The Mayor's Wife HTML version

27. A Child's Playthings
I was too much overwhelmed by all these events to close my eyes that night. The
revelation of Mr. Steele's further duplicity, coming so immediately upon the first,
roused fresh surmises and awakened thoughts which soon set my wits working
in a direction as new as it was unexpected. I had believed my work over in this
house, but as I recalled all the occurrences of the evening and turned the
situation, as it now confronted me, over and over in my mind, I felt that it had just
begun. There must be something in this latest development to help us in the
struggle which lay before us. The rage which sprang up in him as he confronted
his old aunt at this moment of his triumphant revenge argued a weakness in his
armor which it might yet be my part to discover and reveal. I knew Mrs. Packard
well enough to realize that the serenity into which she had fallen was a fictitious
serenity, and must remain so as long as any doubt remained of the legality of the
tie uniting her to this handsome fiend. Were the means suggested by the mayor
of promising enough character to accomplish the looked-for end?
I remembered the man's eyes as the mayor let fall his word of powerful threat,
and doubted it. Once, recovered from the indisposition which now weakened him,
he would find means to thwart any attempts made by Mayor Packard to
undermine the position he had taken as the legal husband of Olympia--
sufficiently so, at least, to hinder happiness between the pair whose wedded life
he not only envied but was determined to break up, unless some flaw in his past
could be discovered through Miss Quinlan--the aunt whose goodness he had
slighted and who now seemed to be in a frame of mind to help our cause if its
pitiful aspects were once presented to her. I resolved to present the case without
delay. Morning came at last, and I refreshed myself as well as I could, and, after
a short visit to Mrs. Packard's bedside during which my purpose grew with every
moment I gazed down on her brave but pitiful face, put on my hat and jacket and
went next door.
I found the two old ladies seated in their state apartment making calculations. At
sight of my, face they both rose and the "O my dear" from Miss Charity and the
"God bless you, child," from Miss Thankful showed that both hearts were yet
warm. Gradually I introduced the topic of their nephew; gradually I approached
the vital question of the disgrace.
The result upset all my growing hopes. He had never told them just what the
disgrace was. They, really knew nothing about his life after his early boyhood. He
had come home that one time when fortune so suddenly smiled upon them and
they thought then that he would tell them something; but the disappointment
which had followed effectually closed his lips, and he went away after a few days
of fruitless search, not to approach them again till just before he took up the
position of secretary to their great neighbor. Then he paid them one short and
peremptory visit, during which he was able to impress upon them his importance,