en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 17 Hard
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Le secret de l’évêque de Fergus Hume (1900).

CHAPITRE XVII - UN DÉTECTIVE EN SOUTANE.
Pendant tout ce temps, M. Michael Cargrim n'était pas resté inactif. À l'annonce du meurtre, ses pensées s'étaient immédiatement focalisées sur l'évêque. Dire que l'aumônier avait été choqué est une façon bien trop douce d'exprimer ses sentiments, il était horrifié ! Abasourdi ! Terrifié ! En fait, il n'existait pas dans la langue anglaise un mot suffisamment fort pour illustrer son état d'esprit exceptionnel. Il était caractéristique de la nature maligne de cet homme, totalement prêt à croire en la culpabilité du révérend Pendle sans avoir entendu aucun argument en faveur ou en défaveur de cette opinion. Il savait que Jentham avait eu connaissance d'un lourd secret relatif au passé de l'évêque, pour la dissimulation duquel il aurait dû être payé, et lorsque la nouvelle du meurtre était arrivée aux oreilles de l'aumônier, celui-ci croyait vraiment qu'au lieu de payer la somme convenue, le révérend Pendle avait réglé ses comptes avec le maître-chanteur en lui tirant dessus. Cargrim prit cette opinion extrême de l'affaire pour deux raisons ; d'abord, parce qu'il avait recueilli les déplacements de l'évêque, et le propos de Jentham sur le terrain de Tom Tiddler, qu'un rendez-vous à Southberry Heath avait été organisé entre les deux ; deuxièmement, parce qu'aucun argent n'avait été trouvé sur le mort, ce qui aurait été le cas si le pot-de-vin avait été payé. Que l'indice des poches retournées puisse faire penser à un vol, curieusement M. Cargim n'y prêta à ce moment-là aucune attention.
Dans cette affaire, il prenait ses désirs pour des réalités car il voulait croire en la culpabilité de l'évêque car cette information lui procurerait un pouvoir énorme sur son supérieur ecclésiastique. S'il ne pouvait réunir des preuves suffisantes pour inculper le docteur Pendle du meurtre de Jentham et lui démontrer les liens dans l'enchaînement des circonstances par lesquelles il arrivait à une telle conclusion, il avait peu de doute que l'évêque pour l'inciter à cacher le crime, deviendrait son esclave servile. Pour atteindre ce pouvoir immense, et l'utiliser pour favoriser ses propres intérêts, Cargrim était totalement disposé à commettre une infraction grave. Ainsi cette dernière affaire concernant l'évêque serait pire que la première. À la place de se retrouver entre les mains de Jentham il se retrouverait entre celles de Cargrim, et la rançon au lieu d'être en espèces prendrait la forme d'une domination. M. Cargrim examina donc la question et arrêta son plan, pourtant il eut une certaine hésitation à poser le premier jalon. Il savait, il en était convaincu, que l'évêque Pendle était un meurtrier, et bien que la détention d'un tel secret lui donna un pouvoir illimité, il craignait de s'en servir, car dans cette simple démarche, le manque de preuve pour faire éclater la vérité rendait cette mission délicate. Cargrim se sentait comme un homme qui saisit une comète par la queue et qui n'est pas certain de la retenir ou de la laisser partir. Cependant, un examen minutieux des circonstances de cette affaire permettrait de pallier ces incertitudes, c'est pourquoi Cargrim se décida à les étudier. Il avait été présent lors de l'audience, mais aucun des témoins convoqués par le bedonnant Tinkler n'avait fait la moindre déclaration susceptible d'impliquer l'évêque. À l'évidence, aucun soupçon de lien entre l'évêque Pendle et Jentham n'avait surgit dans l'esprit de la police ou du public. Cargrim aurait pu faire planer une telle rumeur par une simple suggestion, que le mort et l'étrange visiteur de l'évêque la nuit de la réception avaient été les mêmes ; mais il ne pensait pas judicieux de le faire. Il désirait avoir le secret de l'évêque pour lui seul, et, plus l'image publique du Dr Pendle était irréprochable, plus il se montrerait soucieux de la préserver en devenant l'esclave de Cargrim afin que l'aumônier reste muet sur sa culpabilité. Mais pour obtenir un tel avantage, il fallait que Cargrim se familiarise avec la manière dont le révérend Pendle avait commis le crime. Et cela, comme il était obligé de travailler dans la discrétion, n'était pas une tâche aisée.
Après quelque réflexion rassemblement, l'aumônier rusé conclut qu'il serait préférable d'entendre l'opinion générale des commères de Beorminster afin de récupérer des fragments d'informations susceptibles de lui être utiles. Ensuite, il prevoyait de faire appel à l'inspecteur Tinkler et d'entendre officiellement les détails plus immédiats de l'affaire. Grâce à ce qu'il avait appris de la police et des commérages locaux, Cargrim espérait être guidé dans l'élaboration de son enquête contre Monseigneur Pendle. Il y avait donc le voyage de l'évêque à Londres, le chéquier de l'évêque avec un talon manquant, le trajet aller-retour à Southberry durant la journée et la nuit où le meurtre avait été commis, tous ces faits concouraient grandement à l'impliquer dans cette affaire. Cargrim désirait également retrouver le pistolet manquant ainsi que les papiers qui, de toute évidence, avait été pris sur le cadavre. Cette dernière idée était purement théorique car il plaisait à Cargrim de penser que Jentham tenait l'évêque Pendle en son pouvoir grâce à des papiers compromettants. Il se basait sur le fait que les poches des vêtements du défunt avaient été retournées. Cargrim ne croyait pas que l'évêque avait payé la rançon, c'est pourquoi les poches ne pouvaient pas avoir été fouillées à la recherche de l'argent, d'autant plus que l'éventuel meurtrier n'aurait pas pu savoir que Jentham aurait pu être en possession d'une somme justifiant son meurtre ce soir-là. D'autre part, si Jentham avait été en possession de documents permettant d'inculper l'évêque dans un crime quelconque, il est probable qu'après lui avoir tiré dessus, l'assassin ait recherché et trouvé ces papiers auxquels il attachait une telle importance. C'était l'évêque qui avait retourné les poches et ce, conclut Cargrim, pour la raison citée précédemment. Certainement, d'un point de vue logique, la théorie de Cargrim, sachant ce qu'il savait, tenait plutôt bien la route.
Étant ainsi parvenu à l'instant donné où il était nécessaire de traduire les pensées en actions, M. Cargrim endossa son plus bel habit ecclésiastique, son col clérical le plus haut et le plus blanc, et enfila une paire de gants fins couleur lavande. Immaculé, soigné et éminemment benoît, l’aumônier se dirigea avec une attitude discrète vers la demeure de Mme Pansey, jugeant avec beaucoup d'à-propos qu'elle serait la personne la plus susceptible de lui apporter d'éventuelles informations. La veuve de l'archidiacre vivait dans la banlieue de Beorminster, dans un hôtel aux allures de baraque ancienne et sinistre entouré par d'un grand jardin ceint d'un haut mur de briques rouges avec des tessons de bouteilles à son sommet, comme si Mme Pansey vivait dans une prison et n'était en aucun cas autorisée à en sortir. Si un telle chose avait été possible, l'entière communauté de Beorminster, riche ou pauvre, aurait volontiers souscrit des sommes importantes afin de construire un mur plus élevé, et ajouter des pointes aux bouteilles en verre. Tout pour garder Mme Pansey dans sa prison, et l'empêcher de se répandre tel un fléau social.
M. Cargrim fut introduit avec une certaine solennité dans la prison par un valet à l'air revêche dont la bonté humaine avait tourné à l'aigreur sous l'influence des accès de méchanceté orageuse de Mme Pansey. Ce Cerbère avenant conduisit l’aumônier à un vaste salon sépulcral dans lequel la charmante dame et Miss Norsham prenaient le thé de l'après-midi. Mme Pansey portait ses jupes d'un noir solennel habituelles, et semblait plus lugubre que jamais ; mais Daisy, la sylphide surannée, illuminait la pièce dans une robe de mousseline blanche ornée de nombreux petits rubans, de telle façon que, vestimentairement parlant, elle paraissait très jeune, très virginale, et d'apparence tout à fait angélique. Les deux dames furent ravies de voir le visiteur et elles le reçurent chaleureusement chacune à sa manière, c'est-à-dire que Mme Pansey poussa un grognement et que Daisy rit sottement.
— Oh, comme c'est aimable à vous de nous rendre visite, cher M. Cargrim, dit la sylphide. Mme Pansey et moi-même sommes totalement impatientes de tout apprendre sur cette enquête absolument épouvantable. Du thé ?
— Merci, sans sucre. Ah ! soupira M. Cargrim en prenant sa tasse, c'est terrible de penser qu'une autopsie va être pratiquée sur la dépouille mortelle d'un être humain à Beorminster. Du pain et du beurre ! Merci !
C'est une punition, déclara Mme Pansey, et elle engloutit un petit morceau de toast beurré en poussant un nouveau grognement plus sonore que le premier.
— Oh ! me direz-vous qui a tué ce pauvre gars, M. Cargrim, implora Daisy comme une enfant.
— Personne ne le sait, mademoiselle Norsham. Le jury a rendu un verdict de meurtre avec préméditation perpétré par une ou plusieurs personnes inconnues. Je vous prie de m'excuser si je parle de façon trop technique, mais ce sont les paroles exactes du verdict.
— Et ce sont des paroles bien stupides ! déclara l'hôtesse d'un ton doctoral, mais que peut-on attendre de ramassis de commerçants idiots.
— Mais Mme Pansey, personne ne sait qui a tué cet homme.
— Ils devraient le découvrir, M. Cargrim.
— Ils ont essayé de le faire et ont échoué !
— Cela confirme ce que j'ai dit. La police et le jury sont des idiots, dit Mme Pansey, avec l'air triomphant de quelqu'un portant l'argument décisif.
— Oh, Mon Dieu, c'est tellement étrange ! dit l'honorable Daisy. Je me demande ce qui a pu être le motif de ce meurtre ?
— Comme les poches avaient été retournées, dit M. Cargrim, on pense que le motif était le vol.
— Foutaises ! dit Mme Pansey, agitant ses jupons, il y a bien plus dans ce crime qu'il y parait.
— Je crois que l'opinion générale est convaincue de ce fait, dit l’aumônier sèchement.
— Quelle est l'opinion de mademoiselle Whichello ? demanda la veuve de l'archidiacre. Cargrim ne put s'empêcher de sursauter. Il était étrange que Mme Pansey fasse allusion à mademoiselle Whichello alors qu'il avait également quelques doutes concernant le fait qu'elle connaissait le défunt.
— Je ne vois pas ce qu'elle a à faire là-dedans, répondit-il calmement, dans le but de percer la pensée de Mme Pansey.
— Ah ! pas plus que n'importe qui, M. Cargrim. Mais je sais ! Je sais !
— Vous savez quoi ? chère Mme Pansey. — Oh non ! Vous n'allez pas dire que Mademoiselle Whichello a fait feu avec cet horrible pistolet.
— Je ne prétends rien du tout, Daisy, car je ne désire pas être poursuivie pour diffamation, mais j'aimerais bien savoir pourquoi Mademoiselle Whichello s'est rendue à la morgue pour voir le corps.
— Elle y est allée ? vous en êtes certaine ? s'exclama l'aumônier, très surpris.
— Je peux me fier à mes propres yeux, n'est-ce pas ! lança Mme Pansey. Je l'ai vue car je m'étais rendue près du poste de police l'autre soir pour une de mes visites aux pauvres. Et là, rentant chez moi en passant par la morgue, j'ai vu cette effrontée de Bell Mosk faire de l'œil à un policier et j'ai reconnu Mademoiselle Whichello à cause de son voile.
— Elle portait un voile ?
— Je pense bien et un très épais. Mais si elle veut agir en catimini, elle devrait changer de coiffe et de cape. Je les ai reconnues ! Ne me dites pas le contraire !
Les activités de mademoiselle Whichello semblaient de toute évidence suspicieuses ; et, anxieux d'apprendre leur signification de la bouche de la dame, Cargrim prit la résolution de se rendre à la maison de Jenny Wren en quittant Mme Pansey, au lieu de passer voir mademoiselle Tancred, comme il en avait l'intention. Cependant, il n'était pas pressé ; et, demandant à Daisy une deuxième tasse de thé afin de prolonger sa visite, il continua de faire parler son hôtesse.
— Comme c'est étrange ! dit-il, parlant de mademoiselle Whichello. Je me demande pourquoi elle est allée contempler une vision aussi terrible que celle d'un homme mort.
— Ah ! répondit Mme Pansey, agitant son turban, nous voulons tous le savoir. Mais je la démasquerai, ça oui.
— Mais, chère Mme Pansey, vous ne pensez pas que l'adorable mademoiselle Whichello a quoique ce soit à voir avec ce meurtre tout à fait abominable ?
— Je n'accuse personne, Daisy. Je pense simplement !
— Que pensez-vous ? demanda Cargrim, plutôt abruptement.
— Je pense... ce que je pense, répondit Mme Pansey de façon énigmatique, et elle se tut d'un air farouche. Franchement, la vieille dame rusée était aussi perplexe devant la visite de Miss Whichello à la morgue que ses auditeurs, et elle ne pouvait porter aucune réelle accusation à son encontre, mais Mme Pansey connaissait bien l'art de répandre la diffamation et elle était tout à fait convaincue que son silence entendu - sans objet - finirait par faire naître quelque chose en défaveur de Miss Whichello. Lorsqu'elle vit Cargrim regarder Daisy, et Daisy rendre son regard à Cargrim, se rappelant que leurs langues étaient seulement un degré moins venimeuses que la sienne, elle fut convaincu qu'une graine susceptible de produire une récolte fertile en racontars avait été semée. Elle se réjouit grandement de cette perspective, car Mme Pansey haïssait mademoiselle Whichello autant qu'un certain personnage qu'elle citait à l'occasion est réputé haïr l'eau bénite.
— Vous êtes vraiment une oreille de Denys, dit l'aumônier avec un petit sourire flatteur, tout semble venir à vous.
—Il est de mon devoir de savoir ce qui se passe, monsieur Cargrim, répondit la dame, très flattée, afin d'endiguer le torrent d'infidélité, de débauche, de mensonges et de flatteries qui traverse cette ville.
— Oh mon dieu ! Comme il est étrange que ce cher évêque n'ait rien vu au sujet de cet affreux meurtre, s'exclama Daisy sortant de sa réflexion. J'ai entendu dire qu'il revenait de Southberry, tard ce dimanche soir.
— Monseigneur n'a rien vu, j'en suis certain, dit Cargrim avec précipitation, car il n'était pas dans ses desseins incriminer le révérend Pendle ; et si c'était le cas, il me l'aurait signalé. Et vous savez, mademoiselle Norsham, il y avait une terrible tempête cette nuit-là, de telle sorte que si Monseigneur était passé près de la scène du meurtre, il n'aurait pas pu entendre le tir de l'assassin ou le cri de sa victime. La pluie et tonnerre auraient selon toute probabilité couverts les deux.
— En outre, Monseigneur n'a pas l'ouïe fine, pas plus qu'il n'est observateur, dit Mme Pansey avec méchanceté. Il n'existe pas d'homme sur terre moins apte à être évêque.
— Oh, chère Mme Pansey ! Vous êtes trop dure avec lui.
— Balivernes ! Ne me dites pas le contraire ! Qu'en est-il de ses fils, M. Cargrim ? Ont-ils entendu quelque chose ?
— Je ne vous suis pas vraiment, Mme Pansey.
— Bonté divine, je parle anglais j'espère ! George et Gabriel Pendle étaient tous les deux le dimanche soir à Southberry Heath.
— En êtes-vous certaine ! s'écria l'aumônier, doutant d'avoir bien entendu.
—Évidemment que j'en suis certaine, grogna la dame. Serais-je aussi catégorique si je ne l'étais pas ? Certainement pas. J'ai eu l'information par mon domestique.
— Vraiment ! Par ce charmant petit Cyril !
— Oui, par ce garnement de bon à rien de Cyril ! Cyril, répéta Mme Pansey dans un reniflement, quelle idée pour une pauvresse comme Mme Jennings de donner à son gosse un nom aussi raffiné. Eh bien, Cyril était de repos dans la soirée de dimanche, et il est rentré tard à la maison, et, qui plus est, il est arrivé extrêmement trempé et sale. Il m'a dit qu'il s'était rendu à Southberry Heath et qu'il avait failli être renversé dans un fossé par le révérend Pendle qui passait au galop. Je lui demandait où le révérend Pendle avait fait du cheval dimanche, et il déclara qu'il les avait vu tous deux - George vers huit heures lorsqu'il était sur la lande, et Gabriel, peu après neuf heures, alors qu'il rentrait chez lui. J'ai donné une bonne réprimande au misérable, pas de souper, et une psaume à apprendre par cœur !
— George et Gabriel Pendle chevauchant vers Southberry Heath cette nuit-là, dit songeusement l'aumônier, c'est très étrange.
— Étrange ! cria presque Mme Pansey, c'est pire qu'étrange, c'est une violation du dimanche saint, et leur père sur son cheval lui aussi. Pas surprenant que le mysterium iniquitatis oeuvre crie-t-il, quand ces nobles du pays rompent le quatrième commandement ; vous partez, M.Cargrim ?
— Oui ! Je suis désolé de quitter si charmante compagnie, mais j'ai un engagement. Au revoir mademoiselle Norsham ; votre thé était à la hauteur des mains delicates qui l'ont préparé. Au revoir, Mme Pansey. Espérons que les autorités découvriront et puniront ce Cain non identifié.
— Caïn ou Jezabel, dit Mme Pansy, sombrement, c'est l'un ou l'autre d'entre eux.
Si la bonne dame voulait désigner Mlle Whichello par ce second prénom, M. Cargrim ne resta pas pour s'en informer, car il était lui-même pressé de la rencontrer et de découvrir pourquoi elle s'était rendue à la morgue. C'est pourquoi, après un salut et un sourire, il sortit du repaire de Mme Pansey et marcha aussi rapidement qu'il le pût vers la petite maison située à l'ombre des tours de la cathédrale. Il y trouva Miss Whichello toute seule car Mab était sortie prendre le thé avec des amis. La petite dame le reçut cordialement, ignorant totalement quelle vipère elle accueillait en son sein, et très vite le visiteur et son hôtesse devisèrent aimablement dans des termes les plus amicaux.
Progressivement, Cargrim orienta la conversation vers Mme Pansey et indiqua qu'il lui avait rendu visite.
— J'espère que vous vous êtes diverti, j'en suis sûre, dit Miss Whichello malicieusement, mais cela ne me procure aucun plaisir de rendre visite à Mme Pansey.
— Eh bien vous savez, Miss Whichello, je la trouve plutôt amusante. C'est une femme très observatrice et elle parle de façon spirituelle de ses observations.
— Elle parle de scandales, si c'est ce que vous insinuez.
— Je crains que ce mot ne soit un peu méchant, Miss Whichello.
Sans doute, Monsieur, mais il convient parfaitement... à Mme Pansey ! Eh bien ! et de qui a-t-elle parlé aujourd’hui ?
— De plusieurs personnes, chère dame, dont vous faites partie.
— Vraiment ! Miss Whichello se redressa vivement sa silhouette menue. — Et avait-elle quelque chose de désagréable à dire à mon sujet ?
— Oh, pas du tout ! Elle a seulement mentionné vous avoir vue la semaine dernière vous rendre à la morgue.
Miss Whichello fit soudainement tomber sa tasse et pâlit. — Comment le sait-elle ? interrogea-t-elle abruptement.
— Elle vous a vue, répéta l'aumônier, et malgré votre voile, elle vous a reconnue à votre cape et à votre coiffe.
— Je suis très obligée de l'intérêt que Mme Pansey porte à mes occupations, déclara Miss Whichello, de sa manière la plus majestueuse. Je me suis en effet rendue à la morgue de Beorminster. Voilà !
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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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On hearing of the murder, his thoughts had immediately centred themselves on the bishop.
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To say that the chaplain was shocked is to express his feelings much too mildly; he was horrified!
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thunderstruck!
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terrified!
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Cargrim felt like a man gripping a comet by its tail, and doubtful whether to hold on or let go.
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Evidently no suspicion connecting Dr Pendle with Jentham existed in the minds of police or public.
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And this, as he was obliged to work by stealth, was no easy task.
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He argued from the fact that the pockets of the dead man's clothes had been turned inside out.
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Anything to keep Mrs Pansey in her gaol, and prevent her issuing forth as a social scourge.
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'Oh, how very nice of you to call, dear Mr Cargrim,' said the sylph.
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'Mrs Pansey and I are positively dying to hear all about this very dreadful inquest.
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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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'Oh, do tell me who killed the poor thing, Mr Cargrim,' gushed Daisy, childishly.
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'No one knows, Miss Norsham.
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The jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
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You must excuse me if I speak too technically, but those are the precise words of the verdict.
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'And very silly words they are!'
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pronounced the hostess, ex cathedrâ; 'but what can you expect from a parcel of trading fools?
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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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Police and jury are fools,' said Mrs Pansey, with the triumphant air of one clinching an argument.
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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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said Mrs Pansey, shaking her skirts; 'there is a deal more in this crime than meets the eye.
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'I believe general opinion is agreed upon that point,' said the chaplain, dryly.
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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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you are not going to say that poor Miss Whichello fired that horrid pistol.
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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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But if she wants to do underhand things she should change her bonnet and cloak.
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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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replied Mrs Pansey, with a shake of her turban, 'we all want to know that.
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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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'I think—what I think,' was Mrs Pansey's enigmatic response; and she shut her mouth hard.
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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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I gave the wretched boy a good scolding, no supper, and a psalm to commit to memory!
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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, Miss Norsham; your tea was worthy of the fair hands which made it.
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Good-bye, Mrs Pansey.
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Let us hope that the authorities will discover and punish this unknown Cain.
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'Cain or Jezebel,' said Mrs Pansey, darkly, 'it's one or the other of them.
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Here he found Miss Whichello all alone, as Mab had gone out to tea with some friends.
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'Well, do you know, Miss Whichello, I find her rather amusing.
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She is a very observant lady, and converses wittily about what she observes.
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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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THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME (1900)

This text will be uploaded on Translatihan, one chapter at a time, starting from chapter XVI, as the former chapters were translated on Duolingo before. Please follow each chapters’ link to the Translatihan text. Good translation.

List of the characters:
1. Miss Daisy Norsham, Belgravian spinster
2. Mrs. Pansey, an archdeacon's widow
3. Mr. George Pendle, Bishop, Dr. Pendle
4. Mrs. Amy Pendle, the bishop's wife, formerly Mrs. Creagth (widow)
5. Mr. George Pendle, bishop's son, officer, in love with Mab Arden
6. Mr. Gabriel Pendle, bishop's son, curate, allegedly chasing Miss Mosk
7. Miss Lucy Pendle, bishop's daughter
8. Sir Harry Brace, engaged to Lucy Pendle
9. Miss Mab Arden, most beautiful girl in Beorminster
10. Miss Whichello, Mab Arden's aunt
11. Mr. Michael Cargrim, bishop's chaplain, also likes Mab Arden
12. Dr. Graham, doctor, atheist, sceptic
13. Mr. William Mosk, the owner of the The Derby Winner pub
14. Mrs Mosk, his wife
15. Miss Bell Mosk, their daughter
16. Mr. Alder, dean, Dr. Alder
17. Miss Tancred, keeps telling the story about her lost purse
18. John, bishop's servant
19. Mr. Jentham, the man with the scar, the bearer of the bad news

Synopsis:
Bishop Pendle is the Church of England bishop in a small fictitious English cathedral town. Several years into his work, he receives a visit from a disreputable-looking visitor. The bishop is much upset. What transpired between them that has so upset the good churchman? And then there is the murder. Fergus Hume was one of the most prolific and most popular of 19th century novelists. "Mr. Hume won a reputation second to none for plot of the stirring, ingenious, misleading, and finally surprising kind, and for working out his plot in vigorous and picturesque English. In "The Bishop's Secret," while there is no falling off in plot and style, there is a welcome and marvelous broadening out as to the cast of characters, representing an unusually wide range of typical men and women. These are not laboriously described by the author, but are made to reveal themselves in action and speech in a way that has, for the reader, all the charm of personal intercourse with living people…."

TABLE OF CONTENTS https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Bishop%27s_Secret
PREFACE.
CHAPTER I. 'Enter Mrs Pansey As Chorus'
CHAPTER II. The Bishop Is Wanted
CHAPTER III. The Unforeseen Happens
CHAPTER IV. The Curiosity Of Mr Cargrim
CHAPTER V. The Derby Winner
CHAPTER VI. The Man With The Scar
CHAPTER VII. An Interesting Conversation
CHAPTER VIII. On Saturday Night
CHAPTER IX. An Exciting Adventure
CHAPTER X. Morning Service In The Minster
CHAPTER XI. Miss Whichello's Luncheon-party
CHAPTER XII. Bell Mosk Pays A Visit
CHAPTER XIII. A Stormy Night
CHAPTER XIV. 'Rumour Full Of Tongues'
CHAPTER XV. The Gipsy Ring
CHAPTER XVI. The Zeal Of Inspector Tinkler
CHAPTER XVII. A Clerical Detective
CHAPTER XVIII. The Chaplain On The Warpath
CHAPTER XIX. The Bishop's Request
CHAPTER XX. Mother Jael
CHAPTER XXI. Mrs Pansey's Festival
CHAPTER XXII. Mr Mosk Is Indiscreet
CHAPTER XXIII. In The Library
CHAPTER XXIV. The Bishop Asserts Himself
CHAPTER XXV. Mr Baltic, Missionary
CHAPTER XXVI. The Amazement Of Sir Harry Brace
CHAPTER XXVII. What Mother Jael Knew
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Return Of Gabriel
CHAPTER XXIX. The Confession Of Bishop Pendle
CHAPTER XXX. Blackmail
CHAPTER XXXI. Mr Baltic On The Trail
CHAPTER XXXII. The Initials
CHAPTER XXXIII. Mr Baltic Explains Himself
CHAPTER XXXIV. The Wages Of Sin
CHAPTER XXXV. The Honour Of Gabriel
CHAPTER XXXVI. The Rebellion Of Mrs Pendle
CHAPTER XXXVII. Dea Ex Machinâ
CHAPTER XXXVIII. Exit Mr Cargrim
CHAPTER XXXIX. All's Well That Ends Well

by francevw 1 year, 3 months ago

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!