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The Mayor's Wife

22. Mercy
"Where is my wife?"
"Sleeping, sir, after a day of exhausting emotion."
"She didn't wire me?"
"No, sir."
"Perhaps she wasn't able?"
"She was not, Mayor Packard."
"I must see her. I came as soon as I could. Left Warner to fill my place on the
platform, and it is the night of nights, too. Why, what's the matter?"
He had caught me staring over his shoulder at the form drawn up in the doorway.
"Nothing; I thought you had come alone."
"No, Mr. Steele is with me. He joined me at noon, just after I had telegraphed
home. He has come back to finish the work I assigned him. He has at last
discovered--or thinks he has--the real author of those libels. You have something
special to say to me?" he whispered, as I followed him upstairs.
"Yes, and I think, if I were you, that I should say nothing to Mrs. Packard about
Mr. Steele's having returned." And I rapidly detailed the occurrence of the
afternoon, ending with Mrs. Packard's explanation to her servants.
The mayor showed impatience. "Oh, I can not bother with such nonsense as
that," he declared; "the situation is too serious."
I thought so, too, when in another moment his wife's door opened and she
stepped out upon the landing to meet him. Her eyes fell on Mr. Steele, standing
at the foot of the stairs, before they encountered her husband; and though she
uttered no cry and hardly paused in her approach toward the mayor, I saw the
heart within her die as suddenly, and surely as the flame goes out in a gust of
"You!" There was hysteria in the cry. Pray God that the wild note in it was not that
of incipient insanity! "How good of you to give up making your great speech to-
night, just to see how I have borne this last outrage! You do see, don't you?"
Here she drew her form to its full height. "My husband believes in me, and it