BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
73. CHAPTER LXXIII.
Already there had been abundant signs which had hitherto puzzled him,
that just when he had been paying off his debts and getting cheerfully
on his feet, the townsmen were avoiding him or looking strangely.
at him, and in two instances it came to his knowledge that patients
of his had called in another practitioner. The reasons were too
plain now. The general black-balling had begun.
No wonder that in Lydgate's energetic nature the sense of a
hopeless misconstruction easily turned into a dogged resistance.
The scowl which occasionally showed itself on his square brow was not
a meaningless accident. Already when he was re-entering the town
after that ride taken in the first hours of stinging pain, he was
setting his mind on remaining in Middlemarch in spite of the worst
that could be done against him. He would not retreat before calumny,
as if he submitted to it. He would face it to the utmost, and no act
of his should show that he was afraid. It belonged to the generosity
as well as defiant force of his nature that he resolved not to shrink
from showing to the full his sense of obligation to Bulstrode.
It was true that the association with this man had been fatal to him--
true that if he had had the thousand pounds still in his hands with
all his debts unpaid he would have returned the money to Bulstrode,
and taken beggary rather than the rescue which had been sullied with
the suspicion of a bribe (for, remember, he was one of the proudest
among the sons of men)--nevertheless, he would not turn away from
this crushed fellow-mortal whose aid he had used, and make a pitiful
effort to get acquittal for himself by howling against another.
"I shall do as I think right, and explain to nobody. They will try
to starve me out, but--" he was going on with an obstinate resolve,
but he was getting near home, and the thought of Rosamond urged
itself again into that chief place from which it had been thrust
by the agonized struggles of wounded honor and pride.
How would Rosamond take it all? Here was another weight of chain to drag,
and poor Lydgate was in a bad mood for bearing her dumb mastery.
He had no impulse to tell her the trouble which must soon be common
to them both. He preferred waiting for the incidental disclosure
which events must soon bring about.