en-es  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 38
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CHAPTER XXXVIII - EXIT MR CARGRIM.
Once informed of the welcome truth, Dr Pendle lost no time in having it verified by documents and extraneous evidence. This was not the affair of hours, but of days, since it entailed a visit to St Chad's Church at Hampstead, and a rigorous examination of the original marriage and death certificates. Also, as Bosvile, alias Krant, alias Jentham was said to be a gipsy on the authority of Miss Whichello, and as the information that Baltic was in the confidence of Mother Jael had trickled through Brace and Graham to the bishop, the last named considered it advisable that the ex-sailor should be informed of the actual truth. Now that Dr Pendle was personally satisfied of the legality of his marriage, he had no hesitation in acquainting Baltic with his life-history, particularly as the man could obtain from Mother Jael an assurance, in writing if necessary, that Bosvile and Jentham were one and the same. For the satisfaction of all parties concerned, it was indispensable that proof positive should be procured, and the matter settled beyond all doubt. The position, as affecting both the private feelings and social status of Bishop and Mrs Pendle, was too serious a one to be dealt with otherwise than in the most circumspect manner.
After Miss Whichello's visit and revelation, Dr Pendle immediately sought out his wife to explain that after all doubts and difficulties, and lies and forgeries, they were as legally bound to one another as any couple in the three Kingdoms; that their children were legitimate and could bear their father's name, and that the evil which had survived the death of its author was now but shadow and wind—in a word, non-existent. Mrs Pendle, who had borne the shock of her pseudo husband's resurrection so bravely, was quite overwhelmed by the good news of her re-established position, and fainted outright when her husband broke it to her. But for Lucy's sake—as the bishop did not wish Lucy to know, or even suspect anything—she afterwards controlled her feelings better, and, relieved from the apprehension of coming danger, speedily recovered her health and spirits. She was thus, at a week's end, enabled to attend in the library a council of six people summoned by her husband to adjust the situation. The good bishop was nothing if not methodical and thorough; and he was determined that the matter of the false and true marriages should be threshed out to the last grain. Therefore, the council was held ex aequo et bono.
On this momentous occasion there were present the bishop himself and Mrs Pendle, who sat close beside his chair; also Miss Whichello, fluttered and anxious, in juxtaposition with Dr Graham; and Gabriel, who had placed himself near Baltic the sedate and solemn-faced. When all were assembled, the bishop lost no time in speaking of the business which had brought them together. He related in detail the imposture of Jentham, the murder by Mosk, who since had taken his own life, and the revelation of Miss Whichello, ending with the production of the documents proving the several marriages, and a short statement explaining the same.
'Here,' said Dr Pendle, 'is the certificate of marriage between Pharaoh Bosvile and Ann Whichello, dated December 1869. They lived together as man and wife for six months up to May 1870, after which Bosvile deserted the unhappy lady.
'After spending all her money, the wretch!' put in Miss Whichello, angrily.
'Bosvile!' continued the bishop, 'had previously made the acquaintance of my wife, then Amy Lancaster, under the false name of Stephen Krant; and so far won her love that, thinking him a single man, she consented to marry him.
'No, bishop,' contradicted Mrs Pendle, very positively, 'he did not win my love; he fascinated me with his good looks and charming manners, for in spite of the scar on his cheek Stephen was very handsome. Some friend introduced him to my father as a Hungarian exile hiding under the name of Krant from Austrian vengeance; and my father, enthusiastic on the subject of patriotism, admitted him to our house. I was then a weak, foolish girl, and his wicked brilliancy drew me towards him. When he learned that I had money of my own he proposed to marry me. My father objected, but I was infatuated by Stephen's arts, and became his wife in October 1870.
'Quite so, my love,' assented her husband, mildly; 'as an inexperienced girl you were at the mercy of that Belial. You were married as you say in October 1870; here, to prove that statement, is the certificate,' and the bishop passed it to Baltic. 'But at the time of such marriage Mrs Bosvile was still alive. Miss Whichello can vouch for this important fact!
'Ah! that I can,' sighed the little old lady, shaking her head. 'My poor darling sister did not die until January 1871, and I was present to close her weary—weary eyes. Is not that the certificate of her death you are holding?
'Yes,' answered the bishop, simply, and gave the paper into her outstretched hand. 'You can now understand, my friends,' he continued, addressing the company generally, 'that as Mrs Bosvile was alive in October 1870, the marriage which her husband then contracted with Miss Lancaster was a false one.
'That is clear enough,' murmured the attentive Baltic, nodding.
'It thus appears,' resumed the bishop, concisely, 'that when I married—as I thought—Amy Krant, a widow, in September 1871, I really and truly wedded Amy Lancaster, a spinster. Therefore this lady'—and here the bishop clasped tenderly the hand of Mrs Pendle—'is my true, dear wife, and has been legally so these many years, notwithstanding Bosvile's infamous assertion to the contrary.
'Thank God! thank God!' cried Mrs Pendle, with joyful tears. 'Gabriel, my darling boy!' and she stretched out her disengaged hand to caress her son. Gabriel kissed it with unconcealed emotion.
In the meantime, Dr Graham was examining the bishop's marriage certificate with sharp attention, as he thought he espied a flaw. 'Pardon me, my dear Pendle,' said he, in his crisp voice, 'but I see that Mrs Pendle became your wife under a name which we now know was not then her own. Does that false name vitiate the marriage?
'By no means,' replied the bishop, promptly. 'I took counsel's opinion on that point when I was in London. It is as follows'—and Dr Pendle read an extract from a legal-looking document. '"A marriage which is made in ignorance in a false name is perfectly good. The law on the subject appears to be this—If a person, to conceal his or her identity, assumes either a wrong name or description, so as to practically obtain a secret marriage, the marriage is void; but if the wrong name or description is adopted by accident or innocently, the marriage is good." Therefore,' added Dr Pendle, placing the paper on one side, 'Mrs Pendle was not Bosvile's wife on two distinct grounds. Firstly, because his true wife was alive when he married her. Secondly, because he fraudulently made her his wife by giving a false name and description. Regarding my own marriage, it is a good one in law, because Mrs Pendle's false name of Krant was adopted in all innocence. There is no court in the realm of Great Britain,' concluded the bishop, with conviction, 'that would not uphold my marriage as true and lawful, and God be thanked that such is the case!
'God be thanked!' said Gabriel, in his turn, and said it with heartfelt earnestness. Graham, bubbling over with pleasure, jumped up in his restless way, and gave a friendly hand in turn to Dr Pendle and his wife. 'I congratulate you both, my dear friends,' said he, not without emotion. 'You have won through your troubles at last, and can now live in much-deserved peace for the rest of your lives. Deus nobis haec otia fecit! Hey, bishop, you know the Mantuan. Well, well, you have paid forfeit to the gods, Pendle, and they will no longer envy your good fortune, or seek to destroy it.
'Graham, Graham,' said the bishop, with kindly tolerance, 'always these Pagan sentiments.
'Ay! ay! I am a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn,' quoted the doctor, rubbing his hands. 'Well, we cannot all be bishops.
'We can all be Christians,' said Baltic, gravely.
'Ah!' retorted Graham. 'What we should be, and what we are, Mr Baltic, are points capable of infinite discussion. At present we should be smiling and thankful, which,' added he, breaking off, 'Miss Whichello is not, I regret to see.
'I am thinking of my poor sister,' sobbed the old lady. 'How do I know but that the villain did not deceive her also by making her his wife under a false name?
'No, madam!' interposed Baltic, eagerly. 'Bosvile was the man's true name, therefore he was legally your sister's husband. I wrote down a statement by Mother Jael that Jentham was really Pharaoh Bosvile, and, at my request, she signed the same. Here it is, signed by her and witnessed by me. I shall give it to you, my lord, that you may lock it up safely with those certificates.
'Thank you, Mr Baltic,' said the bishop, taking the slip of paper tendered by the missionary, 'but I trust that—er—that this woman knows little of the truth.
'She knows nothing, my lord, save that Bosvile, for his own purposes, took the names of Amaru and Jentham at different times. The rogue was cunning enough to keep his own counsel of his life amongst the Gentiles; of his marriages, false and true, Mother Jael is ignorant. Set your mind at rest, sir, she will never trouble you in any way.
'Good!' said Dr Pendle, drawing a long breath of relief. 'Then, as such is the case, my friends, I think it advisable that we should keep our knowledge of Bosvile's iniquities to ourselves. I do not wish my son George or my daughter Lucy to learn the sad story of the past. Such knowledge would only vex them unnecessarily.
'And I'm sure I don't want Mab to know what a villain her father was,' broke in Miss Whichello. 'Thank God she is unlike him in every way, save that she takes after him in looks. When Captain Pendle talks of Mab's rich Eastern beauty, I shiver all over; he little knows that he speaks the truth, and that Mab has Arab blood in her veins.
'Not Arab blood, my dear lady,' cried Graham, alertly; 'the gipsies do not come from Arabia, but, as is believed, from the north of India. They appeared in Europe about the fifteenth century, calling themselves, falsely enough, Egyptians. But both Borrow and Leland are agreed that—.
'I don't want to hear about the gipsies,' interrupted Miss Whichello, cutting short the doctor's disquisition; 'all I know is, that if Bosvile or Jentham, or whatever he called himself, is a sample of them, they are a wicked lot of Moabites. I wonder the bishop lets his son marry the child of one, I do indeed!
'Dear Miss Whichello,' said Mrs Pendle, putting her arm round the poor lady's neck, 'both the bishop and myself are proud that Mab should become our daughter and George's wife. And after all,' she added naively, 'neither of them will ever know the truth!
'I hope not, I'm sure,' wept Miss Whichello.' I buried that miserable man at my own expense, as he was Mab's father. And I have had a stone put up to him, with his last name, "Jentham," inscribed on it, so that no one might ask questions, which would have been asked had I written his real name.
'No one will ask questions,' said the bishop, soothingly, 'and if they do, no answers will be forthcoming; we are all agreed on that point.
'Quite agreed,' answered Baltic, as spokesman for the rest; 'we shall let the dead past bury its dead, and God bless the future.
'Amen!' said Dr Pendle, and bowed his grey head in a silence more eloquent than words.
So far the rough was made smooth, with as much skill as could be exercised by mortal brains; but after Dr Pendle had dismissed his friends there yet remained to him an unpleasant task, the performance of which, in justice to himself, could not longer be postponed. This was the punishment and dismissal of Michael Cargrim, who indeed merited little leniency at the hands of the man whose confidence he had so shamefully abused. Serpents should be crushed, traitors should be punished, however unpleasant may be the exercise of the judicial function; for to permit evil men to continue in their evil-doing is to encourage vicious habits detrimental to the well-being of humanity. The more just the judge, the more severe should he be towards such calculating sinners, lest, infected by example, mankind should become even more corrupt than it is. Bishop Pendle was a kindly man, who wished to think the best of his fellow-creatures, and usually did so; but he could not blind himself to the base and plotting nature of Cargrim; and, for the sake of his family, for the well-being of the Church, for the benefit of the schemer himself, he summoned him to receive rebuke and punishment. He was not now the patron, the benefactor; but the judge, the ecclesiastical superior, severe and impartial.
Cargrim obeyed the summons unwillingly enough, as he knew very well that he was about to receive the righteous reward of his deeds. A day or so before, when lamenting to Baltic that Dr Pendle had proved innocent, the man had rebuked him for his baseness, and had given him to understand that the bishop was fully aware of the contemptible part which he had acted. Deserted by his former ally, ignorant of Dr Pendle's secret, convinced of Mosk's guilt, the chaplain was in anything but a pleasant position. He was reaping what he had so industriously sown; he was caught in his own snare, and saw no way of defending his conduct. In a word, he was ruined, and now stood before his injured superior with pale face and hanging head, ready to be blamed and sentenced without uttering one word on his own behalf. Nor, had he possessed the insolence to do so, could he have thought of that one necessary word.
'Michael,' said the bishop, mildly, 'I have been informed by Mr Baltic that you accused me of a terrible crime. May I ask on what grounds you did so?
Cargrim made no reply, but, flushing and paling alternately, looked shamefaced at the carpet.
'I must answer myself, I see,' continued Dr Pendle, after a short silence; 'you thought that because I met Jentham on the heath to pay him some money I murdered him in the viciousness of my heart. Why should you think so ill of me, my poor boy? Have I not stood in the place of your father? Have I not treated you as my own son? You know that I have. And my reward is, that these many weeks you have been secretly trying to ruin me. Even had I been guilty,' cried the bishop, raising his voice, 'it was not your place to proclaim the shame of one who has cherished you. If you had such wicked thoughts in your heart, why did you not come boldly before me and accuse me to my face? I should then have known how to answer you. I can forgive malice—yes, even malice—but not deceit. Did you never think of my delicate wife, of my innocent family, when plotting and scheming my ruin with a smiling face? Alas! alas! Michael, how could you act in a way so unworthy of a Christian, of a gentleman?
'What is the use of crying over spilt milk?' said Cargrim, doggedly. 'You have the advantage now and can do what you will.
'What do you mean by talking like that?' said the bishop, sternly. 'Have the advantage now indeed; I never lost the advantage, sir, so far as you are concerned. I did not murder that wretched man, for you know that Mosk confessed how he shot him for the sake of the money I gave him. I knew of Jentham in other days, under another name, and when he asked me for money I gave it to him. My reason for doing so I do not choose to tell you, Mr Cargrim. It is not your right to question my actions. I am not only your elder, but your ecclesiastic superior, to whom, as a priest, you are bound to yield obedience. That obedience I now exact. You must suffer for your sins.
'You can't hurt me,' returned Cargrim, with defiance.
'I have no wish to hurt you,' answered the bishop, mildly; 'but for your own good you must be punished; and punish you I will so far as lies in my power.
'I am ready to be punished, my lord; you have the whip hand, so I must submit.
'Michael, Michael, harden not your heart! Repent of your wickedness if it is in you to do so. I cannot spare you if I would. Bonis nocet quis quis pepercerit malis; that is a true saying which, as a priest, I should obey, and which I intend to obey if only for your own benefit. After punishment comes repentance and amendment.
Cargrim scowled. 'It is no use talking further, my lord,' he said roughly. 'As I have acted like a fool, I must take a fool's wages.
'You are indeed a fool,' rejoined the bishop, coldly, 'and an ungrateful fool to boot, or you would not thus answer one who has your interest at heart. But as you take up such a position, I shall be brief. You must leave my house at once, and, for very shame, I should advise you to leave the Church.
'Leave the Church?' echoed Cargrim, in dismay.
'I have said it. As a bishop, I cannot entrust to a guilty man the care of immortal souls.
'Guilty? I am guilty of nothing.
'Do you call malice, falsehood, dissimulation nothing?
'You cannot unfrock me for what I have done,' said Cargrim, evading a direct reply. 'You may have the will, but you have not the power.
Dr Pendle looked at him in amazement 'Yours is indeed an evil heart, when you can use such language to me,' he said sorrowfully. 'I see that it is useless to argue with you in your present fallen condition.
'Fallen condition, my lord?
'Yes, poor lad! fallen not only as a priest, but as a man. However, I shall plead no more. Go where you will, do what you will, although I advise you once more not to insult an offended God by offering prayers for others which you need for yourself. Yet, as I am unwilling that you should starve, I shall instruct my banker in London to pay you a monthly sum of money until you are beyond want. Now go, Michael. I am bitterly disappointed in you; and by your own acts you have put it out of my power to keep you by my side. Go! Repent—and pray.
The chaplain, with a look of malice on his face, walked, or rather slunk, towards the door. 'You magnify my paltry sins,' he flung back. 'What of your own great ones?
'Dare you, wretched man, to speak against your spiritual head!' thundered the bishop, starting to his feet, vested with the imperious authority of the Church. 'Go! Quit my sight, lest I cast you out from amongst us! Go!
Before the blaze of that righteous wrath, Cargrim, livid and trembling, crept away like a beaten hound.
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CHAPTER XXXVIII - EXIT MR CARGRIM.
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Therefore, the council was held ex aequo et bono.
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'After spending all her money, the wretch!'
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put in Miss Whichello, angrily.
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'Bosvile!'
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When he learned that I had money of my own he proposed to marry me.
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'But at the time of such marriage Mrs Bosvile was still alive.
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Miss Whichello can vouch for this important fact!
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'Ah!
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that I can,' sighed the little old lady, shaking her head.
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Is not that the certificate of her death you are holding?
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'That is clear enough,' murmured the attentive Baltic, nodding.
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'Thank God!
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thank God!'
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cried Mrs Pendle, with joyful tears.
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'Gabriel, my darling boy!'
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and she stretched out her disengaged hand to caress her son.
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Gabriel kissed it with unconcealed emotion.
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Does that false name vitiate the marriage?
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'By no means,' replied the bishop, promptly.
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'I took counsel's opinion on that point when I was in London.
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Firstly, because his true wife was alive when he married her.
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'God be thanked!'
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said Gabriel, in his turn, and said it with heartfelt earnestness.
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Deus nobis haec otia fecit!
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Hey, bishop, you know the Mantuan.
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'Ay!
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ay!
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'Well, we cannot all be bishops.
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'We can all be Christians,' said Baltic, gravely.
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'Ah!'
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retorted Graham.
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'I am thinking of my poor sister,' sobbed the old lady.
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'No, madam!'
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interposed Baltic, eagerly.
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Here it is, signed by her and witnessed by me.
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Set your mind at rest, sir, she will never trouble you in any way.
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'Good!'
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said Dr Pendle, drawing a long breath of relief.
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Such knowledge would only vex them unnecessarily.
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But both Borrow and Leland are agreed that—.
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I wonder the bishop lets his son marry the child of one, I do indeed!
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'I hope not, I'm sure,' wept Miss Whichello.'
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I buried that miserable man at my own expense, as he was Mab's father.
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'Amen!'
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May I ask on what grounds you did so?
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Why should you think so ill of me, my poor boy?
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Have I not stood in the place of your father?
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Have I not treated you as my own son?
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You know that I have.
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I should then have known how to answer you.
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I can forgive malice—yes, even malice—but not deceit.
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Alas!
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alas!
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'What is the use of crying over spilt milk?'
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said Cargrim, doggedly.
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'You have the advantage now and can do what you will.
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'What do you mean by talking like that?'
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said the bishop, sternly.
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My reason for doing so I do not choose to tell you, Mr Cargrim.
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It is not your right to question my actions.
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That obedience I now exact.
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You must suffer for your sins.
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'You can't hurt me,' returned Cargrim, with defiance.
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'Michael, Michael, harden not your heart!
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Repent of your wickedness if it is in you to do so.
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I cannot spare you if I would.
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After punishment comes repentance and amendment.
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Cargrim scowled.
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'It is no use talking further, my lord,' he said roughly.
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'As I have acted like a fool, I must take a fool's wages.
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But as you take up such a position, I shall be brief.
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'Leave the Church?'
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echoed Cargrim, in dismay.
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'I have said it.
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'Guilty?
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I am guilty of nothing.
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'Do you call malice, falsehood, dissimulation nothing?
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'You may have the will, but you have not the power.
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'Fallen condition, my lord?
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'Yes, poor lad!
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fallen not only as a priest, but as a man.
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However, I shall plead no more.
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Now go, Michael.
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Go!
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Repent—and pray.
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'You magnify my paltry sins,' he flung back.
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'What of your own great ones?
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'Dare you, wretched man, to speak against your spiritual head!'
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'Go!
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Quit my sight, lest I cast you out from amongst us!
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Go!
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CHAPTER XXXVIII - EXIT MR CARGRIM.
Once informed of the welcome truth, Dr Pendle lost no time in having it verified by documents and extraneous evidence. This was not the affair of hours, but of days, since it entailed a visit to St Chad's Church at Hampstead, and a rigorous examination of the original marriage and death certificates. Also, as Bosvile, alias Krant, alias Jentham was said to be a gipsy on the authority of Miss Whichello, and as the information that Baltic was in the confidence of Mother Jael had trickled through Brace and Graham to the bishop, the last named considered it advisable that the ex-sailor should be informed of the actual truth. Now that Dr Pendle was personally satisfied of the legality of his marriage, he had no hesitation in acquainting Baltic with his life-history, particularly as the man could obtain from Mother Jael an assurance, in writing if necessary, that Bosvile and Jentham were one and the same. For the satisfaction of all parties concerned, it was indispensable that proof positive should be procured, and the matter settled beyond all doubt. The position, as affecting both the private feelings and social status of Bishop and Mrs Pendle, was too serious a one to be dealt with otherwise than in the most circumspect manner.
After Miss Whichello's visit and revelation, Dr Pendle immediately sought out his wife to explain that after all doubts and difficulties, and lies and forgeries, they were as legally bound to one another as any couple in the three Kingdoms; that their children were legitimate and could bear their father's name, and that the evil which had survived the death of its author was now but shadow and wind—in a word, non-existent. Mrs Pendle, who had borne the shock of her pseudo husband's resurrection so bravely, was quite overwhelmed by the good news of her re-established position, and fainted outright when her husband broke it to her. But for Lucy's sake—as the bishop did not wish Lucy to know, or even suspect anything—she afterwards controlled her feelings better, and, relieved from the apprehension of coming danger, speedily recovered her health and spirits. She was thus, at a week's end, enabled to attend in the library a council of six people summoned by her husband to adjust the situation. The good bishop was nothing if not methodical and thorough; and he was determined that the matter of the false and true marriages should be threshed out to the last grain. Therefore, the council was held ex aequo et bono.
On this momentous occasion there were present the bishop himself and Mrs Pendle, who sat close beside his chair; also Miss Whichello, fluttered and anxious, in juxtaposition with Dr Graham; and Gabriel, who had placed himself near Baltic the sedate and solemn-faced. When all were assembled, the bishop lost no time in speaking of the business which had brought them together. He related in detail the imposture of Jentham, the murder by Mosk, who since had taken his own life, and the revelation of Miss Whichello, ending with the production of the documents proving the several marriages, and a short statement explaining the same.
'Here,' said Dr Pendle, 'is the certificate of marriage between Pharaoh Bosvile and Ann Whichello, dated December 1869. They lived together as man and wife for six months up to May 1870, after which Bosvile deserted the unhappy lady.
'After spending all her money, the wretch!' put in Miss Whichello, angrily.
'Bosvile!' continued the bishop, 'had previously made the acquaintance of my wife, then Amy Lancaster, under the false name of Stephen Krant; and so far won her love that, thinking him a single man, she consented to marry him.
'No, bishop,' contradicted Mrs Pendle, very positively, 'he did not win my love; he fascinated me with his good looks and charming manners, for in spite of the scar on his cheek Stephen was very handsome. Some friend introduced him to my father as a Hungarian exile hiding under the name of Krant from Austrian vengeance; and my father, enthusiastic on the subject of patriotism, admitted him to our house. I was then a weak, foolish girl, and his wicked brilliancy drew me towards him. When he learned that I had money of my own he proposed to marry me. My father objected, but I was infatuated by Stephen's arts, and became his wife in October 1870.
'Quite so, my love,' assented her husband, mildly; 'as an inexperienced girl you were at the mercy of that Belial. You were married as you say in October 1870; here, to prove that statement, is the certificate,' and the bishop passed it to Baltic. 'But at the time of such marriage Mrs Bosvile was still alive. Miss Whichello can vouch for this important fact!
'Ah! that I can,' sighed the little old lady, shaking her head. 'My poor darling sister did not die until January 1871, and I was present to close her weary—weary eyes. Is not that the certificate of her death you are holding?
'Yes,' answered the bishop, simply, and gave the paper into her outstretched hand. 'You can now understand, my friends,' he continued, addressing the company generally, 'that as Mrs Bosvile was alive in October 1870, the marriage which her husband then contracted with Miss Lancaster was a false one.
'That is clear enough,' murmured the attentive Baltic, nodding.
'It thus appears,' resumed the bishop, concisely, 'that when I married—as I thought—Amy Krant, a widow, in September 1871, I really and truly wedded Amy Lancaster, a spinster. Therefore this lady'—and here the bishop clasped tenderly the hand of Mrs Pendle—'is my true, dear wife, and has been legally so these many years, notwithstanding Bosvile's infamous assertion to the contrary.
'Thank God! thank God!' cried Mrs Pendle, with joyful tears. 'Gabriel, my darling boy!' and she stretched out her disengaged hand to caress her son. Gabriel kissed it with unconcealed emotion.
In the meantime, Dr Graham was examining the bishop's marriage certificate with sharp attention, as he thought he espied a flaw. 'Pardon me, my dear Pendle,' said he, in his crisp voice, 'but I see that Mrs Pendle became your wife under a name which we now know was not then her own. Does that false name vitiate the marriage?
'By no means,' replied the bishop, promptly. 'I took counsel's opinion on that point when I was in London. It is as follows'—and Dr Pendle read an extract from a legal-looking document. '"A marriage which is made in ignorance in a false name is perfectly good. The law on the subject appears to be this—If a person, to conceal his or her identity, assumes either a wrong name or description, so as to practically obtain a secret marriage, the marriage is void; but if the wrong name or description is adopted by accident or innocently, the marriage is good." Therefore,' added Dr Pendle, placing the paper on one side, 'Mrs Pendle was not Bosvile's wife on two distinct grounds. Firstly, because his true wife was alive when he married her. Secondly, because he fraudulently made her his wife by giving a false name and description. Regarding my own marriage, it is a good one in law, because Mrs Pendle's false name of Krant was adopted in all innocence. There is no court in the realm of Great Britain,' concluded the bishop, with conviction, 'that would not uphold my marriage as true and lawful, and God be thanked that such is the case!
'God be thanked!' said Gabriel, in his turn, and said it with heartfelt earnestness. Graham, bubbling over with pleasure, jumped up in his restless way, and gave a friendly hand in turn to Dr Pendle and his wife. 'I congratulate you both, my dear friends,' said he, not without emotion. 'You have won through your troubles at last, and can now live in much-deserved peace for the rest of your lives. Deus nobis haec otia fecit! Hey, bishop, you know the Mantuan. Well, well, you have paid forfeit to the gods, Pendle, and they will no longer envy your good fortune, or seek to destroy it.
'Graham, Graham,' said the bishop, with kindly tolerance, 'always these Pagan sentiments.
'Ay! ay! I am a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn,' quoted the doctor, rubbing his hands. 'Well, we cannot all be bishops.
'We can all be Christians,' said Baltic, gravely.
'Ah!' retorted Graham. 'What we should be, and what we are, Mr Baltic, are points capable of infinite discussion. At present we should be smiling and thankful, which,' added he, breaking off, 'Miss Whichello is not, I regret to see.
'I am thinking of my poor sister,' sobbed the old lady. 'How do I know but that the villain did not deceive her also by making her his wife under a false name?
'No, madam!' interposed Baltic, eagerly. 'Bosvile was the man's true name, therefore he was legally your sister's husband. I wrote down a statement by Mother Jael that Jentham was really Pharaoh Bosvile, and, at my request, she signed the same. Here it is, signed by her and witnessed by me. I shall give it to you, my lord, that you may lock it up safely with those certificates.
'Thank you, Mr Baltic,' said the bishop, taking the slip of paper tendered by the missionary, 'but I trust that—er—that this woman knows little of the truth.
'She knows nothing, my lord, save that Bosvile, for his own purposes, took the names of Amaru and Jentham at different times. The rogue was cunning enough to keep his own counsel of his life amongst the Gentiles; of his marriages, false and true, Mother Jael is ignorant. Set your mind at rest, sir, she will never trouble you in any way.
'Good!' said Dr Pendle, drawing a long breath of relief. 'Then, as such is the case, my friends, I think it advisable that we should keep our knowledge of Bosvile's iniquities to ourselves. I do not wish my son George or my daughter Lucy to learn the sad story of the past. Such knowledge would only vex them unnecessarily.
'And I'm sure I don't want Mab to know what a villain her father was,' broke in Miss Whichello. 'Thank God she is unlike him in every way, save that she takes after him in looks. When Captain Pendle talks of Mab's rich Eastern beauty, I shiver all over; he little knows that he speaks the truth, and that Mab has Arab blood in her veins.
'Not Arab blood, my dear lady,' cried Graham, alertly; 'the gipsies do not come from Arabia, but, as is believed, from the north of India. They appeared in Europe about the fifteenth century, calling themselves, falsely enough, Egyptians. But both Borrow and Leland are agreed that—.
'I don't want to hear about the gipsies,' interrupted Miss Whichello, cutting short the doctor's disquisition; 'all I know is, that if Bosvile or Jentham, or whatever he called himself, is a sample of them, they are a wicked lot of Moabites. I wonder the bishop lets his son marry the child of one, I do indeed!
'Dear Miss Whichello,' said Mrs Pendle, putting her arm round the poor lady's neck, 'both the bishop and myself are proud that Mab should become our daughter and George's wife. And after all,' she added naively, 'neither of them will ever know the truth!
'I hope not, I'm sure,' wept Miss Whichello.' I buried that miserable man at my own expense, as he was Mab's father. And I have had a stone put up to him, with his last name, "Jentham," inscribed on it, so that no one might ask questions, which would have been asked had I written his real name.
'No one will ask questions,' said the bishop, soothingly, 'and if they do, no answers will be forthcoming; we are all agreed on that point.
'Quite agreed,' answered Baltic, as spokesman for the rest; 'we shall let the dead past bury its dead, and God bless the future.
'Amen!' said Dr Pendle, and bowed his grey head in a silence more eloquent than words.
So far the rough was made smooth, with as much skill as could be exercised by mortal brains; but after Dr Pendle had dismissed his friends there yet remained to him an unpleasant task, the performance of which, in justice to himself, could not longer be postponed. This was the punishment and dismissal of Michael Cargrim, who indeed merited little leniency at the hands of the man whose confidence he had so shamefully abused. Serpents should be crushed, traitors should be punished, however unpleasant may be the exercise of the judicial function; for to permit evil men to continue in their evil-doing is to encourage vicious habits detrimental to the well-being of humanity. The more just the judge, the more severe should he be towards such calculating sinners, lest, infected by example, mankind should become even more corrupt than it is. Bishop Pendle was a kindly man, who wished to think the best of his fellow-creatures, and usually did so; but he could not blind himself to the base and plotting nature of Cargrim; and, for the sake of his family, for the well-being of the Church, for the benefit of the schemer himself, he summoned him to receive rebuke and punishment. He was not now the patron, the benefactor; but the judge, the ecclesiastical superior, severe and impartial.
Cargrim obeyed the summons unwillingly enough, as he knew very well that he was about to receive the righteous reward of his deeds. A day or so before, when lamenting to Baltic that Dr Pendle had proved innocent, the man had rebuked him for his baseness, and had given him to understand that the bishop was fully aware of the contemptible part which he had acted. Deserted by his former ally, ignorant of Dr Pendle's secret, convinced of Mosk's guilt, the chaplain was in anything but a pleasant position. He was reaping what he had so industriously sown; he was caught in his own snare, and saw no way of defending his conduct. In a word, he was ruined, and now stood before his injured superior with pale face and hanging head, ready to be blamed and sentenced without uttering one word on his own behalf. Nor, had he possessed the insolence to do so, could he have thought of that one necessary word.
'Michael,' said the bishop, mildly, 'I have been informed by Mr Baltic that you accused me of a terrible crime. May I ask on what grounds you did so?
Cargrim made no reply, but, flushing and paling alternately, looked shamefaced at the carpet.
'I must answer myself, I see,' continued Dr Pendle, after a short silence; 'you thought that because I met Jentham on the heath to pay him some money I murdered him in the viciousness of my heart. Why should you think so ill of me, my poor boy? Have I not stood in the place of your father? Have I not treated you as my own son? You know that I have. And my reward is, that these many weeks you have been secretly trying to ruin me. Even had I been guilty,' cried the bishop, raising his voice, 'it was not your place to proclaim the shame of one who has cherished you. If you had such wicked thoughts in your heart, why did you not come boldly before me and accuse me to my face? I should then have known how to answer you. I can forgive malice—yes, even malice—but not deceit. Did you never think of my delicate wife, of my innocent family, when plotting and scheming my ruin with a smiling face? Alas! alas! Michael, how could you act in a way so unworthy of a Christian, of a gentleman?
'What is the use of crying over spilt milk?' said Cargrim, doggedly. 'You have the advantage now and can do what you will.
'What do you mean by talking like that?' said the bishop, sternly. 'Have the advantage now indeed; I never lost the advantage, sir, so far as you are concerned. I did not murder that wretched man, for you know that Mosk confessed how he shot him for the sake of the money I gave him. I knew of Jentham in other days, under another name, and when he asked me for money I gave it to him. My reason for doing so I do not choose to tell you, Mr Cargrim. It is not your right to question my actions. I am not only your elder, but your ecclesiastic superior, to whom, as a priest, you are bound to yield obedience. That obedience I now exact. You must suffer for your sins.
'You can't hurt me,' returned Cargrim, with defiance.
'I have no wish to hurt you,' answered the bishop, mildly; 'but for your own good you must be punished; and punish you I will so far as lies in my power.
'I am ready to be punished, my lord; you have the whip hand, so I must submit.
'Michael, Michael, harden not your heart! Repent of your wickedness if it is in you to do so. I cannot spare you if I would. Bonis nocet quis quis pepercerit malis; that is a true saying which, as a priest, I should obey, and which I intend to obey if only for your own benefit. After punishment comes repentance and amendment.
Cargrim scowled. 'It is no use talking further, my lord,' he said roughly. 'As I have acted like a fool, I must take a fool's wages.
'You are indeed a fool,' rejoined the bishop, coldly, 'and an ungrateful fool to boot, or you would not thus answer one who has your interest at heart. But as you take up such a position, I shall be brief. You must leave my house at once, and, for very shame, I should advise you to leave the Church.
'Leave the Church?' echoed Cargrim, in dismay.
'I have said it. As a bishop, I cannot entrust to a guilty man the care of immortal souls.
'Guilty? I am guilty of nothing.
'Do you call malice, falsehood, dissimulation nothing?
'You cannot unfrock me for what I have done,' said Cargrim, evading a direct reply. 'You may have the will, but you have not the power.
Dr Pendle looked at him in amazement 'Yours is indeed an evil heart, when you can use such language to me,' he said sorrowfully. 'I see that it is useless to argue with you in your present fallen condition.
'Fallen condition, my lord?
'Yes, poor lad! fallen not only as a priest, but as a man. However, I shall plead no more. Go where you will, do what you will, although I advise you once more not to insult an offended God by offering prayers for others which you need for yourself. Yet, as I am unwilling that you should starve, I shall instruct my banker in London to pay you a monthly sum of money until you are beyond want. Now go, Michael. I am bitterly disappointed in you; and by your own acts you have put it out of my power to keep you by my side. Go! Repent—and pray.
The chaplain, with a look of malice on his face, walked, or rather slunk, towards the door. 'You magnify my paltry sins,' he flung back. 'What of your own great ones?
'Dare you, wretched man, to speak against your spiritual head!' thundered the bishop, starting to his feet, vested with the imperious authority of the Church. 'Go! Quit my sight, lest I cast you out from amongst us! Go!
Before the blaze of that righteous wrath, Cargrim, livid and trembling, crept away like a beaten hound.