WITHOUT THE WALLED CITY - THE SLOPE OF THE YEARS
The immediate result of this was nothing. Results from such things are usually long in growing. Morning brings a change of feeling. The existent condition invariably pleads for itself. It is only at odd moments that we get glimpses of the misery of things. The heart understands when it is confronted with contrasts. Take them away and the ache subsides.
Carrie went on, leading much this same life for six months thereafter or more. She did not see Ames any more. He called once upon the Vances, but she only heard about it through the young wife. Then he went West, and there was a gradual subsidence of whatever personal attraction had existed. The mental effect of the thing had not gone, however, and never would entirely. She had an ideal to contrast men by - particularly men close to her.
During all this time - a period rapidly approaching three years - Hurstwood had been moving along in an even path. There was no apparent slope downward, and distinctly none upward, so far as the casual observer might have seen. But psychologically there was a change, which was marked enough to suggest the future very distinctly indeed. This was in the mere matter of the halt his career had received when he departed from Chicago. A man's fortune or material progress is very much the same as his bodily growth. Either he is growing stronger, healthier, wiser, as the youth approaching manhood, or he is growing weaker, older, less incisive mentally, as the man approaching old age. There are no other states. Frequently there is a period between the cessation of youthful accretion and the setting in, in the case of the middle-aged man, of the tendency toward decay when the two processes are almost perfectly balanced and there is little doing in either direction. Given time enough, however, the balance becomes a sagging to the grave side. Slowly at first, then with a modest momentum, and at last the graveward process is in the full swing. So it is frequently with man's fortune. If its process of accretion is never halted, if the balancing stage is never reached, there will be no toppling. Rich men are, frequently, in these days, saved from this dissolution of their fortune by their ability to hire younger brains. These younger brains look upon the interests of the fortune as their own, and so steady and direct its progress. If each individual were left absolutely to the care of his own interests, and were given time enough in which to grow exceedingly old, his fortune would pass as his strength and will. He and his would be utterly dissolved and scattered unto the four winds of the heavens.
But now see wherein the parallel changes. A fortune, like a man, is an organism which draws to itself other minds and other strength than that inherent in the founder. Beside the young minds drawn to it by salaries, it becomes allied with young forces, which make for its existence even when the strength and wisdom of the founder are fading. It may be conserved by the growth of a community or of a state. It may be involved in providing something for which there is a growing demand. This removes it at once beyond the special care of the founder. It needs not so much foresight now as direction. The man wanes, the need continues or grows, and the fortune, fallen into whose hands it may, continues. Hence, some men never recognise the turning in the tide of their abilities. It is only in chance cases, where a fortune or a state of success is wrested from them, that the lack of ability to do as they did formerly becomes apparent. Hurstwood, set down under new conditions, was in a position to see that he was no longer young. If he did not, it was due wholly to the fact that his state was so well balanced that an absolute change for the worse did not show.
Not trained to reason or introspect himself, he could not analyse the change that was taking place in his mind, and hence his body, but he felt the depression of it. Constant comparison between his old state and his new showed a balance for the worse, which produced a constant state of gloom or, at least, depression. Now, it has been shown experimentally that a constantly subdued frame of mind produces certain poisons in the blood, called katastates, just as virtuous feelings of pleasure and delight produce helpful chemicals called anastates. The poisons generated by remorse inveigh against the system, and eventually produce marked physical deterioration. To these Hurstwood was subject.
In the course of time it told upon his temper. His eye no longer possessed that buoyant, searching shrewdness which had characterised it in Adams Street. His step was not as sharp and firm. He was given to thinking, thinking, thinking. The new friends he made were not celebrities. They were of a cheaper, a slightly more sensual and cruder, grade. He could not possibly take the pleasure in this company that he had in that of those fine frequenters of the Chicago resort. He was left to brood.
Slowly, exceedingly slowly, his desire to greet, conciliate, and make at home these people who visited the Warren Street place passed from him. More and more slowly the significance of the realm he had left began to be clear. It did not seem so wonderful to be in it when he was in it. It had seemed very easy for any one to get up there and have ample raiment and money to spend, but now that he was out of it, how far off it became. He began to see as one sees a city with a wall about it. Men were posted at the gates. You could not get in. Those inside did not care to come out to see who you were. They were so merry inside there that all those outside were forgotten, and he was on the outside.
Each day he could read in the evening papers of the doings within this walled city. In the notices of passengers for Europe he read the names of eminent frequenters of his old resort. In the theatrical column appeared, from time to time, announcements of the latest successes of men he had known. He knew that they were at their old gayeties. Pullmans were hauling them to and fro about the land, papers were greeting them with interesting mentions, the elegant lobbies of hotels and the glow of polished dining-rooms were keeping them close within the walled city. Men whom he had known, men whom he had tipped glasses with - rich men, and he was forgotten! Who was Mr. Wheeler? What was the Warren Street resort? Bah!
If one thinks that such thoughts do not come to so common a type of mind - that such feelings require a higher mental development - I would urge for their consideration the fact that it is the higher mental development that does away with such thoughts. It is the higher mental development which induces philosophy and that fortitude which refuses to dwell upon such things - refuses to be made to suffer by their consideration. The common type of mind is exceedingly keen on all matters which relate to its physical welfare - exceedingly keen. It is the unintellectual miser who sweats blood at the loss of a hundred dollars. It is the Epictetus who smiles when the last vestige of physical welfare is removed.
The time came, in the third year, when this thinking began to produce results in the Warren Street place. The tide of patronage dropped a little below what it had been at its best since he had been there. This irritated and worried him.
There came a night when he confessed to Carrie that the business was not doing as well this month as it had the month before. This was in lieu of certain suggestions she had made concerning little things she wanted to buy. She had not failed to notice that he did not seem to consult her about buying clothes for himself. For the first time, it struck her as a ruse, or that he said it so that she would not think of asking for things. Her reply was mild enough, but her thoughts were rebellious. He was not looking after her at all. She was depending for her enjoyment upon the Vances.
And now the latter announced that they were going away. It was approaching spring, and they were going North.
"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Vance to Carrie, "we think we might as well give up the flat and store our things. We'll be gone for the summer, and it would be a useless expense. I think we'll settle a little farther down town when we come back."
Carrie heard this with genuine sorrow. She had enjoyed Mrs. Vance's companionship so much. There was no one else in the house whom she knew. Again she would be all alone.
Hurstwood's gloom over the slight decrease in profits and the departure of the Vances came together. So Carrie had loneliness and this mood of her husband to enjoy at the same time. It was a grievous thing. She became restless and dissatisfied, not exactly, as she thought, with Hurstwood, but with life. What was it? A very dull round indeed. What did she have? Nothing but this narrow, little flat. The Vances could travel, they could do the things worth doing, and here she was. For what was she made, anyhow? More thought followed, and then tears - tears seemed justified, and the only relief in the world.
For another period this state continued, the twain leading a rather monotonous life, and then there was a slight change for the worse. One evening, Hurstwood, after thinking about a way to modify Carrie's desire for clothes and the general strain upon his ability to provide, said:
"I don't think I'll ever be able to do much with Shaughnessy."
"What's the matter?" said Carrie.
"Oh, he's a slow, greedy 'mick'! He won't agree to anything to improve the place, and it won't ever pay without it."
"Can't you make him?" said Carrie.
"No; I've tried. The only thing I can see, if I want to improve, is to get hold of a place of my own."
"Why don't you?" said Carrie.
"Well, all I have is tied up in there just now. If I had a chance to save a while I think I could open a place that would give us plenty of money."
"Can't we save?" said Carrie.
"We might try it," he suggested. "I've been thinking that if we'd take a smaller flat down town and live economically for a year, I would have enough, with what I have invested, to open a good place. Then we could arrange to live as you want to."
"It would suit me all right," said Carrie, who, nevertheless, felt badly to think it had come to this. Talk of a smaller flat sounded like poverty.
"There are lots of nice little flats down around Sixth Avenue, below Fourteenth Street. We might get one down there."
"I'll look at them if you say so," said Carrie.
"I think I could break away from this fellow inside of a year," said Hurstwood. "Nothing will ever come of this arrangement as it's going on now."
"I'll look around," said Carrie, observing that the proposed change seemed to be a serious thing with him.
The upshot of this was that the change was eventually effected; not without great gloom on the part of Carrie. It really affected her more seriously than anything that had yet happened. She began to look upon Hurstwood wholly as a man, and not as a lover or husband. She felt thoroughly bound to him as a wife, and that her lot was cast with his, whatever it might be; but she began to see that he was gloomy and taciturn, not a young, strong, and buoyant man. He looked a little bit old to her about the eyes and mouth now, and there were other things which placed him in his true rank, so far as her estimation was concerned. She began to feel that she had made a mistake. Incidentally, she also began to recall the fact that he had practically forced her to flee with him.
The new flat was located in Thirteenth Street, a half block west of Sixth Avenue, and contained only four rooms. The new neighbourhood did not appeal to Carrie as much. There were no trees here, no west view of the river. The street was solidly built up. There were twelve families here, respectable enough, but nothing like the Vances. Richer people required more space.
Being left alone in this little place, Carrie did without a girl. She made it charming enough, but could not make it delight her. Hurstwood was not inwardly pleased to think that they should have to modify their state, but he argued that he could do nothing. He must put the best face on it, and let it go at that.
He tried to show Carrie that there was no cause for financial alarm, but only congratulation over the chance he would have at the end of the year by taking her rather more frequently to the theatre and by providing a liberal table. This was for the time only. He was getting in the frame of mind where he wanted principally to be alone and to be allowed to think. The disease of brooding was beginning to claim him as a victim. Only the newspapers and his own thoughts were worth while. The delight of love had again slipped away. It was a case of live, now, making the best you can out of a very commonplace station in life.
The road downward has but few landings and level places. The very state of his mind, superinduced by his condition, caused the breach to widen between him and his partner. At last that individual began to wish that Hurstwood was out of it. It so happened, however, that a real estate deal on the part of the owner of the land arranged things even more effectually than ill- will could have schemed.
"Did you see that?" said Shaughnessy one morning to Hurstwood, pointing to the real estate column in a copy of the "Herald," which he held.
"No, what is it?" said Hurstwood, looking down the items of news.
"The man who owns this ground has sold it."
"You don't say so?" said Hurstwood.
He looked, and there was the notice. Mr. August Viele had yesterday registered the transfer of the lot, 25 x 75 feet, at the corner of Warren and Hudson Streets, to J. F. Slawson for the sum of $57,000.
"Our lease expires when?" asked Hurstwood, thinking. "Next February, isn't it?"
"That's right," said Shaughnessy.
"It doesn't say what the new man's going to do with it," remarked Hurstwood, looking back to the paper.
"We'll hear, I guess, soon enough," said Shaughnessy.
Sure enough, it did develop. Mr. Slawson owned the property adjoining, and was going to put up a modern office building. The present one was to be torn down. It would take probably a year and a half to complete the other one.
All these things developed by degrees, and Hurstwood began to ponder over what would become of the saloon. One day he spoke about it to his partner.
"Do you think it would be worth while to open up somewhere else in the neighbourhood?"
"What would be the use?" said Shaughnessy. "We couldn't get another corner around here."
"It wouldn't pay anywhere else, do you think?"
"I wouldn't try it," said the other. The approaching change now took on a most serious aspect to Hurstwood. Dissolution meant the loss of his thousand dollars, and he could not save another thousand in the time. He understood that Shaughnessy was merely tired of the arrangement, and would probably lease the new corner, when completed, alone. He began to worry about the necessity of a new connection and to see impending serious financial straits unless something turned up. This left him in no mood to enjoy his flat or Carrie, and consequently the depression invaded that quarter.
Meanwhile, he took such time as he could to look about, but opportunities were not numerous. More, he had not the same impressive personality which he had when he first came to New York. Bad thoughts had put a shade into his eyes which did not impress others favourably. Neither had he thirteen hundred dollars in hand to talk with. About a month later, finding that he had not made any progress, Shaughnessy reported definitely that Slawson would not extend the lease.
"I guess this thing's got to come to an end," he said, affecting an air of concern.
"Well, if it has, it has," answered Hurstwood, grimly. He would not give the other a key to his opinions, whatever they were. He should not have the satisfaction.
A day or two later he saw that he must say something to Carrie.
"You know," he said, "I think I'm going to get the worst of my deal down there."
"How is that?" asked Carrie in astonishment.
"Well, the man who owns the ground has sold it. and the new owner won't release it to us. The business may come to an end."
"Can't you start somewhere else?"
"There doesn't seem to be any place. Shaughnessy doesn't want to."
"Do you lose what you put in?"
"Yes," said Hurstwood, whose face was a study.
"Oh, isn't that too bad?" said Carrie.
"It's a trick," said Hurstwood. "That's all. They'll start another place there all right."
Carrie looked at him, and gathered from his whole demeanour what it meant. It was serious, very serious.
"Do you think you can get something else?" she ventured, timidly.
Hurstwood thought a while. It was all up with the bluff about money and investment. She could see now that he was "broke."
"I don't know," he said solemnly; "I can try."
THE GRIND OF THE MILLSTONES - A SAMPLE OF CHAFF
Carrie pondered over this situation as consistently as Hurstwood, once she got the facts adjusted in her mind. It took several days for her to fully realise that the approach of the dissolution of her husband's business meant commonplace struggle and privation. Her mind went back to her early venture in Chicago, the Hansons and their flat, and her heart revolted. That was terrible! Everything about poverty was terrible. She wished she knew a way out. Her recent experiences with the Vances had wholly unfitted her to view her own state with complacence. The glamour of the high life of the city had, in the few experiences afforded her by the former, seized her completely. She had been taught how to dress and where to go without having ample means to do either. Now, these things - ever-present realities as they were - filled her eyes and mind. The more circumscribed became her state, the more entrancing seemed this other. And now poverty threatened to seize her entirely and to remove this other world far upward like a heaven to which any Lazarus might extend, appealingly, his hands.
So, too, the ideal brought into her life by Ames remained. He had gone, but here was his word that riches were not everything; that there was a great deal more in the world than she knew; that the stage was good, and the literature she read poor. He was a strong man and clean - how much stronger and better than Hurstwood and Drouet she only half formulated to herself, but the difference was painful. It was something to which she voluntarily closed her eyes.
During the last three months of the Warren Street connection, Hurstwood took parts of days off and hunted, tracking the business advertisements. It was a more or less depressing business, wholly because of the thought that he must soon get something or he would begin to live on the few hundred dollars he was saving, and then he would have nothing to invest - he would have to hire out as a clerk.
Everything he discovered in his line advertised as an opportunity, was either too expensive or too wretched for him. Besides, winter was coming, the papers were announcing hardships, and there was a general feeling of hard times in the air, or, at least, he thought so. In his worry, other people's worries became apparent. No item about a firm failing, a family starving, or a man dying upon the streets, supposedly of starvation, but arrested his eye as he scanned the morning papers. Once the "World" came out with a flaring announcement about "80,000 people out of employment in New York this winter," which struck as a knife at his heart.
"Eighty thousand!" he thought. "What an awful thing that is."
This was new reasoning for Hurstwood. In the old days the world had seemed to be getting along well enough. He had been wont to see similar things in the "Daily News," in Chicago, but they did not hold his attention. Now, these things were like grey clouds hovering along the horizon of a clear day. They threatened to cover and obscure his life with chilly greyness. He tried to shake them off, to forget and brace up. Sometimes he said to himself, mentally:
"What's the use worrying? I'm not out yet. I've got six weeks more. Even if worst comes to worst, I've got enough to live on for six months."
Curiously, as he troubled over his future, his thoughts occasionally reverted to his wife and family. He had avoided such thoughts for the first three years as much as possible. He hated her, and he could get along without her. Let her go. He would do well enough. Now, however, when he was not doing well enough, he began to wonder what she was doing, how his children were getting along. He could see them living as nicely as ever, occupying the comfortable house and using his property.
"By George! it's a shame they should have it all," he vaguely thought to himself on several occasions. "I didn't do anything."
As he looked back now and analysed the situation which led up to his taking the money, he began mildly to justify himself. What had he done - what in the world - that should bar him out this way and heap such difficulties upon him? It seemed only yesterday to him since he was comfortable and well-to-do. But now it was all wrested from him.
"She didn't deserve what she got out of me, that is sure. I didn't do so much, if everybody could just know."
There was no thought that the facts ought to be advertised. It was only a mental justification he was seeking from himself - something that would enable him to bear his state as a righteous man.
One afternoon, five weeks before the Warren Street place closed up, he left the saloon to visit three or four places he saw advertised in the "Herald." One was down in Gold Street, and he visited that, but did not enter. It was such a cheap looking place he felt that he could not abide it. Another was on the Bowery, which he knew contained many showy resorts. It was near Grand Street, and turned out to be very handsomely fitted up. He talked around about investments for fully three-quarters of an hour with the proprietor, who maintained that his health was poor, and that was the reason he wished a partner.
"Well, now, just how much money would it take to buy a half interest here?" said Hurstwood, who saw seven hundred dollars as his limit.
"Three thousand," said the man.
Hurstwood's jaw fell.
"Cash?" he said.
He tried to put on an air of deliberation, as one who might really buy; but his eyes showed gloom. He wound up by saying he would think it over, and came away. The man he had been talking to sensed his condition in a vague way.
"I don't think he wants to buy," he said to himself. "He doesn't talk right."
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 place.
"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 advertise for?"
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 had bought.
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 wretched.
"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 time.
"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 sharpness.
This retort angered Carrie. She had had a dreary day of it herself.
"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 his coat.
"I'm going downtown, Carrie," he said, coming out. "I'm out of sorts to-night."
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 her dishes.
"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 my hands."
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 divided.
"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 experience.
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, the ex-manager!
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, Carrie said:
"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 a salesman?"
"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 his employers.
"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 so!
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, where to?
"You mustn't forget to leave me my money for this week," said Carrie, quietly.
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 distressing thing.
"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 tonsorial treatment.
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 philosophically.
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 he felt.
"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. "Stopping here?"
"No," said Hurstwood, "just keeping an appointment." "I knew you had left Chicago. I was wondering what had become of you."
"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 catching cold.
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 aloof.
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 grewsome quality.
"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 money.
"Do you think we live as cheaply as we might?" he asked one Tuesday morning.
"I do the best I can," said Carrie.
Nothing was added to this at the moment, but the next day he said:
"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 twenty-two cents."
"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 time.
"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 contempt.
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 comment.
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. Really, I - - "
"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 store.
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 nice."
"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 considered.
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 searching.
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 back shortly."
"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 see me."
"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 sure.
"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 reserve.
"What of it?" he said, angering. "I didn't know she was coming, did I?"
"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 I'd committed - - "
"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 had gone.
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 it.
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 reading.
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 poker.
"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 their observation.
"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 undress.
"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 sense again.
"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 approaching.
"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 gone to."
"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 time.
"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 place."
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 alone.
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, innocently.
"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 asked.
"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 ability.
"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 long.
"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 suggestion.
"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 then."
"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 hopeless.
"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 floor.
"Maybe you could get something in the stage line?" he blandly suggested.
"Maybe I could," said Carrie, glad that some one approved of the idea.
"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 that."
"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 eye.
"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 the chorus?"
"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 the inquiry.
"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 continued accordingly.
"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 walked out.
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 managers."
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 search.
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 that evening.
"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 another day.
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 changes then."
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 worried before.
"Do you really look for anything when you go out?" she asked Hurstwood one morning as a climax to some painful thoughts of her own.
"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 that hasn't."
"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 weeks."
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 be?"
Already the hard rumble of the city through the open windows became pleasant.
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 ears.
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 of months.
"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 drill.
"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.
A nervous, comely-dressed little girl stepped out. Carrie trembled for her out of the fulness of her own sympathies and fear.
"Yes, sir," said Miss Maitland.
"Is there anything the matter with your ears?"
"Do you know what 'column left' means?"
"Well, what are you stumbling around the right for? Want to break up the line?"
"I was just"
"Never mind what you were just. Keep your ears open."
Carrie pitied, and trembled for her turn.
Yet another suffered the pain of personal rebuke.
"Hold on a minute," cried the manager, throwing up his hands, as if in despair. His demeanour was fierce.
"Elvers," he shouted, "what have you got in your mouth?"
"Nothing," said Miss Elvers, while some smiled and stood nervously by.
"Well, are you talking?"
"Well, keep your mouth still then. Now, all together again."
At last Carrie's turn came. It was because of her extreme anxiety to do all that was required that brought on the trouble.
She heard some one called.
"Mason," said the voice. "Miss Mason."
She looked around to see who it could be. A girl behind shoved her a little, but she did not understand.
"You, you!" said the manager. "Can't you hear?"
"Oh," said Carrie, collapsing, and blushing fiercely.
"Isn't your name Mason?" asked the manager.
"No, sir," said Carrie, "it's Madenda."
"Well, what's the matter with your feet? Can't you dance?"
"Yes, sir," said Carrie, who had long since learned this art.
"Why don't you do it then? Don't go shuffling along as if you were dead. I've got to have people with life in them."
Carrie's cheek burned with a crimson heat. Her lips trembled a little.
"Yes, sir," she said.
It was this constant urging, coupled with irascibility and energy, for three long hours. Carrie came away worn enough in body, but too excited in mind to notice it. She meant to go home and practise her evolutions as prescribed. She would not err in any way, if she could help it.
When she reached the flat Hurstwood was not there. For a wonder he was out looking for work, as she supposed. She took only a mouthful to eat and then practised on, sustained by visions of freedom from financial distress - "The sound of glory ringing in her ears."
When Hurstwood returned he was not so elated as when he went away, and now she was obliged to drop practice and get dinner. Here was an early irritation. She would have her work and this. Was she going to act and keep house?
"I'll not do it," she said, "after I get started. He can take his meals out."
Each day thereafter brought its cares. She found it was not such a wonderful thing to be in the chorus, and she also learned that her salary would be twelve dollars a week. After a few days she had her first sight of those high and mighties - the leading ladies and gentlemen. She saw that they were privileged and deferred to. She was nothing - absolutely nothing at all.
At home was Hurstwood, daily giving her cause for thought. He seemed to get nothing to do, and yet he made bold to inquire how she was getting along. The regularity with which he did this smacked of some one who was waiting to live upon her labour. Now that she had a visible means of support, this irritated her. He seemed to be depending upon her little twelve dollars.
"How are you getting along?" he would blandly inquire.
"Oh, all right," she would reply.
"Find it easy?"
"It will be all right when I get used to it."
His paper would then engross his thoughts.
"I got some lard," he would add, as an afterthought. "I thought maybe you might want to make some biscuit."
The calm suggestion of the man astonished her a little, especially in the light of recent developments. Her dawning independence gave her more courage to observe, and she felt as if she wanted to say things. Still she could not talk to him as she had to Drouet. There was something in the man's manner of which she had always stood in awe. He seemed to have some invisible strength in reserve.
One day, after her first week's rehearsal, what she expected came openly to the surface.
"We'll have to be rather saving," he said, laying down some meat he had purchased. "You won't get any money for a week or so yet."
"No," said Carrie, who was stirring a pan at the stove.
"I've only got the rent and thirteen dollars more," he added.
"That's it," she said to herself. "I'm to use my money now."
Instantly she remembered that she had hoped to buy a few things for herself. She needed clothes. Her hat was not nice.
"What will twelve dollars do towards keeping up this flat?" she thought. "I can't do it. Why doesn't he get something to do?"
The important night of the first real performance came. She did not suggest to Hurstwood that he come and see. He did not think of going. It would only be money wasted. She had such a small part.
The advertisements were already in the papers; the posters upon the bill-boards. The leading lady and many members were cited. Carrie was nothing.
As in Chicago, she was seized with stage fright as the very first entrance of the ballet approached, but later she recovered. The apparent and painful insignificance of the part took fear away from her. She felt that she was so obscure it did not matter. Fortunately, she did not have to wear tights. A group of twelve were assigned pretty golden-hued skirts which came only to a line about an inch above the knee. Carrie happened to be one of the twelve.
In standing about the stage, marching, and occasionally lifting up her voice in the general chorus, she had a chance to observe the audience and to see the inauguration of a great hit. There was plenty of applause, but she could not help noting how poorly some of the women of alleged ability did.
"I could do better than that," Carrie ventured to herself, in several instances. To do her justice, she was right.
After it was over she dressed quickly, and as the manager had scolded some others and passed her, she imagined she must have proved satisfactory. She wanted to get out quickly, because she knew but few, and the stars were gossiping. Outside were carriages and some correct youths in attractive clothing, waiting. Carrie saw that she was scanned closely. The flutter of an eyelash would have brought her a companion. That she did not give.
One experienced youth volunteered, anyhow.
"Not going home alone, are you?" he said.
Carrie merely hastened her steps and took the Sixth Avenue car. Her head was so full of the wonder of it that she had time for nothing else.
"Did you hear any more from the brewery?" she asked at the end of the week, hoping by the question to stir him on to action.
"No," he answered, "they're not quite ready yet. I think something will come of that, though."
She said nothing more then, objecting to giving up her own money, and yet feeling that such would have to be the case. Hurstwood felt the crisis, and artfully decided to appeal to Carrie. He had long since realised how good-natured she was, how much she would stand. There was some little shame in him at the thought of doing so, but he justified himself with the thought that he really would get something. Rent day gave him his opportunity.
"Well," he said, as he counted it out, "that's about the last of my money. I'll have to get something pretty soon."
Carrie looked at him askance, half-suspicious of an appeal.
"If I could only hold out a little longer I think I could get something. Drake is sure to open a hotel here in September."
"Is he?" said Carrie, thinking of the short month that still remained until that time.
"Would you mind helping me out until then?" he said appealingly. "I think I'll be all right after that time."
"No," said Carrie, feeling sadly handicapped by fate.
"We can get along if we economise. I'll pay you back all right."
"Oh, I'll help you," said Carrie, feeling quite hardhearted at thus forcing him to humbly appeal, and yet her desire for the benefit of her earnings wrung a faint protest from her.
"Why don't you take anything, George, temporarily?" she said. "What difference does it make? Maybe, after a while, you'll get something better."
"I will take anything," he said, relieved, and wincing under reproof. "I'd just as leave dig on the streets. Nobody knows me here."
"Oh, you needn't do that," said Carrie, hurt by the pity of it. "But there must be other things."
"I'll get something!" he said, assuming determination.
Then he went back to his paper.
OF LIGHTS AND OF SHADOWS - THE PARTING OF WORLDS
What Hurstwood got as the result of this determination was more self-assurance that each particular day was not the day. At the same time, Carrie passed through thirty days of mental distress.
Her need of clothes - to say nothing of her desire for ornaments - grew rapidly as the fact developed that for all her work she was not to have them. The sympathy she felt for Hurstwood, at the time he asked her to tide him over, vanished with these newer urgings of decency. He was not always renewing his request, but this love of good appearance was. It insisted, and Carrie wished to satisfy it, wished more and more that Hurstwood was not in the way.
Hurstwood reasoned, when he neared the last ten dollars, that he had better keep a little pocket change and not become wholly dependent for car-fare, shaves, and the like; so when this sum was still in his hand he announced himself as penniless.
"I'm clear out," he said to Carrie one afternoon. "I paid for some coal this morning, and that took all but ten or fifteen cents."
"I've got some money there in my purse."
Hurstwood went to get it, starting for a can of tomatoes. Carrie scarcely noticed that this was the beginning of the new order. He took out fifteen cents and bought the can with it. Thereafter it was dribs and drabs of this sort, until one morning Carrie suddenly remembered that she would not be back until close to dinner time.
"We're all out of flour," she said; "you'd better get some this afternoon. We haven't any meat, either. How would it do if we had liver and bacon?"
"Suits me," said Hurstwood.
"Better get a half or three-quarters of a pound of that."
"Half 'll be enough," volunteered Hurstwood.
She opened her purse and laid down a half dollar. He pretended not to notice it.
Hurstwood bought the flour - which all grocers sold in 3 1/2-pound packages - for thirteen cents and paid fifteen cents for a half- pound of liver and bacon. He left the packages, together with the balance of twenty-two cents, upon the kitchen table, where Carrie found it. It did not escape her that the change was accurate. There was something sad in realising that, after all, all that he wanted of her was something to eat. She felt as if hard thoughts were unjust. Maybe he would get something yet. He had no vices.
That very evening, however, on going into the theatre, one of the chorus girls passed her all newly arrayed in a pretty mottled tweed suit, which took Carrie's eye. The young woman wore a fine bunch of violets and seemed in high spirits. She smiled at Carrie good-naturedly as she passed, showing pretty, even teeth, and Carrie smiled back.
"She can afford to dress well," thought Carrie, "and so could I, if I could only keep my money. I haven't a decent tie of any kind to wear."
She put out her foot and looked at her shoe reflectively. "I'll get a pair of shoes Saturday, anyhow; I don't care what happens."
One of the sweetest and most sympathetic little chorus girls in the company made friends with her because in Carrie she found nothing to frighten her away. She was a gay little Manon, unwitting of society's fierce conception of morality, but, nevertheless, good to her neighbour and charitable. Little license was allowed the chorus in the matter of conversation, but, nevertheless, some was indulged in.
"It's warm to-night, isn't it?" said this girl, arrayed in pink fleshings and an imitation golden helmet. She also carried a shining shield.
"Yes; it is," said Carrie, pleased that some one should talk to her.
"I'm almost roasting," said the girl.
Carrie looked into her pretty face, with its large blue eyes, and saw little beads of moisture.
"There's more marching in this opera than ever I did before," added the girl.
"Have you been in others?" asked Carrie, surprised at her experience.
"Lots of them," said the girl; "haven't you?"
"This is my first experience."
"Oh, is it? I thought I saw you the time they ran 'The Queen's Mate' here."
"No," said Carrie, shaking her head; "not me."
This conversation was interrupted by the blare of the orchestra and the sputtering of the calcium lights in the wings as the line was called to form for a new entrance. No further opportunity for conversation occurred, but the next evening, when they were getting ready for the stage, this girl appeared anew at her side.
"They say this show is going on the road next month."
"Is it?" said Carrie.
"Yes; do you think you'll go?"
"I don't know; I guess so, if they'll take me."
"Oh, they'll take you. I wouldn't go. They won't give you any more, and it will cost you everything you make to live. I never leave New York. There are too many shows going on here."
"Can you always get in another show?"
"I always have. There's one going on up at the Broadway this month. I'm going to try and get in that if this one really goes."
Carrie heard this with aroused intelligence. Evidently it wasn't so very difficult to get on. Maybe she also could get a place if this show went away. "Do they all pay about the same?" she asked.
"Yes. Sometimes you get a little more. This show doesn't pay very much."
"I get twelve," said Carrie.
"Do you?" said the girl. "They pay me fifteen, and you do more work than I do. I wouldn't stand it if I were you. They're just giving you less because they think you don't know. You ought to be making fifteen."
"Well, I'm not," said Carrie.
"Well, you'll get more at the next place if you want it," went on the girl, who admired Carrie very much. "You do fine, and the manager knows it."
To say the truth, Carrie did unconsciously move about with an air pleasing and somewhat distinctive. It was due wholly to her natural manner and total lack of self-consciousness.
"Do you suppose I could get more up at the Broadway?"
"Of course you can," answered the girl. "You come with me when I go. I'll do the talking."
Carrie heard this, flushing with thankfulness. She liked this little gaslight soldier. She seemed so experienced and self- reliant in her tinsel helmet and military accoutrements.
"My future must be assured if I can always get work this way," thought Carrie.
Still, in the morning, when her household duties would infringe upon her and Hurstwood sat there, a perfect load to contemplate, her fate seemed dismal and unrelieved. It did not take so very much to feed them under Hurstwood's close-measured buying, and there would possibly be enough for rent, but it left nothing else. Carrie bought the shoes and some other things, which complicated the rent problem very seriously. Suddenly, a week from the fatal day, Carrie realised that they were going to run short.
"I don't believe," she exclaimed, looking into her purse at breakfast, "that I'll have enough to pay the rent."
"How much have you?" inquired Hurstwood.
"Well, I've got twenty-two dollars, but there's everything to be paid for this week yet, and if I use all I get Saturday to pay this, there won't be any left for next week. Do you think your hotel man will open his hotel this month?"
"I think so," returned Hurstwood. "He said he would."
After a while, Hurstwood said:
"Don't worry about it. Maybe the grocer will wait. He can do that. We've traded there long enough to make him trust us for a week or two."
"Do you think he will?" she asked.
"I think so." On this account, Hurstwood, this very day, looked grocer Oeslogge clearly in the eye as he ordered a pound of coffee, and said:
"Do you mind carrying my account until the end of every week?"
"No, no, Mr. Wheeler," said Mr. Oeslogge. "Dat iss all right."
Hurstwood, still tactful in distress, added nothing to this. It seemed an easy thing. He looked out of the door, and then gathered up his coffee when ready and came away. The game of a desperate man had begun.
Rent was paid, and now came the grocer. Hurstwood managed by paying out of his own ten and collecting from Carrie at the end of the week. Then he delayed a day next time settling with the grocer, and so soon had his ten back, with Oeslogge getting his pay on this Thursday or Friday for last Saturday's bill.
This entanglement made Carrie anxious for a change of some sort. Hurstwood did not seem to realise that she had a right to anything. He schemed to make what she earned cover all expenses, but seemed not to trouble over adding anything himself.
"He talks about worrying," thought Carrie. "If he worried enough he couldn't sit there and wait for me. He'd get something to do. No man could go seven months without finding something if he tried."
The sight of him always around in his untidy clothes and gloomy appearance drove Carrie to seek relief in other places. Twice a week there were matinees, and then Hurstwood ate a cold snack, which he prepared himself. Two other days there were rehearsals beginning at ten in the morning and lasting usually until one. Now, to this Carrie added a few visits to one or two chorus girls, including the blue-eyed soldier of the golden helmet. She did it because it was pleasant and a relief from dulness of the home over which her husband brooded.
The blue-eyed soldier's name was Osborne - Lola Osborne. Her room was in Nineteenth Street near Fourth Avenue, a block now given up wholly to office buildings. Here she had a comfortable back room, looking over a collection of back yards in which grew a number of shade trees pleasant to see.
"Isn't your home in New York?" she asked of Lola one day.
"Yes; but I can't get along with my people. They always want me to do what they want. Do you live here?"
"Yes," said Carrie.
"With your family?"
Carrie was ashamed to say that she was married. She had talked so much about getting more salary and confessed to so much anxiety about her future, that now, when the direct question of fact was waiting, she could not tell this girl.
"With some relatives," she answered.
Miss Osborne took it for granted that, like herself, Carrie's time was her own. She invariably asked her to stay, proposing little outings and other things of that sort until Carrie began neglecting her dinner hours. Hurstwood noticed it, but felt in no position to quarrel with her. Several times she came so late as scarcely to have an hour in which to patch up a meal and start for the theatre.
"Do you rehearse in the afternoons?" Hurstwood once asked, concealing almost completely the cynical protest and regret which prompted it.
"No; I was looking around for another place," said Carrie.
As a matter of fact she was, but only in such a way as furnished the least straw of an excuse. Miss Osborne and she had gone to the office of the manager who was to produce the new opera at the Broadway and returned straight to the former's room, where they had been since three o'clock.
Carrie felt this question to be an infringement on her liberty. She did not take into account how much liberty she was securing. Only the latest step, the newest freedom, must not be questioned.
Hurstwood saw it all clearly enough. He was shrewd after his kind, and yet there was enough decency in the man to stop him from making any effectual protest. In his almost inexplicable apathy he was content to droop supinely while Carrie drifted out of his life, just as he was willing supinely to see opportunity pass beyond his control. He could not help clinging and protesting in a mild, irritating, and ineffectual way, however - a way that simply widened the breach by slow degrees.
A further enlargement of this chasm between them came when the manager, looking between the wings upon the brightly lighted stage where the chorus was going through some of its glittering evolutions, said to the master of the ballet:
"Who is that fourth girl there on the right - the one coming round at the end now?"
"Oh," said the ballet-master, "that's Miss Madenda."
"She's good looking. Why don't you let her head that line?"
"I will," said the man.
"Just do that. She'll look better there than the woman you've got."
"All right. I will do that," said the master.
The next evening Carrie was called out, much as if for an error.
"You lead your company to night," said the master.
"Yes, sir," said Carrie.
"Put snap into it," he added. "We must have snap."
"Yes, sir," replied Carrie.
Astonished at this change, she thought that the heretofore leader must be ill; but when she saw her in the line, with a distinct expression of something unfavourable in her eye, she began to think that perhaps it was merit.
She had a chic way of tossing her head to one side, and holding her arms as if for action - not listlessly. In front of the line this showed up even more effectually.
"That girl knows how to carry herself," said the manager, another evening. He began to think that he should like to talk with her. If he hadn't made it a rule to have nothing to do with the members of the chorus, he would have approached her most unbendingly.
"Put that girl at the head of the white column," he suggested to the man in charge of the ballet.
This white column consisted of some twenty girls, all in snow- white flannel trimmed with silver and blue. Its leader was most stunningly arrayed in the same colours, elaborated, however, with epaulets and a belt of silver, with a short sword dangling at one side. Carrie was fitted for this costume, and a few days later appeared, proud of her new laurels. She was especially gratified to find that her salary was now eighteen instead of twelve.
Hurstwood heard nothing about this.
"I'll not give him the rest of my money," said Carrie. "I do enough. I am going to get me something to wear."
As a matter of fact, during this second month she had been buying for herself as recklessly as she dared, regardless of the consequences. There were impending more complications rent day, and more extension of the credit system in the neighbourhood. Now, however, she proposed to do better by herself.
Her first move was to buy a shirt waist, and in studying these she found how little her money would buy - how much, if she could only use all. She forgot that if she were alone she would have to pay for a room and board, and imagined that every cent of her eighteen could be spent for clothes and things that she liked.
At last she picked upon something, which not only used up all her surplus above twelve, but invaded that sum. She knew she was going too far, but her feminine love of finery prevailed. The next day Hurstwood said:
"We owe the grocer five dollars and forty cents this week."
"Do we?" said Carrie, frowning a little.
She looked in her purse to leave it.
"I've only got eight dollars and twenty cents altogether."
"We owe the milkman sixty cents," added Hurstwood.
"Yes, and there's the coal man," said Carrie.
Hurstwood said nothing. He had seen the new things she was buying; the way she was neglecting household duties; the readiness with which she was slipping out afternoons and staying. He felt that something was going to happen. All at once she spoke:
"I don't know," she said; "I can't do it all. I don't earn enough."
This was a direct challenge. Hurstwood had to take it up. He tried to be calm.
"I don't want you to do it all," he said. "I only want a little help until I can get something to do."
"Oh, yes," answered Carrie. "That's always the way. It takes more than I can earn to pay for things. I don't see what I'm going to do.
"Well, I've tried to get something," he exclaimed. What do you want me to do?"
"You couldn't have tried so very hard," said Carrie. "I got something."
"Well, I did," he said, angered almost to harsh words. "You needn't throw up your success to me. All I asked was a little help until I could get something. I'm not down yet. I'll come up all right."
He tried to speak steadily, but his voice trembled a little.
Carrie's anger melted on the instant. She felt ashamed.
"Well," she said, "here's the money," and emptied it out on the table. "I haven't got quite enough to pay it all. If they can wait until Saturday, though, I'll have some more."
"You keep it," said Hurstwood sadly. "I only want enough to pay the grocer."
She put it back, and proceeded to get dinner early and in good time. Her little bravado made her feel as if she ought to make amends.
In a little while their old thoughts returned to both.
"She's making more than she says," thought Hurstwood. "She says she's making twelve, but that wouldn't buy all those things. I don't care. Let her keep her money. I'll get something again one of these days. Then she can go to the deuce."
He only said this in his anger, but it prefigured a possible course of action and attitude well enough.
"I don't care," thought Carrie. "He ought to be told to get out and do something. It isn't right that I should support him."
In these days Carrie was introduced to several youths, friends of Miss Osborne, who were of the kind most aptly described as gay and festive. They called once to get Miss Osborne for an afternoon drive. Carrie was with her at the time.
"Come and go along," said Lola.
"No, I can't," said Carrie.
"Oh, yes, come and go. What have you got to do?"
"I have to be home by five," said Carrie.
"They'll take us to dinner," said Lola.
"Oh, no," said Carrie. "I won't go. I can't."
"Oh, do come. They're awful nice boys. We'll get you back in time. We're only going for a drive in Central Park." Carrie thought a while, and at last yielded.
"Now, I must be back by half-past four," she said.
The information went in one ear of Lola and out the other.
After Drouet and Hurstwood, there was the least touch of cynicism in her attitude toward young men - especially of the gay and frivolous sort. She felt a little older than they. Some of their pretty compliments seemed silly. Still, she was young in heart and body and youth appealed to her.
"Oh, we'll be right back, Miss Madenda," said one of the chaps, bowing. "You wouldn't think we'd keep you over time, now, would you?"
"Well, I don't know," said Carrie, smiling.
They were off for a drive - she, looking about and noticing fine clothing, the young men voicing those silly pleasantries and weak quips which pass for humour in coy circles. Carrie saw the great park parade of carriages, beginning at the Fifty-ninth Street entrance and winding past the Museum of Art to the exit at One Hundred and Tenth Street and Seventh Avenue. Her eye was once more taken by the show of wealth - the elaborate costumes, elegant harnesses, spirited horses, and, above all, the beauty. Once more the plague of poverty galled her, but now she forgot in a measure her own troubles so far as to forget Hurstwood. He waited until four, five, and even six. It was getting dark when he got up out of his chair.
"I guess she isn't coming home," he said, grimly.
"That's the way," he thought. "She's getting a start now. I'm out of it."
Carrie had really discovered her neglect, but only at a quarter after five, and the open carriage was now far up Seventh Avenue, near the Harlem River.
"What time is it?" she inquired. "I must be getting back."
"A quarter after five," said her companion, consulting an elegant, open-faced watch.
"Oh, dear me!" exclaimed Carrie. Then she settled back with a sigh. "There's no use crying over spilt milk," she said. "It's too late."
"Of course it is," said the youth, who saw visions of a fine dinner now, and such invigorating talk as would result in a reunion after the show. He was greatly taken with Carrie. "We'll drive down to Delmonico's now and have something there, won't we, Orrin?"
"To be sure," replied Orrin, gaily.
Carrie thought of Hurstwood. Never before had she neglected dinner without an excuse.
They drove back, and at 6.15 sat down to dine. It was the Sherry incident over again, the remembrance of which came painfully back to Carrie. She remembered Mrs. Vance, who had never called again after Hurstwood's reception, and Ames.
At this figure her mind halted. It was a strong, clean vision. He liked better books than she read, better people than she associated with. His ideals burned in her heart.
"It's fine to be a good actress," came distinctly back.
What sort of an actress was she?
"What are you thinking about, Miss Madenda?" inquired her merry companion. "Come, now, let's see if I can guess."
"Oh, no," said Carrie. "Don't try."
She shook it off and ate. She forgot, in part, and was merry. When it came to the after-theatre proposition, however, she shook her head.
"No," she said, "I can't. I have a previous engagement."
"Oh, now, Miss Madenda," pleaded the youth.
"No," said Carrie, "I can't. You've been so kind, but you'll have to excuse me."
The youth looked exceedingly crestfallen.
"Cheer up, old man," whispered his companion. "We'll go around, anyhow. She may change her mind."
A PUBLIC DISSENSION - A FINAL APPEAL
There was no after-theatre lark, however, so far as Carrie was concerned. She made her way homeward, thinking about her absence. Hurstwood was asleep, but roused up to look as she passed through to her own bed.
"Is that you?" he said.
"Yes," she answered.
The next morning at breakfast she felt like apologising.
"I couldn't get home last evening," she said.
"Ah, Carrie," he answered, "what's the use saying that? I don't care. You needn't tell me that, though."
"I couldn't," said Carrie, her colour rising. Then, seeing that he looked as if he said "I know," she exclaimed: "Oh, all right. I don't care."
From now on, her indifference to the flat was even greater. There seemed no common ground on which they could talk to one another. She let herself be asked for expenses. It became so with him that he hated to do it. He preferred standing off the butcher and baker. He ran up a grocery bill of sixteen dollars with Oeslogge, laying in a supply of staple articles, so that they would not have to buy any of those things for some time to come. Then he changed his grocery. It was the same with the butcher and several others. Carrie never heard anything of this directly from him. He asked for such as he could expect, drifting farther and farther into a situation which could have but one ending.
In this fashion, September went by.
"Isn't Mr. Drake going to open his hotel?" Carrie asked several times.
"Yes. He won't do it before October, though, now."
Carrie became disgusted. "Such a man," she said to herself frequently. More and more she visited. She put most of her spare money in clothes, which, after all, was not an astonishing amount. At last the opera she was with announced its departure within four weeks. "Last two weeks of the Great Comic Opera success - - The - - - - ," etc., was upon all billboards and in the newspapers, before she acted.
"I'm not going out on the road," said Miss Osborne.
Carrie went with her to apply to another manager.
"Ever had any experience?" was one of his questions.
"I'm with the company at the Casino now."
"Oh, you are?" he said.
The end of this was another engagement at twenty per week.
Carrie was delighted. She began to feel that she had a place in the world. People recognised ability.
So changed was her state that the home atmosphere became intolerable. It was all poverty and trouble there, or seemed to be, because it was a load to bear. It became a place to keep away from. Still she slept there, and did a fair amount of work, keeping it in order. It was a sitting place for Hurstwood. He sat and rocked, rocked and read, enveloped in the gloom of his own fate. October went by, and November. It was the dead of winter almost before he knew it, and there he sat.
Carrie was doing better, that he knew. Her clothes were improved now, even fine. He saw her coming and going, sometimes picturing to himself her rise. Little eating had thinned him somewhat. He had no appetite. His clothes, too, were a poor man's clothes. Talk about getting something had become even too threadbare and ridiculous for him. So he folded his hands and waited - for what, he could not anticipate.
At last, however, troubles became too thick. The hounding of creditors, the indifference of Carrie, the silence of the flat, and presence of winter, all joined to produce a climax. It was effected by the arrival of Oeslogge, personally, when Carrie was there.
"I call about my bill," said Mr. Oeslogge.
Carrie was only faintly surprised.
"How much is it?" she asked.
"Sixteen dollars," he replied.
"Oh, that much?" said Carrie. "Is this right?" she asked, turning to Hurstwood.
"Yes," he said.
"Well, I never heard anything about it."
She looked as if she thought he had been contracting some needless expense.
"Well, we had it all right," he answered. Then he went to the door. "I can't pay you anything on that to-day," he said, mildly.
"Well, when can you?" said the grocer.
"Not before Saturday, anyhow," said Hurstwood.
"Huh!" returned the grocer. "This is fine. I must have that. I need the money."
Carrie was standing farther back in the room, hearing it all. She was greatly distressed. It was so bad and commonplace. Hurstwood was annoyed also.
"Well," he said, "there's no use talking about it now. If you'll come in Saturday, I'll pay you something on it."
The grocery man went away.
"How are we going to pay it?" asked Carrie, astonished by the bill. "I can't do it."
"Well, you don't have to," he said. "He can't get what he can't get. He'll have to wait."
"I don't see how we ran up such a bill as that," said Carrie.
"Well, we ate it," said Hurstwood.
"It's funny," she replied, still doubting.
"What's the use of your standing there and talking like that, now?" he asked. "Do you think I've had it alone? You talk as if I'd taken something."
"Well, it's too much, anyhow," said Carrie. "I oughtn't to be made to pay for it. I've got more than I can pay for now."
"All right," replied Hurstwood, sitting down in silence. He was sick of the grind of this thing.
Carrie went out and there he sat, determining to do something.
There had been appearing in the papers about this time rumours and notices of an approaching strike on the trolley lines in Brooklyn. There was general dissatisfaction as to the hours of labour required and the wages paid. As usual - and for some inexplicable reason - the men chose the winter for the forcing of the hand of their employers and the settlement of their difficulties.
Hurstwood had been reading of this thing, and wondering concerning the huge tie-up which would follow. A day or two before this trouble with Carrie, it came. On a cold afternoon, when everything was grey and it threatened to snow, the papers announced that the men had been called out on all the lines. Being so utterly idle, and his mind filled with the numerous predictions which had been made concerning the scarcity of labour this winter and the panicky state of the financial market, Hurstwood read this with interest. He noted the claims of the striking motormen and conductors, who said that they had been wont to receive two dollars a day in times past, but that for a year or more "trippers" had been introduced, which cut down their chance of livelihood one-half, and increased their hours of servitude from ten to twelve, and even fourteen. These "trippers" were men put on during the busy and rush hours, to take a car out for one trip. The compensation paid for such a trip was only twenty-five cents. When the rush or busy hours were over, they were laid off. Worst of all, no man might know when he was going to get a car. He must come to the barns in the morning and wait around in fair and foul weather until such time as he was needed. Two trips were an average reward for so much waiting - a little over three hours' work for fifty cents. The work of waiting was not counted.
The men complained that this system was extending, and that the time was not far off when but a few out of 7,000 employees would have regular two-dollar-a-day work at all. They demanded that the system be abolished, and that ten hours be considered a day's work, barring unavoidable delays, with $2.25 pay. They demanded immediate acceptance of these terms, which the various trolley companies refused.
Hurstwood at first sympathised with the demands of these men - indeed, it is a question whether he did not always sympathise with them to the end, belie him as his actions might. Reading nearly all the news, he was attracted first by the scare-heads with which the trouble was noted in the "World." He read it fully - the names of the seven companies involved, the number of men.
"They're foolish to strike in this sort of weather," he thought to himself. "Let 'em win if they can, though."
The next day there was even a larger notice of it. "Brooklynites Walk," said the "World." "Knights of Labour Tie up the Trolley Lines Across the Bridge." "About Seven Thousand Men Out."
Hurstwood read this, formulating to himself his own idea of what would be the outcome. He was a great believer in the strength of corporations.
"They can't win," he said, concerning the men. "They haven't any money. The police will protect the companies. They've got to. The public has to have its cars."
He didn't sympathise with the corporations, but strength was with them. So was property and public utility.
"Those fellows can't win," he thought.
Among other things, he noticed a circular issued by one of the companies, which read:
ATLANTIC AVENUE RAILROAD
The motormen and conductors and other employees of this company having abruptly left its service, an opportunity is now given to all loyal men who have struck against their will to be reinstated, providing they will make their applications by twelve o'clock noon on Wednesday, January 16th. Such men will be given employment (with guaranteed protection) in the order in which such applications are received, and runs and positions assigned them accordingly. Otherwise, they will be considered discharged, and every vacancy will be filled by a new man as soon as his services can be secured.
He also noted among the want ads. one which read:
WANTED. - 50 skilled motormen, accustomed to Westinghouse system, to run U.S. mail cars only, in the City of Brooklyn; protection guaranteed.
He noted particularly in each the "protection guaranteed." It signified to him the unassailable power of the companies.
"They've got the militia on their side," he thought. "There isn't anything those men can do."
While this was still in his mind, the incident with Oeslogge and Carrie occurred. There had been a good deal to irritate him, but this seemed much the worst. Never before had she accused him of stealing - or very near that. She doubted the naturalness of so large a bill. And he had worked so hard to make expenses seem light. He had been "doing" butcher and baker in order not to call on her. He had eaten very little - almost nothing.
"Damn it all!" he said. "I can get something. I'm not down yet."
He thought that he really must do something now. It was too cheap to sit around after such an insinuation as this. Why, after a little, he would be standing anything.
He got up and looked out the window into the chilly street. It came gradually into his mind, as he stood there, to go to Brooklyn.
"Why not?" his mind said. "Any one can get work over there. You'll get two a day."
"How about accidents?" said a voice. "You might get hurt."
"Oh, there won't be much of that," he answered. "They've called out the police. Any one who wants to run a car will be protected all right."
"You don't know how to run a car," rejoined the voice.
"I won't apply as a motorman," he answered. "I can ring up fares all right."
"They'll want motormen, mostly."
"They'll take anybody; that I know."
For several hours he argued pro and con with this mental counsellor, feeling no need to act at once in a matter so sure of profit.
In the morning he put on his best clothes, which were poor enough, and began stirring about, putting some bread and meat into a page of a newspaper. Carrie watched him, interested in this new move.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Over to Brooklyn," he answered. Then, seeing her still inquisitive, he added: "I think I can get on over there."
"On the trolley lines?" said Carrie, astonished.
"Yes," he rejoined.
"Aren't you afraid?" she asked.
"What of?" he answered. "The police are protecting them."
"The paper said four men were hurt yesterday."
"Yes," he returned; "but you can't go by what the papers say. They'll run the cars all right."
He looked rather determined now, in a desolate sort of way, and Carrie felt very sorry. Something of the old Hurstwood was here - the least shadow of what was once shrewd and pleasant strength. Outside, it was cloudy and blowing a few flakes of snow.
"What a day to go over there," thought Carrie.
Now he left before she did, which was a remarkable thing, and tramped eastward to Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue, where he took the car. He had read that scores of applicants were applying at the office of the Brooklyn City Railroad building and were being received. He made his way there by horse-car and ferry - a dark, silent man - to the offices in question. It was a long way, for no cars were running, and the day was cold; but he trudged along grimly. Once in Brooklyn, he could clearly see and feel that a strike was on. People showed it in their manner. Along the routes of certain tracks not a car was running. About certain corners and nearby saloons small groups of men were lounging. Several spring wagons passed him, equipped with plain wooden chairs, and labelled "Flatbush" or "Prospect Park. Fare, Ten Cents." He noticed cold and even gloomy faces. Labour was having its little war.
When he came near the office in question, he saw a few men standing about, and some policemen. On the far corners were other men - whom he took to be strikers - watching. All the houses were small and wooden, the streets poorly paved. After New York, Brooklyn looked actually poor and hard-up.
He made his way into the heart of the small group, eyed by policemen and the men already there. One of the officers addressed him.
"What are you looking for?"
"I want to see if I can get a place."
"The offices are up those steps," said the bluecoat. His face was a very neutral thing to contemplate. In his heart of hearts, he sympathised with the strikers and hated this "scab." In his heart of hearts, also, he felt the dignity and use of the police force, which commanded order. Of its true social significance, he never once dreamed. His was not the mind for that. The two feelings blended in him - neutralised one another and him. He would have fought for this man as determinedly as for himself, and yet only so far as commanded. Strip him of his uniform, and he would have soon picked his side.
Hurstwood ascended a dusty flight of steps and entered a small, dust-coloured office, in which were a railing, a long desk, and several clerks.
"Well, sir?" said a middle-aged man, looking up at him from the long desk.
"Do you want to hire any men?" inquired Hurstwood.
"What are you - a motorman?"
"No; I'm not anything," said Hurstwood.
He was not at all abashed by his position. He knew these people needed men. If one didn't take him, another would. This man could take him or leave him, just as he chose.
"Well, we prefer experienced men, of course," said the man. He paused, while Hurstwood smiled indifferently. Then he added: "Still, I guess you can learn. What is your name?"
"Wheeler," said Hurstwood.
The man wrote an order on a small card. "Take that to our barns," he said, "and give it to the foreman. He'll show you what to do."
Hurstwood went down and out. He walked straight away in the direction indicated, while the policemen looked after.
"There's another wants to try it," said Officer Kiely to Officer Macey.
"I have my mind he'll get his fill," returned the latter, quietly. They had been in strikes before.