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"Did you notice," he said, at last, breaking forth concerning
another item which he had found, "that they have entered suit to
compel the Illinois Central to get off the lake front, Julia?" he
She could scarcely force herself to answer, but managed to say
Hurstwood pricked up his ears. There was a note in her voice
which vibrated keenly.
"It would be a good thing if they did," he went on, half to himself,
half to her, though he felt that something was amiss in that
quarter. He withdrew his attention to his paper very
circumspectly, listening mentally for the little sounds which
should show him what was on foot.
As a matter of fact, no man as clever as Hurstwood-as observant
and sensitive to atmospheres of many sorts, particularly upon his
own plane of thought-would have made the mistake which he did
in regard to his wife, wrought up as she was, had he not been
occupied mentally with a very different train of thought. Had not
the influence of Carrieís regard for him, the elation which her
promise aroused in him, lasted over, he would not have seen the
house in so pleasant a mood. It was not extraordinarily bright and
merry this evening. He was merely very much mistaken, and
would have been much more fitted to cope with it had he come
home in his normal state.
After he had studied his paper a few moments longer, he felt that
he ought to modify matters in some way or other. Evidently his
wife was not going to patch up peace at a word. So he said:
"Where did George get the dog he has there in the yard?"
"I donít know," she snapped.
He put his paper down on his knees and gazed idly out of the
window. He did not propose to lose his temper, but merely to be
persistent and agreeable, and by a few questions bring around a
mild understanding of some sort.
"Why do you feel so bad about that affair of this morning?" he
said, at last. "We neednít quarrel about that. You know you can
go to Waukesha if you want to."
"So you can stay here and trifle around with some one else?" she
exclaimed, turning to him a determined countenance upon which
was drawn a sharp and wrathful sneer.
He stopped as if slapped in the face. In an instant his persuasive,
conciliatory manner fled. He was on the defensive at a wink and
puzzled for a word to reply.
"What do you mean?" he said at last, straightening himself and
gazing at the cold, determined figure before him, who paid no
attention, but went on arranging herself before the mirror.
"You know what I mean," she said, finally, as if there were a
world of information which she held in reserve-which she did not
need to tell.
"Well, I donít," he said, stubbornly, yet nervous and alert for what
should come next. The finality of the womanís manner took away
his feeling of superiority in battle.
She made no answer.
"Hmph!" he murmured, with a movement of his head to one side.
It was the weakest thing he had ever done. It was totally
Mrs. Hurstwood noticed the lack of colour in it. She turned upon
him, animal-like, able to strike an effectual second blow.
"I want the Waukesha money to-morrow morning," she said.
He looked at her in amazement. Never before had he seen such a
cold, steely determination in her eye-such a cruel look of
indifference. She seemed a thorough master of her mood-
thoroughly confident and determined to wrest all control from
him. He felt that all his resources could not defend him. He must
"What do you mean?" he said, jumping up. "You want! Iíd like to
know whatís got into you to-night."
"Nothingís got into me," she said, flaming. "I want that money.
You can do your swaggering afterwards."
"Swaggering, eh! What! Youíll get nothing from me. What do
you mean by your insinuations, anyhow?"