The Mill Mystery HTML version

3. ADA
There was death in her face; I saw it the moment we reached the refuge of our
room. But I was scarcely prepared for the words which she said to me.
"Mr. Barrows and I will be buried in one grave. The waters which drowned him
have gone over my head also. But before the moment comes which proves my
words true, there is one thing I wish to impress upon you, and that is: That no
matter what people may say, or what conjectures they may indulge in, Mr.
Barrows never came to his end by any premeditation of his own. And that you
may believe me, and uphold his cause in the face of whatever may arise, I will
tell you something of his life and mine. Will you listen?"
Would I listen? I could not speak, but I drew up the lounge, and sitting down by
her side, pressed my cheek close to hers. She smiled faintly, all unhappiness
gone from her look, and in sweet, soft tones, began:
"We are both orphans. As far as I know, neither of us have any nearer relatives
than distant cousins; a similarity of condition that has acted as a bond between
us since we first knew and loved each other. When I came to S---- he was just
settled here, a young man full of zeal and courage. Whatever the experience of
his college days had been--and he has often told me that at that time ambition
was the mainspring of his existence,--the respect and appreciation which he
found here, and the field which daily opened before him for work, had wakened a
spirit of earnest trust that erelong developed that latent sweetness in his
disposition which more than his mental qualities, perhaps, won him universal
confidence and love.
"You have heard him preach, and you know he was not lacking in genius; but you
have not heard him speak, eye to eye and hand to hand. It was there his power
came in, and there, too, perhaps, his greatest temptation. For he was one for
women to love, and it is not always easy to modify a naturally magnetic look and
tone because the hand that touches yours is shy and white, and the glance which
steals up to meet your own has within it the hint of unconscious worship. Yet
what he could do he did; for, unknown, perhaps, to any one here, he was
engaged to be married, as so many young ministers are, to a girl he had met
while at college.
"I do not mean to go into too many particulars, Constance. He did not love this
girl, but he meant to be true to her. He was even contented with the prospect of
marrying her, till----Oh, Constance, I almost forget that he is gone, and that my
own life is at an end, when I think of that day, six months ago--the day when we
first met, and, without knowing it, first loved. And then the weeks which followed
when each look was an event, and a passing word the making or the marring of a
day. I did not know what it all meant; but he realized only too soon the precipice
upon which we stood, and I began to see him less, and find him more reserved
when, by any chance, we were thrown together. His cheek grew paler, too, and
his health wavered. A struggle was going on in his breast--a struggle of whose