"Oh, he's a slow, greedy 'mick'! He won't agree to anything to improve the place, and it won't ever pay without it."
"Can't you make him?" said Carrie.
"No; I've tried. The only thing I can see, if I want to improve, is to get hold of a place of my own."
"Why don't you?" said Carrie.
"Well, all I have is tied up in there just now. If I had a chance to save a while I think I could open a place that would give us plenty of money."
"Can't we save?" said Carrie.
"We might try it," he suggested. "I've been thinking that if we'd take a smaller flat down town and live economically for a year, I would have enough, with what I have invested, to open a good place. Then we could arrange to live as you want to."
"It would suit me all right," said Carrie, who, nevertheless, felt badly to think it had come to this. Talk of a smaller flat sounded like poverty.
"There are lots of nice little flats down around Sixth Avenue, below Fourteenth Street. We might get one down there."
"I'll look at them if you say so," said Carrie.
"I think I could break away from this fellow inside of a year," said Hurstwood. "Nothing will ever come of this arrangement as it's going on now."
"I'll look around," said Carrie, observing that the proposed change seemed to be a serious thing with him.
The upshot of this was that the change was eventually effected; not without great gloom on the part of Carrie. It really affected her more seriously than anything that had yet happened. She began to look upon Hurstwood wholly as a man, and not as a lover or husband. She felt thoroughly bound to him as a wife, and that her lot was cast with his, whatever it might be; but she began to see that he was gloomy and taciturn, not a young, strong, and buoyant man. He looked a little bit old to her about the eyes and mouth now, and there were other things which placed him in his true rank, so far as her estimation was concerned. She began to feel that she had made a mistake. Incidentally, she also began to recall the fact that he had practically forced her to flee with him.
The new flat was located in Thirteenth Street, a half block west of Sixth Avenue, and contained only four rooms. The new neighborhood did not appeal to Carrie as much. There were no trees here, no west view of the river. The street was solidly built up. There were twelve families here, respectable enough, but nothing like the Vances. Richer people required more space.
Being left alone in this little place, Carrie did without a girl. She made it charming enough, but could not make it delight her. Hurstwood was not inwardly pleased to think that they should have to modify their state, but he argued that he could do nothing. He must put the best face on it, and let it go at that.
He tried to show Carrie that there was no cause for financial alarm, but only congratulation over the chance he would have at the end of the year by taking her rather more frequently to the theatre and by providing a liberal table. This was for the time only. He was getting in the frame of mind where he wanted principally to be alone and to be allowed to think. The disease of brooding was beginning to claim him as a victim. Only the newspapers and his own thoughts were worth while. The delight of love had again slipped away. It was a case of live, now, making the best you can out of a very commonplace station in life.
The road downward has but few landings and level places. The very state of his mind, super induced by his condition, caused the breach to widen between him and his partner. At last that individual began to wish that Hurstwood was out of it. It so happened, however, that a real estate deal on the part of the owner of the land arranged things even more effectually than ill will could have schemed.
"Did you see that?" said Shaughnessy one morning to Hurstwood, pointing to the real estate column in a copy of the "Herald," which he held.
"No, what is it?" said Hurstwood, looking down the items of news.
"The man who owns this ground has sold it."
"You don't say so?" said Hurstwood.
He looked, and there was the notice. Mr. August Viele had yesterday registered the transfer of the lot, 25 x 75 feet, at the corner of Warren and Hudson Streets, to J. F. Slawson for the sum of $57,000.
"Our lease expires when?" asked Hurstwood, thinking. "Next February, isn't it?"
"That's right," said Shaughnessy.
"It doesn't say what the new man's going to do with it," remarked Hurstwood, looking back to the paper.
"We'll hear, I guess, soon enough," said Shaughnessy.
Sure enough, it did develop. Mr. Slawson owned the property adjoining, and was going to put up a modern office building. The present one was to be torn down. It would take probably a year and a half to complete the other one.
All these things developed by degrees, and Hurstwood began to ponder over what would become of the saloon. One day he spoke about it to his partner.
"Do you think it would be worth while to open up somewhere else in the neighborhood?"
"What would be the use?" said Shaughnessy. "We couldn't get another corner around here."
"It wouldn't pay anywhere else, do you think?"
"I wouldn't try it," said the other. The approaching change now took on a most serious aspect to Hurstwood. Dissolution meant the loss of his thousand dollars, and he could not save another thousand in the time. He understood that Shaughnessy was merely tired of the arrangement, and would probably lease the new corner, when completed, alone. He began to worry about the necessity of a new connection and to see impending serious financial straits unless something turned up. This left him in no mood to enjoy his flat or Carrie, and consequently the depression invaded that quarter.
Meanwhile, he took such time as he could to look about, but opportunities were not numerous. More, he had not the same impressive personality which he had when he first came to New York. Bad thoughts had put a shade into his eyes which did not impress others favorably. Neither had he thirteen hundred dollars in hand to talk with. About a month later, finding that he had not made any progress, Shaughnessy reported definitely that Slawson would not extend the lease.
"I guess this thing's got to come to an end," he said, affecting an air of concern.
"Well, if it has, it has," answered Hurstwood, grimly. He would not give the other a key to his opinions, whatever they were. He should not have the satisfaction.
A day or two later he saw that he must say something to Carrie.
"You know," he said, "I think I'm going to get the worst of my deal down there."
"How is that?" asked Carrie in astonishment.
"Well, the man who owns the ground has sold it. and the new owner won't release it to us. The business may come to an end."
"Can't you start somewhere else?"
"There doesn't seem to be any place. Shaughnessy doesn't want to."
"Do you lose what you put in?"
"Yes," said Hurstwood, whose face was a study.
"Oh, isn't that too bad?" said Carrie.
"It's a trick," said Hurstwood. "That's all. They'll start another place there all right."
Carrie looked at him, and gathered from his whole demeanor what it meant. It was serious, very serious.
"Do you think you can get something else?" she ventured, timidly.
Hurstwood thought a while. It was all up with the bluff about money and investment. She could see now that he was "broke."
"I don't know," he said solemnly; "I can try."