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He went in and examined his letters, but there was nothing from
Carrie. Fortunately, there was nothing from his wife either. He
thanked his stars that he did not have to confront that proposition
just now when he needed to think so much. He walked the floor
again, pretending to be in an ordinary mood, but secretly troubled
beyond the expression of words.
At one-thirty he went to Rector’s for lunch, and when he returned
a messenger was waiting for him. He looked at the little chap with
a feeling of doubt.
"I’m to bring an answer," said the boy.
Hurstwood recognised his wife’s writing. He tore it open and read
without a show of feeling. It began in the most formal manner and
was sharply and coldly worded throughout.
"I want you to send the money I asked for at once. I need it to
carry out my plans. You can stay away if you want to. It doesn’t
matter in the least. I must have some money. So don’t delay, but
send it by the boy."
When he had finished it, he stood holding it in his hands. The
audacity of the thing took his breath. It roused his ire also-the
deepest element of revolt in him. His first impulse was to write
but four words in reply-"Go to the devil!"- but he compromised
by telling the boy that there would be no reply. Then he sat down
in his chair and gazed without seeing, contemplating the result of
his work. What would she do about that? The confounded wretch!
Was she going to try to bulldoze him into submission? He would
go up there and have it out with her, that’s
what he would do. She was carrying things with too high a hand.
These were his first thoughts.
Later, however, his old discretion asserted itself. Something had
to be done. A climax was near and she would not sit idle. He
knew her well enough to know that when she had decided upon a
plan she would follow it up. Possibly matters would go into a
lawyer’s hands at once.
"Damn her!" he said softly, with his teeth firmly set, "I’ll make it
hot for her if she causes me trouble. I’ll make her change her tone
if I have to use force to do it!"
He arose from his chair and went and looked out into the street.
The long drizzle had begun. Pedestrians had turned up collars, and
trousers at the bottom. Hands were hidden in the pockets of the
umbrellaless; umbrellas were up. The street looked like a sea of
round black cloth roofs, twisting, bobbing, moving. Trucks and
vans were rattling in a noisy line and everywhere men were
shielding themselves as best they could. He scarcely noticed the
picture. He was forever confronting his wife, demanding of her to
change her attitude toward him before he worked her bodily harm.
At four o’clock another note came, which simply said that if the
money was not forthcoming that evening the matter would be laid
before Fitzgerald and Moy on the morrow, and other steps would
be taken to get it.
Hurstwood almost exclaimed out loud at the insistency of this
thing. Yes, he would send her the money. He’d take it to her-he
would go up there and have a talk with her, and that at once.
He put on his hat and looked around for his umbrella. He would
have some arrangement of this thing.
He called a cab and was driven through the dreary rain to the
North Side. On the way his temper cooled as he thought of the
details of the case. What did she know? What had she done?
Maybe she’d got hold of Carrie, who knows-or Drouet. Perhaps
she really had evidence, and was prepared to fell him as a man
does another from secret ambush. She was shrewd. Why should
she taunt him this way unless she had good grounds?
He began to wish that he had compromised in some way or other-
that he had sent the money. Perhaps he could do it up here. He
would go in and see, anyhow. He would have no row.
By the time he reached his own street he was keenly alive to the
difficulties of his situation and wished over and over that some
solution would offer itself, that he could see his way out. He
alighted and went up the steps to the front door, but it was with a
nervous palpitation of the heart. He pulled out his key and tried to
insert it, but another key was on the inside. He shook at the knob,
but the door was locked. Then he rang the bell. No answer. He
rang again-this time harder. Still no answer. He jangled it fiercely
several times in succession, but without avail. Then he went
There was a door which opened under the steps into the kitchen,
protected by an iron grating, intended as a safeguard against
burglars. When he reached this he noticed that it also was bolted
and that the kitchen windows were down. What could it mean? He
rang the bell and then waited. Finally, seeing that no one was
coming, he turned and went back to his cab.
"I guess they’ve gone out," he said apologetically to the individual
who was hiding his red face in a loose tarpaulin rain-coat.