The Mayor's Wife
17. The Two Weird Sisters
Ellen seemed to understand my anxiety about Mrs. Packard and to sympathize
with it. That afternoon as I passed her in the hall she whispered softly:
"I have just been unpacking that bag and putting everything back into place. She
told me she had packed it in readiness to go with Mr. Packard if he desired it at
the last minute."
I doubted this final statement, but the fact that the bag had been unpacked gave
me great relief. I began to look forward with much pleasure to a night of unbroken
Alas! rest was not for me yet. Relieved as to Mrs. Packard, I found my mind
immediately reverting to the topic which had before engrossed it, though always
before in her connection. The mystery of the so-called ghosts had been
explained, but not the loss of the bonds, which had driven my poor neighbors
mad. This was still a fruitful subject of thought, though I knew that such well-
balanced and practical minds as Mayor Packard's or Mr. Steele's would have but
little sympathy with the theory ever recurring to me. Could this money be still in
the house?--the possibility of such a fact worked and worked upon my
imagination till I grew as restless as I had been over the mystery of the ghosts
and presently quite as ready, for action.
Possibly the hurried glimpse I had got of Miss Thankful's countenance a little
while before, in the momentary visit she paid to the attic window at which I had
been accustomed to see either her or her sister constantly sit, inspired me with
my present interest in this old and wearing trouble of theirs and the condition into
which it had thrown their minds. I thought of their nights of broken rest while they
were ransacking the rooms below and testing over and over the same boards,
the same panels for the secret hiding-place of their lost treasure, of their foolish
attempts to scare away all other intruders, and the racking of nerve and muscle
which must have attended efforts so out of keeping with their age and infirmities.
It would be natural to regard the whole matter as an hallucination on their part, to
disbelieve in the existence of the bonds, and to regard Miss Thankful's whole
story to Mrs. Packard as the play of a diseased imagination.
But I could not, would not, carry my own doubts to this extent. The bonds had
been in existence; Miss Thankful had seen them; and the one question calling for
answer now was, whether they had been long ago found and carried off, or
whether they were still within the reach of the fortunate hand capable of
discovering their hiding-place.