ads in the papers any more.
Finally, a distinct impression escaped from her.
"What makes you put so much butter on the steak?" he asked her
one evening, standing around in the kitchen.
"To make it good, of course," she answered.
"Butter is awful dear these days," he suggested.
"You wouldn't mind it if you were working," she answered.
He shut up after this, and went in to his paper, but the retort
rankled in his mind. It was the first cutting remark that had
come from her.
That same evening, Carrie, after reading, went off to the front
room to bed. This was unusual. When Hurstwood decided to go, he
retired, as usual, without a light. It was then that he
discovered Carrie's absence.
"That's funny," he said; "maybe she's sitting up."
He gave the matter no more thought, but slept. In the morning
she was not beside him. Strange to say, this passed without
Night approaching, and a slightly more conversational feeling
prevailing, Carrie said:
"I think I'll sleep alone to-night. I have a headache."
"All right," said Hurstwood.
The third night she went to her front bed without apologies.
This was a grim blow to Hurstwood, but he never mentioned it.
"All right," he said to himself, with an irrepressible frown,
"let her sleep alone."
A GRIM RETROGRESSION--THE PHANTOM OF CHANCE
The Vances, who had been back in the city ever since Christmas,
had not forgotten Carrie; but they, or rather Mrs. Vance, had
never called on her, for the very simple reason that Carrie had
never sent her address. True to her nature, she corresponded
with Mrs. Vance as long as she still lived in Seventy-eighth
Street, but when she was compelled to move into Thirteenth, her
fear that the latter would take it as an indication of reduced
circumstances caused her to study some way of avoiding the
necessity of giving her address. Not finding any convenient
method, she sorrowfully resigned the privilege of writing to her
friend entirely. The latter wondered at this strange silence,
thought Carrie must have left the city, and in the end gave her
up as lost. So she was thoroughly surprised to encounter her in
Fourteenth Street, where she had gone shopping. Carrie was there
for the same purpose.
"Why, Mrs. Wheeler," said Mrs. Vance, looking Carrie over in a
glance, "where have you been? Why haven't you been to see me?
I've been wondering all this time what had become of you.
"I'm so glad to see you," said Carrie, pleased and yet
nonplussed. Of all times, this was the worst to encounter Mrs.
Vance. "Why, I'm living down town here. I've been intending to
come and see you. Where are you living now?"
"In Fifty-eighth Street," said Mrs. Vance, "just off Seventh
Avenue--218. Why don't you come and see me?"
"I will," said Carrie. "Really, I've been wanting to come. I
know I ought to. It's a shame. But you know----"
"What's your number?" said Mrs. Vance.
"Thirteenth Street," said Carrie, reluctantly. "112 West."
"Oh," said Mrs. Vance, "that's right near here, isn't it?"
"Yes," said Carrie. "You must come down and see me some time."
"Well, you're a fine one," said Mrs. Vance, laughing, the while
noting that Carrie's appearance had modified somewhat. "The
address, too," she added to herself. "They must be hard up."
Still she liked Carrie well enough to take her in tow.
"Come with me in here a minute," she exclaimed, turning into a
When Carrie returned home, there was Hurstwood, reading as usual.
He seemed to take his condition with the utmost nonchalance. His
beard was at least four days old.
"Oh," thought Carrie, "if she were to come here and see him?"
She shook her head in absolute misery. It looked as if her
situation was becoming unbearable.
Driven to desperation, she asked at dinner:
"Did you ever hear any more from that wholesale house?"
"No," he said. "They don't want an inexperienced man."
Carrie dropped the subject, feeling unable to say more.
"I met Mrs. Vance this afternoon," she said, after a time.
"Did, eh?" he answered.
"They're back in New York now," Carrie went on. "She did look so
"Well, she can afford it as long as he puts up for it," returned
Hurstwood. "He's got a soft job."
Hurstwood was looking into the paper. He could not see the look
of infinite weariness and discontent Carrie gave him.
"She said she thought she'd call here some day."
"She's been long getting round to it, hasn't she?" said
Hurstwood, with a kind of sarcasm.
The woman didn't appeal to him from her spending side.
"Oh, I don't know," said Carrie, angered by the man's attitude.
"Perhaps I didn't want her to come."
"She's too gay," said Hurstwood, significantly. "No one can keep
up with her pace unless they've got a lot of money."
"Mr. Vance doesn't seem to find it very hard."
"He may not now," answered Hurstwood, doggedly, well
understanding the inference; "but his life isn't done yet. You
can't tell what'll happen. He may get down like anybody else."
There was something quite knavish in the man's attitude. His eye
seemed to be cocked with a twinkle upon the fortunate, expecting
their defeat. His own state seemed a thing apart--not
This thing was the remains of his old-time cocksureness and
independence. Sitting in his flat, and reading of the doings of
other people, sometimes this independent, undefeated mood came
upon him. Forgetting the weariness of the streets and the
degradation of search, he would sometimes prick up his ears. It
was as if he said:
"I can do something. I'm not down yet. There's a lot of things
coming to me if I want to go after them."
It was in this mood that he would occasionally dress up, go for a
shave, and, putting on his gloves, sally forth quite actively.
Not with any definite aim. It was more a barometric condition.
He felt just right for being outside and doing something.
On such occasions, his money went also. He knew of several poker
rooms down town. A few acquaintances he had in downtown resorts
and about the City Hall. It was a change to see them and
exchange a few friendly commonplaces.
He had once been accustomed to hold a pretty fair hand at poker.
Many a friendly game had netted him a hundred dollars or more at
the time when that sum was merely sauce to the dish of the game--
not the all in all. Now, he thought of playing.
"I might win a couple of hundred. I'm not out of practice."
It is but fair to say that this thought had occurred to him
several times before he acted upon it.
The poker room which he first invaded was over a saloon in West
Street, near one of the ferries. He had been there before.
Several games were going. These he watched for a time and
noticed that the pots were quite large for the ante involved.
"Deal me a hand," he said at the beginning of a new shuffle. He
pulled up a chair and studied his cards. Those playing made that
quiet study of him which is so unapparent, and yet invariably so
Poor fortune was with him at first. He received a mixed
collection without progression or pairs. The pot was opened.
"I pass," he said.
On the strength of this, he was content to lose his ante. The
deals did fairly by him in the long run, causing him to come away
with a few dollars to the good.
The next afternoon he was back again, seeking amusement and
profit. This time he followed up three of a kind to his doom.
There was a better hand across the table, held by a pugnacious
Irish youth, who was a political hanger-on of the Tammany
district in which they were located. Hurstwood was surprised at
the persistence of this individual, whose bets came with a sang-
froid which, if a bluff, was excellent art. Hurstwood began to
doubt, but kept, or thought to keep, at least, the cool demeanour
with which, in olden times, he deceived those psychic students of
the gaming table, who seem to read thoughts and moods, rather
than exterior evidences, however subtle. He could not down the
cowardly thought that this man had something better and would
stay to the end, drawing his last dollar into the pot, should he
choose to go so far. Still, he hoped to win much--his hand was
excellent. Why not raise it five more?
"I raise you three," said the youth.
"Make it five," said Hurstwood, pushing out his chips.
"Come again," said the youth, pushing out a small pile of reds.
"Let me have some more chips," said Hurstwood to the keeper in
charge, taking out a bill.
A cynical grin lit up the face of his youthful opponent. When
the chips were laid out, Hurstwood met the raise.
"Five again," said the youth.
Hurstwood's brow was wet. He was deep in now--very deep for him.
Sixty dollars of his good money was up. He was ordinarily no
coward, but the thought of losing so much weakened him. Finally
he gave way. He would not trust to this fine hand any longer.
"I call," he said.
"A full house!" said the youth, spreading out his cards.
Hurstwood's hand dropped.
"I thought I had you," he said, weakly.
The youth raked in his chips, and Hurstwood came away, not
without first stopping to count his remaining cash on the stair.
"Three hundred and forty dollars," he said.
With this loss and ordinary expenses, so much had already gone.
Back in the flat, he decided he would play no more.
Remembering Mrs. Vance's promise to call, Carrie made one other
mild protest. It was concerning Hurstwood's appearance. This
very day, coming home, he changed his clothes to the old togs he
sat around in.
"What makes you always put on those old clothes?" asked Carrie.
"What's the use wearing my good ones around here?" he asked.
"Well, I should think you'd feel better." Then she added: "Some
one might call."
"Who?" he said.
"Well, Mrs. Vance," said Carrie.
"She needn't see me," he answered, sullenly.
This lack of pride and interest made Carrie almost hate him.
"Oh," she thought, "there he sits. 'She needn't see me.' I
should think he would be ashamed of himself."
The real bitterness of this thing was added when Mrs. Vance did
call. It was on one of her shopping rounds. Making her way up
the commonplace hall, she knocked at Carrie's door. To her
subsequent and agonising distress, Carrie was out. Hurstwood
opened the door, half-thinking that the knock was Carrie's. For
once, he was taken honestly aback. The lost voice of youth and
pride spoke in him.
"Why," he said, actually stammering, "how do you do?"
"How do you do?" said Mrs. Vance, who could scarcely believe her
eyes. His great confusion she instantly perceived. He did not
know whether to invite her in or not.
"Is your wife at home?" she inquired.
"No," he said, "Carrie's out; but won't you step in? She'll be
"No-o," said Mrs. Vance, realising the change of it all. "I'm
really very much in a hurry. I thought I'd just run up and look
in, but I couldn't stay. Just tell your wife she must come and
"I will," said Hurstwood, standing back, and feeling intense
relief at her going. He was so ashamed that he folded his hands
weakly, as he sat in the chair afterwards, and thought.
Carrie, coming in from another direction, thought she saw Mrs.
Vance going away. She strained her eyes, but could not make
"Was anybody here just now?" she asked of Hurstwood.
"Yes," he said guiltily; "Mrs. Vance."
"Did she see you?" she asked, expressing her full despair.
This cut Hurstwood like a whip, and made him sullen.
"If she had eyes, she did. I opened the door."
"Oh," said Carrie, closing one hand tightly out of sheer
nervousness. "What did she have to say?"
"Nothing," he answered. "She couldn't stay."
"And you looking like that!" said Carrie, throwing aside a long
"What of it?" he said, angering. "I didn't know she was coming,
"You knew she might," said Carrie. "I told you she said she was
coming. I've asked you a dozen times to wear your other clothes.
Oh, I think this is just terrible."
"Oh, let up," he answered. "What difference does it make? You
couldn't associate with her, anyway. They've got too much money.
"Who said I wanted to?" said Carrie, fiercely.
"Well, you act like it, rowing around over my looks. You'd think
"It's true," she said. "I couldn't if I wanted to, but whose
fault is it? You're very free to sit and talk about who I could
associate with. Why don't you get out and look for work?"
This was a thunderbolt in camp.
"What's it to you?" he said, rising, almost fiercely. "I pay the
rent, don't I? I furnish the----"
"Yes, you pay the rent," said Carrie. "You talk as if there was
nothing else in the world but a flat to sit around in. You
haven't done a thing for three months except sit around and
interfere here. I'd like to know what you married me for?"
"I didn't marry you," he said, in a snarling tone.
"I'd like to know what you did, then, in Montreal?" she answered.
"Well, I didn't marry you," he answered. "You can get that out
of your head. You talk as though you didn't know."
Carrie looked at him a moment, her eyes distending. She had
believed it was all legal and binding enough.
"What did you lie to me for, then?" she asked, fiercely. "What
did you force me to run away with you for?"
Her voice became almost a sob.
"Force!" he said, with curled lip. "A lot of forcing I did."
"Oh!" said Carrie, breaking under the strain, and turning. "Oh,
oh!" and she hurried into the front room.
Hurstwood was now hot and waked up. It was a great shaking up
for him, both mental and moral. He wiped his brow as he looked
around, and then went for his clothes and dressed. Not a sound
came from Carrie; she ceased sobbing when she heard him dressing.
She thought, at first, with the faintest alarm, of being left
without money--not of losing him, though he might be going away
permanently. She heard him open the top of the wardrobe and take
out his hat. Then the dining-room door closed, and she knew he
After a few moments of silence, she stood up, dry-eyed, and
looked out the window. Hurstwood was just strolling up the
street, from the flat, toward Sixth Avenue.
The latter made progress along Thirteenth and across Fourteenth
Street to Union Square.
"Look for work!" he said to himself. "Look for work! She tells
me to get out and look for work."
He tried to shield himself from his own mental accusation, which
told him that she was right.
"What a cursed thing that Mrs. Vance's call was, anyhow," he
thought. "Stood right there, and looked me over. I know what
she was thinking."
He remembered the few times he had seen her in Seventy-eight
Street. She was always a swell-looker, and he had tried to put
on the air of being worthy of such as she, in front of her. Now,
to think she had caught him looking this way. He wrinkled his
forehead in his distress.
"The devil!" he said a dozen times in an hour.
It was a quarter after four when he left the house. Carrie was
in tears. There would be no dinner that night.
"What the deuce," he said, swaggering mentally to hide his own
shame from himself. "I'm not so bad. I'm not down yet."
He looked around the square, and seeing the several large hotels,
decided to go to one for dinner. He would get his papers and
make himself comfortable there.
He ascended into the fine parlour of the Morton House, then one
of the best New York hotels, and, finding a cushioned seat, read.
It did not trouble him much that his decreasing sum of money did
not allow of such extravagance. Like the morphine fiend, he was
becoming addicted to his ease. Anything to relieve his mental
distress, to satisfy his craving for comfort. He must do it. No
thoughts for the morrow--he could not stand to think of it any
more than he could of any other calamity. Like the certainty of
death, he tried to shut the certainty of soon being without a
dollar completely out of his mind, and he came very near doing
Well-dressed guests moving to and fro over the thick carpets
carried him back to the old days. A young lady, a guest of the
house, playing a piano in an alcove pleased him. He sat there
His dinner cost him $1.50. By eight o'clock he was through, and
then, seeing guests leaving and the crowd of pleasure-seekers
thickening outside wondered where he should go. Not home.
Carrie would be up. No, he would not go back there this evening.
He would stay out and knock around as a man who was independent--
not broke--well might. He bought a cigar, and went outside on
the corner where other individuals were lounging--brokers, racing
people, thespians--his own flesh and blood. As he stood there,
he thought of the old evenings in Chicago, and how he used to
dispose of them. Many's the game he had had. This took him to
"I didn't do that thing right the other day," he thought,
referring to his loss of sixty dollars. "I shouldn't have
weakened. I could have bluffed that fellow down. I wasn't in
form, that's what ailed me."
Then he studied the possibilities of the game as it had been
played, and began to figure how he might have won, in several
instances, by bluffing a little harder.
"I'm old enough to play poker and do something with it. I'll try
my hand to-night."
Visions of a big stake floated before him. Supposing he did win
a couple of hundred, wouldn't he be in it? Lots of sports he knew
made their living at this game, and a good living, too.
"They always had as much as I had," he thought.
So off he went to a poker room in the neighbourhood, feeling much
as he had in the old days. In this period of self-forgetfulness,
aroused first by the shock of argument and perfected by a dinner
in the hotel, with cocktails and cigars, he was as nearly like
the old Hurstwood as he would ever be again. It was not the old
Hurstwood--only a man arguing with a divided conscience and lured
by a phantom.
This poker room was much like the other one, only it was a back
room in a better drinking resort. Hurstwood watched a while, and
then, seeing an interesting game, joined in. As before, it went
easy for a while, he winning a few times and cheering up, losing
a few pots and growing more interested and determined on that
account. At last the fascinating game took a strong hold on him.
He enjoyed its risks and ventured, on a trifling hand, to bluff
the company and secure a fair stake. To his self-satisfaction
intense and strong, he did it.
In the height of this feeling he began to think his luck was with
him. No one else had done so well. Now came another moderate
hand, and again he tried to open the jack-pot on it. There were
others there who were almost reading his heart, so close was
"I have three of a kind," said one of the players to himself.
"I'll just stay with that fellow to the finish."
The result was that bidding began.
"I raise you ten."
"Right you are."
It got to where Hurstwood had seventy-five dollars up. The other
man really became serious. Perhaps this individual (Hurstwood)
really did have a stiff hand.
"I call," he said.
Hurstwood showed his hand. He was done. The bitter fact that he
had lost seventy-five dollars made him desperate.
"Let's have another pot," he said, grimly.
"All right," said the man.
Some of the other players quit, but observant loungers took their
places. Time passed, and it came to twelve o'clock. Hurstwood
held on, neither winning nor losing much. Then he grew weary,
and on a last hand lost twenty more. He was sick at heart.
At a quarter after one in the morning he came out of the place.
The chill, bare streets seemed a mockery of his state. He walked
slowly west, little thinking of his row with Carrie. He ascended
the stairs and went into his room as if there had been no
trouble. It was his loss that occupied his mind. Sitting down
on the bedside he counted his money. There was now but a hundred
and ninety dollars and some change. He put it up and began to
"I wonder what's getting into me, anyhow?" he said.
In the morning Carrie scarcely spoke and he felt as if he must go
out again. He had treated her badly, but he could not afford to
make up. Now desperation seized him, and for a day or two, going
out thus, he lived like a gentleman--or what he conceived to be a
gentleman--which took money. For his escapades he was soon
poorer in mind and body, to say nothing of his purse, which had
lost thirty by the process. Then he came down to cold, bitter
"The rent man comes to-day," said Carrie, greeting him thus
indifferently three mornings later.
"Yes; this is the second," answered Carrie.
Hurstwood frowned. Then in despair he got out his purse.
"It seems an awful lot to pay for rent," he said.
He was nearing his last hundred dollars.
THE SPIRIT AWAKENS--NEW SEARCH FOR THE GATE
It would be useless to explain how in due time the last fifty
dollars was in sight. The seven hundred, by his process of
handling, had only carried them into June. Before the final
hundred mark was reached he began to indicate that a calamity was
"I don't know," he said one day, taking a trivial expenditure for
meat as a text, "it seems to take an awful lot for us to live."
"It doesn't seem to me," said Carrie, "that we spend very much."
"My money is nearly gone," he said, "and I hardly know where it's
"All that seven hundred dollars?" asked Carrie.
"All but a hundred."
He looked so disconsolate that it scared her. She began to see
that she herself had been drifting. She had felt it all the
"Well, George," she exclaimed, "why don't you get out and look
for something? You could find something."
"I have looked," he said. "You can t make people give you a
She gazed weakly at him and said: "Well, what do you think you
will do? A hundred dollars won't last long."
"I don't know," he said. "I can't do any more than look."
Carrie became frightened over this announcement. She thought
desperately upon the subject. Frequently she had considered the
stage as a door through which she might enter that gilded state
which she had so much craved. Now, as in Chicago, it came as a
last resource in distress. Something must be done if he did not
get work soon. Perhaps she would have to go out and battle again
She began to wonder how one would go about getting a place. Her
experience in Chicago proved that she had not tried the right
way. There must be people who would listen to and try you--men
who would give you an opportunity.
They were talking at the breakfast table, a morning or two later,
when she brought up the dramatic subject by saying that she saw
that Sarah Bernhardt was coming to this country. Hurstwood had
seen it, too.
"How do people get on the stage, George?" she finally asked,
"I don't know," he said. "There must be dramatic agents."
Carrie was sipping coffee, and did not look up.
"Regular people who get you a place?"
"Yes, I think so," he answered.
Suddenly the air with which she asked attracted his attention.
"You're not still thinking about being an actress, are you?" he
"No," she answered, "I was just wondering."
Without being clear, there was something in the thought which he
objected to. He did not believe any more, after three years of
observation, that Carrie would ever do anything great in that
line. She seemed too simple, too yielding. His idea of the art
was that it involved something more pompous. If she tried to get
on the stage she would fall into the hands of some cheap manager
and become like the rest of them. He had a good idea of what he
meant by THEM. Carrie was pretty. She would get along all
right, but where would he be?
"I'd get that idea out of my head, if I were you. It's a lot
more difficult than you think."
Carrie felt this to contain, in some way, an aspersion upon her
"You said I did real well in Chicago," she rejoined.
"You did," he answered, seeing that he was arousing opposition,
"but Chicago isn't New York, by a big jump."
Carrie did not answer this at all. It hurt her.
"The stage," he went on, "is all right if you can be one of the
big guns, but there's nothing to the rest of it. It takes a long
while to get up."
"Oh, I don't know," said Carrie, slightly aroused.
In a flash, he thought he foresaw the result of this thing. Now,
when the worst of his situation was approaching, she would get on
the stage in some cheap way and forsake him. Strangely, he had
not conceived well of her mental ability. That was because he
did not understand the nature of emotional greatness. He had
never learned that a person might be emotionally--instead of
intellectually--great. Avery Hall was too far away for him to
look back and sharply remember. He had lived with this woman too
"Well, I do," he answered. "If I were you I wouldn't think of
it. It's not much of a profession for a woman."
"It's better than going hungry," said Carrie. "If you don't want
me to do that, why don't you get work yourself?"
There was no answer ready for this. He had got used to the
"Oh, let up," he answered.
The result of this was that she secretly resolved to try. It
didn't matter about him. She was not going to be dragged into
poverty and something worse to suit him. She could act. She
could get something and then work up. What would he say then?
She pictured herself already appearing in some fine performance
on Broadway; of going every evening to her dressing-room and
making up. Then she would come out at eleven o'clock and see the
carriages ranged about, waiting for the people. It did not
matter whether she was the star or not. If she were only once
in, getting a decent salary, wearing the kind of clothes she
liked, having the money to do with, going here and there as she
pleased, how delightful it would all be. Her mind ran over this
picture all the day long. Hurstwood's dreary state made its
beauty become more and more vivid.
Curiously this idea soon took hold of Hurstwood. His vanishing
sum suggested that he would need sustenance. Why could not
Carrie assist him a little until he could get something?
He came in one day with something of this idea in his mind.
"I met John B. Drake to-day," he said. "He's going to open a
hotel here in the fall. He says that he can make a place for me
"Who is he?" asked Carrie.
"He's the man that runs the Grand Pacific in Chicago."
"Oh," said Carrie.
"I'd get about fourteen hundred a year out of that."
"That would be good, wouldn't it?" she said, sympathetically.
"If I can only get over this summer," he added, "I think I'll be
all right. I'm hearing from some of my friends again."
Carrie swallowed this story in all its pristine beauty. She
sincerely wished he could get through the summer. He looked so
"How much money have you left?"
"Only fifty dollars."
"Oh, mercy," she exclaimed, "what will we do? It's only twenty
days until the rent will be due again."
Hurstwood rested his head on his hands and looked blankly at the
"Maybe you could get something in the stage line?" he blandly
"Maybe I could," said Carrie, glad that some one approved of the
"I'll lay my hand to whatever I can get," he said, now that he
saw her brighten up. "I can get something."
She cleaned up the things one morning after he had gone, dressed
as neatly as her wardrobe permitted, and set out for Broadway.
She did not know that thoroughfare very well. To her it was a
wonderful conglomeration of everything great and mighty. The
theatres were there--these agencies must be somewhere about.
She decided to stop in at the Madison Square Theatre and ask how
to find the theatrical agents. This seemed the sensible way.
Accordingly, when she reached that theatre she applied to the
clerk at the box office.
"Eh?" he said, looking out. "Dramatic agents? I don't know.
You'll find them in the 'Clipper,' though. They all advertise in
"Is that a paper?" said Carrie.
"Yes," said the clerk, marvelling at such ignorance of a common
fact. "You can get it at the news-stands," he added politely,
seeing how pretty the inquirer was.
Carrie proceeded to get the "Clipper," and tried to find the
agents by looking over it as she stood beside the stand. This
could not be done so easily. Thirteenth Street was a number of
blocks off, but she went back, carrying the precious paper and
regretting the waste of time.
Hurstwood was already there, sitting in his place.
"Where were you?" he asked.
"I've been trying to find some dramatic agents."
He felt a little diffident about asking concerning her success.
The paper she began to scan attracted his attention.
"What have you got there?" he asked.
"The 'Clipper.' The man said I'd find their addresses in here."
"Have you been all the way over to Broadway to find that out? I
could have told you."
"Why didn't you?" she asked, without looking up.
"You never asked me," he returned.
She went hunting aimlessly through the crowded columns. Her mind
was distracted by this man's indifference. The difficulty of the
situation she was facing was only added to by all he did. Self-
commiseration brewed in her heart. Tears trembled along her
eyelids but did not fall. Hurstwood noticed something.
"Let me look."
To recover herself she went into the front room while he
searched. Presently she returned. He had a pencil, and was
writing upon an envelope.
"Here're three," he said.
Carrie took it and found that one was Mrs. Bermudez, another
Marcus Jenks, a third Percy Weil. She paused only a moment, and
then moved toward the door.
"I might as well go right away," she said, without looking back.
Hurstwood saw her depart with some faint stirrings of shame,
which were the expression of a manhood rapidly becoming
stultified. He sat a while, and then it became too much. He got
up and put on his hat.
"I guess I'll go out," he said to himself, and went, strolling
nowhere in particular, but feeling somehow that he must go.
Carrie's first call was upon Mrs. Bermudez, whose address was
quite the nearest. It was an old-fashioned residence turned into
offices. Mrs. Bermudez's offices consisted of what formerly had
been a back chamber and a hall bedroom, marked "Private."
As Carrie entered she noticed several persons lounging about--
men, who said nothing and did nothing.
While she was waiting to be noticed, the door of the hall bedroom
opened and from it issued two very mannish-looking women, very
tightly dressed, and wearing white collars and cuffs. After them
came a portly lady of about forty-five, light-haired, sharp-eyed,
and evidently good-natured. At least she was smiling.
"Now, don't forget about that," said one of the mannish women.
"I won't," said the portly woman. "Let's see," she added, "where
are you the first week in February?"
"Pittsburg," said the woman.
"I'll write you there."
"All right," said the other, and the two passed out.
Instantly the portly lady's face became exceedingly sober and
shrewd. She turned about and fixed on Carrie a very searching
"Well," she said, "young woman, what can I do for you?"
"Are you Mrs. Bermudez?"
"Well," said Carrie, hesitating how to begin, "do you get places
for persons upon the stage?"
"Could you get me one?"
"Have you ever had any experience?"
"A very little," said Carrie.
"Whom did you play with?"
"Oh, with no one," said Carrie. "It was just a show gotten----"
"Oh, I see," said the woman, interrupting her. "No, I don't know
of anything now."
Carrie's countenance fell.
"You want to get some New York experience," concluded the affable
Mrs. Bermudez. "We'll take your name, though."
Carrie stood looking while the lady retired to her office.
"What is your address?" inquired a young lady behind the counter,
taking up the curtailed conversation.
"Mrs. George Wheeler," said Carrie, moving over to where she was
writing. The woman wrote her address in full and then allowed
her to depart at her leisure.
She encountered a very similar experience in the office of Mr.
Jenks, only he varied it by saying at the close: "If you could
play at some local house, or had a programme with your name on
it, I might do something."
In the third place the individual asked:
"What sort of work do you want to do?"
"What do you mean?" said Carrie.
"Well, do you want to get in a comedy or on the vaudeville or in
"Oh, I'd like to get a part in a play," said Carrie.
"Well," said the man, "it'll cost you something to do that."
"How much?" said Carrie, who, ridiculous as it may seem, had not
thought of this before.
"Well, that's for you to say," he answered shrewdly.
Carrie looked at him curiously. She hardly knew how to continue
"Could you get me a part if I paid?"
"If we didn't you'd get your money back."
"Oh," she said.
The agent saw he was dealing with an inexperienced soul, and
"You'd want to deposit fifty dollars, anyway. No agent would
trouble about you for less than that."
Carrie saw a light.
"Thank you," she said. "I'll think about it."
She started to go, and then bethought herself.
"How soon would I get a place?" she asked.
"Well, that's hard to say," said the man. "You might get one in
a week, or it might be a month. You'd get the first thing that
we thought you could do."
"I see," said Carrie, and then, half-smiling to be agreeable, she
The agent studied a moment, and then said to himself:
"It's funny how anxious these women are to get on the stage."
Carrie found ample food for reflection in the fifty-dollar
proposition. "Maybe they'd take my money and not give me
anything," she thought. She had some jewelry--a diamond ring and
pin and several other pieces. She could get fifty dollars for
those if she went to a pawnbroker.
Hurstwood was home before her. He had not thought she would be
so long seeking.
"Well?" he said, not venturing to ask what news.
"I didn't find out anything to-day," said Carrie, taking off her
gloves. "They all want money to get you a place."
"How much?" asked Hurstwood.
"They don't want anything, do they?"
"Oh, they're like everybody else. You can't tell whether they'd
ever get you anything after you did pay them."
"Well, I wouldn't put up fifty on that basis," said Hurstwood, as
if he were deciding, money in hand.
"I don't know," said Carrie. "I think I'll try some of the
Hurstwood heard this, dead to the horror of it. He rocked a
little to and fro, and chewed at his finger. It seemed all very
natural in such extreme states. He would do better later on.
IN ELF LAND DISPORTING--THE GRIM WORLD WITHOUT
When Carrie renewed her search, as she did the next day, going to
the Casino, she found that in the opera chorus, as in other
fields, employment is difficult to secure. Girls who can stand
in a line and look pretty are as numerous as labourers who can
swing a pick. She found there was no discrimination between one
and the other of applicants, save as regards a conventional
standard of prettiness and form. Their own opinion or knowledge
of their ability went for nothing.
"Where shall I find Mr. Gray?" she asked of a sulky doorman at
the stage entrance of the Casino.
"You can't see him now; he's busy."
"Do you know when I can see him?"
"Got an appointment with him?"
"Well, you'll have to call at his office."
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Carrie. "Where is his office?"
He gave her the number.
She knew there was no need of calling there now. He would not be
in. Nothing remained but to employ the intermediate hours in
The dismal story of ventures in other places is quickly told.
Mr. Daly saw no one save by appointment. Carrie waited an hour
in a dingy office, quite in spite of obstacles, to learn this
fact of the placid, indifferent Mr. Dorney.
"You will have to write and ask him to see you."
So she went away.
At the Empire Theatre she found a hive of peculiarly listless and
indifferent individuals. Everything ornately upholstered,
everything carefully finished, everything remarkably reserved.
At the Lyceum she entered one of those secluded, under-stairway
closets, berugged and bepaneled, which causes one to feel the
greatness of all positions of authority. Here was reserve itself
done into a box-office clerk, a doorman, and an assistant,
glorying in their fine positions.
"Ah, be very humble now--very humble indeed. Tell us what it is
you require. Tell it quickly, nervously, and without a vestige
of self-respect. If no trouble to us in any way, we may see what
we can do."
This was the atmosphere of the Lyceum--the attitude, for that
matter, of every managerial office in the city. These little
proprietors of businesses are lords indeed on their own ground.
Carrie came away wearily, somewhat more abashed for her pains.
Hurstwood heard the details of the weary and unavailing search
"I didn't get to see any one," said Carrie. "I just walked, and
walked, and waited around."
Hurstwood only looked at her.
"I suppose you have to have some friends before you can get in,"
she added, disconsolately.
Hurstwood saw the difficulty of this thing, and yet it did not
seem so terrible. Carrie was tired and dispirited, but now she
could rest. Viewing the world from his rocking-chair, its
bitterness did not seem to approach so rapidly. To-morrow was
To-morrow came, and the next, and the next.
Carrie saw the manager at the Casino once.
"Come around," he said, "the first of next week. I may make some
He was a large and corpulent individual, surfeited with good
clothes and good eating, who judged women as another would
horseflesh. Carrie was pretty and graceful. She might be put in
even if she did not have any experience. One of the proprietors
had suggested that the chorus was a little weak on looks.
The first of next week was some days off yet. The first of the
month was drawing near. Carrie began to worry as she had never
"Do you really look for anything when you go out?" she asked
Hurstwood one morning as a climax to some painful thoughts of her
"Of course I do," he said pettishly, troubling only a little over
the disgrace of the insinuation.
"I'd take anything," she said, "for the present. It will soon be
the first of the month again."
She looked the picture of despair.
Hurstwood quit reading his paper and changed his clothes.
"He would look for something," he thought. "He would go and see
if some brewery couldn't get him in somewhere. Yes, he would
take a position as bartender, if he could get it."
It was the same sort of pilgrimage he had made before. One or
two slight rebuffs, and the bravado disappeared.
"No use," he thought. "I might as well go on back home."
Now that his money was so low, he began to observe his clothes
and feel that even his best ones were beginning to look
commonplace. This was a bitter thought.
Carrie came in after he did.
"I went to see some of the variety managers," she said,
aimlessly. "You have to have an act. They don't want anybody
"I saw some of the brewery people to-day," said Hurstwood. "One
man told me he'd try to make a place for me in two or three
In the face of so much distress on Carrie's part, he had to make
some showing, and it was thus he did so. It was lassitude's
apology to energy.
Monday Carrie went again to the Casino.
"Did I tell you to come around to day?" said the manager, looking
her over as she stood before him.
"You said the first of the week," said Carrie, greatly abashed.
"Ever had any experience?" he asked again, almost severely.
Carrie owned to ignorance.
He looked her over again as he stirred among some papers. He was
secretly pleased with this pretty, disturbed-looking young woman.
"Come around to the theatre to-morrow morning."
Carrie's heart bounded to her throat.
"I will," she said with difficulty. She could see he wanted her,
and turned to go.
"Would he really put her to work? Oh, blessed fortune, could it
Already the hard rumble of the city through the open windows
A sharp voice answered her mental interrogation, driving away all
immediate fears on that score.
"Be sure you're there promptly," the manager said roughly.
"You'll be dropped if you're not."
Carrie hastened away. She did not quarrel now with Hurstwood's
idleness. She had a place--she had a place! This sang in her
In her delight she was almost anxious to tell Hurstwood. But, as
she walked homeward, and her survey of the facts of the case
became larger, she began to think of the anomaly of her finding
work in several weeks and his lounging in idleness for a number
"Why don't he get something?" she openly said to herself. "If I
can he surely ought to. It wasn't very hard for me."
She forgot her youth and her beauty. The handicap of age she did
not, in her enthusiasm, perceive.
Thus, ever, the voice of success.
Still, she could not keep her secret. She tried to be calm and
indifferent, but it was a palpable sham.
"Well?" he said, seeing her relieved face.
"I have a place."
"You have?" he said, breathing a better breath.
"What sort of a place is it?" he asked, feeling in his veins as
if now he might get something good also.
"In the chorus," she answered.
"Is it the Casino show you told me about?"
"Yes," she answered. "I begin rehearsing to-morrow."
There was more explanation volunteered by Carrie, because she was
happy. At last Hurstwood said:
"Do you know how much you'll get?"
"No, I didn't want to ask," said Carrie. "I guess they pay
twelve or fourteen dollars a week."
"About that, I guess," said Hurstwood.
There was a good dinner in the flat that evening, owing to the
mere lifting of the terrible strain. Hurstwood went out for a
shave, and returned with a fair-sized sirloin steak.
"Now, to-morrow," he thought, "I'll look around myself," and with
renewed hope he lifted his eyes from the ground.
On the morrow Carrie reported promptly and was given a place in
the line. She saw a large, empty, shadowy play-house, still
redolent of the perfumes and blazonry of the night, and notable
for its rich, oriental appearance. The wonder of it awed and
delighted her. Blessed be its wondrous reality. How hard she
would try to be worthy of it. It was above the common mass,
above idleness, above want, above insignificance. People came to
it in finery and carriages to see. It was ever a centre of light
and mirth. And here she was of it. Oh, if she could only
remain, how happy would be her days!
"What is your name?" said the manager, who was conducting the
"Madenda," she replied, instantly mindful of the name Drouet had
selected in Chicago. "Carrie Madenda."
"Well, now, Miss Madenda," he said, very affably, as Carrie
thought, "you go over there."
Then he called to a young woman who was already of the company:
"Miss Clark, you pair with Miss Madenda."
This young lady stepped forward, so that Carrie saw where to go,
and the rehearsal began.
Carrie soon found that while this drilling had some slight
resemblance to the rehearsals as conducted at Avery Hall, the
attitude of the manager was much more pronounced. She had
marvelled at the insistence and superior airs of Mr. Millice, but
the individual conducting here had the same insistence, coupled
with almost brutal roughness. As the drilling proceeded, he
seemed to wax exceedingly wroth over trifles, and to increase his
lung power in proportion. It was very evident that he had a
great contempt for any assumption of dignity or innocence on the
part of these young women.
"Clark," he would call--meaning, of course, Miss Clark--"why
don't you catch step there?"
"By fours, right! Right, I said, right! For heaven's sake, get on
to yourself! Right!" and in saying this he would lift the last
sounds into a vehement roar.
"Maitland! Maitland!" he called once.