The Mayor's Wife by Anna Katharine Green


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Page 1




CHAPTER I

A SPY'S DUTY


I am not without self-control, yet when Miss Davies entered the
room with that air of importance she invariably assumes when she
has an unusually fine position to offer, I could not hide all
traces of my anxiety.

I needed a position, needed it badly, while the others--

But her eyes are on our faces, she is scanning us all with that
close and calculating gaze which lets nothing escape. She has
passed me by--my heart goes down, down--when suddenly her look
returns and she singles me out.

"Miss Saunders." Then, "I have a word to say to you."

There is a rustle about me; five disappointed girls sink back
into their seats as I quickly rise and follow Miss Davies out.

In the hall she faced me with these words:

"You are discreet, and you evidently desire a position. You will
find a gentleman in my sitting-room. If you come to terms with
him, well and good. If not, I shall expect you to forget all
about him and his errand the moment you leave his presence. You
understand me?"

"I think so," I replied, meeting her steady look with one equally
composed. Part of my strength--and I think I have some strength
--lies in the fact that I am quietest when most deeply roused. "I
am not to talk whatever the outcome."

"Not even to me," she emphasized.

Stirred still further and therefore outwardly even more calm than
before, I stopped her as she was moving on and ventured a single
query.

"This position--involving secrecy--is it one you would advise me
to take, even if I did not stand in need of it so badly?"

"Yes. The difficulties will not be great to a discreet person.
It is a first-class opportunity for a young woman as experienced
as yourself."

"Thank you," was my abrupt but grateful rejoinder; and, obeying
her silent gesture, I opened the door of the sitting-room and
passed in. A gentleman standing at one of the windows turned
quickly at the sound of my step and came forward. Instantly
whatever doubt I may have felt concerning the nature of the work
about to be proposed to me yielded to the certainty that, however
much it might involve of the strange and difficult, the man whose
mission it was to seek my aid was one to inspire confidence and
respect.

He was also a handsome man, or no, I will not go so far as that;
he was only one in whom the lines of form and visage were fine
enough not to interfere with the impression made by his strong
nature and intense vitality. A man to sway women and also quite
capable of moving men (this was evident at a glance); but a man
under a cloud just at present,--a very heavy cloud which both
irked and perplexed him.

Pausing in the middle of the room, he surveyed me closely for an
instant before speaking. Did I impress him as favorably as he
did me? I soon had reason to think so, for the nervous trembling
of his hands ceased after the first moment or two of silent
scrutiny, and I was sure I caught the note of hope in his voice
as he courteously remarked:

"You are seeking a place, young lady. Do you think you can fill
the one I have to offer? It has its difficulties, but it is not
an onerous one. It is that of companion to my wife."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Sep 2019, 16:38