have for another?
The thick fog over Murdock's mind had been sway
ing uncertainly for nearly a week. On the thirty-sev
enth day Presbury saw that it was not settling back, but
was slowly lifting to drift away. The change was
slight, but to his experience decisive; the crisis had
passed, life and love had won. Presbury knew it was
a question not of how many but of how few hours
before that intelligence would swing clear of mist,
would see its surroundings. But he did not hint it
That afternoon he called her out to the platform and
in the tone that asks an explanation said, " You've sent
away your trunk."
"SHE SEEMED QUITE CALM"
" I saw the change," replied she. " He will get well.
I may have to go at any moment."
" You'll stay as long as you like."
" You don't understand," said she. " He mustn't
know I've been here."
" They " He glanced in the direction of the other
settlement " They'll tell him."
" I think not," replied she reflectively. " If so at
least I'll have done my best. I want you to promise
Presbury shook his head. " I'll have to tell him. It
isn't fair to him or to you."
She gazed with unseeing eyes into that fresh, joyous
splendor of limitless foliage, of hills and ravines and far
purple mountains. As he watched her, the full force
of the heart-wringing contrast, between the woman who
had come there five weeks before and she who was about
to leave, swept over him for the first time. " If I did
my duty," said he, " I'd order you to bed for a fort
night. You've all but given your life for him."
She smiled. " Fm stronger than you think. A week
or so up North and I'll be all right."
" And you are going away ! It's frightful fright
ful," he cried impulsively. " You must have cared for
him before, to brave insult and disgrace to come to him.
But now, he's to you what the child she's brought into
' the world is to its mother."
" More," was all she said ; but the tone of it brought
the tears into his eyes.
" Yes more," he answered. " Tell him? Why, I'll
tell him as soon as he has the strength to hear it."
She turned her mysterious brilliant eyes upon him.
" No, you will not tell him," answered she. " You mis
understand why I don't wish him to know. In some
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
circumstances if he were free I'd be glad. But "
A little color came into her cheeks as she hesitated
" You compel me to explain. I don't know much about
his life his life at home. But I'm afraid if he knew
I had come up here he'd be tempted to to "
" To divorce her. Why not? "
" That's what I'd have said, before I learned what
this experience has taught me. I used to be relentless
and I didn't understand pain because I'd never felt
it. Now after what she did for me for him and
Presbury understood, and her changed expression
" You see he mustn't know I was here. You prom
" Yes," said Presbury reluctantly, after a pause
during which he searched in vain for an argument to
shake her resolution. He saw that, being the woman
she was, she could not but go. " Yes, if you insist."
" I do insist."
" Yes I promise."
" Thank you," she said. " I know I can rely on
you." And she returned to Murdock's bedside.
Early the following morning, Murdock without un
closing his eyes said in a weak but rational tone plainly
rational because querulous : " Where am I ? I've been
trying to puzzle it out and can't."
Juliet, at the head of the couch, rose hastily, and
without making the least sound withdrew out of his
" Anybody there ? " he went on, voice a little stronger
Juliet's hands were clasped tightly to her bosom.
Slowly she unclasped them ; slowly she stretched out one
"SHE SEEMED QUITE CALM' 9
hand so thin, so transparent a hand that told the
whole story of those days and nights of struggle with
death for the life of the man she loved. Slowly the hand
advanced slowly and fearfully until it hovered above
his pillow until it almost touched his hair. Then she
drew it back and the two hands met at her lips to stifle
a sob and she went. She had snatched him from death ;
now life had snatched him from her. Her head swam,
her courage fled, and she leaned, sick and trembling,
against the wall of the passageway. She must go, with"
out a word from him without a kiss or even a hand
clasp must go away alone alone
She heard him calling. She composed herself, went
to the platform. Miss Thomas was there. She sent her
in, hurried away to the next car. When, a few minutes
later, Presbury returned from his early stroll in the
woods he learned that she had gone. " She found she
might just make the express," explained Martin. " So
she left her good-bys with me."
" Gone? " echoed Presbury, dumfounded. He glanced
at his watch.
" Oh, she was all right," Martin assured him.
" Really she seemed quite calm and "
" These shallow fools ! " muttered Presbury, dash
ing off toward the station. As he neared the clearing he
saw the train ; but before he reached it, it was under way.
At one of the windows flying by he saw her profile. Its
expression he never forgot.
SOME STRANGE NEW YORK ADVENTURES
As he entered Murdock's car he heard in Murdock's
voice: " What the devil ! What does this mean? "
" Better I see much better," said Presbury. With
a gesture he sent Miss Thomas away.
" Where is the other nurse? " demanded Murdock
peremptorily, " I want her at once."
" Which one? " asked Presbury. " There are four."
" The one that's been here all the time."
" They've all been here in turn."
Murdock sunk into sullen silence. Presently he
feebly turned his head and said, " Who are you ? "
" I'm one of the doctors Presbury."
Another silence ; then, " Where am I ? "
Presbury explained in detail, Murdock listening
without comment. " And," he ended, " you can see your
wife and daughter and son to-day."
Murdock's frown had deepened to a scowl. " Who
has been nursing me ? "
" Four nurses five until this morning. One gave
out and had to go."
66 Who was the one that was here almost all the time ?
Oh, I knew I don't know how, but I knew."
" I think the nursing was about evenly divided. Per
haps Miss Ray, who left this morning, did somewhat
more than the others."
SOME STRANGE ADVENTURES
" Ray ! . . . Was her first name What was her
first name? "
Murdock seemed to be reflecting. After a while
Presbury heard him mutter : " Yes, I may have heard
them call her Juliet." Then to the doctor: "Have I
been out of my head ? "
" Much of the time," replied Presbury. " The rest
of the time in a sort of stupor." As the nurse reentered,
he rose, saying : " Here is Miss Thomas. What time
will you see your wife? "
Murdock turned his head, scanned for the second
time the bright, pretty face of Miss Thomas, sighed,
muttered, closed his eyes wearily. His brows again gath
ered in a heavy frown.
" When will you see your wife? " Presbury repeated.
" How do I know? " replied Murdock sullenly. " Is
it evening or morning? "
" Bring my my family whenever you like. But
they mustn't stay long. I'm very tired."
" No, indeed," said Presbury. " And no demonstra
tions ! "
A smile, grimly satirical, showed through the beard
Murdock had grown during his illness. He slept or
seemed to sleep. Two hours later Sophy, followed by
Norma, Charley, and Blagden, came in. They seated
themselves in awkward silence. The sick man's glance
went quickly from face to face, returned to the cool,
dark-green foliage that almost brushed the car. There
seemed to be nothing to say. He broke the painful si
lence with a question to Blagden " How's everything
in business ? But, I suppose you'd not tell me, if things
had gone wrong."
'OLD WIVES FOR NEW,
" Of course I shouldn't," replied Blagden. " But
it so happens that we've had a quiet summer. Your
stocks slumped on the news of your accident, but they've
" I'm afraid I've given you all a bad summer," he
said, addressing himself to Norma.
" Indeed you have," replied she cheerfully. " But,
thank heaven, it's over."
" He wanted to come, but I wouldn't have it. We'll
take you with us to Bar Harbor as soon as you're able
to travel. You'll have the sea as well as the mountains
Murdock made no reply. He lay listless, frown
ing. Dr. Presbury appeared in the doorway. This
was the signal agreed upon. Blagden rose. " Our
orders are to stay only a minute to-day," he ex
" That's right," said Murdock, too weak to hide his
relief. " Perhaps one of you say Norma will come
again this afternoon. But I'm not going to allow you to
bore yourselves with me. When can I send them all
away, Presbury ? "
" We'll see about that."
" Didn't you say I was out of danger? " insisted
Murdock, irritable at once.
" Certainly you are. But "
" Appearances, I suppose you mean. Well, appear
ances be damned. It'll retard my recovery if I've got
it on my mind that a lot of people are waiting impa
"We'll talk of this later. You must rest now."
The family and Presbury withdrew. Presbury was
about to accompany them to their car when the nurse
SOME STRANGE 'ADVENTURES
called him. " Mr. Murdock wishes to speak to you,"
As he entered, Murdock said, " Are we alone ? "
" Now, tell me the truth about the nurses about
" I have told you all there is to tell."
" I wish to see the nurse you say went this morning."
" She took the nine o'clock train. She's well on the
way to Canada to visit relatives and rest. I advanced
her some money in fact, all that was due her. I felt
her faithfulness had earned her a vacation. Besides, she
was really tired out. That's the way it always is.
There's sure to be one that's more sympathetic to the
patient, and the brunt of the burden falls on her."
A pause, then Murdock said, " I do not believe you."
" As you please," replied Presbury, as if humoring
the fantastic notions of an invalid.
" Did Mrs. Murdock send her away? "
" She did not."
" I do not believe you. Mrs. Murdock sent her
" All the nurses were here when your family arrived.
All are here now, except Miss Ray. She left only this
morning, left of her own accord."
" On your honor? "
" On my honor."
" Of her own accord ? "
"Certainly. Why not? "
Murdock's face had the puzzled, baffled expression
again. " At any rate, you've taken a weight off my
mind," said he. " Whatever the truth is, there was
" My dear sir "
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
Murdock made a gesture of dismissal of the subject.
" I'll see Norma this afternoon. They must all go to
morrow. I need no more coddling. Tell Blagden to
order an extra operator here and a clear wire to New
York or Chicago by day after to-morrow. And a
clean shave this very day."
" The shave yes. But no business for a week," said
the doctor. " Do you want me to drug you ? "
" You'll have to, if this machine inside my head
isn't to get away with me. Was Miss Ray ill ? "
" Only tired. She'll be back on duty in two weeks.
She's going to graduate in medicine and enter the prac
tice. If you want to, you might give her something
extra. She's worked hard here and she needs the money.
But do as you like. I congratulated myself when I
found I could get her for this case. Though, the others
have done very well, too very well indeed."
As he talked Murdock watched him with angry sus
picion. But Presbury was not the man to fail in a lie
when he determined to tell it convincingly ; and he had
decided it was best for all concerned, especially for
Miss Raeburn, that he should keep to the spirit as well
as to the letter of his promise. Murdock gave a sound
between sigh and groan; Presbury knew he had won.
" Yes, I've been out of my head," said Murdock, to
himself rather than to the doctor. Then, with a com
plete change of tone: " Tell Blagden to send for Berke
ley. I must see him. Also, I want Fullerton a lawyer
in our New York offices."
" All right," growled Presbury, going. " Have your
way. Have your way."
When Murdock was asleep he returned and gave him
an injection that would stupefy him for twenty-four
hours. " They're bad business, these hypodermics," he
SOME STRANGE ADVENTURES
muttered, as he withdrew the empty needle, " but he has
got to be quiet a week longer."
As soon as Presbury permitted him to have pos
session of his faculties, he again insisted that his
family should leave. " Humor him," Presbury advised
them ; and they took the advice with alacrity and
cheerfulness unconcealed. Sophy had found herself acci
dentally alone with him for a few minutes and, while he
tactfully saved her and himself from embarrassment by
pretending sleep, she dreaded a repetition of the distress
ing experience. Charley had never before experienced
the intolerable burden of week after week of fine weather
in inactive idleness ; he was as fidgety as a sleepy child
that is trying to keep itself awake, and as exasperating.
Norma, though really the most impatient, and the most
justifiably impatient, to be gone, was the only one of
the three to feel the tragedy of this fizzling fiasco of
an end to their family life. She saw that the last of the
flesh and blood ties had been cut, and she felt the wound
or, rather, to be exact, she felt distress of conscience
because she felt no distress of heart. She realized there
was no longer any sympathy whatever between Murdock
and the rest of them, even between him and herself. She
could understand his conduct toward her mother, but
she could not forgive it. In theory she held her Joe hers
only so long as she could hold him ; but in her heart she
felt he was hers for all time, rightfully hers, regardless
of any change in her which might set him to thinking
of wandering. The happily married woman, vaguely yet
persistently conscious of and in dread of the fleeting
nature of feminine charms, resents any infraction of the
marriage tie almost as fiercely as a widow who in vain
longs and seeks to remarry. Norma had raised between
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
herself and her father a barrier as effective as the bar
rier which his secret plans and desires forced him to raise
against his whole family.
When Berkeley came, Norma hastened back to Joe,
Charley went to New Hampshire to visit school friends,
and Sophy, accompanied by Blagden whom Murdock
sent on business, departed for New York to join Mrs.
Berkeley and Mrs. Fred Hastings at the Holland House.
Blagden had been talking to her almost every day about
how diligent and resourceful and successful the fashion
able women of the East were in prolonging youth and
beauty. He was unable to satisfy her speedily roused
curiosity by going into practical details ; he knew little
beyond the results women of thirty, thirty-five and
forty, of forty-five even and beyond, with the charms of
their younger days intact and in not a few instances en
hanced. But he had heard enough of the methods to
clear Sophy's mind of the popular notion that this pro
longed youth was due to superficial artifices, to paints
and powders, false hair and pads. He knew, and he
assured her, that there were in New York, in London,
Paris, Vienna, able physicians and surgeons who devoted
themselves to correcting nature's blunders, to repairing
the ravages of self-indulgence, to renovating and restor
ing the bodies of their patients as thoroughly, as radi
cally as an old house is made over into a new. When
he first began to talk of course, taking care to make
himself apparently impersonal she listened with amused
incredulity. But after her discovery of Juliet, and her
resignation to the impossible situation, she stealthily
read the advertisements of the " beauty fakirs " in the
New York Sunday newspapers. Blagden had told her
of these advertisements, had warned her they were for
the most part inserted by clumsy or fraudulent imitators
SOME STRANGE ADVENTURES
of the practitioners of a real science and art who did
not advertise. So she read to learn, not where to go,
but what to do, what could be done.
It is one of the curiosities of psychology, that vanity
over a purely imaginary charm ceases the moment some
way of substituting the genuine for the imaginary is
discovered. Sophy began to see her defects with eyes
as sharp as an enemy's, began to analyze her physical
appearance, to catalogue good, bad, and indifferent, to
survey just what foundation she had upon which to
rebuild the impaired structure of her beauty. Her mind
was not capable of the higher processes of thought. But
it was a good average mind, perfectly competent, when
awake, to deal with the ordinary routine, and endowed
with that shrewdness which is of more value than intellect
in the practical petty-retail business of keeping com
fortably alive. Soon she was viewing herself with far
less englamoured eyes than was Blagden. He thought
her merely a trifle too plump and pillowy, not indeed
for his personal taste which was all for bulk, but for
the compromise taste he had made between his own and
the fashionable fad of leanness. She saw that she must
make many and drastic changes, if she was to become the
woman she felt she ought to be and could be. Once the
idea of improvement, and that for a definite purpose
though she did not disclose even to herself the purpose
became firmly imbedded in her sluggish but practical
mind, it flourished as sturdily as pine in sterile soil.
Like all the emotions, vanity, a bad master, is a good
In the years when Sophy was thinking about her
self with results damaging physically, mentally, and
morally, she had not the slightest sense of shyness or
of shame; but now that her self-centering promised at
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
least physical and mental improvement, she became self-
conscious, secretive, teased of conscience. She looked
forward to meeting her friends, Florence Berkeley and
Henrietta Hastings, with no pleasure ; how was she to go
about her programme without their discovering her and
laughing at her? Yet she felt she must at any cost have
some one to back her up. Blagden she could not trust
with secrets so peculiar ; besides, he would not be avail
able now. Should she confide in Florence, disdainful of
physical vanity but discreet and reliable friend? Should
she select Henrietta, in sympathy with vanities of the
flesh but loose of tongue and sparing no one in her love
While she was still debating into which of these two
beds of thorns to cast herself, she made an astonishing
discovery. Both Florence and Henrietta were in New
York, not to shop, at least not primarily, but to have
themselves renovated! The greetings were hardly over
before they began to talk of fat and wrinkles, of no hair
where hair should be, of hair where no hair should be;
of hollows and protuberances; of the dangers in foods
and combinations of food regarded by the inexpert, even
by most physicians, as harmless; of the dire disasters
that lurked in candy, in soda, in all kinds of between-
meal eating. And presently it came out that Florence,
the spiritual, was arranging to be rid of a mole in front
of her left ear and of certain menacing wrinkles, that
Henrietta was worried about the deepening hollows in
her cheeks, and was also trying to decide whether injec
tions of paraffin would really improve the appearance
of her rather scrawny hands and fill up the holes between
the base of her neck and her collar bones.
" I am surprised, Florence ! " exclaimed Sophy.
" I'd be satisfied to let myself alone," apologized
SOME STRANGE ADFENTURES
Mrs. Berkeley, without, however, so much as a blush of
embarrassment, " if it wasn't for the other women of my
generation. I don't purpose to let them stay young
while I get old. You'll have to come to it, Sophy. It's
silly and it's vain, but we've got to do as others do or be
" And you say the man claims to be able to remove
wrinkles ? " pursued Sophy, with the air of an incredu
lous but interested inquirer into a matter entirely new
and unheard of. She had no wrinkles; she simply
wished to bring the conversation back to the impor
tant subject. Inevitably, sooner or later, her own
needs would be touched on, without her having to be
" He does it," Florence assured her. " Mrs. Whit
ney sent three women to him. I saw one of them Mrs.
Siddons, of Chicago. Do you know her? "
"No," said Sophy; "but I've heard of her, of
course. Won't it be frightfully painful? "
" Indeed it will. But the pain lasts only a few days,
and the new skin will last a year or two. Mrs. Whit
ney has hers done in Paris every two years, and
look at her over fifty, and not a wrinkle; cheeks and
brow like a baby. This is the same process."
" Somehow, it seems to me not quite moral," sug
gested Sophy. " It's like interfering with the plans
of the Almighty."
" God didn't make the wrinkles," retorted Henrietta
Hastings. " And now He has let us learn how to keep
ourselves as He made us."
Sophy suspected Henrietta of levity, she being
reputed a scoffer ; still, was Scripture any the less Scrip
ture, though quoted by the Devil himself? " When you
come to think of it," said she, " it ain't right, is it, that
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
good women should let bad women triumph over them.
It's our duty to be as attractive as we can."
" Duty ! " Henrietta made a wry face. " Why do
you try to spoil every pleasure in life, Sophia," cried
she, " by sliming it over with cant about duty ? "
But Sophy was absorbed in contriving how to con
vince her fellow-townswomen that they were leading her
into these vanities ; for Sophy, thoroughly human, had
her full share of humanity's fondness for evading re
sponsibility. If the experiments turned out well, then
she could accept the full credit ; if, however, they should
turn out badly, she wished to have some one to blame.
" I can't get over my surprise," said she to Florence, of
whose intellect and " culture " she had always been in
awe. " It don't somehow seem a bit like you to take to
this kind of thing."
Florence tall and fair, a touch of haughtiness care
fully cultivated with an eye to conveying the " grande-
dame " impression shrugged her shoulders. " Why
" Well, you seemed to me to care only for for the
things of the mind."
" But I have to live in a body, don't I ? Naturally,
I want it to be sightly as long as possible. Besides,
people don't take nearly so much interest in you
intellectually if you look tumble-down and gone to
Sophy was cowed by that " tumble-down and gone to
pieces." It gave her the impression of her friend dis
dainfully flashing a mirror before her. " Florence
means she likes to have the men about," put in Henri
etta, " and she knows they come only when their eyes are
Sophy, to show that such ideas were utterly foreign
'SOME STRANGE ^ADVENTURES
to her, looked scandalized. But Florence was undis
turbed. " I don't care about the men as men," said she.
" I prefer them because they know and do, while women
amount to nothing. Besides, women are so petty and
sneaky with each other."
" The men are on earth chiefly to attract the women,
but they don't know it," declared Henrietta. "The
women are on earth chiefly to attract the men, and they
do know it though some of us pretend otherwise.
Wherever people are really civilized you find both the
men and the women giving a lot of attention to their
bodies. We are only showing our intelligence, our ap
preciation of the advantages civilization offers us."
" I don't know as I'd exactly care to have everybody
know what I was about," said Sophy, so simply and
earnestly that the others laughed.
" Certainly not," said Henrietta. " I wouldn't let
even my husband know." Whereupon both Mrs. Mur-
dock and Mrs. Berkeley looked embarrassed.
As the two women had confided in Sophy, they were
determined she should have the best of reasons for re
specting their confidence. Accordingly, Sophy was able
to pretend the extreme of reluctance, to deceive even
herself, and finally to accompany Florence with the air
and the feeling of one overborne and forced.
Florence's doctor was Secor, with the reputation of
being able to reconstruct the human face and figure en
tirely, and almost deserving his reputation. Secor was
about the first American doctor of standing to go into
what is beginning to be spoken of respectfully as the
aesthetic branch of the profession. He was exceedingly
proud of his marvelous skill, much irritated at the igno