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Drouet had ability in this line himself when the game was worth
the candle, but he was too much the egotist to reach the polish
which Hurstwood possessed. He was too buoyant, too full of
ruddy life, too assured. He succeeded with many who were not
quite schooled in the art of love. He failed dismally where the
woman was slightly experienced and possessed innate refinement.
In the case of Carrie he found a woman who was all of the latter,
but none of the former. He was lucky in the fact that opportunity
tumbled into his lap, as it were. A few years later, with a little
more experience, the slightest tide of success, and he had not been
able to approach Carrie at all.
"You ought to have a piano here, Drouet," said Hurstwood,
smiling at Carrie, on the evening in question, "so that your wife
Drouet had not thought of that.
"So we ought," he observed readily.
"Oh, I don’t play," ventured Carrie.
"It isn’t very difficult," returned Hurstwood. "You could do very
well in a few weeks."
He was in the best form for entertaining this evening. His clothes
were particularly new and rich in appearance. The coat lapels
stood out with that medium stiffness which excellent cloth
possesses. The vest was of a rich Scotch plaid, set with a double
row of round mother-of-pearl buttons. His cravat was a shiny
combination of silken threads, not loud, not inconspicuous. What
he wore did not strike the eye so forcibly as that which Drouet had
on, but Carrie could see the elegance of the material. Hurstwood’s
shoes were of soft, black calf, polished only to a dull shine.
Drouet wore patent leather, but Carrie could not help feeling that
there was a distinction in favour of the soft leather, where all else
was so rich. She noticed these things almost unconsciously. They
were things which would naturally flow from the situation. She
was used to Drouet’s appearance.
"Suppose we have a little game of euchre?" suggested Hurstwood,
after a light round of conversation. He was rather dexterous in
avoiding everything that would suggest that he knew anything of
Carrie’s past. He kept away from personalities altogether, and
confined himself to those things which did not concern
individuals at all. By his manner, he put Carrie at her ease, and by
his deference and pleasantries he amused her. He pretended to be
seriously interested in all she said.
"I don’t know how to play," said Carrie.
"Charlie, you are neglecting a part of your duty," he observed to
Drouet most affably. "Between us, though," he went on, "we can
By his tact he made Drouet feel that he admired his choice. There
was something in his manner that showed that he was pleased to
be there. Drouet felt really closer to him than ever before. It gave
him more respect for Carrie. Her appear-
ance came into a new light, under Hurstwood’s appreciation. The
situation livened considerably.
"Now, let me see," said Hurstwood, looking over Carrie’s
shoulder very defer-entially. "What have you?" He studied for a
moment. "That’s rather good," he said.