The Mill Mystery
11. Under The Mill Floor
I had never considered myself a courageous person. I was therefore surprised at
my own temerity when, with the morning light, came an impulse to revisit the old
mill, and by an examination of its flooring, satisfy myself to whether it held in
hiding any such articles as had been alluded to by Rhoda Colwell in the
remarkable interview just cited. Not that I intended to put any such question to
Dwight Pollard as she had suggested, or, indeed, had any intentions at all
beyond the present. The outlook was too vague, my own mind too troubled, for
me to concoct plans or to make any elaborate determinations. I could only
perform the duty of the moment, and this visit seemed to me to be a duty, though
not one of the pleasantest or even of the most promising character.
I had therefore risen and was preparing myself in an abstracted way for
breakfast, when I was violently interrupted by a resounding knock at the door.
Alarmed, I scarcely knew why, I hastened to open it, and fell back in very visible
astonishment when I beheld standing before me no less a person than Anice, the
late Mrs. Pollard's maid.
"I wanted to see you, miss," she said, coming in without an invitation, and
carefully closing the door behind her. "So, as I had leave to attend early mass
this morning, I just slipped over here, which, if it is a liberty, I hope you will
pardon, seeing it is for your own good."
Not much encouraged by this preamble, I motioned her to take a seat, and then,
turning my back to her, went on arranging my hair.
"I cannot imagine what errand you have with me, Anice," said I; "but if it is any
thing important, let me hear it at once, as I have an engagement this morning,
and am in haste."
A smile, which I could plainly see in the mirror before which I stood, passed slyly
over her face. She took up her parasol from her lap, then laid it down again, and
altogether showed considerable embarrassment. But it did not last long, and in
another moment she was saying, in quite a bold way:
"You took my place beside the mistress I loved, but I don't bear you no grudge,
miss. On the contrary, I would do you a good turn; for what are we here for, miss,
if it's not to help one another?"
As I had no answer for this worthy sentiment, she lapsed again into her former
embarrassed state and as speedily recovered from it. Simpering in a manner that
unconsciously put me on my guard, she remarked:
"You left us very suddenly yesterday, miss. Of course that is your own business,
and I have nothing to say against it. But I thought if you knew what might be
gained by staying--" She paused and gave me a look that was almost like an
But I would not help her out.
"Why," she went on desperately, with a backward toss of her head, "you might
think as how we was not such very bad folks after all. I am sure you would make