BOOK VII. TWO TEMPTATIONS.
70. CHAPTER LXX.
Bulstrode's native imperiousness and strength of determination served
him well. This delicate-looking man, himself nervously perturbed,
found the needed stimulus in his strenuous circumstances, and through
that difficult night and morning, while he had the air of an animated
corpse returned to movement without warmth, holding the mastery
by its chill impassibility his mind was intensely at work thinking
of what he had to guard against and what would win him security.
Whatever prayers he might lift up, whatever statements he might inwardly
make of this man's wretched spiritual condition, and the duty he
himself was under to submit to the punishment divinely appointed for
him rather than to wish for evil to another--through all this effort
to condense words into a solid mental state, there pierced and spread
with irresistible vividness the images of the events he desired.
And in the train of those images came their apology. He could not
but see the death of Raffles, and see in it his own deliverance.
What was the removal of this wretched creature? He was impenitent--
but were not public criminals impenitent?--yet the law decided
on their fate. Should Providence in this case award death,
there was no sin in contemplating death as the desirable issue--
if he kept his hands from hastening it--if he scrupulously did
what was prescribed. Even here there might be a mistake:
human prescriptions were fallible things: Lydgate had said that
treatment had hastened death,--why not his own method of treatment?
But of course intention was everything in the question of right
And Bulstrode set himself to keep his intention separate from
his desire. He inwardly declared that he intended to obey orders.
Why should he have got into any argument about the validity of
these orders? It was only the common trick of desire--which avails
itself of any irrelevant scepticism, finding larger room for itself
in all uncertainty about effects, in every obscurity that looks
like the absence of law. Still, he did obey the orders.