For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself by what he is willing to do, by what he might have said, or might have done – a judgment that is necessarily hampered, bot only by the scope and limits of his imagination, but by the ever-changing measure of his doubt and self-esteem.
A secret always has a strengthening effect upon a newborn friendship, as does the shared impression than an external figure is to blame: the men of the Crown have become united less by their shared beliefs, we observe, than by their shared misgivings–which are, in the main, externally directed. In their analyses, variously made, of Alastair Lauderback, George Shepard, Lydia Wells, Francis Carver, Anna Wetherell, and Emery Staines, the Crown men have become more and more suggestive, despite the fact that nothing has been proven, no body has been tried, and no new information has come to light. Their beliefs have become more fanciful, their hypotheses less practical, their counsel less germane. Unconfirmed suspicion tends, over time, to become wilful, fallacious, and prey to the vicissitudes of mood–it acquires all the qualities of common superstition–and the men of the Crown Hotel, whose nexus of allegiance is stitched, after all, in the bright thread of time and motion, have, like all men, no immunity to influence.