The Mayor's Wife HTML version

14. I Seek Help
A bad night, a very bad night, but for all that I was down early the next morning.
Bess must have her box and I a breath of fresh air before breakfast, to freshen
me up a bit and clear my/ mind for the decisive act, since my broken rest had
failed to refresh me.
As I reached the parlor floor Nixon came out of the reception-room.
"Oh, Miss!" he exclaimed, "going out?" surprised, doubtless, to see me in my hat
and jacket.
"A few steps," I answered, and then stopped, not a little disturbed; for in moving
to open the door he had discovered that the key was not in it and was showing
his amazement somewhat conspicuously.
"Mrs. Packard took the key up to her room," I explained, thinking that some sort
of explanation was in order. "She is nervous, you know, and probably felt safer
with it there."
The slow shake of his head had a tinge of self-reproach in it.
"I was sorry to go out," he muttered. "I was very sorry to go out,"--but the look
which he turned upon me the next minute was of a very different sort. "I don't see
how you can go out yet," said he, "unless you go by the back way. That leads
into Stanton Street; but perhaps you had just as lief go into Stanton Street."
There was impertinence in his voice as well as aggressiveness in his eye, but I
smiled easily enough and was turning toward the back with every expectation of
going by way of Stanton Street, when Letty came running down the stairs with
the key in her hand. I don't think he was pleased, but he opened the door civilly
enough and I gladly went out, taking with me, however, a remembrance of the
furtive look with which he had noted the small package in my hand. I pass over
the joy with which Bess received the box and its desired contents. I had lost all
interest in the matter, which was so entirely personal to herself, and, declining
the ten dollars which I knew she could ill afford, made my visit so short that I was
able to take a brisk walk down the street and yet be back in time for breakfast.
This, like that of the preceding day, I took alone. Mrs. Packard was well but
preferred to eat up-stairs. I did not fret at this; I was really glad, for now I could
think and plan my action quite unembarrassed by her presence. The opening
under the vestibule floor was to be sounded, and sounded this very morning, but
on what pretext? I could not take Mrs. Packard into my counsel, for that would be
to lessen the force of the discovery with which I yet hoped to dissipate at one
blow the superstitious fears I saw, it was otherwise impossible to combat. I might