Hurstwood was in his best form, as usual. He hadn't heard thatDrouet was out of town. He was but slightly affected by theintelligence, and devoted himself to the more general topicswhich would interest Carrie. It was surprising--the ease withwhich he conducted a conversation. He was like every man who hashad the advantage of practice and knows he has sympathy. He knewthat Carrie listened to him pleasurably, and, without the leasteffort, he fell into a train of observation which absorbed herfancy. He drew up his chair and modulated his voice to such adegree that what he said seemed wholly confidential. He confinedhimself almost exclusively to his observation of men andpleasures. He had been here and there, he had seen this andthat. Somehow he made Carrie wish to see similar things, and allthe while kept her aware of himself. She could not shut out theconsciousness of his individuality and presence for a moment. Hewould raise his eyes slowly in smiling emphasis of something, andshe was fixed by their magnetism. He would draw out, with theeasiest grace, her approval. Once he touched her hand foremphasis and she only smiled. He seemed to radiate an atmospherewhich suffused her being. He was never dull for a minute, andseemed to make her clever. At least, she brightened under hisinfluence until all her best side was exhibited. She felt thatshe was more clever with him than with others. At least, heseemed to find so much in her to applaud. There was not theslightest touch of patronage. Drouet was full of it.。，
。， "Maybe you can," went on Drouet, "if you stay here. You can't ifyou go away. They won't let you stay out there. Now, why notlet me get you a nice room? I won't bother you--you needn't beafraid. Then, when you get fixed up, maybe you could getsomething."
"Well, you have saved me a dreary evening," returned Hurstwood."Good-night."。， He turned to his eating again, the thought that it was a burdento have her here dwelling in his mind. She would have to gohome, that was all. Once she was away, there would be no morecoming back in the spring.
The other half of this picture came when young Blyford, son ofBlyford, the soap manufacturer, walked home with her. Mrs.Hurstwood was on the third floor, sitting in a rocking-chairreading, and happened to look out at the time.。，
。， Drouet jumped from one easy thought to another as he caughtHurstwood's eye. He felt but very little misgiving, until he sawthat Hurstwood was cautiously pretending not to see. Then someof the latter's impression forced itself upon him. He thought ofCarrie and their last meeting. By George, he would have toexplain this to Hurstwood. Such a chance half-hour with an oldfriend must not have anything more attached to it than it reallywarranted.
Carrie had none of the small deception which could feel one thingand say something directly opposed. She would prevaricate, butit would be in the line of her feelings at least. So instead ofcomplaining when she felt so good, she said:。，
。， Hurstwood's residence could scarcely be said to be infused withthis home spirit. It lacked that toleration and regard withoutwhich the home is nothing. There was fine furniture, arranged assoothingly as the artistic perception of the occupants warranted.There were soft rugs, rich, upholstered chairs and divans, agrand piano, a marble carving of some unknown Venus by someunknown artist, and a number of small bronzes gathered fromheaven knows where, but generally sold by the large furniturehouses along with everything else which goes to make the"perfectly appointed house."