What Drouet said about the girl's grace, as she tripped Out evening accompanied by her mother, caused Carrie To perceive the nature and value of those little moodish Ways which women adopt when they would presume to be Something. She looked in the mirror and pursed up her Lips, accomplishing it with a little toss of the head, as the Had seen the railroad treasurer's 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 women who has vanity invariably adopts. In shorts, her knowledge of grace Doubled, and with 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 arraying 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 selfsame day.
She used her feet less heavily, a thing that was brought About by her attempting to imitate the treasurer's daughter's graceful carriage. How much influence the presence Of that young women 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 women 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 blasé 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 glance.
The cab plopped ailing along between the far-receding lines of gas lamps on either hand. He folded his gloved hands and saw only the lighted chamber and Carrie's face. He was pondering over the delight of youthful beauty.
"I'll have a bouquet for her," he though. " Drouet won't mind."
He never for a moment concealed the fact of her attraction for himself. He troubled himself not at all about Drouet's priority. He was merely floating those gossamer threads of thought which, like the spider's 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.
"Let's go to dinner," he said, little reckoning any chance meeting which might trouble his way.
"Certainty," 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 Hurstwood's 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 though, and then, with a touch of righteous sympathy, " that's pretty hard on the little girl."
Drouet jumped from one easy though to another as he caught Hurstwood's eye. He felt but every little misgiving, until he saw that Hurstwood was cautiously pretending not to see. Then some of the latter's impression forced itself upon him. He though of Carrie and their last meeting. By George, he would have to explain this to Hurstwood. Such a chance half-hour with an old friend must not have anything more attached to it really warranted.
For the first time he was troubled. Here was a moral Complication of which he could not possibly get the ends. Hurstwood would laugh at him for being a fickle boy. He would laugh with Hurstwood. Carrie would never Hear, his present companion at table would never know And yet he could not help feeling that he was getting the was not guilty. He broke up the dinner by becoming dull, and saw his companion on her car. Then he went home.
"He hasn't talked to me about any of these later flames," though Hurstwood to himself. " He thinks he cares for the girl out there."
He ought not to think I'm knocking around, since Have just introduced him out there," though Drouet.
"I saw you," Hurstwood said, genially, the next time. Drouet drifted in to his polished resort, from which he Could not stay away. He raised his forefinger indicatively, as parents do to children.
"An old acquaintance of mine that I ran into just as was coming up from the station," explained Drouet.
"She used to be quite a beauty."
"Still attracts a little, eh?" returned the other, affecting to jest.
"Oh, no," said Drouet, " just couldn't escape her this time."
"How long are you here?" asked Hurstwood.
"Only a few days."
"You must bring the girls down and take dinner with me," he said. " I'm afraid you keep her cooped up out there. I'll get a box for Joe Jefferson."
"Not me," answered the drummer. " Sure I'll come."
This pleased Hurstwood immensely. He gave Drouet no credit for any feelings toward Carrie whatever. He Envied him, and now, as he looked at the well-dressed salesman, whom he so much liked, the gleam of the Rival glowed in his eye. He began to " size up" Drouet From the standpoints of wit and fascination. He began to Look to see where he was weak. There was no disputing that, whatever he might think of him as a good fellow, he felt a certain amount of contempt for him as a lover. He could hoodwink him all right. Why, if he would just Let Carrie see one such little incident as that of Thursday, it would settle the matter. He ran on it thought, almost exulting, the while he laughed and chatted, and Drouet felt nothing. He had no power of analyzing the glance and the atmosphere of a man like Hurstwood. He stood and smiled and accepted the invitation while his friend examined him with the eye of a hawk.
The object of this peculiarly involved comedy was not Thinking of either. She was busy adjusting her thoughts And feelings to newer conditions, and was not in danger of suffering disturbing pangs from either quarter.
One evening Drouet found her dressing herself before That glass.
"Cad," said he, catching her, " I believe you're getting vain."
"Nothing of the kind," she returned, smiling.
"Well, you're mighty pretty," he went on, slipping his arm around her. " Put on that navy-blue dress of yours and I'll take you to the show."
"Oh, I've promised Mrs. Hale to go with her to the Exposition to- night," she returned, apologetically.
"You did, eh? He said, studying the situation abstractedly. " I wouldn't care to go to that myself."
"Well, I don't know," answered Carrie, puzzling, but not offering to break her promise in his favor.