So, indeed, it proved. Mr. Glynn sent for Babcock and told him the naked truth, that his wife’s love for him was dead and reconciliation impossible. He properly refrained from expressing the doubt lurking in his own mind as to whether Selma had ever loved her husband. Thus convinced of the hopelessness of his predicament, Babcock agreed to Mr. Lyons’s suggestion not to contest the legal proceedings. The lawyer had been diligent, and the necessary evidence—the testimony of the woman—was secure. She was ready to carry her revenge to the end, hoping, perhaps, that the victim of it would return to her when he had lost his wife. Accordingly, a few weeks later, Selma was granted a divorce nisi and the right to resume her maiden name. She had decided, however, to retain the badge of marriage as a decorous social prefix, and to call herself Mrs. Selma White.
The consciousness that she was dependent for the means of support solely on her own exertions was a genuine pleasure to Selma, and she applied herself with confidence and enthusiasm to the problem of earning her livelihood. She had remained steadfast to her decision to accept nothing from her husband except the legal costs of the proceedings, though Mr. Lyons explained to her that alimony was a natural and moral increment of divorce. Still, after her refusal, he informed her as a man and a friend that he respected and admired the independence of her action, which was an agreeable tribute. She had fixed definitely on newspaper work as the most inviting and congenial form of occupation. She believed herself to be well fitted for it. It would afford her an immediate income, and it would give her the opportunity which she craved for giving public expression to her ideas and fixing attention on herself. There was room for more than one Mrs. Earle in Benham, for Benham was growing and wide-awake and on the alert for originality of any kind—especially in the way of reportorial and journalistic cleverness. Selma had no intention of becoming a second Mrs. Earle. That is, she promised herself to follow, but not to follow blindly; to imitate judiciously, but to improve on a gradually diverging line of progress. This was mere generalization as yet. It was an agreeable seething brain consciousness for future development. For the moment, however, she counted on Mrs. Earle to obtain for her a start by personal influence at the office of the Benham Sentinel. This was provided forthwith in the form of an invitation to prepare a weekly column under the caption of “What Women Wear;” a summary of passing usages in clothes. The woman reporter in charge of it had just died. Selma’s first impulse was to decline the work as unworthy of her abilities, yet she was in immediate need of employment to avoid running in debt and she was assured by Mrs. Earle that she would be very foolish to reject such an offer.