BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
73. CHAPTER LXXIII.
For that scene at the meeting, which he had just witnessed,
although it had told him no particulars, had been enough to make
his own situation thoroughly clear to him. Bulstrode had been
in dread of scandalous disclosures on the part of Raffles.
Lydgate could now construct all the probabilities of the case.
"He was afraid of some betrayal in my hearing: all he wanted was
to bind me to him by a strong obligation: that was why he passed
on a sudden from hardness to liberality. And he may have tampered
with the patient--he may have disobeyed my orders. I fear he did.
But whether he did or not, the world believes that he somehow or other
poisoned the man and that I winked at the crime, if I didn't help
in it. And yet--and yet he may not be guilty of the last offence;
and it is just possible that the change towards me may have been a
genuine relenting--the effect of second thoughts such as he alleged.
What we call the `just possible' is sometimes true and the thing we
find it easier to believe is grossly false. In his last dealings
with this man Bulstrode may have kept his hands pure, in spite of my
suspicion to the contrary."
There was a benumbing cruelty in his position. Even if he renounced
every other consideration than that of justifying himself--
if he met shrugs, cold glances, and avoidance as an accusation,
and made a public statement of all the facts as he knew them,
who would be convinced? It would be playing the part of a fool
to offer his own testimony on behalf of himself, and say, "I did
not take the money as a bribe." The circumstances would always
be stronger than his assertion. And besides, to come forward
and tell everything about himself must include declarations about
Bulstrode which would darken the suspicions of others against him.
He must tell that he had not known of Raffles's existence when he
first mentioned his pressing need of money to Bulstrode, and that
he took the money innocently as a result of that communication,
not knowing that a new motive for the loan might have arisen on
his being called in to this man. And after all, the suspicion
of Bulstrode's motives might be unjust.