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THE IRK OF THE OLD TIES: THE MAGIC OF
The complete ignoring by Hurstwood of his own home came with
the growth of his affection for Carrie. His actions, in all that
related to his family, were of the most perfunctory kind. He sat at
breakfast with his wife and children, absorbed in his own fancies,
which reached far without the realm of their interests. He read his
paper, which was heightened in interest by the shallowness of the
themes discussed by his son and daughter. Between himself and
his wife ran a river of indifference.
Now that Carrie had come, he was in a fair way to be blissful
again. There was delight in going down town evenings. When he
walked forth in the short days, the street lamps had a merry
twinkle. He began to experience the almost forgotten feeling
which hastens the loverís feet. When he looked at his fine clothes,
he saw them with her eyes-and her eyes were young.
When in the flush of such feelings he heard his wifeís voice, when
the insistent demands of matrimony recalled him from dreams to a
stale practice, how it grated. He then knew that this was a chain
which bound his feet.
"George," said Mrs. Hurstwood, in that tone of voice which had
long since come to be associated in his mind with demands, "we
want you to get us a season ticket to the races."
"Do you want to go to all of them?" he said with a rising
"Yes," she answered.
The races in question were soon to open at Washington Park, on
the South Side, and were considered quite society affairs among
those who did not affect religious rectitude and conservatism.
Mrs. Hurstwood had never asked for a whole season ticket before,
but this year certain considerations decided her to get a box. For
one thing, one of her neighbours, a certain Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey,
who were possessors of money, made out of the coal business,
had done so. In the next place, her favourite physician, Dr. Beale,
a gentleman inclined to horses and betting, had talked with her
concerning his intention to enter a two-year-old in the Derby. In
the third place, she wished to exhibit Jessica, who was gaining in
maturity and beauty, and whom she hoped to marry to a man of
means. Her own desire to be about in such things and parade
among her acquaintances and the common throng was as much an
incentive as anything.
Hurstwood thought over the proposition a few moments without
answering. They were in the sitting-room on the second floor,
waiting for supper. It was the evening of his engagement with
Carrie and Drouet to see "The Covenant," which had brought him
home to make some alterations in his dress.
"Youíre sure separate tickets wouldnít do as well?" he asked,
hesitating to say anything more rugged.
"No," she replied impatiently.
"Well," he said, taking offence at her manner, "you neednít get
mad about it. Iím just asking you."
"Iím not mad," she snapped. "Iím merely asking you for a season
"And Iím telling you," be returned, fixing a clear, steady eye on
her, "that itís no easy thing to get. Iím not sure whether the
manager will give it to me."
He had been thinking all the time of his "pull" with the race-track
"We can buy it then," she exclaimed sharply.
"You talk easy," he said. "A season family ticket costs one
hundred and fifty dollars."
"Iíll not argue with you," she replied with determination. "I want
the ticket and thatís all there is to it."
She had risen, and now walked angrily out of the room.
"Well, you get it then," he said grimly, though in a modified tone
As usual, the table was one short that evening.
The next morning he had cooled down considerably, and later the
ticket was duly secured, though it did not heal matters. He did not
mind giving his family a fair share of all that he earned, but he did
not like to be forced to provide against his will.
"Did you know, mother," said Jessica another day, "the Spencers
are getting ready to go away?"
"No. Where, I wonder?"