The Mystery of Edwin Drood HTML version
ROSA no sooner came to herself than the whole of the late interview was before her. It
even seemed as if it had pursued her into her insensibility, and she had not had a
moment's unconsciousness of it. What to do, she was at a frightened loss to know: the
only one clear thought in her mind was, that she must fly from this terrible man.
But where could she take refuge, and how could she go? She had never breathed her
dread of him to any one but Helena. If she went to Helena, and told her what had passed,
that very act might bring down the irreparable mischief that he threatened he had the
power, and that she knew he had the will, to do. The more fearful he appeared to her
excited memory and imagination, the more alarming her responsibility appeared; seeing
that a slight mistake on her part, either in action or delay, might let his malevolence loose
on Helena's brother.
Rosa's mind throughout the last six months had been stormily confused. A half-formed,
wholly unexpressed suspicion tossed in it, now heaving itself up, and now sinking into
the deep; now gaining palpability, and now losing it. Jasper's self-absorption in his
nephew when he was alive, and his unceasing pursuit of the inquiry how he came by his
death, if he were dead, were themes so rife in the place, that no one appeared able to
suspect the possibility of foul play at his hands. She had asked herself the question, 'Am I
so wicked in my thoughts as to conceive a wickedness that others cannot imagine?' Then
she had considered, Did the suspicion come of her previous recoiling from him before the
fact? And if so, was not that a proof of its baselessness? Then she had reflected, 'What
motive could he have, according to my accusation?' She was ashamed to answer in her
mind, 'The motive of gaining ME!' And covered her face, as if the lightest shadow of the
idea of founding murder on such an idle vanity were a crime almost as great.
She ran over in her mind again, all that he had said by the sun- dial in the garden. He had
persisted in treating the disappearance as murder, consistently with his whole public
course since the finding of the watch and shirt-pin. If he were afraid of the crime being
traced out, would he not rather encourage the idea of a voluntary disappearance? He had
even declared that if the ties between him and his nephew had been less strong, he might
have swept 'even him' away from her side. Was that like his having really done so? He
had spoken of laying his six months' labours in the cause of a just vengeance at her feet.
Would he have done that, with that violence of passion, if they were a pretence? Would
he have ranged them with his desolate heart and soul, his wasted life, his peace and his
despair? The very first sacrifice that he represented himself as making for her, was his
fidelity to his dear boy after death. Surely these facts were strong against a fancy that
scarcely dared to hint itself. And yet he was so terrible a man! In short, the poor girl (for
what could she know of the criminal intellect, which its own professed students
perpetually misread, because they persist in trying to reconcile it with the average
intellect of average men, instead of identifying it as a horrible wonder apart) could get by
no road to any other conclusion than that he WAS a terrible man, and must be fled from.