en-es  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 17
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THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME (1900).

CHAPTER XVII - A CLERICAL DETECTIVE.
All this time Mr Michael Cargrim had not been idle. On hearing of the murder, his thoughts had immediately centred themselves on the bishop. To say that the chaplain was shocked is to express his feelings much too mildly; he was horrified! thunderstruck! terrified! in fact, there was no word in the English tongue strong enough to explain his superlative state of mind. It was characteristic of the man's malignant nature that he was fully prepared to believe in Dr Pendle's guilt without hearing any evidence for or against this opinion. He was aware that Jentham had been cognisant of some weighty secret concerning the bishop's past, for the concealing of which he was to have been bribed, and when the report of the murder reached the chaplain's ears, he quite believed that in place of paying the sum agreed upon, Dr Pendle had settled accounts with the blackmailer by shooting him. Cargrim took this extreme view of the matter for two reasons; firstly, because he had gathered from the bishop's movements, and Jentham's talk of Tom Tiddler's ground, that a meeting on Southberry Heath had been arranged between the pair; secondly, because no money was found on the dead body, which would have been the case had the bribe been paid. To the circumstantial evidence that the turned-out pockets pointed to robbery, Mr Cargrim, at the moment, strangely enough, paid no attention.
In considering the case, Cargrim's wish was very much the father to the thought, for he desired to believe in the bishop's guilt, as the knowledge of it would give him a great deal of power over his ecclesiastical superior. If he could only collect sufficient evidence to convict Dr Pendle of murdering Jentham, and could show him the links in the chain of circumstances by which he arrived at such a conclusion, he had little doubt but that the bishop, to induce him to hide the crime, would become his abject slave. To gain such an immense power, and use it for the furtherance of his own interests, Cargrim was quite prepared to compound a possible felony; so the last case of the bishop would be worse than the first. Instead of being in Jentham's power he would be in Cargrim's; and in place of taking the form of money, the blackmail would assume that of influence. So Mr Cargrim argued the case out; and so he determined to shape his plans: yet he had a certain hesitancy in taking the first step. He had, as he firmly believed, a knowledge that Dr Pendle was a murderer; yet although the possession of such a secret gave him unlimited power, he was afraid to use it, for its mere exercise in the present lack of material evidence to prove its truth was a ticklish job. Cargrim felt like a man gripping a comet by its tail, and doubtful whether to hold on or let go. However, this uncertain state of things could be remedied by a strict examination into the circumstances of the case; therefore Cargrim set his mind to searching them out. He had been present at the inquest, but none of the witnesses brought forward by the bungling Tinkler had made any statement likely to implicate the bishop. Evidently no suspicion connecting Dr Pendle with Jentham existed in the minds of police or public. Cargrim could have set such a rumour afloat by a mere hint that the dead man and the bishop's strange visitor on the night of the reception had been one and the same; but he did not think it judicious to do this. He wanted the bishop's secret to be his alone, and the more spotless was Dr Pendle's public character, the more anxious he would be to retain it by becoming Cargrim's slave in order that the chaplain might be silent regarding his guilt. But to obtain such an advantage it was necessary for Cargrim to acquaint himself with the way in which Dr Pendle had committed the crime. And this, as he was obliged to work by stealth, was no easy task.
After some cogitation the wily chaplain concluded that it would be best to hear the general opinion of the Beorminster gossips in order to pick up any stray scraps of information likely to be of use to him. Afterwards he intended to call on Mr Inspector Tinkler and hear officially the more immediate details of the case. By what he heard from the police and the social prattlers, Cargrim hoped to be guided in constructing his case against Dr Pendle. Then there was the bishop's London journey; the bishop's cheque-book with its missing butt; the bishop's journey to and from Southberry on the day and night when the murder had been committed; all these facts would go far to implicate him in the matter. Also Cargrim desired to find the missing pistol, and the papers which had evidently been taken from the corpse. This last idea was purely theoretical, as was Cargrim's fancy that Jentham's power over Dr Pendle had to do with certain papers. He argued from the fact that the pockets of the dead man's clothes had been turned inside out. Cargrim did not believe that the bishop had paid the blackmail, therefore the pockets could not have been searched for the money; the more so, as no possible robber could have known that Jentham would be possessed of a sum worth committing murder for on that night. On the other hand, if Jentham had possessed papers which inculpated the bishop in any crime, it was probable that, after shooting him, the assassin had searched for, and had obtained, the papers to which he attached so much value. It was the bishop who had turned the pockets inside out, and, as Cargrim decided, for the above reason. Certainly, from a commonsense point of view, Cargrim's theory, knowing what he did know, was feasible enough.
Having thus arrived at a point where it was necessary to transmute thought into action, Mr Cargrim assumed his best clerical uniform, his tallest and whitest jam-pot collar, and drew on a pair of delicate lavender gloves. Spotless and neat and eminently sanctimonious, the chaplain took his demure way towards Mrs Pansey's residence, as he judged very rightly that she would be the most likely person to afford him possible information. The archdeacon's widow lived on the outskirts of Beorminster, in a gloomy old barrack of a mansion, surrounded by a large garden, which in its turn was girdled by a high red brick wall with broken glass bottles on the top, as though Mrs Pansey dwelt in a gaol, and was on no account to be allowed out. Had such a thing been possible, the whole of Beorminster humanity, rich and poor, would willingly have subscribed large sums to build the wall higher, and to add spikes to the glass bottles. Anything to keep Mrs Pansey in her gaol, and prevent her issuing forth as a social scourge.
Into the gaol Mr Cargrim was admitted with certain solemnity by a sour-faced footman whose milk of human kindness had turned acid in the thunderstorms of Mrs Pansey's spite. This engaging Cerberus conducted the chaplain into a large and sepulchral drawing-room in which the good lady and Miss Norsham were partaking of afternoon tea. Mrs Pansey wore her customary skirts of solemn black, and looked more gloomy than ever; but Daisy, the elderly sylph, brightened the room with a dress of white muslin adorned with many little bows of white ribbon, so that—sartorially speaking—she was very young, and very virginal, and quite angelical in looks. Both ladies were pleased to see their visitor and received him warmly in their several ways; that is, Mrs Pansey groaned and Daisy giggled.
'Oh, how very nice of you to call, dear Mr Cargrim,' said the sylph. 'Mrs Pansey and I are positively dying to hear all about this very dreadful inquest. Tea?
'Thank you; no sugar. Ah!' sighed Mr Cargrim, taking his cup, 'it is a terrible thing to think that an inquest should be held in Beorminster on the slaughtered body of a human being. Bread and butter! thank you!
'It's a judgment,' declared Mrs Pansey, and devoured a buttery little square of toast with another groan louder than the first.
'Oh, do tell me who killed the poor thing, Mr Cargrim,' gushed Daisy, childishly.
'No one knows, Miss Norsham. The jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. You must excuse me if I speak too technically, but those are the precise words of the verdict.
'And very silly words they are!' pronounced the hostess, ex cathedrâ; 'but what can you expect from a parcel of trading fools?
'But, Mrs Pansey, no one knows who killed this man.
'They should find out, Mr Cargrim.
'They have tried to do so and have failed!
'That shows that what I say is true. Police and jury are fools,' said Mrs Pansey, with the triumphant air of one clinching an argument.
'Oh, dear, it is so very strange!' said the fair Daisy. 'I wonder really what could have been the motive for the murder?
'As the pockets were turned inside out,' said Mr Cargrim, 'it is believed that robbery was the motive.
'Rubbish!' said Mrs Pansey, shaking her skirts; 'there is a deal more in this crime than meets the eye.
'I believe general opinion is agreed upon that point,' said the chaplain, dryly.
'What is Miss Whichello's opinion?' demanded the archdeacon's widow. Cargrim could not suppress a start. It was strange that Mrs Pansey should allude to Miss Whichello, when he also had his suspicions regarding her knowledge of the dead man.
'I don't see what she has to do with it,' he said quietly, with the intention of arriving at Mrs Pansey's meaning.
'Ah! no more can anyone else, Mr Cargrim. But I know! I know!
'Know what? dear Mrs Pansey. Oh, really! you are not going to say that poor Miss Whichello fired that horrid pistol.
'I don't say anything, Daisy, as I don't want to figure in a libel action; but I should like to know why Miss Whichello went to the dead-house to see the body.
'Did she go there? are you sure?' exclaimed the chaplain, much surprised.
'I can believe my own eyes, can't I!' snapped Mrs Pansey. 'I saw her myself, for I was down near the police-station the other evening on one of my visits to the poor. There, while returning home by the dead-house, I saw that hussy of a Bell Mosk making eyes at a policeman, and I recognised Miss Whichello for all her veil.
'Did she wear a veil?
'I should think so; and a very thick one. But if she wants to do underhand things she should change her bonnet and cloak. I knew them! don't tell me!
Certainly, Miss Whichello's actions seemed suspicious; and, anxious to learn their meaning from the lady herself, Cargrim mentally determined to visit the Jenny Wren house after leaving Mrs Pansey, instead of calling on Miss Tancred, as he had intended. However, he was in no hurry; and, asking Daisy for a second cup of tea to prolong his stay, went on drawing out his hostess.
'How very strange!' said he, in allusion to Miss Whichello. 'I wonder why she went to view so terrible a sight as that man's body.
'Ah!' replied Mrs Pansey, with a shake of her turban, 'we all want to know that. But I'll find her out; that I will.
'But, dear Mrs Pansey, you don't think sweet Miss Whichello has anything to do with this very dreadful murder?
'I accuse no one, Daisy. I simply think!
'What do you think?' questioned Cargrim, rather sharply.
'I think—what I think,' was Mrs Pansey's enigmatic response; and she shut her mouth hard. Honestly speaking, the artful old lady was as puzzled by Miss Whichello's visit to the dead-house as her hearers, and she could bring no very tangible accusation against her, but Mrs Pansey well knew the art of spreading scandal, and was quite satisfied that her significant silence—about nothing—would end in creating something against Miss Whichello. When she saw Cargrim look at Daisy, and Daisy look back to Cargrim, and remembered that their tongues were only a degree less venomous than her own, she was quite satisfied that a seed had been sown likely to produce a very fertile crop of baseless talk. The prospect cheered her greatly, for Mrs Pansey hated Miss Whichello as much as a certain personage she quoted on occasions is said to hate holy water.
'You are quite an Ear of Dionysius,' said the chaplain, with a complimentary smirk; 'everything seems to come to you.
'I make it my business to know what is going on, Mr Cargrim,' replied the lady, much gratified, 'in order to stem the torrent of infidelity, debauchery, lying and flattery which rolls through this city.
'Oh, dear me! how strange it is that the dear bishop saw nothing of this frightful murder,' exclaimed Daisy, who had been reflecting. 'He rode back from Southberry late on Sunday night, I hear.
'His lordship saw nothing, I am sure,' said Cargrim, hastily, for it was not his design to incriminate Dr Pendle; 'if he had, he would have mentioned it to me. And you know, Miss Norsham, there was quite a tempest on that night, so even if his lordship had passed near the scene of the murder, he could not have heard the shot of the assassin or the cry of the victim. The rain and thunder would in all human probability have drowned both.
'Besides which his lordship is neither sharp-eared nor observant,' said Mrs Pansey, spitefully; 'a man less fitted to be a bishop doesn't live.
'Oh, dear Mrs Pansey! you are too hard on him.
'Rubbish! don't tell me! What about his sons, Mr Cargrim? Did they hear anything?
'I don't quite follow you, Mrs Pansey.
'Bless the man, I'm talking English, I hope. Both George and Gabriel Pendle were on Southberry Heath on Sunday night.
'Are you sure!' cried the chaplain, doubtful if he heard aright.
'Of course I am sure,' snorted the lady. 'Would I speak so positively if I wasn't? No, indeed. I got the news from my page-boy.
'Really! from that sweet little Cyril!
'Yes, from that worthless scamp Cyril! Cyril,' repeated Mrs Pansey, with a snort, 'the idea of a pauper like Mrs Jennings giving her brat such a fine name. Well, it was Cyril's night out on Sunday, and he did not come home till late, and then made his appearance very wet and dirty. He told me that he had been on Southberry Heath and had been almost knocked into a ditch by Mr Pendle galloping past. I asked him which Mr Pendle had been out riding on Sunday, and he declared that he had seen them both—George about eight o'clock when he was on the Heath, and Gabriel shortly after nine, as he was coming home. I gave the wretched boy a good scolding, no supper, and a psalm to commit to memory!
'George and Gabriel Pendle riding on Southberry Heath on that night,' said the chaplain, thoughtfully; 'it is very strange.
'Strange!' almost shouted Mrs Pansey, 'it's worse than strange—it's Sabbath-breaking—and their father riding also. No wonder the mystery of iniquity doth work, when those high in the land break the fourth commandment; are you going, Mr Cargrim?
'Yes! I am sorry to leave such charming company, but I have an engagement. Good-bye, Miss Norsham; your tea was worthy of the fair hands which made it. Good-bye, Mrs Pansey. Let us hope that the authorities will discover and punish this unknown Cain.
'Cain or Jezebel,' said Mrs Pansey, darkly, 'it's one or the other of them.
Whether the good lady meant to indicate Miss Whichello by the second name, Mr Cargrim did not stay to inquire, as he was in a hurry to see her himself and find out why she had visited the dead-house. He therefore bowed and smiled himself out of Mrs Pansey's gaol, and walked as rapidly as he was able to the little house in the shadow of the cathedral towers. Here he found Miss Whichello all alone, as Mab had gone out to tea with some friends. The little lady welcomed him warmly, quite ignorant of what a viper she was inviting to warm itself on her hearth, and visitor and hostess were soon chattering amicably on the most friendly of terms.
Gradually Cargrim brought round the conversation to Mrs Pansey and mentioned that he had been paying her a visit.
'I hope you enjoyed yourself, I'm sure, Mr Cargrim,' said Miss Whichello, good-humouredly, 'but it gives me no pleasure to visit Mrs Pansey.
'Well, do you know, Miss Whichello, I find her rather amusing. She is a very observant lady, and converses wittily about what she observes.
'She talks scandal, if that is what you mean.
'I am afraid that word is rather harsh, Miss Whichello.
'It may be, sir, but it is rather appropriate—to Mrs Pansey! Well! and who was she talking about to-day?
'About several people, my dear lady; yourself amongst the number.
'Indeed!' Miss Whichello drew her little body up stiffly. 'And had she anything unpleasant to say about me?
'Oh, not at all. She only remarked that she saw you visiting the dead-house last week.
Miss Whichello let fall her cup with a crash, and turned pale. 'How does she know that?' was her sharp question.
'She saw you,' repeated the chaplain; 'and in spite of your veil she recognised you by your cloak and bonnet.
'I am greatly obliged to Mrs Pansey for the interest she takes in my business,' said Miss Whichello, in her most stately manner. 'I did visit the Beorminster dead-house. There!
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THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME (1900).
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CHAPTER XVII - A CLERICAL DETECTIVE.
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All this time Mr Michael Cargrim had not been idle.
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thunderstruck!
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terrified!
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And this, as he was obliged to work by stealth, was no easy task.
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'Oh, how very nice of you to call, dear Mr Cargrim,' said the sylph.
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Tea?
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'Thank you; no sugar.
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Ah!'
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Bread and butter!
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thank you!
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'No one knows, Miss Norsham.
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'And very silly words they are!'
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'But, Mrs Pansey, no one knows who killed this man.
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'They should find out, Mr Cargrim.
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'They have tried to do so and have failed!
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'That shows that what I say is true.
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'Oh, dear, it is so very strange!'
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said the fair Daisy.
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'I wonder really what could have been the motive for the murder?
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'Rubbish!'
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'What is Miss Whichello's opinion?'
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demanded the archdeacon's widow.
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Cargrim could not suppress a start.
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'Ah!
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no more can anyone else, Mr Cargrim.
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But I know!
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I know!
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'Know what?
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dear Mrs Pansey.
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Oh, really!
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'Did she go there?
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are you sure?'
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exclaimed the chaplain, much surprised.
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'I can believe my own eyes, can't I!'
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snapped Mrs Pansey.
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'Did she wear a veil?
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'I should think so; and a very thick one.
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I knew them!
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don't tell me!
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'How very strange!'
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said he, in allusion to Miss Whichello.
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'I wonder why she went to view so terrible a sight as that man's body.
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'Ah!'
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But I'll find her out; that I will.
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'I accuse no one, Daisy.
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I simply think!
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'What do you think?'
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questioned Cargrim, rather sharply.
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'Oh, dear me!
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'He rode back from Southberry late on Sunday night, I hear.
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The rain and thunder would in all human probability have drowned both.
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'Oh, dear Mrs Pansey!
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you are too hard on him.
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'Rubbish!
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don't tell me!
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What about his sons, Mr Cargrim?
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Did they hear anything?
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'I don't quite follow you, Mrs Pansey.
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'Bless the man, I'm talking English, I hope.
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Both George and Gabriel Pendle were on Southberry Heath on Sunday night.
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'Are you sure!'
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cried the chaplain, doubtful if he heard aright.
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'Of course I am sure,' snorted the lady.
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'Would I speak so positively if I wasn't?
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No, indeed.
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I got the news from my page-boy.
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'Really!
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from that sweet little Cyril!
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'Yes, from that worthless scamp Cyril!
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'Strange!'
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'Yes!
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I am sorry to leave such charming company, but I have an engagement.
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Good-bye, Mrs Pansey.
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'Well, do you know, Miss Whichello, I find her rather amusing.
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'She talks scandal, if that is what you mean.
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'I am afraid that word is rather harsh, Miss Whichello.
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'It may be, sir, but it is rather appropriate—to Mrs Pansey!
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Well!
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and who was she talking about to-day?
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'About several people, my dear lady; yourself amongst the number.
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'Indeed!'
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Miss Whichello drew her little body up stiffly.
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'And had she anything unpleasant to say about me?
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'Oh, not at all.
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She only remarked that she saw you visiting the dead-house last week.
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Miss Whichello let fall her cup with a crash, and turned pale.
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'How does she know that?'
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was her sharp question.
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'I did visit the Beorminster dead-house.
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There!
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Welcome dear translators, this is a novel we started to translate on Duolingo.
If you join us without having already worked on this novel, you will find some interesting informations about the characters, the former chapters and the synopsis in the tab « discussion » of this text.

THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME (1900).

CHAPTER XVII - A CLERICAL DETECTIVE.
All this time Mr Michael Cargrim had not been idle. On hearing of the murder, his thoughts had immediately centred themselves on the bishop. To say that the chaplain was shocked is to express his feelings much too mildly; he was horrified! thunderstruck! terrified! in fact, there was no word in the English tongue strong enough to explain his superlative state of mind. It was characteristic of the man's malignant nature that he was fully prepared to believe in Dr Pendle's guilt without hearing any evidence for or against this opinion. He was aware that Jentham had been cognisant of some weighty secret concerning the bishop's past, for the concealing of which he was to have been bribed, and when the report of the murder reached the chaplain's ears, he quite believed that in place of paying the sum agreed upon, Dr Pendle had settled accounts with the blackmailer by shooting him. Cargrim took this extreme view of the matter for two reasons; firstly, because he had gathered from the bishop's movements, and Jentham's talk of Tom Tiddler's ground, that a meeting on Southberry Heath had been arranged between the pair; secondly, because no money was found on the dead body, which would have been the case had the bribe been paid. To the circumstantial evidence that the turned-out pockets pointed to robbery, Mr Cargrim, at the moment, strangely enough, paid no attention.
In considering the case, Cargrim's wish was very much the father to the thought, for he desired to believe in the bishop's guilt, as the knowledge of it would give him a great deal of power over his ecclesiastical superior. If he could only collect sufficient evidence to convict Dr Pendle of murdering Jentham, and could show him the links in the chain of circumstances by which he arrived at such a conclusion, he had little doubt but that the bishop, to induce him to hide the crime, would become his abject slave. To gain such an immense power, and use it for the furtherance of his own interests, Cargrim was quite prepared to compound a possible felony; so the last case of the bishop would be worse than the first. Instead of being in Jentham's power he would be in Cargrim's; and in place of taking the form of money, the blackmail would assume that of influence. So Mr Cargrim argued the case out; and so he determined to shape his plans: yet he had a certain hesitancy in taking the first step. He had, as he firmly believed, a knowledge that Dr Pendle was a murderer; yet although the possession of such a secret gave him unlimited power, he was afraid to use it, for its mere exercise in the present lack of material evidence to prove its truth was a ticklish job. Cargrim felt like a man gripping a comet by its tail, and doubtful whether to hold on or let go. However, this uncertain state of things could be remedied by a strict examination into the circumstances of the case; therefore Cargrim set his mind to searching them out. He had been present at the inquest, but none of the witnesses brought forward by the bungling Tinkler had made any statement likely to implicate the bishop. Evidently no suspicion connecting Dr Pendle with Jentham existed in the minds of police or public. Cargrim could have set such a rumour afloat by a mere hint that the dead man and the bishop's strange visitor on the night of the reception had been one and the same; but he did not think it judicious to do this. He wanted the bishop's secret to be his alone, and the more spotless was Dr Pendle's public character, the more anxious he would be to retain it by becoming Cargrim's slave in order that the chaplain might be silent regarding his guilt. But to obtain such an advantage it was necessary for Cargrim to acquaint himself with the way in which Dr Pendle had committed the crime. And this, as he was obliged to work by stealth, was no easy task.
After some cogitation the wily chaplain concluded that it would be best to hear the general opinion of the Beorminster gossips in order to pick up any stray scraps of information likely to be of use to him. Afterwards he intended to call on Mr Inspector Tinkler and hear officially the more immediate details of the case. By what he heard from the police and the social prattlers, Cargrim hoped to be guided in constructing his case against Dr Pendle. Then there was the bishop's London journey; the bishop's cheque-book with its missing butt; the bishop's journey to and from Southberry on the day and night when the murder had been committed; all these facts would go far to implicate him in the matter. Also Cargrim desired to find the missing pistol, and the papers which had evidently been taken from the corpse. This last idea was purely theoretical, as was Cargrim's fancy that Jentham's power over Dr Pendle had to do with certain papers. He argued from the fact that the pockets of the dead man's clothes had been turned inside out. Cargrim did not believe that the bishop had paid the blackmail, therefore the pockets could not have been searched for the money; the more so, as no possible robber could have known that Jentham would be possessed of a sum worth committing murder for on that night. On the other hand, if Jentham had possessed papers which inculpated the bishop in any crime, it was probable that, after shooting him, the assassin had searched for, and had obtained, the papers to which he attached so much value. It was the bishop who had turned the pockets inside out, and, as Cargrim decided, for the above reason. Certainly, from a commonsense point of view, Cargrim's theory, knowing what he did know, was feasible enough.
Having thus arrived at a point where it was necessary to transmute thought into action, Mr Cargrim assumed his best clerical uniform, his tallest and whitest jam-pot collar, and drew on a pair of delicate lavender gloves. Spotless and neat and eminently sanctimonious, the chaplain took his demure way towards Mrs Pansey's residence, as he judged very rightly that she would be the most likely person to afford him possible information. The archdeacon's widow lived on the outskirts of Beorminster, in a gloomy old barrack of a mansion, surrounded by a large garden, which in its turn was girdled by a high red brick wall with broken glass bottles on the top, as though Mrs Pansey dwelt in a gaol, and was on no account to be allowed out. Had such a thing been possible, the whole of Beorminster humanity, rich and poor, would willingly have subscribed large sums to build the wall higher, and to add spikes to the glass bottles. Anything to keep Mrs Pansey in her gaol, and prevent her issuing forth as a social scourge.
Into the gaol Mr Cargrim was admitted with certain solemnity by a sour-faced footman whose milk of human kindness had turned acid in the thunderstorms of Mrs Pansey's spite. This engaging Cerberus conducted the chaplain into a large and sepulchral drawing-room in which the good lady and Miss Norsham were partaking of afternoon tea. Mrs Pansey wore her customary skirts of solemn black, and looked more gloomy than ever; but Daisy, the elderly sylph, brightened the room with a dress of white muslin adorned with many little bows of white ribbon, so that—sartorially speaking—she was very young, and very virginal, and quite angelical in looks. Both ladies were pleased to see their visitor and received him warmly in their several ways; that is, Mrs Pansey groaned and Daisy giggled.
'Oh, how very nice of you to call, dear Mr Cargrim,' said the sylph. 'Mrs Pansey and I are positively dying to hear all about this very dreadful inquest. Tea?
'Thank you; no sugar. Ah!' sighed Mr Cargrim, taking his cup, 'it is a terrible thing to think that an inquest should be held in Beorminster on the slaughtered body of a human being. Bread and butter! thank you!
'It's a judgment,' declared Mrs Pansey, and devoured a buttery little square of toast with another groan louder than the first.
'Oh, do tell me who killed the poor thing, Mr Cargrim,' gushed Daisy, childishly.
'No one knows, Miss Norsham. The jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. You must excuse me if I speak too technically, but those are the precise words of the verdict.
'And very silly words they are!' pronounced the hostess, ex cathedrâ; 'but what can you expect from a parcel of trading fools?
'But, Mrs Pansey, no one knows who killed this man.
'They should find out, Mr Cargrim.
'They have tried to do so and have failed!
'That shows that what I say is true. Police and jury are fools,' said Mrs Pansey, with the triumphant air of one clinching an argument.
'Oh, dear, it is so very strange!' said the fair Daisy. 'I wonder really what could have been the motive for the murder?
'As the pockets were turned inside out,' said Mr Cargrim, 'it is believed that robbery was the motive.
'Rubbish!' said Mrs Pansey, shaking her skirts; 'there is a deal more in this crime than meets the eye.
'I believe general opinion is agreed upon that point,' said the chaplain, dryly.
'What is Miss Whichello's opinion?' demanded the archdeacon's widow. Cargrim could not suppress a start. It was strange that Mrs Pansey should allude to Miss Whichello, when he also had his suspicions regarding her knowledge of the dead man.
'I don't see what she has to do with it,' he said quietly, with the intention of arriving at Mrs Pansey's meaning.
'Ah! no more can anyone else, Mr Cargrim. But I know! I know!
'Know what? dear Mrs Pansey. Oh, really! you are not going to say that poor Miss Whichello fired that horrid pistol.
'I don't say anything, Daisy, as I don't want to figure in a libel action; but I should like to know why Miss Whichello went to the dead-house to see the body.
'Did she go there? are you sure?' exclaimed the chaplain, much surprised.
'I can believe my own eyes, can't I!' snapped Mrs Pansey. 'I saw her myself, for I was down near the police-station the other evening on one of my visits to the poor. There, while returning home by the dead-house, I saw that hussy of a Bell Mosk making eyes at a policeman, and I recognised Miss Whichello for all her veil.
'Did she wear a veil?
'I should think so; and a very thick one. But if she wants to do underhand things she should change her bonnet and cloak. I knew them! don't tell me!
Certainly, Miss Whichello's actions seemed suspicious; and, anxious to learn their meaning from the lady herself, Cargrim mentally determined to visit the Jenny Wren house after leaving Mrs Pansey, instead of calling on Miss Tancred, as he had intended. However, he was in no hurry; and, asking Daisy for a second cup of tea to prolong his stay, went on drawing out his hostess.
'How very strange!' said he, in allusion to Miss Whichello. 'I wonder why she went to view so terrible a sight as that man's body.
'Ah!' replied Mrs Pansey, with a shake of her turban, 'we all want to know that. But I'll find her out; that I will.
'But, dear Mrs Pansey, you don't think sweet Miss Whichello has anything to do with this very dreadful murder?
'I accuse no one, Daisy. I simply think!
'What do you think?' questioned Cargrim, rather sharply.
'I think—what I think,' was Mrs Pansey's enigmatic response; and she shut her mouth hard. Honestly speaking, the artful old lady was as puzzled by Miss Whichello's visit to the dead-house as her hearers, and she could bring no very tangible accusation against her, but Mrs Pansey well knew the art of spreading scandal, and was quite satisfied that her significant silence—about nothing—would end in creating something against Miss Whichello. When she saw Cargrim look at Daisy, and Daisy look back to Cargrim, and remembered that their tongues were only a degree less venomous than her own, she was quite satisfied that a seed had been sown likely to produce a very fertile crop of baseless talk. The prospect cheered her greatly, for Mrs Pansey hated Miss Whichello as much as a certain personage she quoted on occasions is said to hate holy water.
'You are quite an Ear of Dionysius,' said the chaplain, with a complimentary smirk; 'everything seems to come to you.
'I make it my business to know what is going on, Mr Cargrim,' replied the lady, much gratified, 'in order to stem the torrent of infidelity, debauchery, lying and flattery which rolls through this city.
'Oh, dear me! how strange it is that the dear bishop saw nothing of this frightful murder,' exclaimed Daisy, who had been reflecting. 'He rode back from Southberry late on Sunday night, I hear.
'His lordship saw nothing, I am sure,' said Cargrim, hastily, for it was not his design to incriminate Dr Pendle; 'if he had, he would have mentioned it to me. And you know, Miss Norsham, there was quite a tempest on that night, so even if his lordship had passed near the scene of the murder, he could not have heard the shot of the assassin or the cry of the victim. The rain and thunder would in all human probability have drowned both.
'Besides which his lordship is neither sharp-eared nor observant,' said Mrs Pansey, spitefully; 'a man less fitted to be a bishop doesn't live.
'Oh, dear Mrs Pansey! you are too hard on him.
'Rubbish! don't tell me! What about his sons, Mr Cargrim? Did they hear anything?
'I don't quite follow you, Mrs Pansey.
'Bless the man, I'm talking English, I hope. Both George and Gabriel Pendle were on Southberry Heath on Sunday night.
'Are you sure!' cried the chaplain, doubtful if he heard aright.
'Of course I am sure,' snorted the lady. 'Would I speak so positively if I wasn't? No, indeed. I got the news from my page-boy.
'Really! from that sweet little Cyril!
'Yes, from that worthless scamp Cyril! Cyril,' repeated Mrs Pansey, with a snort, 'the idea of a pauper like Mrs Jennings giving her brat such a fine name. Well, it was Cyril's night out on Sunday, and he did not come home till late, and then made his appearance very wet and dirty. He told me that he had been on Southberry Heath and had been almost knocked into a ditch by Mr Pendle galloping past. I asked him which Mr Pendle had been out riding on Sunday, and he declared that he had seen them both—George about eight o'clock when he was on the Heath, and Gabriel shortly after nine, as he was coming home. I gave the wretched boy a good scolding, no supper, and a psalm to commit to memory!
'George and Gabriel Pendle riding on Southberry Heath on that night,' said the chaplain, thoughtfully; 'it is very strange.
'Strange!' almost shouted Mrs Pansey, 'it's worse than strange—it's Sabbath-breaking—and their father riding also. No wonder the mystery of iniquity doth work, when those high in the land break the fourth commandment; are you going, Mr Cargrim?
'Yes! I am sorry to leave such charming company, but I have an engagement. Good-bye, Miss Norsham; your tea was worthy of the fair hands which made it. Good-bye, Mrs Pansey. Let us hope that the authorities will discover and punish this unknown Cain.
'Cain or Jezebel,' said Mrs Pansey, darkly, 'it's one or the other of them.
Whether the good lady meant to indicate Miss Whichello by the second name, Mr Cargrim did not stay to inquire, as he was in a hurry to see her himself and find out why she had visited the dead-house. He therefore bowed and smiled himself out of Mrs Pansey's gaol, and walked as rapidly as he was able to the little house in the shadow of the cathedral towers. Here he found Miss Whichello all alone, as Mab had gone out to tea with some friends. The little lady welcomed him warmly, quite ignorant of what a viper she was inviting to warm itself on her hearth, and visitor and hostess were soon chattering amicably on the most friendly of terms.
Gradually Cargrim brought round the conversation to Mrs Pansey and mentioned that he had been paying her a visit.
'I hope you enjoyed yourself, I'm sure, Mr Cargrim,' said Miss Whichello, good-humouredly, 'but it gives me no pleasure to visit Mrs Pansey.
'Well, do you know, Miss Whichello, I find her rather amusing. She is a very observant lady, and converses wittily about what she observes.
'She talks scandal, if that is what you mean.
'I am afraid that word is rather harsh, Miss Whichello.
'It may be, sir, but it is rather appropriate—to Mrs Pansey! Well! and who was she talking about to-day?
'About several people, my dear lady; yourself amongst the number.
'Indeed!' Miss Whichello drew her little body up stiffly. 'And had she anything unpleasant to say about me?
'Oh, not at all. She only remarked that she saw you visiting the dead-house last week.
Miss Whichello let fall her cup with a crash, and turned pale. 'How does she know that?' was her sharp question.
'She saw you,' repeated the chaplain; 'and in spite of your veil she recognised you by your cloak and bonnet.
'I am greatly obliged to Mrs Pansey for the interest she takes in my business,' said Miss Whichello, in her most stately manner. 'I did visit the Beorminster dead-house. There!