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Agatha Webb

Book II. The Man Of No Reputation
XXI. SWEETWATER REASONS
And what of Sweetwater, in whose thoughts and actions the interest now
centres?
When he left Mr. Sutherland it was with feelings such as few who knew him
supposed him capable of experiencing. Unattractive as he was in every way,
ungainly in figure and unprepossessing of countenance, this butt of the more
favoured youth in town had a heart whose secret fires were all the warmer for
being so persistently covered, and this heart was wrung with trouble and
heavy with a struggle that bade fair to leave him without rest that night, if not
for many nights to come. Why? One word will explain. Unknown to the world
at large and almost unknown to himself, his best affections were fixed upon
the man whose happiness he thus unexpectedly saw himself destined to
destroy. He loved Mr. Sutherland.
The suspicion which he now found transferred in his own mind from the
young girl whose blood-stained slippers he had purloined during the
excitement of the first alarm, to the unprincipled but only son of his one
benefactor, had not been lightly embraced or thoughtlessly expressed. He
had had time to think it out in all its bearings. During that long walk from
Portchester churchyard to Mr. Halliday's door, he had been turning over in his
mind everything that he had heard and seen in connection with this matter, till
the dim vision of Frederick's figure going on before him was not more
apparent to his sight than was the guilt he so deplored to his inward
understanding.
He could not help but recognise him as the active party in the crime he had
hitherto charged Amabel with. With the clew offered by Frederick's secret
anguish at the grave of Agatha, he could read the whole story of this
detestable crime as plainly as if it had been written in letters of fire on the
circle of the surrounding darkness. Such anguish under such circumstances
on the part of such a man could mean but one thing--remorse; and remorse in
the breast of one so proverbially careless and corrupt, over the death of a
woman who was neither relative nor friend, could have but one interpretation,
and that was guilt.
No other explanation was possible. Could one be given, or if any evidence
could be adduced in contradiction of this assumption, he would have
 
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