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14. Strong Of Purpose
The sexton-task of piling earth above John Harmon all night long, was not
conducive to sound sleep; but Rokesmith had some broken morning rest, and
rose strengthened in his purpose. It was all over now. No ghost should trouble Mr
and Mrs Boffin's peace; invisible and voiceless, the ghost should look on for a
little while longer at the state of existence out of which it had departed, and then
should for ever cease to haunt the scenes in which it had no place.
He went over it all again. He had lapsed into the condition in which he found
himself, as many a man lapses into many a condition, without perceiving the
accumulative power of its separate circumstances. When in the distrust
engendered by his wretched childhood and the action for evil--never yet for good
within his knowledge then--of his father and his father's wealth on all within their
influence, he conceived the idea of his first deception, it was meant to be
harmless, it was to last but a few hours or days, it was to involve in it only the girl
so capriciously forced upon him and upon whom he was so capriciously forced,
and it was honestly meant well towards her. For, if he had found her unhappy in
the prospect of that marriage (through her heart inclining to another man or for
any other cause), be would seriously have said: 'This is another of the old
perverted uses of the misery-making money. I will let it go to my and my sister's
only protectors and friends.' When the snare into which he fell so outstripped his
first intention as that he found himself placarded by the police authorities upon
the London walls for dead, he confusedly accepted the aid that fell upon him,
without considering how firmly it must seem to fix the Boffins in their accession to
the fortune. When he saw them, and knew them, and even from his vantage-
ground of inspection could find no flaw in them, he asked himself, 'And shall I
come to life to dispossess such people as these?' There was no good to set
against the putting of them to that hard proof. He had heard from Bella's own lips
when he stood tapping at the door on that night of his taking the lodgings, that
the marriage would have been on her part thoroughly mercenary. He had since
tried her, in his own unknown person and supposed station, and she not only
rejected his advances but resented them. Was it for him to have the shame of
buying her, or the meanness of punishing her? Yet, by coming to life and
accepting the condition of the inheritance, he must do the former; and by coming
to life and rejecting it, he must do the latter.
Another consequence that he had never foreshadowed, was the implication of an
innocent man in his supposed murder. He would obtain complete retraction from
the accuser, and set the wrong right; but clearly the wrong could never have
been done if he had never planned a deception. Then, whatever inconvenience
or distress of mind the deception cost him, it was manful repentantly to accept as
among its consequences, and make no complaint.