By the time I had recovered my equanimity enough to follow, she had disappeared into her own room. It could not have been in a very comfortable condition, for there were evidences about the hall that it was being thoroughly swept. As I endeavored to pass the door, I inadvertently struck the edge of a little taboret standing in my way. It toppled and a little book lying on it slid to the floor; as I stooped to pick it up my already greatly disconcerted mind was still further affected by the glimpse which was given me of its title. It was this
The eccentricities of
ghosts and coincidences
suggesting spiritual interference
Struck forcibly by a coincidence suggesting something quite different from spiritual interference, I allowed the book to open in my hand, which it did at this evidently frequently conned passage:
A book was in my hand and a strong light was shining on it and on me from a lamp on a near-by table. The story was interesting and I was following the adventures it was relating, with eager interest, when suddenly the character of the light changed, a mist seemed to pass before my eyes and, on my looking up, I saw standing between me and the lamp the figure of a man, which vanished as I looked, leaving in my breast an unutterable dread and in my memory the glare of two unearthly eyes whose menace could mean but one thing—death.
The next day I received news of a fatal accident to my husband.
I closed the little volume with very strange thoughts. If Mayor Packard had believed himself to have received an explanation of his wife’s strange condition in the confession she had made of having seen an apparition such as this in her library, or if I had believed myself to have touched the bottom of the mystery absorbing this unhappy household in my futile discoveries of the human and practical character of the visitants who had haunted this house, then Mayor Packard and I had made a grave mistake.
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.