Her little brain had been surging with contradictory feelings-shame at exposure, shame at Hurstwood's perfidy, anger at Drouet's deception, the mockery he had made at her. Now one clear idea came into her head. He was at fault. There was no doubt about it. Why did he bring Hurstwood out — Hurstwood, a married man, and never say a word to her? Never mind now about Hurstwood's perfidy — why had he done this? Why hadn't he warned her? There he stood now, guilty of this miserable breach of confidence and talking about what he had done for her!
"Well, I like that," exclaimed Drouet, little realizing the fire his remark had generated. "I think I've done a good deal."
"You have, eh?" she answered. "You've deceived me — that's what you've done. You've brought your old friends out here under false pretences. You've made me out to be — Oh," and with this her voice broke and she pressed her two little hands together tragically.
"I don't see what that's got to do with it," said the drummer quaintly.
"No," she answered, recovering herself and shutting her teeth. "No, of course you don't see. There isn't anything you see. You couldn't have told me in the first place, could you? You had to make me out wrong until it was too late. Now you come sneaking around with your information and your talk about what you have done."
Drouet had never suspected this side of Carrie's nature. She was alive with feeling, her eyes snapping, her lips quivering, her whole body sensible of the injury she felt, and partaking of her wrath.
"Who's sneaking?" he asked, mildly conscious of error on his part, but certain that he was wronged.
"You are," stamped Carrie. "You're a horrid, conceited coward, that's what you are. If you had any sense of manhood in you, you wouldn't have thought of doing any such thing."
The drummer stared.
"I'm not a coward," he said. "What do you mean by going with other men, anyway?"
"Other men!" exclaimed Carrie. "Other men — you know better than that. I did go with Mr. Hurstwood, but whose fault was it? Didn't you bring him here? You told him yourself that he should come out here and take me out. Now, after it's all over, you come and tell me that I oughtn't to go with him and that he's a married man."
She paused at the sound of the last two words and wrung her hands. The knowledge of Hurstwood's perfidy wounded her like a knife. "Oh," she sobbed, repressing herself wonderfully and keeping her eyes dry. "Oh, oh!"
"Well, I didn't think you'd be running around with him when I was away," insisted Drouet.
"Didn't think!" said Carrie, now angered to the core by the man's peculiar attitude. "Of course not. You thought only of what would be to your satisfaction. You thought you'd make a toy of me — a plaything. Well, I'll show you that you won't. I'll have nothing more to do with you at all. You can take your old things and keep them," and unfastening a little pin he had given her, she flung it vigorously upon the floor and began to move about as if to gather up the things which belonged to her.
By this Drouet was not only irritated but fascinated the more. He looked at her in amazement, and finally said:
"I don't see where your wrath comes in. I've got the right of this thing. You oughtn't to have done anything that wasn't right after all I did for you."
"What have you done for me?" asked Carrie blazing, her head thrown back and her lips parted.
"I think I've done a good deal," said the drummer, looking around. "I've given you all the clothes you wanted, haven't I? I've taken you everywhere you wanted to go. You've had as much as I've had, and more too."
Carrie was not ungrateful, whatever else might be said of her. In so far as her mind could construe, she acknowledged benefits received. She hardly knew how to answer this, and yet her wrath was not placated. She felt that the drummer had injured her irreparably.
"Did I ask you to?" she returned.
"Well, I did it," said Drouet, "and you took it."
"You talk as though I had persuaded you," answered Carrie. "You stand there and throw up what you've done. I don't want your old things. I'll not have them. You take them to-night and do what you please with them. I'll not stay here another minute."
"That's nice!" he answered, becoming angered now at the sense of his own approaching loss. "Use everything and abuse me and then walk off. That's just like a woman. I take you when you haven't got anything, and then when some one else comes along, why I'm no good. I always thought it'd come out that way."
He felt really hurt as he thought of his treatment, and looked as if he saw no way of obtaining justice.
"It's not so," said Carrie, "and I'm not going with anybody else. You have been as miserable and inconsiderate as you can be. I hate you, I tell you, and I wouldn't live with you another minute. You're a big, insulting" — here she hesitated and used no word at all — "or you wouldn't talk that way."
She had secured her hat and jacket and slipped the latter on over her little evening dress. Some wisps of wavy hair had loosened from the bands at the side of her head and were straggling over her hot, red cheeks. She was angry, mortified, grief-stricken. Her large eyes were full of the anguish of tears, but her lids were not yet wet. She was distracted and uncertain, deciding and doing things without an aim or conclusion, and she had not the slightest conception of how the whole difficulty would end.
"Well, that's a fine finish," said Drouet. "Pack up and pull out, eh? You take the cake. I bet you were knocking around with Hurstwood or you wouldn't act like that. I don't want the old rooms. You needn't pull out for me. You can have them for all I care, but b'George, you haven't done me right."
"I'll not live with you," said Carrie. "I don't want to live with you. You've done nothing but brag around ever since you've been here."
"Aw, I haven't anything of the kind," he answered.
Carrie walked over to the door.
"Where are you going?" he said, stepping over and heading her off.
"Let me out," she said.
"Where are you going?" he repeated.
He was, above all, sympathetic, and the sight of Carrie wandering out, he knew not where, affected him, despite his grievance.
Carrie merely pulled at the door.
The strain of the situation was too much for her, however. She made one more vain effort and then burst into tears.
"Now, be reasonable, Cad," said Drouet gently. "What do you want to rush out for this way? You haven't any place to go. Why not stay here now and be quiet? I'll not bother you. I don't want to stay here any longer."
Carrie had gone sobbing from the door to the window. She was so overcome she could not speak.
"Be reasonable now," he said. "I don't want to hold you. You can go if you want to, but why don't you think it over? Lord knows, I don't want to stop you."
He received no answer. Carrie was quieting, however, under the influence of his plea.
"You stay here now, and I'll go," he added at last.
Carrie listened to this with mingled feelings. Her mind was shaken loose from the little mooring of logic that it had. She was stirred by this thought, angered by that — her own injustice, Hurstwood's, Drouet's, their respective qualities of kindness and favor, the threat of the world outside, in which she had failed once before, the impossibility of this state inside, where the chambers were no longer justly hers, the effect of the argument upon her nerves, all combined to make her a mass of jangling fibers — an anchorless, storm-beaten little craft which could do absolutely nothing but drift.
"Say," said Drouet, coming over to her after a few moments, with a new idea, and putting his hand upon her.