" Ridiculous ! Did you tell Jane that story? "
" I did not," replied Sophy, with the defiance of the
teller of half-truths. " She knew it already."
" But you did not deny it to her."
" I am done with lies, Florence. For years I've been
living a lie, and eating my heart out. Now, I'm going
to live in the open."
" Sophy," said Mrs. Berkeley solemnly, " you are
countenancing the spread of a frightful, a dangerous
falsehood. I don't know anything about your relations
with your husband. God knows, I wouldn't judge be
tween any husband and wife, after what I had at home.
But one thing I can say Murdock was my husband's
friend through his life, and showed his friendship most
after he was dead."
" How do you know that? " asked Sophy scornfully.
THE STORM BURSTS
Mrs. Berkeley was silent.
" Only because Murdock told you ! "
" No," replied Florence with such energy that Blag-
den startled. " I know it by a thousand and one small
circumstances that convince me beyond a doubt. As for
Juliet Raeburn being in any way entangled in this, it is
Sophy shot her a glance of sullen dislike.
" I see you don't believe me," Florence went on.
" You are bent on revenge. Well, have it stuff your
self with it. But, Sophy, let me warn you. Be careful
not to go too far. If you press this lie it will be re
vealed as a lie, and your revenge will recoil upon your
own head. I know Murdock is innocent of Berkeley's
death. If you spread a report that he murdered him
the truth will come out. And you will be covered with
humiliation and disgrace. Instead of sympathy from
everybody you will get universal condemnation."
Sophy sniffed contemptuously. But she made no
verbal answer, because she was impressed; perhaps she
had gone a little too far with Jane Monfort. Presently
she said, in a mollifying tone : " Well, Florence, don't
let us quarrel. You can believe what you please, and so
can I. For my part, I'm going to try to forget Mur
dock ever lived. If anyone asks me about the business
I'm going to refuse to discuss it."
" That is wise. Don't you think so, Mr. Blagden ? "
The secretary came from the deep window to which
he had again discreetly withdrawn. " Certainly, the
world always admires a woman who, no matter what her
provocation, keeps silent about her husband," said he,
with the precision of one repeating a carefully rehearsed
speech. " Even if the truth about Mr. Berkeley's death
were different from what the public believes, Mr. Mur-
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
dock is not the man to conceal such a truth without tak
ing all precautions to protect his version of it."
" You hear, Sophy," cried Florence. " You must
admit, that's common sense."
" Good heavens ! " ejaculated Sophy, rolling her fine,
innocent eyes and waving her beautiful hands. " Why
do you attack me? I know what I know, I believe what
I believe ; but I've not said anything. I intend to keep
my mouth shut. Only, I shall tell no lies."
And with that Mrs. Berkeley had to be content.
After she was gone Blagden said : " As she was talking
it occurred to me that Presbury and the two other doc
tors, who have pledged their reputations to the story
that Berkeley died of heart disease, might make trouble.
It would be disagreeable, wouldn't it, if they were to sue
some paper or person for slander? Besides, Mr. Mur-
dock is very resourceful. It isn't wise to stir him up too
much, don't you think ? "
" I've done all I'm going to do," replied Sophy.
" That woman will be exposed, and I don't care about
Blagden admired the shrewdness behind this re
mark. " She'll have every wife in the country enlisted
on her side," reflected he. " And, if I know anything
about American women, the wives will see to it that
the husbands roar."
The waiter who brought Murdock's breakfast next
morning laid the newspapers before him and watched
his face with the eager curiosity of the humble about
the exalted. On the first page of each of those papers,
with headlines varying from three to six columns in
width, was the great Murdock divorce scandal; and
on the top of the heap he had put the one newspaper
THE STORM BURSTS
which ventured darkly to hint a connection between
the divorce and the " unexplained mystery of million
aire Berkeley's death," and to inject very guardedly
insinuations about Juliet Raeburn " a beautiful
young woman, known to every woman in the land who
loves fashionable dress, is said to be responsible for
breaking up the once happy Murdock home."
Murdock's glance fell upon the screaming head
lines. The waiter was rewarded ; his thin, inquisitive
nose worked and his dull prominent eyes glistened, as
with a curse Murdock took up the paper. As he
opened it he saw a picture the palace occupied by Dan-
gerfield's. His eyes tore through headlines and story.
Simcox entered, saw the waiter feasting upon Mur
dock's telltale expression, motioned him from the room
with a gesture that was at once a blow and a kick, then,
himself retired as noiselessly as he had come. Mur
dock read on and on grains of truth buried in masses
of conjecture, speculations, lies; basest attacks upon
himself and upon Juliet Raeburn so advanced that any
attempt to refute them would seem an admission of
their partial truth; his wife lauded a beautiful, noble
woman, of too lofty a nature for his coarseness; the
victim of his depravity, finally goaded to desperation
by infidelities flaunted in her very face. Saint X was
on the date line of the main story ; but without that, he
knew it must have been in Saint X, from Sophy or her
friends, that the reporters had got most of the state
Murdock had used newspaper publicity too often,
had studied it too carefully, not to know what he was
now facing. From Atlantic to Pacific, wherever there
was interest in scandal the main subject of conversa
tion, not alone among the men, but among the women
OLD WIVES WOR NEW
as well, was the great Murdock explosion. And Charles
Murdock, sitting there alone, so high up that even the
noise of the granite-paved city came as a murmur, knew
he was at the very moment pilloried before the stares
and sneers and scorn of eighty millions. But he was
not thinking of himself. The thought that drove rea
son from its seat was of the woman unjustly pilloried
beside him the woman on whom he had brought infinite
disgrace. In his reckless passion, in his insolent confi
dence in the power of his wealth, he had neglected the
wisdom in one of his favorite maxims : " You can bribe
anybody, but not everybody " and had imagined he
could keep even the breath of scandal from touching
her. Now, there she lay, stricken down, trampled, torn,
befouled, and all because he had been an arrogant, head
long fool. He flung away the paper, bent his head upon
his clenched fists and groaned and gnashed his teeth.
What should he do ? What could he do ? To speak
about her was to convince the public of her guilt, was
to inflame and encourage those attacking her ; to de
fend a woman's reputation is to admit it needs defend
ing. He paced the floor ; he smote his temples until his
head seemed about to blow open. His fury was terrible
as a tempest-goaded sea's assault upon a rocky coast
and as futile. Insane with helpless rage he raved
against the hopeless, immutable facts of her plight,
like a child beating its bare hands upon the stone
against which it has clumsily fallen. Simcox entered;
he was horror-stricken at sight of Murdock's foam-
flecked lips and twisted features and wildly rolling,
bloodshot eyes. " Beg pardon, sir," said he in his
usual solemn, monotonous tones, " but here's a letter
from Mr. Blagden. He telegraphed me to see that you.
got it at once."
THE STORM BURSTS
Simcox, monotonous and matter of fact, took him
off his guard. Before he realized what he was doing,
he had taken the note, had torn it open, was reading:
As you will doubtless know before you get this, my mis
sion was a failure. I did all I could to dissuade Mrs. Mur
dock, though it was against my conscience to do so.
I herewith tender my resignation, to take effect at once.
I have the honor to be, etc.,
He crumpled the note and cast it from him. In
itself, it had made not the faintest impression ; but the
interruption, slight though it was, yet gave his reason
the chance to rally and reassert control. With him,
to think was to think intelligently, and to think in
telligently was to act. " Wait ! " he commanded, as
Simcox moved to withdraw. Then, after a few sec
onds, " Have my car attached to the first train for
New York. No. Have them make it up in a special
to go at once."
Next morning's newspapers, east and west, led off
their great second day instalment of the scandal with
flaming announcement that Murdock was rushing to
New York by special train. As it steamed into the
Grand Central station, reporters swarmed round the
steps of the private car. Murdock, youthful, hand
some, carefully dressed, audacious, appeared upon the
platform. He surveyed the group of agents of pub
licity with a calm, cynical smile. Just behind them
stood Viola Hastings, " got up regardless," as she
would have put it. Her small, delicate, roguish face was
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
all smiles. Murdock descended, pushed through the
crowd, took her in his arms and kissed her.
" I told you I'd be free within a year," cried he,
loudly enough for all to hear. " I win by four days."
One of the reporters recognized Viola, whispered
excitedly to the others. " We came," said one frank-
faced youth, edging up to Murdock, " because of the
talk about you and your wife. But it seems to be
false." And he bowed to Viola as if he thought she
were Mrs. Murdock.
" This is not my late wife," said Murdock, appar
ently highly amused. " This is a very dear friend of
He took Viola's arm with affectionate familiarity;
they walked down the platform to his waiting carriage,
he seeming to enjoy as much as did she the glances
of amazement, horror, indignation, shot at them from
every side, as they pushed through the crowd.
The whole country rang with Murdock's shameless
immorality, his studied insolence to public decency.
Every newspaper described at length the scene at the
station, how several fashionable hotels had turned
away the " guilty couple " openly applying for ac
commodations ; how they " finally found shelter in the
Hastings woman's establishment on the west side."
"Are you mad, Murdock? Are you mad?" cried
Langdon, his chief ally in finance, who hunted him out
that morning. " You have made yourself an outcast.
Yes, you must be quite mad. I've known men to lose
their heads about women, many's the time. But, by
God, nothing like this. And you're the last man on
earth I'd have suspected."
" ' A fool at forty is a fool indeed,' " quoth Mur
dock. " You see, Mowbray, I didn't sow my wild oats
THE STORM BURSTS
in season. These out-of-season crops are always diffi
cult and costly."
" I hope it's true you're taking her abroad to-mor
" Still, the mischief's done. You've contributed
more to stir up the unruly masses against the upper
class than all the financial scandals together."
" Hypocrites," jeered Murdock.
" Of course. But how does that help matters ?
You'd much better have outraged public virtue than
public hypocrisy. Outraged virtue has a certain hu
mility and meekness; but an outraged hypocrisy is an
unappeasable raging lion."
Murdock listened with a faint, pleased smile. " Get
out and roar with the rest, old man," counseled he.
" If you don't heave your brick and heave it hard,
you'll be under suspicion."
"Mad! Quite mad!"
" As for my flaunting the vices of the rich my;
dear Langdon, vice is human ; riches simply do not rob
a man of that part of human nature, though they do
strip him of most other human qualities. Tell me,
what the hell's the use of having power if one can't
use it as he pleases ? "
" Mad ! Quite mad ! Thank God, you're getting '
out of the country."
Murdock's eyes flashed. " That's my one regret.
I'd like to stay and amuse myself with my hypocritical
He and " the woman for whom he had wrecked his
home " sailed away at dawn the next morning. And
his heart was for the moment as light as hers; for it
had been published broadcast : " The Hastings woman,
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
who has been Murdock's friend the past two or three
years, was prior to that employed for a time in Dan-
gerfield's, the woman's establishment built up by the
genius of Miss Juliet Raeburn. It was through the
fact of this employment of the Hastings woman that
many were led into grave misapprehension regarding
the Murdock divorce."
MR. BLAGDEN PLAYS TRUMPS
INSTEAD of enjoying the cyclone which, originating
in the tiny swirl of gossip at Saint X's Country Club,
was raging the length and breadth of the land, Sophy
hid herself and peered out at it in amazement, in ter
ror, and in anger. Her amazement was that of the
fisherman who, merely uncorking a washed-up bottle,
saw issue from it a vast and awful monster that over
spread sea and land and obscured the heavens. Her
terror was even greater than her wonder; for she, by
nature retiring and shy, was all in a twinkling whisked
from privacy to be exploited in print to the minutest
details of her routine of life. But anger soon dis
tanced amazement and even terror. In the press, in
the pulpit, among her friends, to make Murdock's in
famy the blacker, to point homily, and to barb jeremiad,
she was represented as the faded faithful wife, whom
mercy should have constrained him to endure, though
inclination had fled and the strong chains of duty to
his children and dread of public opinion were not
strong enough to bind. He was condemned; but she
she was commiserated. u Poor thing ! still, what
could she expect? " It gave her a sensation of acute
nausea to see such phrases as " noble patient wife,"
and "motherly." "7 don't look motherly*" she
wailed miserably at a very motherly looking picture
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
of her in one of the newspapers. " Or, If I do, I'll see
that I get over it. Why, I'm a young woman yet.
I'll show them!"
Thus, though Murdock's inspiration of insolence
completely turned suspicion from the one person she
had sought to reach and overwhelm, so occupied was
she with her own woes that she accepted it as merely
another, and by no means the largest or bitterest drop
in her brimming cup of bitterness. She shut herself
away, even excluding Charley and Norma, to get what
consolation she might from discussing with tactful and
stanch Blagden all aspects of her troubles, all phases
of Murdock's wickedness and, also, the disposition of
the wealth that was now hers. She was not mercenary ;
in fact, she had no more than her share of woman's in
stinctive thrift. But she was human. It was irritat
ing to her that the gossips were greatly underestimat
ing the amount she had got in the settlement. She
began to hint to Blagden to correct the misstatements
going the round of the newspapers.
" Perhaps," said he. " Let's think it over."
He had learned from Murdock never to make an
important move on impulse. He was glad of his cau
tion when he bethought him that anything which
tended to increase Sophy's importance and value in the
public mind just then would increase his own difficul
ties. " Why," reflected he, " she'd immediately be sur
rounded by a swarm of flatterers and fortune hunters."
" On consideration," replied he, when she brought
the matter up again, " don't you think you'd be giving
Murdock's friends a good weapon ? "
" What do you mean ? " asked she, alarmed.
" They would harp on his generosity to you. As
if you were not entitled to all he gave, and more ! But
MR. BLAGDEN PLAYS TRUMPS
you've learned how tKe world Is." Then, seeing that
he had convinced her, he added : " Of course, I may be
mistaken. If you wish, I'll see that the exact amount is
" No ! No ! " she cried. She was appalled by the
blunder she had thought of committing. " What ever
would become of me without you! I do believe these
low hypocrites would have made a hero of him and
would have attacked me openly."
" I fear they would," said Blagden.
She gave him a look of deep admiration. " How
clever you are ! How fortunate / am ! "
Murdock's ability, being beyond her and exercised
wholly outside her sphere, had made slight and hazy
impression ; but Blagden's shrewdness was within her
range, was exhibited in her own intimate affairs.
" How lucky I am ! " she repeated, half to herself.
Blagden thrilled. Our opinion of anyone depends
chiefly upon whether our point of view is sympathetic
or the reverse. The finest human character cannot
withstand criticism ; and the worst has charms for him
or her who is determined to see charm. It was no hy
pocrisy, no effort, for Blagden to fall deeply, disin
terestedly in love with Sophy. She felt that he appre
ciated her; she, therefore, showed him the best side of
her nature, took care to dress herself becomingly for
his benefit, responded to the stimulus of his admiration,
began to long to live up to his very human and livable
ideal of her. And he set about realizing his ambition
to make her better and still better, especially to bring
out the physical charms that had been hers and were
still hers, though in partial adipose eclipse. He was
most adroit, managed her so deferentially that, while
flattering her vanity into assuring her he thought her
"OLD WIVES FOR "NEW-
perfect, he stirred her common sense to show her how-
she could be what he thought her. She took walks
with him, long walks, and finally climbs ; she hunted out
and adopted the diet Schulze had once prescribed. She
reestablished Secor's long-neglected beauty regimen,
brought from New York a masseuse recommended by
him, to teach and to assist Katy. And, as she was still
to the youthful side of youthful forty, and had by in
heritance both constitution and vitality, the results
were what might have been expected. The health she
had got in her youth of out-door farm life reasserted
itself in all its age- and decay-defying vigor. Com
plexion became clear, wonderfully white, radiant; adi
pose envelope melted; hips shrank toward modester
sightliness; her natural body, her natural arms, and
legs and throat were soon reemerging, and in her face
the eyes and the fine delicate nose began to dominate
instead of cheeks. Never had love the love that in
spires wrought his miracles more quickly or more
" Dear me, how well you're looking, Sophy ! " said
Mrs. Monfort, just returned from Europe and meeting
her at the Country Club several months after the great
scandal had burst and vanished. " You've got your
figure back, haven't you? You really don't look a day
Sophy winced, as Mrs. Monfort had intended.
" Well, you know I am seven years younger than you,
Jane," she answered, with the genuine sweetness of sat
isfaction in a thrust parried and returned. " Now that
my mind is free, I'm beginning to be myself."
Mrs. Monfort smiled the smile that invites confi
dences. " Then, too, my dear," said she, " there's
nothing like falling in love for freshening a woman up^
MR. BLAGDEN PLAYS TRUMPS
Kate Dorsey says she has a love affair regularly every
five years, just as a tonic."
Sophy's cheeks flamed. So that was the latest gos
sip! A love affair between her and Blagden! Her
expression was so forbidding that Jane Monfort, pry
ing though she was under pretense of a joyous and
frank interest in the affairs of her friends, did not dare
pursue the subject. A day or so later it was Charley.
He looked after Blagden riding away on a hack Sophy
had bought him when she got one for herself. " Gad,
mother," said he sourly, " that chap's giving himself
no end of airs. He acts as if he were master here."
"Mr. Blagden is manager here," replied his
mother. " He has absolute authority. And very
grateful I am. I'd not be able to get on without him."
Charley, convinced by the flatteries of servants and
hangers-on that he was a person of force and genius,
competent to the most abstruse matters without need
of experience, proceeded to unburden himself in dis
charge of his duty as head of the family. " I tell you
candidly, mother," said he, " the thing doesn't look
well. Of course, I understand how it is. I know you
regard Blagden as simply a useful employee. But
people will talk. You forget he may misunderstand
your courtesy. I haven't a doubt he has his eye on
Charley was even more unfortunate than usual
there. His mother bridled, as any woman must at the
suggestion that her charms are not sufficient to ac
count for her fascination. " You attend to your own
business ! If it hadn't been for Mr. Blagden, I'd have
taken you out of Yale and put you in Tecumseh this
" Tecumseh ! " Into his accent the young man con-
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
centrated all the alarm and repulsion which filled him
at the suggestion of his going to a college where all
the students were compelled to work their way through
and to live on what they made by their own efforts in
the college's mines, factories, farms, and stores.
" Your sister says it'd make a man of you. But
Mr. Blagden insists it's better for you to get the edu
cation of a gentleman, among gentlemen. And he
begged me not to cut down your allowance. But I
haven't made my mind up about that yet."
Charley lapsed into sulky silence. He said no more
against Blagden, was on the contrary most affable to
him. " At least redney's well born and well bred," re
flected he he was rapidly expanding into a rare flower
of Eastern culture. " And the only reason he isn't in
our class is his lack of money. He's doing a grand
work, coaching mother up to the responsibilities of our
social position. Even if he has the impudence of think
ing of marrying her, she's got pride enough to put
him in his place."
But now it was Blagden's turn. He had been in
high spirits, laughing, jesting, giving the Eyrie an
atmosphere of brightness it had never had in all its
dismal history as the mausoleum of the elder Dumont,
the prison of John Dumont's wife, and the scene of the-
downfall of the family life of the Murdock's. He had
had Sophy awake and alert all the time, both talking
and listening, and in the best spirits. There was her
self to talk about and to be talked about hours on
hours. And, for change, there was Murdock as a topic
an inexhaustible vein of conversation, that; enough
to last a long lifetime, enough in itself to form the
closest bond between them. All at once, this spring of
gayety and life and interest became dry. Blagden
MR. BLAGDEN PLAYS TRUMPS
grew silent, murky, morose even. He avoided Sophy,
was distant with her, made a great show of respecting
their relations of secretary and employer. Sophy ac
cused Charley of having offended him, but the young
man stoutly denied this.
" I like him," said he. " And I think he's the best
possible helper for you. Look how he keeps up the
house and grounds. Why, there's no place in Saint X
that looks anywhere near so well as ours. And it's his
doing. What an air these hydrangeas give the ap
proach to the house ! "
Sophy now felt that her instinct's reading must be
correct. But she could not summon the courage to
speak out to him directly, so deep was her humility
about herself in the comparison with him. The solid
virtues put one at ease; but the showy virtues, where
they impress at all, dazzle and awe. Blagden's dress, his
aristocratic air, his reserve under a surface of engag
ing simplicity and frankness Sophy fell to color
ing and inwardly quaking at sight of him, but speak
she could not.
In truth, Blagden's mood was different from what
she imagined, from what he himself imagined. As soon
as he saw he had the game in his own hands, he permitted
conscience to begin to reproach him for his far from
creditable aids to fate in bringing about the divorce and
the improvement in his own prospects. When the hour
for action strikes, the man who guides his life by the
code of success puts conscience and sympathy and all
the gentle feelings to the rear, as an army its women
before battle. But when the action is over and the suc
cess won, the gentler considerations- are once more ad
mitted. There is a time for ruthless action ; there is a
time for repentance. Blagden, now' that repentance
OLD WIVES FOR NEW
could do his plans no harm, was deeply and sincerely