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The Mayor's Wife

12. Searchings
I seemed bound to be the prey of a divided duty. As I crossed the street, I asked
myself which of the two experiments I had in mind should occupy my attention
first. Should I proceed at once with that close study and detailed examination of
the house, which I contemplated in my eagerness to establish my theory of a
secret passage between it and the one now inhabited by the Misses Quinlan, or
should I wait to do this until I had recovered the box, which might hold still greater
I could not decide, so I resolved to be guided by circumstances. If Mrs. Packard
were still out, I did not think I could sit down till I had a complete plan of the
house as a start in the inquiry which interested me most.
Mrs. Packard was still out,--so much Nixon deigned to tell me in answer to my
question. Whether the fact displeased him or not I could not say, but he was
looking very sour and seemed to resent the trouble he had been to in opening
the door for me. Should I notice this, even by an attempt to conciliate him? I
decided not. A natural manner was best; he was too keen not to notice and give
his own interpretation to uncalled for smiles or words which contrasted too
strongly with his own marked reticence. I therefore said nothing as he pottered
slowly back into his own quarters in the rear, but lingered about down-stairs till I
was quite sure he was out of sight and hearing. Then I came back and took up
my point of view on the spot where the big hall clock had stood in the days of Mr.
Dennison. Later, I made a drawing of this floor as it must have looked at that
time. You will find it on the opposite page.
[transcriber's note: The plan shows the house to have two rows of rooms with a
hall between. In the front each room ends in a bow window. On the right the
drawing-room has two doors opening into the hall, equally spaced near the front
and rear of the room. Across the hall are two rooms of apparently equal size; a
reception room in front and the library behind it, both rooms having windows
facing on the alley. There is a stairway in the hall just behind the door to the
reception room. The study is behind the drawing- room. Opposite this is a side
hall and the dining-room. The library and dining-room both open off this hall with
the dining room also having doors to the main hall and kitchen. The side hall
ends with a stoop in the alley. A small room labeled kitchen, etc. lies behind the
dining-room and the hall extends beyond the study beside the kitchen with the
cellar stairs on the kitchen side. There is a small rectangle in the hall about two-
thirds of the way down the side of the drawing-room which is labeled A.]
Near the place where I stood (marked A on the plan), had occurred most of the
phenomena, which could be located at all. Here the spectral hand had been seen
stopping the clock. Here the shape had passed encountered by Mr. Weston's
cook, and just a few steps beyond where the library door opened under the stairs