It was now my turn to smile, but somehow I did not. A vision had risen in my mind of that blank and staring face in the attic window next door, and I felt—well, I don’t know how I felt, but I did not smile.
Another short laugh escaped him.
“We have not been favored by any manifestations from the spiritual world. This has proved a very matter-of-fact sort of home for us. I had almost forgotten that it was burdened with such an uncanny reputation, and I’m sure that Mrs. Packard would have shared my indifference if it had not been for the domestic difficulty I have mentioned. It took us two weeks to secure help of any kind.”
“Indeed! and how long have you been in the house? I judge that you rent it?”
“Yes, we rent it and we have been here two months. It was the only house I could get in a locality convenient for me; besides, the old place suits me. It would take more than an obsolete ghost or so to scare me away from what I like.”
“But Mrs. Packard? She may not be a superstitious woman, yet—”
“Don’t be fanciful, Miss Saunders. You will have to look deeper than that for the spell which has been cast over my wife. Olympia afraid of creaks and groans? Olympia seeing sights? She’s much too practical by nature, Miss Saunders, to say nothing of the fact that she would certainly have confided her trouble to me, had her imagination been stirred in this way. Little things have invariably been discussed between us. I repeat that this possibility should not give you a moment’s thought.”
A burst of sweet singing came from the drawing-room.
“That’s her voice,” he cried. “Whatever her trouble may be she has forgotten it for the moment. Excuse me if I join her. It is such pleasure to have her at all like herself again.”
I longed to detain him, longed to put some of the numberless questions my awakened curiosity demanded, but his impatience was too marked and I let him depart without another word.
But I was not satisfied. Inwardly I determined to see him again as soon as possible and gain a more definite insight into the mysteries of his home.
I am by nature a thoroughly practical woman. If I had not been, the many misfortunes of my life would have made me so. Yet, when the library door closed behind the mayor and I found myself again alone in a spot where I had not felt comfortable from the first, I experienced an odd sensation not unlike fear. It left me almost immediately and my full reasoning powers reasserted themselves; but the experience had been mine and I could not smile it away.
The result was a conviction, which even reason could not dispel, that whatever secret tragedy or wrong had signalized this house, its perpetration had taken place in this very room. It was a fancy, but it held, and under its compelling if irrational influence, I made a second and still more minute survey of the room to which this conviction had imparted so definite an interest.