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The Mayor's Wife

2. Questions
I knew all the current gossip about Mrs. Packard before I had parted with Miss
Davies. Her story was a simple one. Bred in the West, she had come,
immediately after her mother's death, to live with that mother's brother in Detroit.
In doing this she had walked into a fortune. Her uncle was a rich man and when
he died, which was about a year after her marriage with Mr. Packard and
removal to C--, she found herself the recipient of an enormous legacy. She was
therefore a woman of independent means, an advantage which, added to
personal attractions of a high order, and manners at once dignified and winning,
caused her to be universally regarded as a woman greatly to be envied by all
who appreciated a well-founded popularity.
So much for public opinion. It differs materially from that just given me by her
husband.
The mayor lived on Franklin Street in a quarter I had seldom visited. As I entered
this once aristocratic thoroughfare from Carlton Avenue, I was struck as I had
been before by its heterogeneous appearance. Houses of strictly modern type
neighbored those of a former period, and it was not uncommon to see mansion
and hovel confronting each other from the opposite side of the street. Should I
find the number I sought attached to one of the crude, unmeaning dwellings I
was constantly passing, or to one of mellower aspect and possibly historic
association?
I own that I felt a decided curiosity on this point, and congratulated myself greatly
when I had left behind me a peculiarly obnoxious monstrosity in stone, whose
imposing proportions might reasonably commend themselves to the necessities,
if not to the taste of the city's mayor.
A little shop, one story in height and old enough for its simple wooden walls to cry
aloud for paint, stood out from the middle of a row of cheap brick houses. Directly
opposite it were two conspicuous dwellings, neither of them new and one of them
ancient as the street itself. They stood fairly close together, with an alley running
between. From the number I had now reached it was evident that the mayor lived
in one of these. Happily it was in the fresher and more inviting one. As I noted
this, I paused in admiration of its spacious front and imposing doorway. The latter
was in the best style of Colonial architecture, and though raised but one step
from the walk, was so distinguished by the fan-tailed light overhead and the
flanking casements glazed with antique glass, that I felt myself carried back to
the days when such domiciles were few and denoted wealth the most solid, and
hospitality the most generous.
 
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