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The Mill Mystery

9. An Unexpected Discovery
Hold,
hold
my
heart!
And
you,
my
sinews,
grow
not
instant
old.
But bear me stiffly up!
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I was saved the embarrassment of
meeting Guy Pollard at the breakfast-table the next morning. I was, therefore, left
in ignorance as to the result of the conversation between the brothers, though
from the softened manner of Dwight, and the quiet assurance with which he
surrounded me with the delicate atmosphere of his homage, I could not but argue
that he had come out master of the situation.
It was, therefore, with mingled feelings of pleasure and apprehension that I left
the house at the hour appointed for the double funeral; feelings that would have
been yet more alive had I realized that I should not re-enter those gates again, or
see the interior of that fatal house, till I had passed through many bitter
experiences.
The ceremonies, in spite of the latent suspicion of the community that Mr.
Barrows' death had been one of his own seeking, were of the most touching and
impressive description. I was overcome by them, and left the churchyard before
the final prayer was said, feeling as if the life of the last three days had been a
dream, and that here in the memory of my lovely Ada and her griefs lay my true
existence and the beginning and ending of my most sacred duty.
Pursuant to this thought I did not turn immediately back to the gloomy mansion
which claimed me for the present as its own, but wandered away in an opposite
direction, soothing my conscience by the thought that it was many hours yet
before the services would be held for Mrs. Pollard, and that neither the brothers
nor Mrs. Harrington could have any use for me till that time.
The road I had taken was a sequestered one, and strange as it may seem to
some, did not awaken special memories in my mind till I came to a point where
an opening in the trees gave to my view the vision of two tall chimneys; when like
a flash it came across me that I was on the mill road, and within a few short rods
of the scene of Mr. Barrows' death.
The sensation that seized me at this discovery was of the strangest kind. I felt
that I had been led there; and without a thought of what I was doing, pressed on
with ever-increasing rapidity till I came to the open doorway with its dismantled
entrance.
To pass over the now much-trodden grass and take my stand by the dismal walls
was the work of an instant; but when I had done this and experienced in a rush
the loneliness and ghostly influence of the place, I was fain to turn back and
leave it to the dream of its own fearful memories. But the sight of a small piece of
paper pinned or pasted on the board that had been nailed in futile precaution
across the open doorway deterred me. It was doubtless nothing more important
than a notice from the town authorities, or possibly from the proprietors of the
place, but my curiosity was excited, and I desired to see it. So I hastened over to
 
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