The Mayor's Wife HTML version

5. The Strange Neighbors Next Door
When I joined Mrs. Packard I found her cheerful and in all respects quite unlike
the brooding woman she had seemed when I first met her. From the toys
scattered about her feet I judged that the child had been with her, and certainly
the light in her eyes had the beaming quality we associate with the happy
mother. She was beautiful thus and my hopes of her restoration to happiness
"I have had a good night," were her first words as she welcomed me to a seat in
her own little nook. "I'm feeling very well this morning. That is why I have brought
out this big piece of work." She held up a baby's coat she was embroidering. "I
can not do it when I am nervous. Are you ever nervous?"
Delighted to enter into conversation with her, I answered in a way to lead her to
talk about herself, then, seeing she was in a favorable mood for gossip, was on
the point of venturing all in a leading question, when she suddenly forestalled me
by putting one to me.
"Were you ever the prey of an idea?" she asked; "one which you could not shake
off by any ordinary means, one which clung to you night and day till nothing else
seemed real or would rouse the slightest interest? I mean a religious idea," she
stammered with anxious attempt of to hide her real thought. "One of those doubts
which come to you in the full swing of life to--to frighten and unsettle you."
"Yes," I answered, as naturally and quietly as I knew how; "I have had such
ideas--such doubts."
"And were you able to throw them off?--by your will, I mean."
She was leaning forward, her eyes fixed eagerly on mine. How unexpected the
privilege! I felt that in another moment her secret would be mine.
"In time, yes," I smiled back. "Everything yields to time and persistent
conscientious work."
"But if you can not wait for time, if you must be relieved at once, can the will be
made to suffice, when the day is dark and one is alone and not too busy?"
"The will can do much," I insisted. "Dark thoughts can be kept down by sheer
determination. But it is better to fill the mind so full with what is pleasant that no
room is left for gloom. There is so much to enjoy it must take a real sorrow to
disturb a heart resolved to be happy."