The Mayor's Wife
16. In The Library
I was still in Mrs. Packard's room, brooding over the enigma offered by the
similarity between the account I had just read and the explanation she had given
of the mysterious event which had thrown such a cloud over her life, when,
moved by some unaccountable influence, I glanced up and saw Nixon standing
in the open doorway, gazing at me with an uneasy curiosity I was sorry enough
to have inspired.
"Mrs. Packard wants you," he declared with short ceremony. "She's in the
library." And, turning on his heel, he took his deliberate way down-stairs.
I followed hard after him, and, being brisk in my movements, was at his back
before he was half-way to the bottom. He seemed to resent this, for he turned a
baleful look back at me and purposely delayed his steps without giving me the
right of way.
"Is Mrs. Packard in a hurry?" I asked. "If so, you had better let me pass."
He gave no appearance of having heard me; his attention had been caught by
something going on at the rear of the hall we were now approaching. Following
his anxious glance, I saw the door of the mayor's study open and Mrs. Packard
come out. As we reached the lower step, she passed us on her way to the
library. Wondering what errand had taken her to the study, which she was
supposed not to visit, I turned to join her and caught a glimpse of the old man's
face. It was more puckered, scowling and malignant of aspect than usual. I was
surprised that Mrs. Packard had not noticed it. Surely it was not the countenance
of a mere disgruntled servant. Something not to be seen on the surface was
disturbing this old man; and, moving in the shadows as I was, I questioned
whether it would not conduce to some explanation between Mrs. Packard and
myself if I addressed her on the subject of this old serving- man's peculiar ways.
But the opportunity for doing this did not come that morning. On entering the
library I was met by Mrs. Packard with the remark:
"Have you any interest in politics? Do you know anything about the subject?"
"I have an interest in Mayor Packard's election," I smilingly assured her; "and I
know that in this I represent a great number of people in this town if not in the
"You want to see him governor? You desired this before you came to this house?
You believe him to be a good man--the right man for the place?"