"I know," said Carrie.
"I wouldn't ask if I--I wouldn't argue with you if I could help it. Look at me, Carrie. Put yourself in my place. You don't want to stay away from me, do you?"
She shook her head as if in deep thought. "Then why not settle the whole thing, once and for all?"
"I don't know," said Carrie.
"Don't know! Ah, Carrie, what makes you say that? Don't torment me. Be serious."
"I am," said Carrie, softly.
"You can't be, dearest, and say that. Not when you know how I love you. Look at last night."
His manner as he said this was the most quiet imaginable. His face and body retained utter composure. Only his eyes moved, and they flashed a subtle, dissolving fire. In them the whole intensity of the man's nature was distilling itself.
Carrie made no answer.
"How can you act this way, dearest?" he inquired, after a time. "You love me, don't you?"
He turned on her such a storm of feeling that she was overwhelmed. For the moment all doubts were cleared away.
"Yes," she answered, frankly and tenderly.
"Well, then you'll come, won't you--come to-night?"
Carrie shook her head in spite of her distress.
"I can't wait any longer," urged Hurstwood. "If that is too soon, come Saturday."
"When will we be married?" she asked, diffidently, forgetting in her difficult situation that she had hoped he took her to be Drouet's wife.
The manager started, hit as he was by a problem which was more difficult than hers. He gave no sign of the thoughts that flashed like messages to his mind.
"Any time you say," he said, with ease, refusing to discolour his present delight with this miserable problem.
"Saturday?" asked Carrie.
He nodded his head.
"Well, if you will marry me then," she said, "I'll go."
The manager looked at his lovely prize, so beautiful, so winsome, so difficult to be won, and made strange resolutions. His passion had gotten to that stage now where it was no longer coloured with reason. He did not trouble over little barriers of this sort in the face of so much loveliness. He would accept the situation with all its difficulties; he would not try to answer the objections which cold truth thrust upon him. He would promise anything, everything, and trust to fortune to disentangle him. He would make a try for Paradise, whatever might be the result. He would be happy, by the Lord, if it cost all honesty of statement, all abandonment of truth.
Carrie looked at him tenderly. She could have laid her head upon his shoulder, so delightful did it all seem. "Well," she said, "I'll try and get ready then."
Hurstwood looked into her pretty face, crossed with little shadows of wonder and misgiving, and thought he had never seen anything more lovely.
"I'll see you again to-morrow," he said, joyously, "and we'll talk over the plans."
He walked on with her, elated beyond words, so delightful had been the result. He impressed a long story of joy and affection upon her, though there was but here and there a word. After a half-hour he began to realise that the meeting must come to an end, so exacting is the world.
"To-morrow," he said at parting, a gayety of manner adding wonderfully to his brave demeanour.
"Yes," said Carrie, tripping elatedly away.
There had been so much enthusiasm engendered that she was believing herself deeply in love. She sighed as she thought of her handsome adorer. Yes, she would get ready by Saturday. She would go, and they would be happy.