Hurstwood sat and read by his radiator in the corner. He did not try to think about his need of work. This storm being so terrific, and tying up all things, robbed him of the need. He made himself wholly comfortable and toasted his feet.
Carrie observed his ease with some misgiving. For all the fury of the storm she doubted his comfort. He took his situation too philosophically.
Hurstwood, however, read on and on. He did not pay much attention to Carrie. She fulfilled her household duties and said little to disturb him.
The next day it was still snowing, and the next, bitter cold. Hurstwood took the alarm of the paper and sat still. Now he volunteered to do a few other little things. One was to go to the butcher, another to the grocery. He really thought nothing of these little services in connection with their true significance. He felt as if he were not wholly useless — indeed, in such a stress of weather, quite worth while about the house.
On the fourth day, however, it cleared, and he read that the storm was over. Now, however, he idled, thinking how sloppy the streets would be.
It was noon before he finally abandoned his papers and got under way. Owing to the slightly warmer temperature the streets were bad. He went across Fourteenth Street on the car and got a transfer south on Broadway. One little advertisement he had, relating to a saloon down in Pearl Street. When he reached the Broadway Central, however, he changed his mind.
"What's the use?" he thought, looking out upon the slop and snow. "I couldn't buy into it. It's a thousand to one nothing comes of it. I guess I'll get off," and off he got. In the lobby he took a seat and waited again, wondering what he could do.
While he was idly pondering, satisfied to be inside, a well dressed man passed up the lobby, stopped, looked sharply, as if not sure of his memory, and then approached. Hurstwood recognized Cargill, the owner of the large stables in Chicago of the same name, whom he had last seen at Avery Hall, the night Carrie appeared there. The remembrance of how this individual brought up his wife to shake hands on that occasion was also on the instant clear.
Hurstwood was greatly abashed. His eyes expressed the difficulty he felt.
"Why, it's Hurstwood!" said Cargill, remembering now, and sorry that he had not recognized him quickly enough in the beginning to have avoided this meeting.
"Yes," said Hurstwood. "How are you?"
"Very well," said Cargill, troubled for something to talk about. "Stopping here?"
"No," said Hurstwood, "just keeping an appointment." "I knew you had left Chicago. I was wondering what had become of you."
"Oh, I'm here now," answered Hurstwood, anxious to get away.
"Doing well, I suppose?"
"Glad to hear it."
They looked at one another, rather embarrassed.
"Well, I have an engagement with a friend upstairs. I'll leave you. So long."
Hurstwood nodded his head.
"Damn it all," he murmured, turning toward the door. "I knew that would happen."
He walked several blocks up the street. His watch only registered 1.30. He tried to think of some place to go or something to do. The day was so bad he wanted only to be inside. Finally his feet began to feel wet and cold, and he boarded a car. This took him to Fifty-ninth Street, which was as good as anywhere else. Landed here, he turned to walk back along Seventh Avenue, but the slush was too much. The misery of lounging about with nowhere to go became intolerable. He felt as if he were catching cold.
Stopping at a corner, he waited for a car south bound. This was no day to be out; he would go home.
Carrie was surprised to see him at a quarter of three.
"It's a miserable day out," was all he said. Then he took off his coat and changed his shoes.
That night he felt a cold coming on and took quinine. He was feverish until morning, and sat about the next day while Carrie waited on him. He was a helpless creature in sickness, not very handsome in a dull- colored bath gown and his hair uncombed. He looked haggard about the eyes and quite old. Carrie noticed this, and it did not appeal to her. She wanted to be good-natured and sympathetic, but something about the man held her aloof.
Toward evening he looked so badly in the weak light that she suggested he go to bed.
"You'd better sleep alone," she said, "you'll feel better. I'll open your bed for you now."
"All right," he said.
As she did all these things, she was in a most despondent state.
"What a life! What a life!" was her one thought.
Once during the day, when he sat near the radiator, hunched up and reading, she passed through, and seeing him, wrinkled her brows. In the front room, where it was not so warm, she sat by the window and cried. This was the life cut out for her, was it? To live cooped up in a small flat with some one who was out of work, idle, and indifferent to her. She was merely a servant to him now, nothing more.
This crying made her eyes red, and when, in preparing his bed, she lighted the gas, and, having prepared it, called him in, he noticed the fact.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked, looking into her face. His voice was hoarse and his unkempt head only added to its gruesome quality.
"Nothing," said Carrie, weakly.
"You've been crying," he said.
"I haven't, either," she answered.
It was not for love of him, that he knew.
"You needn't cry," he said, getting into bed. "Things will come out all right."
In a day or two he was up again, but rough weather holding, he stayed in. The Italian news dealer now delivered the morning papers, and these he read assiduously. A few times after that he ventured out, but meeting another of his old-time friends, he began to feel uneasy sitting about hotel corridors.
Every day he came home early, and at last made no pretence of going anywhere. Winter was no time to look for anything.
Naturally, being about the house, he noticed the way Carrie did things. She was far from perfect in household methods and economy, and her little deviations on this score first caught his eye. Not, however, before her regular demand for her allowance became a grievous thing. Sitting around as he did, the weeks seemed to pass very quickly. Every Tuesday Carrie asked for her money.
"Do you think we live as cheaply as we might?" he asked one Tuesday morning.
"I do the best I can," said Carrie.
Nothing was added to this at the moment, but the next day he said:
"Do you ever go to the Gansevoort Market over here?"
"I didn't know there was such a market," said Carrie.
"They say you can get things lots cheaper there."
Carrie was very indifferent to the suggestion. These were things which she did not like at all.
"How much do you pay for a pound of meat?" he asked one day.
"Oh, there are different prices," said Carrie. "Sirloin steak is twenty-two cents."
"That's steep, isn't it?" he answered.