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"Come on, now," he went on; "itís all right. Letís waltz a little to
He could not have introduced a more incongruous proposition. It
made clear to Carrie that he could not sympathise with her. She
could not have framed thoughts which would have expressed his
defect or made clear the difference between them, but she felt it. It
was his first great mistake.
What Drouet said about the girlís grace, as she tripped out
evenings accompanied by her mother, caused Carrie to perceive
the nature and value of those little modish ways which women
adopt when they would presume to be something. She looked in
the mirror and pursed up her lips, accompanying it with a little
toss of the head, as she had seen the railroad treasurerís daughter
do. She caught up her skirts with an easy swing, for had not
Drouet remarked that in her and several others, and Carrie was
naturally imitative. She began to get the hang of those little
things which the pretty woman who has vanity invariably adopts.
In short, her knowledge of grace doubled, and with it her
appearance changed. She became a girl of considerable taste.
Drouet noticed this. He saw the new bow in her hair and the new
way of arranging her locks which she affected one morning.
"You look fine that way, Cad," he said.
"Do I?" she replied, sweetly. It made her try for other effects that
She used her feet less heavily, a thing that was brought about by
her attempting to imitate the treasurerís daughterís graceful
carriage. How much influence the presence of that young woman
in the same house had upon her it would be difficult to say. But,
because of all these things, when Hurstwood called he had found
a young woman who was much more than the Carrie to whom
Drouet had first spoken. The primary defects of dress and manner
had passed. She was pretty, graceful, rich in the timidity born of
uncertainty, and with a something childlike in her large eyes
which captured the fancy of this starched and conventional poser
among men. It was the ancient attraction of the fresh for the stale.
If there was a touch of appreciation left in him for the bloom and
unsophistication which is the charm of youth, it rekindled now.
He looked into her pretty face and felt the subtle waves of young
life radiating therefrom. In that large clear eye he could see
nothing that his blase nature could understand as guile. The little
vanity, if he could have perceived it there, would have touched
him as a pleasant thing.
"I wonder," he said, as he rode away in his cab, "how Drouet
came to win her."
He gave her credit for feelings superior to Drouet at the first
The cab plopped along between the far-receding lines of gas
lamps on either hand. He folded his gloved hands and saw only
the lighted chamber and Carrieís face. He was pondering over the
delight of youthful beauty.
"Iíll have a bouquet for her," he thought. "Drouet wonít mind."
He never for a moment concealed the fact of her attraction for
himself. He troubled himself not at all about Drouetís priority. He
was merely floating those gossamer threads of thought which, like
the spiderís, he hoped would lay hold somewhere. He did not
know, he could not guess, what the result would be.
A few weeks later Drouet, in his peregrinations, encountered one
of his well-dressed lady acquaintances in Chicago on his return
from a short trip to Omaha. He had intended to hurry out to
Ogden Place and surprise Carrie, but now he fell into an
interesting conversation and soon modified his original intention.
"Letís go to dinner," he said, little recking any chance meeting
which might trouble his way.
"Certainly," said his companion.
They visited one of the better restaurants for a social chat. It was
five in the afternoon when they met; it was seven-thirty before the
last bone was picked.
Drouet was just finishing a little incident he was relating, and his
face was expanding into a smile, when Hurstwoodís eye caught
his own. The latter had come in with several friends, and, seeing
Drouet and some woman, not Carrie, drew his own conclusion.
"Ah, the rascal," he thought, and then, with a touch of righteous
sympathy, "thatís pretty hard on the little girl."