Hurstwood was arraying himself in one of his perfection vests before the glass at the time.
"I thought she just bought one," he said.
"That was just something for evening wear," returned his wife complacently.
"It seems to me," returned Hurstwood, "that she's spending a good deal for dresses of late."
"Well, she's going out more," concluded his wife, but the tone of his voice impressed her as containing something she had not heard there before.
He was not a man who traveled much, but when he did, he had been accustomed to take her along. On one occasion recently a local aldermanic junket had been arranged to visit Philadelphia — a junket that was to last ten days. Hurstwood had been invited.
"Nobody knows us down there," said one, a gentleman whose face was a slight improvement over gross ignorance and sensuality. He always wore a silk hat of most imposing proportions. "We can have a good time." His left eye moved with just the semblance of a wink. "You want to come along, George."
The next day Hurstwood announced his intention to his wife.
"I'm going away, Julia," he said, "for a few days."
"Where?" she asked, looking up.
"To Philadelphia, on business."
She looked at him consciously, expecting something else.
"I'll have to leave you behind this time."
"All right," she replied, but he could see that she was thinking that it was a curious thing. Before he went she asked him a few more questions, and that irritated him. He began to feel that she was a disagreeable attachment.
On this trip he enjoyed himself thoroughly, and when it was over he was sorry to get back. He was not willingly a prevaricator, and hated thoroughly to make explanations concerning it. The whole incident was glossed over with general remarks, but Mrs. Hurstwood gave the subject considerable thought. She drove out more, dressed better, and attended theatres freely to make up for it.
Such an atmosphere could hardly come under the category of home life. It ran along by force of habit, by force of conventional opinion. With the lapse of time it must necessarily become dryer and dryer — must eventually be tinder, easily lighted and destroyed.