"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.
Chapter XXXVII. 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.
Chapter XXXVIII. 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.
Chapter XXXIX. 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."
Chapter XL. 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. (Signed) Benjamin Norton, President
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.
Chapter XLI. THE STRIKE
The barn at which Hurstwood applied was exceedingly short-handed, and was being operated practically by three men as directors. There were a lot of green hands around—queer, hungry-looking men, who looked as if want had driven them to desperate means. They tried to be lively and willing, but there was an air of hang-dog diffidence about the place.
Hurstwood went back through the barns and out into a large, enclosed lot, where were a series of tracks and loops. A half-dozen cars were there, manned by instructors, each with a pupil at the lever. More pupils were waiting at one of the rear doors of the barn.
In silence Hurstwood viewed this scene, and waited. His companions took his eye for a while, though they did not interest him much more than the cars. They were an uncomfortable-looking gang, however. One or two were very thin and lean. Several were quite stout. Several others were rawboned and sallow, as if they had been beaten upon by all sorts of rough weather.
"Did you see by the paper they are going to call out the militia?" Hurstwood heard one of them remark.
"Oh, they'll do that," returned the other. "They always do."
"Think we're liable to have much trouble?" said another, whom Hurstwood did not see.
"That Scotchman that went out on the last car," put in a voice, "told me that they hit him in the ear with a cinder."
A small, nervous laugh accompanied this.
"One of those fellows on the Fifth Avenue line must have had a hell of a time, according to the papers," drawled another. "They broke his car windows and pulled him off into the street 'fore the police could stop 'em."
"Yes; but there are more police around to-day," was added by another.
Hurstwood hearkened without much mental comment. These talkers seemed scared to him. Their gabbling was feverish—things said to quiet their own minds. He looked out into the yard and waited.
Two of the men got around quite near him, but behind his back. They were rather social, and he listened to what they said.
"Are you a railroad man?" said one.
"Me? No. I've always worked in a paper factory."
"I had a job in Newark until last October," returned the other, with reciprocal feeling.
There were some words which passed too low to hear. Then the conversation became strong again.
"I don't blame these fellers for striking," said one. "They've got the right of it, all right, but I had to get something to do."
"Same here," said the other. "If I had any job in Newark I wouldn't be over here takin' chances like these."
"It's hell these days, ain't it?" said the man. "A poor man ain't nowhere. You could starve, by God, right in the streets, and there ain't most no one would help you."
"Right you are," said the other. "The job I had I lost 'cause they shut down. They run all summer and lay up a big stock, and then shut down."
Hurstwood paid some little attention to this. Somehow, he felt a little superior to these two—a little better off. To him these were ignorant and commonplace, poor sheep in a driver's hand.
"Poor devils," he thought, speaking out of the thoughts and feelings of a bygone period of success. "Next," said one of the instructors.
"You're next," said a neighbour, touching him.
He went out and climbed on the platform. The instructor took it for granted that no preliminaries were needed.
"You see this handle," he said, reaching up to an electric cut-off, which was fastened to the roof. "This throws the current off or on. If you want to reverse the car you turn it over here. If you want to send it forward, you put it over here. If you want to cut off the power, you keep it in the middle."
Hurstwood smiled at the simple information.
"Now, this handle here regulates your speed. To here," he said, pointing with his finger, "gives you about four miles an hour. This is eight. When it's full on, you make about fourteen miles an hour."
Hurstwood watched him calmly. He had seen motormen work before. He knew just about how they did it, and was sure he could do as well, with a very little practice.
The instructor explained a few more details, and then said:
"Now, we'll back her up."
Hurstwood stood placidly by, while the car rolled back into the yard.
"One thing you want to be careful about, and that is to start easy. Give one degree time to act before you start another. The one fault of most men is that they always want to throw her wide open. That's bad. It's dangerous, too. Wears out the motor. You don't want to do that."
"I see," said Hurstwood.
He waited and waited, while the man talked on.
"Now you take it," he said, finally.
The ex-manager laid hand to the lever and pushed it gently, as he thought. It worked much easier than he imagined, however, with the result that the car jerked quickly forward, throwing him back against the door. He straightened up sheepishly, while the instructor stopped the car with the brake.
"You want to be careful about that," was all he said.
Hurstwood found, however, that handling a brake and regulating speed were not so instantly mastered as he had imagined. Once or twice he would have ploughed through the rear fence if it had not been for the hand and word of his companion. The latter was rather patient with him, but he never smiled.
"You've got to get the knack of working both arms at once," he said. "It takes a little practice."
One o'clock came while he was still on the car practising, and he began to feel hungry. The day set in snowing, and he was cold. He grew weary of running to and fro on the short track.
They ran the car to the end and both got off. Hurstwood went into the barn and sought a car step, pulling out his paper-wrapped lunch from his pocket. There was no water and the bread was dry, but he enjoyed it. There was no ceremony about dining. He swallowed and looked about, contemplating the dull, homely labour of the thing. It was disagreeable—miserably disagreeable—in all its phases. Not because it was bitter, but because it was hard. It would be hard to any one, he thought.
After eating, he stood about as before, waiting until his turn came.
The intention was to give him an afternoon of practice, but the greater part of the time was spent in waiting about.
At last evening came, and with it hunger and a debate with himself as to how he should spend the night. It was half-past five. He must soon eat. If he tried to go home, it would take him two hours and a half of cold walking and riding. Besides he had orders to report at seven the next morning, and going home would necessitate his rising at an unholy and disagreeable hour. He had only something like a dollar and fifteen cents of Carrie's money, with which he had intended to pay the two weeks' coal bill before the present idea struck him.
"They must have some place around here," he thought. "Where does that fellow from Newark stay?"
Finally he decided to ask. There was a young fellow standing near one of the doors in the cold, waiting a last turn. He was a mere boy in years—twenty-one about—but with a body lank and long, because of privation. A little good living would have made this youth plump and swaggering.
"How do they arrange this, if a man hasn't any money?" inquired Hurstwood, discreetly.
The fellow turned a keen, watchful face on the inquirer.
"You mean eat?" he replied.
"Yes, and sleep. I can't go back to New York to-night."
"The foreman 'll fix that if you ask him, I guess. He did me."
"Yes. I just told him I didn't have anything. Gee, I couldn't go home. I live way over in Hoboken."
Hurstwood only cleared his throat by way of acknowledgment.
"They've got a place upstairs here, I understand. I don't know what sort of a thing it is. Purty tough, I guess. He gave me a meal ticket this noon. I know that wasn't much."