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The Mayor's Wife

3. In The Gable Window
A few minutes later I was tripping up-stairs in the wake of a smart young maid
whom Mayor Packard had addressed as Ellen. I liked this girl at first sight and, as
I followed her up first one flight, then another, to the room which had been
chosen for me, the hurried glimpses I had of her bright and candid face
suggested that in this especial member of the household I might hope to find a
friend and helper in case friendship and help were needed in the blind task to
which I stood committed. But I soon saw cause--or thought I did--to change this
opinion. When she turned on me at the door of my room, a small one at the
extreme end of the third floor, I had an opportunity of meeting her eyes. The
interest in her look was not the simple one to be expected. In another person in
other circumstances I should have characterized her glance as one of inquiry and
wonder. But neither inquiry nor wonder described the present situation, and I put
myself upon my guard.
Seeing me look her way, she flushed, and, throwing wide the door, remarked in
the pleasantest of tones:
"This is your room. Mrs. Packard says that if it is not large enough or does not
seem pleasant to you, she will find you another one to-morrow."
"It's very pleasant and quite large enough," I confidently replied, after a hasty
look about me. "I could not be more comfortable."
She smiled, a trifle broadly for the occasion, I thought, and patted a pillow here
and twitched a curtain there, as she remarked with a certain emphasis:
"I'm sure you will be comfortable. There's nobody else on this floor but Letty and
the baby, but you don't look as if you would be easily frightened." Astonished, not
so much by her words as by the furtive look she gave me, I laughed as I
repeated "Frightened? What should frighten me?"
"Oh, nothing." Her back was to me now, but I felt that I knew her very look.
"Nothing, of course. If you're not timid you won't mind sleeping so far away from
every one. Then, we are always within call. The attic door is just a few steps off.
We'll leave it unlocked and you can come up if--if you feel like it at any time. We'll
understand."
Understand! I eyed her as she again looked my way, with some of her own
curiosity if not wonder.
"Mrs. Packard must have had some very timorous guests," I observed. "Or,
perhaps, you have had experiences here which have tended to alarm you. The
 
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