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The Mill Mystery

5. Doubts And Queries
And that well might
Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance
His wisdom can provide.
At daybreak the doctor came in. Taking advantage of the occasion, I slipped
away for a few minutes to my own room, anxious for any change that would
relieve me from the gloom and oppression caused by this prolonged and silent
tete-a-tete with a being that at once so interested and repelled me. Observing
that my windows looked towards the east, I hastened to throw wide the blinds
and lean out into the open air. A burst of rosy sunlight greeted me. "Ah!" thought
I, "if I have been indulging in visions, this will dispel them"; and I quaffed deeply
and long of the fresh and glowing atmosphere before allowing my thoughts to
return for an instant to the strange and harrowing experiences I had just been
through. A sense of rising courage and renewed power rewarded me; and
blessing the Providence that had granted us a morning of sunshine after a night
of so much horror, I sat down and drew from my breast the little folded paper
which represented my poor Ada's will. Opening it with all the reverent love which
I felt for her memory, I set myself to decipher the few trembling lines which she
had written, in the hope they would steady my thoughts and suggest, if not
reveal, the way I should take in the more than difficult path I saw stretching
before me.
My agitation may be conceived when I read the following:
"It is my last wish that all my personal effects, together with the sum of five
hundred dollars, now credited to my name in the First National Bank of S----,
should be given to my friend, Constance Sterling, who I hope will not forget the
promise I exacted from her."
Five hundred dollars! and yesterday I had nothing. Ah, yes, I had a friend!
The thoughts awakened by this touching memorial from the innocent dead
distracted me for a few moments from further consideration of present difficulties,
but soon the very nature of the bequest recalled them to my mind, by that
allusion to a promise which more than any thing else lay at the bottom of the
dilemma in which I found myself. For, humiliating as it is to confess, the
persistency with which certain impressions remained in my mind, in spite of the
glowing daylight that now surrounded me, warned me that it would be for my
peace to leave this house before my presentiments became fearful realities;
while on the other hand my promise to Ada seemed to constrain me to remain in
it till I had at least solved some of those mysteries of emotion which connected
one and all of this family so intimately with the cause to which I had pledged
"If the general verdict in regard to Mr. Barrows' death should be one of suicide,"
thought I, "how could I reconcile myself to the fact that I fled at the first
approaching intimation that all was not as simple in his relations as was
supposed, and that somewhere, somehow, in the breast of certain parishioners