The Mill Mystery
8. A Flower From The Pollard Conservatory
Mrs. Harrington did not immediately recover from the shock she had received. I
therefore found myself fully employed the next day. Towards evening, however, a
respite came, and I took the opportunity for a stroll up-street, as much for the
sake of hearing the gossip of the town as to escape from the atmosphere of
sorrow and perplexity by which I was surrounded.
My walk down to the gate was full of a certain uneasy apprehension. I had made
no secret of my intentions at the supper-table, and for the reason that neither of
the brothers had ventured upon any reply to my remark, I expected one, if not
both, of them to join me on the way. But I reached the last turn of the path
without meeting any one, and I was congratulating myself upon the prospect of
having an hour of perfect freedom, when I detected, leaning on the gate before
me, the firm, well-knit figure of a man.
As the two Pollards were more or less alike in form, I could not distinguish at first
glance which of the brothers it was. I therefore faltered back a step, and was
indeed debating whether I should not give up my project and return to the house,
when I saw the gentleman's head turn, and realized that it was too late to retreat.
I therefore advanced with as much calmness as I could assume, determined not
to vary my conduct, no matter which of the brothers it should turn out to be. But,
to my great surprise, the gentleman before me gave me no opportunity to test my
resolution. No sooner did he perceive me than he made a hurried gesture that I
did not at that moment understand; and, just lifting his hat in courteous farewell,
vanished from my sight in the thick bushes which at that place encumbered the
"It was Dwight; it was Guy," I alternately explained to myself, and knew not
whether it would give me most relief to find myself shunned by the one or the
other. My final conclusion, that I wished to have nothing further to do with either
of them, received, notwithstanding, a rude shock when I arrived at the gate-post.
For there, on its broad top, lay a magnificent blossom, the choicest fruit of the
hot-house, and it was to beg my acceptance of this that the gentleman had made
the peculiar gesture I had noticed--an act which, if it came from Dwight, certainly
possessed a significance which I was not yet ready to ignore; while, if it
proceeded from his cold and crafty brother--But I would not allow myself to dwell
upon that possibility. The flower must be mine, and if afterwards I found that it
was to Guy I owed its possession, it would be time enough then for me to
determine what to do. So I took the gorgeous blossom off the post and was
speeding away down the street, when I was suddenly stopped by the thought
that only Guy would have the egotism to bestow a gift upon me in this way; that
Dwight, if he had wished to present it at all, would have done so with his own
hand, and not left it lying on a gate-post with the assurance it would be gathered
up by the fortunate recipient of his favor.