BOOK THE FOURTH: A TURNING
Chapter 15: What Was Caught in the Traps That Were Set
How Bradley Headstone had been racked and riven in his mind
since the quiet evening when by the river-side he had risen, as it
were, out of the ashes of the Bargeman, none but he could have
told. Not even he could have told, for such misery can only be felt.
First, he had to bear the combined weight of the knowledge of
what he had done, of that haunting reproach that he might have
done it so much better, and of the dread of discovery. This was
load enough to crush him, and he laboured under it day and night.
It was as heavy on him in his scanty sleep, as in his red-eyed
waking hours. It bore him down with a dread unchanging
monotony, in which there was not a moment's variety. The
overweighted beast of burden, or the overweighted slave, can for
certain instants shift the physical load, and find some slight respite
even in enforcing additional pain upon such a set of muscles or
such a limb. Not even that poor mockery of relief could the
wretched man obtain, under the steady pressure of the infernal
atmosphere into which he had entered.
Time went by, and no visible suspicion dogged him; time went by,
and in such public accounts of the attack as were renewed at
intervals, he began to see Mr Lightwood (who acted as lawyer for
the injured man) straying further from the fact, going wider of the
issue, and evidently slackening in his zeal. By degrees, a
glimmering of the cause of this began to break on Bradley's sight.
Then came the chance meeting with Mr Milvey at the railway
station (where he often lingered in his leisure hours, as a place
where any fresh news of his deed would be circulated, or any
placard referring to it would be posted), and then he saw in the
light what he had brought about.
For, then he saw that through his desperate attempt to separate
those two for ever, he had been made the means of uniting them.
That he had dipped his hands in blood, to mark himself a
miserable fool and tool. That Eugene Wrayburn, for his wife's
sake, set him aside and left him to crawl along his blasted course.
He thought of Fate, or Providence, or be the directing Power what
it might, as having put a fraud upon him--overreached him--and in
his impotent mad rage bit, and tore, and had his fit.