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Let moralists and philosophers say what they may, it is very questionable whether a guilty man would have felt half as much misery that night, as Kit did, being innocent. The world, being in the constant commission of vast quantities of injustice, is a little too apt to comfort itself with the idea that if the victim of its falsehood and malice have a clear conscience, he cannot fail to be sustained under his trials, and somehow or other to come right at last; 'in which case,' say they who have hunted him down, '--though we certainly don't expect it--nobody will be better pleased than we.' Whereas, the world would do well to reflect, that injustice is in itself, to every generous and properly constituted mind, an injury, of all others the most insufferable, the most torturing, and the most hard to bear; and that many clear consciences have gone to their account elsewhere, and many sound hearts have broken, because of this very reason; the knowledge of their own deserts only aggravating their sufferings, and rendering them the less endurable.
The world, however, was not in fault in Kit's case. But Kit was innocent; and knowing this, and feeling that his best friends deemed him guilty--that Mr and Mrs Garland would look upon him as a monster of ingratitude--that Barbara would associate him with all that was bad and criminal--that the pony would consider himself forsaken--and that even his own mother might perhaps yield to the strong appearances against him, and believe him to be the wretch he seemed--knowing and feeling all this, he experienced, at first, an agony of mind which no words can describe, and walked up and down the little cell in which he was locked up for the night, almost beside himself with grief.
Even when the violence of these emotions had in some degree subsided, and he was beginning to grow more calm, there came into his mind a new thought, the anguish of which was scarcely less. The child--the bright star of the simple fellow's life--she, who always came back upon him like a beautiful dream--who had made the poorest part of his existence, the happiest and best--who had ever been so gentle, and considerate, and good--if she were ever to hear of this, what would she think! As this idea occurred to him, the walls of the prison seemed to melt away, and the old place to reveal itself in their stead, as it was wont to be on winter nights--the fireside, the little supper table, the old man's hat, and coat, and stick--the half-opened door, leading to her little room--they were all there. And Nell herself was there, and he-- both laughing heartily as they had often done--and when he had got as far as this, Kit could go no farther, but flung himself upon his poor bedstead and wept.
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