Old Roger Chillingworth, throughout life, had been calm in
temperament, kindly, though not of warm affections, but ever,
and in all his relations with the world, a pure and upright man.
He had begun an investigation, as he imagined, with the severe
and equal integrity of a judge, desirous only of truth, even as
if the question involved no more than the air-drawn lines and
figures of a geometrical problem, instead of human passions, and
wrongs inflicted on himself. But, as he proceeded, a terrible
fascination, a kind of fierce, though still calm, necessity,
seized the old man within its gripe, and never set him free
again until he had done all its bidding. He now dug into the
poor clergyman's heart, like a miner searching for gold; or,
rather, like a sexton delving into a grave, possibly in quest of
a jewel that had been buried on the dead man's bosom, but likely
to find nothing save mortality and corruption. Alas, for his own
soul, if these were what he sought!
Sometimes a light glimmered out of the physician's eyes, burning
blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or, let us
say, like one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from
Bunyan's awful doorway in the hillside, and quivered on the
pilgrim's face. The soil where this dark miner was working had
perchance shown indications that encouraged him.
"This man," said he, at one such moment, to himself, "pure as
they deem him--all spiritual as he seems--hath inherited a
strong animal nature from his father or his mother. Let us dig a
little further in the direction of this vein!"