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The Mayor's Wife

10. A Glimmer Of The Truth
This was a sentiment I could thoroughly indorse. Mrs. Packard was certainly an
enigma to me. Leaving Ellen to finish her work, I went upstairs to my own room,
and, taking out the scraps of paper I had so carefully collected, spread them out
before me on the lid of the desk.
They were absolutely unintelligible to me--marks and nothing more. Useless to
waste time over such unmeaning scrawls when I had other and more tangible
subjects to consider. But I should not destroy them. There might come a time
when I should be glad to give them the attention which my present excitement
forbade. Putting them back in my desk, I settled myself into a serious
contemplation of the one fact which seemed to give a partial if not wholly
satisfactory explanation of Mrs. Packard's peculiar conduct during the last two
weeks--her belief that she had been visited by a specter of an unholy,
threatening aspect.
That it was a belief and nothing more seemed sufficiently clear to me in the cold-
blooded analysis to which I now subjected the whole matter.
Phantoms have no place in the economy of nature. That Mrs. Packard thought
herself the victim of one was simply a proof of how deeply, though perhaps
unconsciously, she had been affected by the traditions of the house. Such
sensitiveness in a mind naturally firm and uncommonly well poised, called for
attention. Yet a physician had asserted that he could do nothing for her. Granting
that he was mistaken, would an interference of so direct and unmistakable a
character be wise in the present highly strung condition of her nerves? I doubted
it. It would show too plainly the light in which we regarded her. I dared not
undertake the responsibility of such a course in Mayor Packard's absence. Some
other way must be found to quiet her apprehensions and bring her into harmony
again with her surroundings. I knew of only one course. If the influence of the
house had brought on this hallucination, then the influence of the house must be
destroyed. She must be made to see that, despite its unfortunate reputation, no
specter had ever visited it; that some purely natural cause was at the bottom of
the various manifestations which had successively driven away all previous
tenants.
Could I hope to effect this? It was an undertaking of no small moment. Had I the
necessary judgment? I doubted it, but my ambition was roused. While Mr. Steele
was devoting himself to the discovery of Mayor and Mrs. Packard's political
enemy, I would essay the more difficult task of penetrating the mystery
threatening their domestic peace. I could but fail; a few inquiries would assure
me of the folly or the wisdom of my course.
 
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