"Where do you want to go?" he enquired.
There was something in the tone in which he said this which made her feel as if she must record her feelings against any local habitation.
"We can't stay in Chicago," she replied.
He had no thought that this was in her mind — that any removal would be suggested.
"Why not?" he asked softly.
"Oh, because," she said, "I wouldn't want to."
He listened to this with but dull perception of what it meant. It had no serious ring to it. The question was not up for immediate decision.
"I would have to give up my position," he said.
The tone he used made it seem as if the matter deserved only slight consideration. Carrie thought a little, the while enjoying the pretty scene.
"I wouldn't like to live in Chicago and him here," she said, thinking of Drouet.
"It's a big town, dearest," Hurstwood answered. "It would be as good as moving to another part of the country to move to the South Side."
He had fixed upon that region as an objective point.
"Anyhow," said Carrie, "I shouldn't want to get married as long as he is here. I wouldn't want to run away."
The suggestion of marriage struck Hurstwood forcibly. He saw clearly that this was her idea — he felt that it was not to be gotten over easily. Bigamy lightened the horizon of his shadowy thoughts for a moment. He wondered for the life of him how it would all come out. He could not see that he was making any progress save in her regard. When he looked at her now, he thought her beautiful. What a thing it was to have her love him, even if it be entangling! She increased in value in his eyes because of her objection. She was something to struggle for, and that was everything. How different from the women who yielded willingly! He swept the thought of them from his mind.
"And you don't know when he'll go away?" asked Hurstwood, quietly.
She shook her head.
"You're a determined little miss, aren't you?" he said, after a few moments, looking up into her eyes.
She felt a wave of feeling sweep over her at this. It was pride at what seemed his admiration — affection for the man who could feel this concerning her.
"No," she said coyly, "but what can I do?"
Again he folded his hands and looked away over the lawn into the street.
"I wish," he said pathetically, "you would come to me. I don't like to be away from you this way. What good is there in waiting? You're not any happier, are you?"
"Happier!" she exclaimed softly, "you know better than that."
"Here we are then," he went on in the same tone, "wasting our days. If you are not happy, do you think I am? I sit and write to you the biggest part of the time. I'll tell you what, Carrie," he exclaimed, throwing sudden force of expression into his voice and fixing her with his eyes, "I can't live without you, and that's all there is to it. Now," he concluded, showing the palm of one of his white hands in a sort of at-an-end, helpless expression, "what shall I do?"
This shifting of the burden to her appealed to Carrie. The semblance of the load without the weight touched the woman's heart.
"Can't you wait a little while yet?" she said tenderly. "I'll try and find out when he's going."
"What good will it do?" he asked, holding the same strain of feeling.
"Well, perhaps we can arrange to go somewhere."
She really did not see anything clearer than before, but she was getting into that frame of mind where, out of sympathy, a woman yields.
Hurstwood did not understand. He was wondering how she was to be persuaded — what appeal would move her to forsake Drouet. He began to wonder how far her affection for him would carry her. He was thinking of some question which would make her tell.
Finally he hit upon one of those problematical propositions which often disguise our own desires while leading us to an understanding of the difficulties which others make for us, and so discover for us a way. It had not the slightest connection with anything intended on his part, and was spoken at random before he had given it a moment's serious thought.
"Carrie," he said, looking into her face and assuming a serious look which he did not feel, "suppose I were to come to you next week, or this week for that matter — to-night say — and tell you I had to go away- -that I couldn't stay another minute and wasn't coming back any more — would you come with me?" His sweetheart viewed him with the most affectionate glance, her answer ready before the words were out of his mouth.
"Yes," she said.
"You wouldn't stop to argue or arrange?"
"Not if you couldn't wait."
He smiled when he saw that she took him seriously, and he thought what a chance it would afford for a possible junket of a week or two. He had a notion to tell her that he was joking and so brush away her sweet seriousness, but the effect of it was too delightful. He let it stand.
"Suppose we didn't have time to get married here?" he added, an afterthought striking him.
"If we got married as soon as we got to the other end of the journey it would be all right."
"I meant that," he said.
The morning seemed peculiarly bright to him now. He wondered whatever could have put such a thought into his head. Impossible as it was, he could not help smiling at its cleverness. It showed how she loved him. There was no doubt in his mind now, and he would find a way to win her.
"Well," he said, jokingly, "I'll come and get you one of these evenings," and then he laughed.
"I wouldn't stay with you, though, if you didn't marry me," Carrie added reflectively.
"I don't want you to," he said tenderly, taking her hand.
She was extremely happy now that she understood. She loved him the more for thinking that he would rescue her so. As for him, the marriage clause did not dwell in his mind. He was thinking that with such affection there could be no bar to his eventual happiness.
"Let's stroll about," he said gaily, rising and surveying all the lovely park.
"All right," said Carrie.
They passed the young Irishman, who looked after them with envious eyes.
"'Tis a foine couple," he observed to himself. "They must be rich."