en-es  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 29
For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.

CHAPTER XXIX - THE CONFESSION OF BISHOP PENDLE.
Mr Cargrim was very much out of temper, and Baltic was the cause of his unchristian state of mind. As the employer of the so-called missionary and actual inquiry agent, the chaplain expected to be informed of every fresh discovery, but with this view Baltic did not concur. In his solemn way he informed Cargrim that he preferred keeping his information and methods and suspicions to himself until he was sure of capturing the actual criminal. When the man was lodged in Beorminster Jail—when his complicity in the crime was proved beyond all doubt—then Baltic promised to write out, for the edification of his employer, a detailed account of the steps taken to bring about so satisfactory a result. And from this stern determination all Cargrim's arguments failed to move him.
This state of things was the more vexatious as Cargrim knew that the ex-sailor had seen Mother Jael, and shrewdly suspected that he had obtained from the beldam valuable information likely to incriminate the bishop. Whether his newly-found evidence did so or not, Baltic gravely declined to say, and Cargrim was furious at being left in ignorance. He was particularly anxious that Dr Pendle's guilt should be proved without loss of time, as Mr Leigh of Heathcroft was sinking rapidly, and on any day a new rector might be needed for that very desirable parish. Certainly Cargrim, as he fondly imagined, had thwarted Gabriel's candidature by revealing the young man's love for Bell Mosk to the bishop. Still, even if Gabriel were not nominated, Dr Pendle had plainly informed Cargrim that he need not expect the appointment, so the chaplain foresaw that unless he obtained power over the bishop before Leigh's death, the benefice would be given to some stranger. It was no wonder, then, that he resented the silence of Baltic and felt enraged at his own impotence. He almost regretted having sought the assistance of a man who appeared more likely to be a hindrance than a help. For once, Cargrim's scheming brain could devise no remedy.
Lurking about the library as usual, Mr Cargrim was much astonished to receive a visit from Dr Graham. Of course, the visit was to the bishop, but Cargrim, being alone in the library, came forward in his silky, obsequious way to receive the new-comer, and politely asked what he could do for him.
'You can inform the bishop that I wish to see him, if you please,' said Graham, with a perfectly expressionless face.
'His lordship is at present taking a short rest,' replied Cargrim, blandly, 'but anything I can do—.
'You can do nothing, Mr Cargrim. I wish for a private interview with Dr Pendle.
'Your business must be important.
'It is,' retorted Graham, abruptly; 'so important that I must see the bishop at once.
'Oh, certainly, doctor. I am sorry to see that you do not look well.
'Thank you; I am as well as can be expected.
'Really! considering what, Dr Graham?
'Considering the way I am kept waiting here, Mr Cargrim,' after which pointed speech there was nothing left for the defeated chaplain but to retreat as gracefully as he could. Yet Cargrim might have known, from past experience, that a duel of words with sharp-tongued Dr Graham could only end in his discomfiture. But in spite of all his cunning he usually burnt his fingers at a twice-touched flame.
Extremely curious to know the reason of Graham's unexpected visit and haggard looks, Cargrim, having informed the bishop that the doctor was waiting for him, attempted to make a third in the interview by gliding in behind his superior. Graham, however, was too sharp for him, and after a few words with the bishop, intimated to the chaplain that his presence was not necessary. So Cargrim, like the Peri at the Gates of Paradise, was forced to lurk as near the library door as he dared, and he strained his ears in vain to overhear what the pair were talking about. Had he known that the revelation of Bishop Pendle's secret formed the gist of the interview, he would have been even more enraged than he was. But, for the time being, Fate was against the wily chaplain, and, in the end, he was compelled to betake himself to a solitary and sulky walk, during which his reflections concerning Graham and Baltic were the reverse of amiable. As a defeated sneak, Mr Cargrim was not a credit to his cloth.
Dr Pendle had the bewildered air of a man suddenly roused from sleep, and was inclined to be peevish with Graham for calling at so untoward a time. Yet it was five o'clock in the afternoon, which was scarcely a suitable hour for slumber, as the doctor bluntly remarked.
'I was not asleep,' said the bishop, settling himself at his writing-table. 'I simply lay down for half-an-hour or so.
'Worn out with worry, I suppose?
'Yes,' Dr Pendle sighed; 'my burden is almost greater than I can bear.
'I quite agree with you,' replied Graham, 'therefore I have come to help you to bear it.
'That is impossible. To do so, you must know the truth, and—God help me!—I dare not tell it even to you.
'There is no need for you to do so, Pendle. I know your secret.
The bishop twisted his chair round with a rapid movement and stared at the sympathetic face of Graham with an expression of blended terror and amazement. Hardly could his tongue frame itself to speech.
'You—know—my—secret!' stuttered Pendle, with pale lips.
'Yes, I know that Krant did not die at Sedan as we supposed. I know that he returned to life—to Beorminster—to you, under the name of Jentham! Hold up, man! don't give way,' for the bishop, with a heavy sigh, had fallen forward on his desk, and, with his grey head buried in his arms, lay there silent and broken down in an agony of doubt, and fear and shame.
'Play the man, George Pendle,' said Graham, who knew that the father was more virile than the son, and therefore needed the tonic of words rather than the soothing anodyne of medicine. 'If you believe in what you preach, if you are a true servant of your God, call upon religion, upon your Deity, for help to bear your troubles. Stand up manfully, my friend, and face the worst!
'Alas! alas! many waters have gone over me, Graham.
'Can you expect anything else if you permit yourself to sink without an effort?' said the doctor, rather cynically; 'but if you cannot gain strength from Christianity, then be a Stoic, and independent of supernatural aid.
The bishop lifted his head and suddenly rose to his full height, until he towered above the little doctor. His pale face took upon itself a calmer expression, and stretching out his arm, he rolled forth a text from the Psalms in his deepest voice, in his most stately manner: 'In God is my salvation and my glory, the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God.
'Good!' said Graham, with a satisfied nod; 'that is the proper spirit in which to meet trouble. And now, Pendle, with your leave, we will approach the subject with more particularity.
'It will be as well,' replied the bishop, and he spoke collectedly and gravely, with no trace of his late excitement. When he most needed it, strength had come to him from above; and he was able to discuss the sore matter of his domestic troubles with courage and with judgment.
'How did you learn my secret, Graham?' he asked, after a pause.
'Indirectly from Gabriel.
'Gabriel,' said the bishop, trembling, 'is at Nauheim!
'You are mistaken, Pendle. He returned to Beorminster this morning, and as he was afraid to speak to you on the subject of Jentham, he came to ask my advice. The poor lad is broken down and ill, and is now lying in my consulting-room until I return.
'How did Gabriel learn the truth?' asked Pendle, with a look of pain.
'From something his mother said.
The bishop, in spite of his enforced calmness, groaned aloud. 'Does she know of it?' he murmured, while drops of perspiration beaded his forehead and betrayed his inward agony. 'Could not that shame be spared me?' 'Do not be hasty, Pendle, your wife knows nothing.
'Thank God!' said the bishop, fervently; then added, almost immediately, 'You say my wife. Alas! alas! that I dare not call her so.
'It is true, then?' asked Graham, becoming very pale.
'Perfectly true. Krant was not killed. Krant returned here under the name of Jentham. My wife is not my wife! My children are illegitimate; they have no name; outcasts they are. Oh, the shame! Oh, the disgrace!' and Dr Pendle groaned aloud.
Graham sympathised with the man's distress, which was surely natural under the terrible calamity which had befallen him and his. George Pendle was a priest, a prelate, but he was also a son of Adam, and liable, like all mortals, the strongest as the weakest, to moments of doubt, of fear, of trembling, of utter dismay. Had the evil come upon him alone, he might have borne it with more patience, but when it parted him from his dearly-loved wife, when it made outcasts of the children he was so proud of, who can wonder that he should feel inclined to cry with Job, 'Is it good unto Thee that Thou should'st oppress!' Nevertheless, like Job, the bishop held fast his integrity.
Yet that he might have some comfort in his affliction, that one pang might be spared to him, Graham assured him that Mrs Pendle was ignorant of the truth, and related in full the story of how Gabriel had come to connect Jentham with Krant. Pendle listened in silence, and inwardly thanked God that at least so much mercy had been vouchsafed him. Then in his turn he made a confidant of his old friend, recalled the early days of his courtship and marriage, spoke of the long interval of peace and quiet happiness which he and his wife had enjoyed, and ended with a detailed account of the disguised Krant's visit and threats, and the anguish his re-appearance had caused.
'You remember, Graham!' he said, with wonderful self-control, 'how almost thirty years ago I was the Vicar of St Benedict's in Marylebone, and how you, my old college friend, practised medicine in the same parish.
'I remember, Pendle; there is no need for you to make your heart ache by recalling the past.
'I must, my friend,' said the bishop, firmly, 'in order that you may fully understand my position. As you know, my dear wife—for I still must call her so—came to reside there under her married name of Mrs Krant. She was poor and unhappy, and when I called upon her, as the vicar of the parish, she told me her miserable story. How she had left her home and family for the sake of that wretch who had attracted her weak, girlish affections by his physical beauty and fascinating manners; how he treated her ill, spent the most of her money, and finally left her, within a year of the marriage, with just enough remaining out of her fortune to save her from starvation. She told me that Krant had gone to Paris, and was serving as a volunteer in the French army, while she, broken down and unhappy, had come to my parish to give herself to God and labour amongst the poor.
'She was a charming woman! She is so now!' said Graham, with a sigh. 'I do not wonder that you loved her.
'Loved, sir! Why speak in the past tense? I love her still. I shall always love that sweet companion of these many happy years. From the time I saw her in those poor London lodgings I loved her with all the strength of my manhood. But you know that, being already married, she could not be my wife. Then, shortly after the surrender of Sedan, that letter came to tell her that her husband was dead, and dying, had asked her pardon for his wicked ways. Alas! alas! that letter was false!
'We both of us believed it to be genuine at the time, Pendle, and you went over to France after the war to see the man's grave.
'I did, and I saw the grave—saw it with its tombstone, in a little Alsace graveyard, with the name Stephen Krant painted thereon in black German letters. I never doubted but that he lay below, and I looked far and wide for the man, Leon Durand, who had written that letter at the request of his dying comrade. I ask you, Graham, who would have disbelieved the evidence of letter and tombstone?
'No one, certainly!' replied Graham, gravely; 'but it was a pity that you could not find Leon Durand, so as to put the matter beyond all doubt.
'Find him!' echoed the bishop, passionately. 'No one on earth could have found the man. He did not exist.
'Then who wrote the letter?
'Krant himself, as he told me in this very room, the wicked plotter!
'But his handwriting; would not his wife have—.
'No!' cried Pendle, rising and pacing to and fro, greatly agitated, 'the man disguised his hand so that his wife should not recognise it. He did not wish to be bound to her, but to wander far and wide, and live his own sinful life. That was why he sent the forged letter to make Amy believe that he was dead. And she did believe, the more especially after I returned to tell how I had seen his grave. I thought also that he was dead. So did you, Graham.
'Certainly,' assented Graham, 'there was no reason to doubt the fact. Who would have believed that Krant was such a scoundrel?
'I called him that when he came to see me here,' said Dr Pendle, with a passionate gesture. 'Old man and priest as I am, I could have killed him as he sat in yonder chair, smiling at my misery, and taunting me with my position.
'How did he find out that you had married Mrs Krant?
'By going back to the Marylebone parish. He had been wandering all over the face of the earth, like the Cain he was; but meeting with no good fortune, he came back to England to find out Amy, and, I suppose, rob her of the little money he had permitted her to keep. He knew of her address in Marylebone, as she had told him where she was going before he deserted her.
'But how did he learn about the marriage?' asked Graham, again.
'I cannot tell; but he knew that his wife, after his desertion, devoted herself to good works, so no doubt he went to the church and asked about her. The old verger who saw us married is still alive, so I suppose he told Krant that Amy was my wife, and that I was the Bishop of Beorminster. But, however he learned the truth, he found his way here, and when I came into this room during the reception I found him waiting for me.
'How did you recognise a man you had not seen?
'By a portrait Amy had shown me, and by the description she gave me of his gipsy looks and the scar on his cheek. He had not altered at all, and I beheld before me the same wicked face I had seen in the portrait. I was confused at first, as I knew the face but not the name. When he told me that he was Stephen Krant, that my wife was really his wife, that my children had no name, I—I—oh, God!' cried Pendle, covering his face with his hands, 'it was terrible! terrible!
'My poor friend!
The bishop threw himself into a chair. 'After close on thirty years,' he moaned, 'think of it, Graham—the shame, the horror! Oh, God!
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CHAPTER XXIX - THE CONFESSION OF BISHOP PENDLE.
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For once, Cargrim's scheming brain could devise no remedy.
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'You can do nothing, Mr Cargrim.
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I wish for a private interview with Dr Pendle.
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'Your business must be important.
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'Oh, certainly, doctor.
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I am sorry to see that you do not look well.
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'Thank you; I am as well as can be expected.
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'Really!
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considering what, Dr Graham?
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As a defeated sneak, Mr Cargrim was not a credit to his cloth.
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'I simply lay down for half-an-hour or so.
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'Worn out with worry, I suppose?
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'Yes,' Dr Pendle sighed; 'my burden is almost greater than I can bear.
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'That is impossible.
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'There is no need for you to do so, Pendle.
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I know your secret.
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Hardly could his tongue frame itself to speech.
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'You—know—my—secret!'
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stuttered Pendle, with pale lips.
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'Yes, I know that Krant did not die at Sedan as we supposed.
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Hold up, man!
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Stand up manfully, my friend, and face the worst!
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'Alas!
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alas!
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many waters have gone over me, Graham.
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'Good!'
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'How did you learn my secret, Graham?'
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he asked, after a pause.
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'Indirectly from Gabriel.
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'Gabriel,' said the bishop, trembling, 'is at Nauheim!
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'You are mistaken, Pendle.
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'How did Gabriel learn the truth?'
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asked Pendle, with a look of pain.
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'From something his mother said.
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The bishop, in spite of his enforced calmness, groaned aloud.
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'Does she know of it?'
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'Could not that shame be spared me?'
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'Do not be hasty, Pendle, your wife knows nothing.
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'Thank God!'
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Alas!
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alas!
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that I dare not call her so.
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'It is true, then?'
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asked Graham, becoming very pale.
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'Perfectly true.
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Krant was not killed.
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Krant returned here under the name of Jentham.
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My wife is not my wife!
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My children are illegitimate; they have no name; outcasts they are.
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Oh, the shame!
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Oh, the disgrace!'
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and Dr Pendle groaned aloud.
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Nevertheless, like Job, the bishop held fast his integrity.
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'You remember, Graham!'
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'She was a charming woman!
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She is so now!'
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said Graham, with a sigh.
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'I do not wonder that you loved her.
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'Loved, sir!
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Why speak in the past tense?
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I love her still.
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I shall always love that sweet companion of these many happy years.
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But you know that, being already married, she could not be my wife.
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Alas!
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alas!
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that letter was false!
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'No one, certainly!'
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'Find him!'
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echoed the bishop, passionately.
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'No one on earth could have found the man.
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He did not exist.
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'Then who wrote the letter?
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'Krant himself, as he told me in this very room, the wicked plotter!
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'But his handwriting; would not his wife have—.
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'No!'
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I thought also that he was dead.
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So did you, Graham.
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'Certainly,' assented Graham, 'there was no reason to doubt the fact.
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Who would have believed that Krant was such a scoundrel?
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'How did he find out that you had married Mrs Krant?
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'By going back to the Marylebone parish.
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'But how did he learn about the marriage?'
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asked Graham, again.
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'How did you recognise a man you had not seen?
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I was confused at first, as I knew the face but not the name.
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cried Pendle, covering his face with his hands, 'it was terrible!
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terrible!
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'My poor friend!
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The bishop threw himself into a chair.
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Oh, God!
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For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.

CHAPTER XXIX - THE CONFESSION OF BISHOP PENDLE.
Mr Cargrim was very much out of temper, and Baltic was the cause of his unchristian state of mind. As the employer of the so-called missionary and actual inquiry agent, the chaplain expected to be informed of every fresh discovery, but with this view Baltic did not concur. In his solemn way he informed Cargrim that he preferred keeping his information and methods and suspicions to himself until he was sure of capturing the actual criminal. When the man was lodged in Beorminster Jail—when his complicity in the crime was proved beyond all doubt—then Baltic promised to write out, for the edification of his employer, a detailed account of the steps taken to bring about so satisfactory a result. And from this stern determination all Cargrim's arguments failed to move him.
This state of things was the more vexatious as Cargrim knew that the ex-sailor had seen Mother Jael, and shrewdly suspected that he had obtained from the beldam valuable information likely to incriminate the bishop. Whether his newly-found evidence did so or not, Baltic gravely declined to say, and Cargrim was furious at being left in ignorance. He was particularly anxious that Dr Pendle's guilt should be proved without loss of time, as Mr Leigh of Heathcroft was sinking rapidly, and on any day a new rector might be needed for that very desirable parish. Certainly Cargrim, as he fondly imagined, had thwarted Gabriel's candidature by revealing the young man's love for Bell Mosk to the bishop. Still, even if Gabriel were not nominated, Dr Pendle had plainly informed Cargrim that he need not expect the appointment, so the chaplain foresaw that unless he obtained power over the bishop before Leigh's death, the benefice would be given to some stranger. It was no wonder, then, that he resented the silence of Baltic and felt enraged at his own impotence. He almost regretted having sought the assistance of a man who appeared more likely to be a hindrance than a help. For once, Cargrim's scheming brain could devise no remedy.
Lurking about the library as usual, Mr Cargrim was much astonished to receive a visit from Dr Graham. Of course, the visit was to the bishop, but Cargrim, being alone in the library, came forward in his silky, obsequious way to receive the new-comer, and politely asked what he could do for him.
'You can inform the bishop that I wish to see him, if you please,' said Graham, with a perfectly expressionless face.
'His lordship is at present taking a short rest,' replied Cargrim, blandly, 'but anything I can do—.
'You can do nothing, Mr Cargrim. I wish for a private interview with Dr Pendle.
'Your business must be important.
'It is,' retorted Graham, abruptly; 'so important that I must see the bishop at once.
'Oh, certainly, doctor. I am sorry to see that you do not look well.
'Thank you; I am as well as can be expected.
'Really! considering what, Dr Graham?
'Considering the way I am kept waiting here, Mr Cargrim,' after which pointed speech there was nothing left for the defeated chaplain but to retreat as gracefully as he could. Yet Cargrim might have known, from past experience, that a duel of words with sharp-tongued Dr Graham could only end in his discomfiture. But in spite of all his cunning he usually burnt his fingers at a twice-touched flame.
Extremely curious to know the reason of Graham's unexpected visit and haggard looks, Cargrim, having informed the bishop that the doctor was waiting for him, attempted to make a third in the interview by gliding in behind his superior. Graham, however, was too sharp for him, and after a few words with the bishop, intimated to the chaplain that his presence was not necessary. So Cargrim, like the Peri at the Gates of Paradise, was forced to lurk as near the library door as he dared, and he strained his ears in vain to overhear what the pair were talking about. Had he known that the revelation of Bishop Pendle's secret formed the gist of the interview, he would have been even more enraged than he was. But, for the time being, Fate was against the wily chaplain, and, in the end, he was compelled to betake himself to a solitary and sulky walk, during which his reflections concerning Graham and Baltic were the reverse of amiable. As a defeated sneak, Mr Cargrim was not a credit to his cloth.
Dr Pendle had the bewildered air of a man suddenly roused from sleep, and was inclined to be peevish with Graham for calling at so untoward a time. Yet it was five o'clock in the afternoon, which was scarcely a suitable hour for slumber, as the doctor bluntly remarked.
'I was not asleep,' said the bishop, settling himself at his writing-table. 'I simply lay down for half-an-hour or so.
'Worn out with worry, I suppose?
'Yes,' Dr Pendle sighed; 'my burden is almost greater than I can bear.
'I quite agree with you,' replied Graham, 'therefore I have come to help you to bear it.
'That is impossible. To do so, you must know the truth, and—God help me!—I dare not tell it even to you.
'There is no need for you to do so, Pendle. I know your secret.
The bishop twisted his chair round with a rapid movement and stared at the sympathetic face of Graham with an expression of blended terror and amazement. Hardly could his tongue frame itself to speech.
'You—know—my—secret!' stuttered Pendle, with pale lips.
'Yes, I know that Krant did not die at Sedan as we supposed. I know that he returned to life—to Beorminster—to you, under the name of Jentham! Hold up, man! don't give way,' for the bishop, with a heavy sigh, had fallen forward on his desk, and, with his grey head buried in his arms, lay there silent and broken down in an agony of doubt, and fear and shame.
'Play the man, George Pendle,' said Graham, who knew that the father was more virile than the son, and therefore needed the tonic of words rather than the soothing anodyne of medicine. 'If you believe in what you preach, if you are a true servant of your God, call upon religion, upon your Deity, for help to bear your troubles. Stand up manfully, my friend, and face the worst!
'Alas! alas! many waters have gone over me, Graham.
'Can you expect anything else if you permit yourself to sink without an effort?' said the doctor, rather cynically; 'but if you cannot gain strength from Christianity, then be a Stoic, and independent of supernatural aid.
The bishop lifted his head and suddenly rose to his full height, until he towered above the little doctor. His pale face took upon itself a calmer expression, and stretching out his arm, he rolled forth a text from the Psalms in his deepest voice, in his most stately manner: 'In God is my salvation and my glory, the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God.
'Good!' said Graham, with a satisfied nod; 'that is the proper spirit in which to meet trouble. And now, Pendle, with your leave, we will approach the subject with more particularity.
'It will be as well,' replied the bishop, and he spoke collectedly and gravely, with no trace of his late excitement. When he most needed it, strength had come to him from above; and he was able to discuss the sore matter of his domestic troubles with courage and with judgment.
'How did you learn my secret, Graham?' he asked, after a pause.
'Indirectly from Gabriel.
'Gabriel,' said the bishop, trembling, 'is at Nauheim!
'You are mistaken, Pendle. He returned to Beorminster this morning, and as he was afraid to speak to you on the subject of Jentham, he came to ask my advice. The poor lad is broken down and ill, and is now lying in my consulting-room until I return.
'How did Gabriel learn the truth?' asked Pendle, with a look of pain.
'From something his mother said.
The bishop, in spite of his enforced calmness, groaned aloud. 'Does she know of it?' he murmured, while drops of perspiration beaded his forehead and betrayed his inward agony. 'Could not that shame be spared me?' 'Do not be hasty, Pendle, your wife knows nothing.
'Thank God!' said the bishop, fervently; then added, almost immediately, 'You say my wife. Alas! alas! that I dare not call her so.
'It is true, then?' asked Graham, becoming very pale.
'Perfectly true. Krant was not killed. Krant returned here under the name of Jentham. My wife is not my wife! My children are illegitimate; they have no name; outcasts they are. Oh, the shame! Oh, the disgrace!' and Dr Pendle groaned aloud.
Graham sympathised with the man's distress, which was surely natural under the terrible calamity which had befallen him and his. George Pendle was a priest, a prelate, but he was also a son of Adam, and liable, like all mortals, the strongest as the weakest, to moments of doubt, of fear, of trembling, of utter dismay. Had the evil come upon him alone, he might have borne it with more patience, but when it parted him from his dearly-loved wife, when it made outcasts of the children he was so proud of, who can wonder that he should feel inclined to cry with Job, 'Is it good unto Thee that Thou should'st oppress!' Nevertheless, like Job, the bishop held fast his integrity.
Yet that he might have some comfort in his affliction, that one pang might be spared to him, Graham assured him that Mrs Pendle was ignorant of the truth, and related in full the story of how Gabriel had come to connect Jentham with Krant. Pendle listened in silence, and inwardly thanked God that at least so much mercy had been vouchsafed him. Then in his turn he made a confidant of his old friend, recalled the early days of his courtship and marriage, spoke of the long interval of peace and quiet happiness which he and his wife had enjoyed, and ended with a detailed account of the disguised Krant's visit and threats, and the anguish his re-appearance had caused.
'You remember, Graham!' he said, with wonderful self-control, 'how almost thirty years ago I was the Vicar of St Benedict's in Marylebone, and how you, my old college friend, practised medicine in the same parish.
'I remember, Pendle; there is no need for you to make your heart ache by recalling the past.
'I must, my friend,' said the bishop, firmly, 'in order that you may fully understand my position. As you know, my dear wife—for I still must call her so—came to reside there under her married name of Mrs Krant. She was poor and unhappy, and when I called upon her, as the vicar of the parish, she told me her miserable story. How she had left her home and family for the sake of that wretch who had attracted her weak, girlish affections by his physical beauty and fascinating manners; how he treated her ill, spent the most of her money, and finally left her, within a year of the marriage, with just enough remaining out of her fortune to save her from starvation. She told me that Krant had gone to Paris, and was serving as a volunteer in the French army, while she, broken down and unhappy, had come to my parish to give herself to God and labour amongst the poor.
'She was a charming woman! She is so now!' said Graham, with a sigh. 'I do not wonder that you loved her.
'Loved, sir! Why speak in the past tense? I love her still. I shall always love that sweet companion of these many happy years. From the time I saw her in those poor London lodgings I loved her with all the strength of my manhood. But you know that, being already married, she could not be my wife. Then, shortly after the surrender of Sedan, that letter came to tell her that her husband was dead, and dying, had asked her pardon for his wicked ways. Alas! alas! that letter was false!
'We both of us believed it to be genuine at the time, Pendle, and you went over to France after the war to see the man's grave.
'I did, and I saw the grave—saw it with its tombstone, in a little Alsace graveyard, with the name Stephen Krant painted thereon in black German letters. I never doubted but that he lay below, and I looked far and wide for the man, Leon Durand, who had written that letter at the request of his dying comrade. I ask you, Graham, who would have disbelieved the evidence of letter and tombstone?
'No one, certainly!' replied Graham, gravely; 'but it was a pity that you could not find Leon Durand, so as to put the matter beyond all doubt.
'Find him!' echoed the bishop, passionately. 'No one on earth could have found the man. He did not exist.
'Then who wrote the letter?
'Krant himself, as he told me in this very room, the wicked plotter!
'But his handwriting; would not his wife have—.
'No!' cried Pendle, rising and pacing to and fro, greatly agitated, 'the man disguised his hand so that his wife should not recognise it. He did not wish to be bound to her, but to wander far and wide, and live his own sinful life. That was why he sent the forged letter to make Amy believe that he was dead. And she did believe, the more especially after I returned to tell how I had seen his grave. I thought also that he was dead. So did you, Graham.
'Certainly,' assented Graham, 'there was no reason to doubt the fact. Who would have believed that Krant was such a scoundrel?
'I called him that when he came to see me here,' said Dr Pendle, with a passionate gesture. 'Old man and priest as I am, I could have killed him as he sat in yonder chair, smiling at my misery, and taunting me with my position.
'How did he find out that you had married Mrs Krant?
'By going back to the Marylebone parish. He had been wandering all over the face of the earth, like the Cain he was; but meeting with no good fortune, he came back to England to find out Amy, and, I suppose, rob her of the little money he had permitted her to keep. He knew of her address in Marylebone, as she had told him where she was going before he deserted her.
'But how did he learn about the marriage?' asked Graham, again.
'I cannot tell; but he knew that his wife, after his desertion, devoted herself to good works, so no doubt he went to the church and asked about her. The old verger who saw us married is still alive, so I suppose he told Krant that Amy was my wife, and that I was the Bishop of Beorminster. But, however he learned the truth, he found his way here, and when I came into this room during the reception I found him waiting for me.
'How did you recognise a man you had not seen?
'By a portrait Amy had shown me, and by the description she gave me of his gipsy looks and the scar on his cheek. He had not altered at all, and I beheld before me the same wicked face I had seen in the portrait. I was confused at first, as I knew the face but not the name. When he told me that he was Stephen Krant, that my wife was really his wife, that my children had no name, I—I—oh, God!' cried Pendle, covering his face with his hands, 'it was terrible! terrible!
'My poor friend!
The bishop threw himself into a chair. 'After close on thirty years,' he moaned, 'think of it, Graham—the shame, the horror! Oh, God!