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The Mill Mystery

13. Guy Pollard
I
will
tell
you
why.
--HAMLET.
There was a silence, then Dwight Pollard spoke again. "I have made a
confession which I never expected to hear pass my lips. She who has forced it
from me doubtless knows how much and how little it means. Let her explain
herself, then. I have no further business in this place." And, without lifting his
head or meeting the eye of either of us, he strode past us towards the door.
But there he paused, for Rhoda Colwell's voice had risen in words that must be
answered.
"And where, then, have you business if not here? Do you not know I hold your
good name, if not your life, in my hands?"
"My good name," he slowly rejoined, without turning his head, "is already lost in
the eyes I most valued. As for my life, it stands in no jeopardy. Would I could say
the same for his!" was his fierce addition.
"His?" came from Rhoda Colwell's lips, in surprise. "His?" and with a quick and
subtle movement she glided to his side and seized him imperatively by the arm.
"Whom do you mean?" she asked.
He turned on her with a dark look.
"Whom do I mean?" he retorted. "Whom should I mean but the base and
unnatural wretch who, for purposes of his own, has made you the arbitrator of my
destiny and the avenger of my sin--my brother, my vile, wicked brother, whom
may Heaven----"
"Stop! Your brother has had nothing to do with this. Do you suppose I would
stoop to take information from him? What I know I know because my eyes have
seen it, Dwight Pollard! And now, what do you think of the clutch I hold upon your
life?" and she held out those two milk-white hands of hers with a smile such as I
hope never to see on mortal face again.
He looked at them, then at her, and drew back speechless. She burst into a low
but ringing laugh of immeasurable triumph.
"And you thought such a blow as this could come from a man! Dullard and fool
you must be, Dwight Pollard, or else you have never known me. Why should he
risk his honor and his safety in an action as dangerous to him as ungrateful to
you? Because he admires her? Guy Pollard is not so loving. But I--I whom you
taught to be a woman, only to fling aside like a weed--Ah, that is another thing!
Reason for waiting and watching here; reason for denouncing, when the time
came, the man who could take advantage of another man's fears! Ah, you see I
know what I am talking about."'
"Speak!" he gasped. "How do you know? You say you saw. How could you see?
Where were you, demon and witch in one?"
She smiled, not as before, but yet with a sense of power that only the evil glitter
of her sidelong eye kept from making her wholly adorable.
"Will you come into the cellar below?" said she. "Or stay; that may be asking too
much. A glance from one of these windows will do." And moving rapidly across
 
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