The Mayor's Wife
We did not laugh; we did not even question her sanity; at least I did not; there
was too much meaning in her manner.
"A specter," her husband repeated with a suggestive glance at the brilliant
sunshine in which we all stood.
"Yes." The tone was one of utter conviction. "I had never believed in such things-
-never thought about them, but--it was a week ago--in the library--I have not seen
a happy moment since--"
"Yes, yes, I know; but imagine! I was sitting reading. I had just come from the
nursery, and the memory of Laura's good-night kiss was more in my mind than
the story I was finishing when--oh, I can not think of it without a shudder!--the
page before me seemed to recede and the words fade away in a blue mist;
glancing up I beheld the outlines of a form between me and the lamp. which a
moment before had been burning brightly. Outlines, Henry,--I was conscious of
no substance, and the eyes which met mine from that shadowy, blood-curdling
Something were those of the grave and meant a grave for you or for me. Oh, I
know what I say! There was no mistaking their look. As it burned into and through
me, everything which had given reality to my life faded and seemed as far away
and as unsubstantial as a dream. Nor has its power over me gone yet. I go about
amongst you, I eat, I sleep, or try to; I greet men, talk with women, but it is all
unreal, all phantasmagoric, even yourself and your love and, O God, my baby!
What is real and distinctive, an absolute part of me and my life, is that shape
from the dead, with its threatening eyes which pierce--pierce--"
She was losing her self-control. Her husband, with a soothing touch on her arm,
brought her back to the present.
"You speak of a form," he said, "a shadowy, outline. The form of what? A man or
"A man! a man!" With the exclamation she seemed to shrink into herself and her
eyes, just now deprecating and appealing, took on a hollow stare, as if the vision
she described had risen again before her.
In spite of himself and the sympathy he undoubtedly felt for her, an ejaculation of
impatience left her husband's lips. Obligations very far removed from the
fantasies of a disturbed mind made these unsubstantial fears of hers seem
puerile enough to this virile, outspoken man. No doubt she heard it, and to stop
the matter-of- fact protest on his lips added quickly: