en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 20
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CHAPITRE XX - LA MÈRE JAEL.
Le docteur Graham n'était pas homme à faillir à mener à bien tous ses projets, et il ce qu'il avait promis à l'évêque serait dûment exécuté. Après une conversation assez longue avec Mme Pendle et sa fille, il avait réussi à éveiller leur intérêt pour Nauheim et ses bains, à tel point que lorsqu'il quitta le palais, elles étaient aussi désireuses de s'y rendre qu'elles l'avaient été de demeurer ici. Ce miracle apparent fut essentiellement réalisé par une habile utilisation de la passion qu'avait Mme Pendle pour l'expérimentation de nouvelles découvertes médicales en rapport avec à sa santé. Elle n'avait jamais essayé le traitement Scott pour la dilatation du cœur, et, en vérité, en avait peu entendu parlé ; mais une fois totalement informé sur le sujet, son intérêt pour celui-ci se trouva bientôt éveillé. Elle en vint bientôt à considérer la source carbolique de Nauheim comme une véritable fontaine de jouvence, et fut emplie d'espoir qu'en se baignant pendant quelques semaines dans ses eaux revitalisantes, elle rentrerait guérie, vigoureuse, et en pleine forme à Beorminster. Si jamais l'Espoir ne livra de conte enjôleur, il le fit pour Mme Pendle par les lèvres du rusé docteur Graham.
— Je pensais que vous ne saviez rien sur les nouveaux médicaments ou traitements, remarqua-t-elle avec grâce, ou que si vous en étiez informé, que vous étiez trop rétrograde pour les prescrire. Je vois que je me trompais.
Vous aviez incontestablement tort, Mme Pendle. Il n'y a qu'un idiot qui cesse d'acquérir des connaissances et d'en bénéficier. Je ne suis pas un chou même si je vis dans un potager.
Le consentement de Lucy fut obtenu grâce à la description élogieuse du bénéfice que sa mère tirerait des eaux de Nauheim et l'arrivée opportune de Sir Harry Brace contribua au résultat escompté. L'ardent soupirant afficha instantanément sa résolution de suivre Lucy jusqu'au bout du monde. Où que se trouvât Lucy, le jardin d'Eden s'épanouirait ; et tandis que Mme Pendle serait mise à mariner, massée puis couchée pour un sommeil réparateur, il espérait bien avoir sa future épouse pour lui seul. En sa douce compagnie, même l'ennuyeuse petite station balnéaire allemande serait un paradis. Cupidon est le seul faiseur de miracles en ces jours de scepticisme.
Tout va bien, cher évêque : dit le docteur d'un air victorieux. Les dames partiront, avec Brace à leur service, dès qu'elles auront réuni une armada de falbalas féminins.
— Je suis sincèrement heureux de l'entendre, dit le docteur Pendle qui poussa un soupir de soulagement — lequel fit hocher Graham de la tête —, et il fit une recommandation.
Vous devriez également entreprendre un voyage, Monseigneur, dit-il résolument, rien de tel que le changement contre la fatigue mentale.. Mon cher Évêque, allez à Bath, ou Putney, ou Jéricho ; voyager vous apaisera.
— Graham, je ne peux pas quitter Beorminster pour le moment. Quand je le pourrai, je suivrai votre conseil.
Le docteur haussa les épaules et se dirigea vers la porte. Puis il s'arrêta et, se retournant, regarda le visage attristé de l'évêque. Une pensée lui traversa l'esprit et il revint vers l'évêque.
— Pendle, dit-il gentiment, je suis votre plus vieil ami et quelqu'un qui vous honore et vous respecte plus que tout autre. Pourquoi ne pas me raconter vos problèmes et me laisser vous aider ? Je saurai garder votre secret, quel qu'il soit.
— Je n'en ai aucun doute, Graham. Si je pouvais faire confiance à quelqu'un, ce serait vous ; mais je ne peux pas vous dire mes pensées. Aucun résultat positif ne saurait naître d'une telle franchise car seul le Tout-Puissant peut me sortir de mes difficultés.
— S'agit-il de problèmes d'argent, cher Évêque ?
— Non, mes affaires terrestres sont des plus prospères.
— Ce n'est pas ce meurtre qui vous inquiète, je suppose ?
L’Évêque devint aussi pâle que le papier sur le bureau devant lui, et il agrippa convulsivement les accoudoirs de son fauteuil. Le... le meurtre ! balbutia-t-il, le meurtre, Graham. Pourquoi cela me troublerait-il?
Cargrim m'a dit que vous étiez fort contrarié qu'un tel événement se soit produit dans votre diocèse.
— Cela m'ennuie, répondit Pendle tout bas, mais ce n'ets pas la mort prématurée de ce malheureux homme qui me préoccupe.
— Alors, je renonce, dit le docteur, en haussant à nouveau les épaules.
— Graham!
— Oui, qu'y a-t-il?
— Pensez-vous qu'il y ait la moindre probabilité qu'on découvre le meurtrier de cet homme?
— Si l'affaire avait été traitée par un inspecteur de Londres alors que les indices étaient frais j'ose dire qu'il y aurait eu une chance, répliqua le docteur. Mais cette tête de linotte de Tinkler a mis une telle pagaille dans l'affaire que je suis certain que le meurtrier ne sera jamais arrêté.
Est-ce qu'on a découvert quelque chose de nouveau depuis l'enquête judiciaire?
— Rien. Autant que je sache, Tinkler est satisfait et l'affaire est close. Quiconque a tué Jentham n'a que sa propre conscience à craindre.
— Et Dieu. dit l'évêque doucement.
— J'ai toujours compris que ce que vous, les hommes d'Eglise, appelez la conscience était la petite voix calme de la Divinité, répliqua Graham,sèchement; cela ne sert à rien d'utiliser un pléonasme, l'évêque. Bien, au revoir, Monseigneur.
— Au revoir docteur, et mille mercis pour votre aimable assistance.
—De rien. Je souhaite seulement que vous me laissiez vous aider d'une manière ou d'une autre en me considérant comme votre ami et en soulageant votre pensée. Il y a une profonde vérité à laquelle vous devriez souscrire, cher évêque.
— Ah oui, laquelle ? demanda Pendle, avec indolence.
— Les membres du corps médical sont les confesseurs du Protestantisme. Au revoir !
Cargrim rôdait à l'extérieur de la bibliothèque, dans l'espoir de grappiller quelques bribes d'informations au moment où Graham s'en irait. Mais le petit docteur, qui n'était pas d'assez bonne humeur pour une autre conversation, passa devant l'aumônier telle la flèche de l'arc ; et avant que Cargrim ne se remette de ce traitement brusque il était au milieu de l'avenue, fulminant et geignant de son incapacité à comprendre l'attitude de l'évêque Pendle. Le docteur avait autant d'amour pour les secrets qu'une pie en aurait pour une pièce volée et il cherchait désespérément à trouver ce qui contrariait son ami, à plus forte raison qu'il pensait pouvoir l'aider à supporter ses ennuis par le biais de sa sympathie, et peut-être d'un conseil afin de les résoudre par la même occasion. Il n'arrivait pas même à faire de fermes suppositions sur les ennuis secrets de l’Évêque, et il examinait mentalement tous les crimes connus, depuis le meurtre jusqu'à l'incendie volontaire, sans parvenir à aucune conclusion. Et pourtant, il devait se passer quelque chose d'extraordinaire pour émouvoir un homme aussi tranquille et sain que le Révérend Pendle.
— J'en sais plus sur sa vie que la plupart des gens, pensa Graham, tandis qu'il marchait d'un pas vif, et il n'y a rien à ma connaissance qui puisse le bouleverser autant. À ma connaissance, il n'avait jamais trafiqué, manigancé, assassiné ou vendu son âme à Pluton, Pan ou Satan, et il était trop lucide et sain d'esprit pour avoir la hantise d'un problème imaginaire. Oh là là, le docteur secoua tristement la tête, je ne comprendrai jamais la nature humaine, les abîmes sont sans fin, et la terre qui nous parait ferme n'est en général qu'un bourbier quand nous nous y aventurons. George Pendle est une énigme qui pourrait bien décontenancer le Sphinx. Hum ! Hum ! un autre animal incroyable. Bon alors, je vais juste patienter et observer jusqu'à ce que je découvre la vérité, et alors ... mais, quoi alors ? ... donc, rien ! Et Graham, convaincu que ses réflexions ne le mèneraient nulle part, secoua furieusement la tête et s'efforça de chasser cette histoire de son esprit trop curieux. Mais ni sa philosophie, ni sa volonté, ne pourraient accomplir l'impossible. Nous sommes un certain nombre d'imbéciles, dit-il, et c'est quand nous pensons en savoir le plus que nous en savons le moins. Que ce Pouvoir Invisible et sans nom doit rire de nos efforts pour atteindre les étoiles, grâce auxquels il convient de souligner que le Dr Graham n'était pas l'athée que Beorminster s'imaginait qu'il était. Et maintenant peuvent prendre fin ses conjectures pour l'instant.
Peu après, Mme Pendle et Lucy commencèrent à emballer, dans un grand nombre de caisses, vêtements indispensables et d'agrément, et ce en quantité suffisante pour tenir pendant au moins douze mois. Il est vrai qu'elles n'avaient l'intention de ne rester que huit semaines, mais les préparatifs du départ méritaient autant de soins que ceux d'une croisade. Elles devaient prendre ceci ; elles ne pouvaient certainement pas laisser cela ; des robes chaudes étaient nécessaires si le temps se refroidissait ; des robes légères étaient nécessaires pour les probables chaudes journées ; elles devaient avoir des robes élégantes car elles sortiraient sans doute beaucoup ; et trois ou quatre robes d'intérieur chacune, car elles pourraient tout à fait devoir rester au-dedans. En bref, leur provision de chapeaux aurait coiffé au moins une demi-douzaine de femmes, bien que les deux dames aient protesté d'un air plaintif qu'elles n'avaient absolument rien à porter et qu'il faudrait faire du shopping à Londres pendant quelques jours, ne serait-ce que pour se donner un tour présentable. Harry Brace, célibataire insouciant, fut frappé de stupeur en voyant l'immense quantité de bagages qui partait dans un omnibus pour la gare de chemin de fer, sous la surveillance d'une bonne et d'une femme de chambre.
— Oh, Seigneur ! dit-il, abasourdi, nous lançons-nous dans une expédition africaine, Lucy ?
— Eh bien, Harry, je suis sure que Maman et moi n'avons pris que le strict nécessaire. D'autres femmes que nous emporteraient deux fois plus.
— Attendez que Lucy et vous partiez pour votre lune de miel, Brace, dit l'évêque en souriant devant la mine déconfite de son futur gendre. Alors, elle sera devenue l'une de ces autres femmes.
— Dans ce cas, dit Harry, d'un ton un peu sarcastique, Lucy devra décider si je devrais la suivre en tant que marié ou en tant que bagagiste.
Bien sûr, tout Beorminster savait que Mme Pendle allait à Nauheim pour prendre les eaux ; et bien sûr, tout Beorminster, c'est-à-dire la gent féminine, venait faire de tendres adieux aux voyageuses. Tous les jours, jusqu'au moment du départ, le salon de Mme Pendle fut rempli de dames qui, toutes, racontaient leurs expériences de voyages anglais et continentaux. Lucy prit congé d'au moins une douzaine d'amis très chers, et de la manière dont Mme Pendle fut embrassée, bénie, avertie et conseillée par les femmes du petit clergé, on aurait cru que sa destination était la lune et qu'elle ne reviendrait jamais. En somme, le palais ne fut guère, pendant ces jours-là, un quiet chez soi pour un paisible prélat.
À la dernière minute, Mme Pendle trouva qu'elle serait triste si son évêque ne l'accompagnait pas un bout de chemin : le révérend Pendle escorta donc les voyageuses à Londres et passa, si l'on peut dire, une agréable journée à courir d'une boutique à une autre. S'il n'avait pas été le plus angélique évêque d'Angleterre, il se serait révolté ; mais comme il désirait que sa femme n'eût pas à se plaindre, il s'exténua avec la plus grande amabilité. Mais tout chemin mène à un carrefour, et le jour vint où Mme Pendle et Lucy, assistées par l'insouciant Harry, partirent pour Nauheim via Queenborough, Flushing et Cologne. Comme le train démarrait, Mme Pendle déclara qu'elle était épuisée, déclaration que l'évêque crut volontiers. Que sa femme et Lucy ne soient pas mortes et enterrées tenait pour lui du miracle.
De retour dans le palais désert, Monseigneur Pendle s'accorda un long moment de repos. Se souvenant des insinuations de Graham, il vit Cargrim aussi peu que la relation d'affaires le lui permettait. L'aumônier remarqua qu'on l'évitait et, devinant que quelqu'un avait mis le révérend Pendle sur ses gardes, devint plus secret et vigilant que jamais. Mais, en dépit de tout son espionnage, il rencontrait peu de succès, car, bien que l'évêque continuât à montrer des signes de grande fatigue et à s'inquiéter, il poursuivait son travail avec plus de zèle que d'habitude. En effet, il était si attentif aux devoirs de sa charge que Cargrim s'imaginait qu'il essayait d'oublier sa méchanceté en distrayant son esprit. Mais, comme d'habitude, l'aumônier n'avait aucun motif tangible pour étayer cette conviction.
C'est à cette époque que l'homme le plus laborieux du monde commença à être hanté, non par un fantôme — ce qui aurait été supportable, car les fantômes n'apparaissent généralement que la nuit —, mais par une petite vieille étrange, en manteau rouge, qui s'appuyait sur une béquille et ressemblait à une méchante fée. C'était la Mère Jael, comme l'évêque en avait eu fortuitement confirmation, la gitane, amie de Jentham, et la connaissance de son identité n'était pas faite pour apaiser son esprit. Il ne pouvait comprendre la signification de cette présence assidue, et comme il pensait avec sagesse qu'il ne faut pas réveiller le chat qui dort, il était très contrarié par cette obstination. Sa vue lui devint quasi insupportable.
Que la Mère Jael ait eu l'intention de terrifier l'évêque ou non, c'est difficile à dire, mais la façon dont elle le suivait le tourmentait au-delà de toute mesure. Quand il quittait le palais, elle était là sur la route ; quand il prêchait dans la cathédrale, elle était cachée parmi les fidèles ; quand il se promenait dans Beorminster, elle le surveillait aux coins des rues, mais elle ne l'abordait jamais, elle ne lui parlait jamais et disparaissait souvent aussi mystérieusement et inopinément qu'elle était apparue. Partout où il allait, partout où il regardait, ce manteau cramoisi était sûr de s'imprimer au fond de son œil. La Mère Jael était vieille, bossue et ressemblait à une sorcière, ses cheveux blancs encadraient un visage jaune et ridé, mais ses yeux brûlaient comme deux étoiles incandescentes sous ses sourcils comme blancs de givre, et avec cela, elle regardait fixement Monseigneur Pendle, jusqu'à ce qu'il se sentît presque hypnotisé par l'intensité de son regard. Elle devint un vrai cauchemar pour le pauvre homme, à peu près comme la petite vieille au coffret le fut pour Abudah, le marchand dans cet incroyable conte oriental ; mais, contrairement à cette vieille obstinée, la Mère Jael n'avait apparemment aucun message à délivrer. Elle le fixait sans cesse de ses yeux scintillants et mauvais que jusqu'à ce que l'évêque qui, sous cette persécution permanente ne contrôlait pas ses nerfs, finît presque par croire que les puissances des Ténèbres s'étaient liguées contre lui et avaient envoyé cette diablesse pour le hanter et le tourmenter.
Plusieurs fois, il s'efforça de lui parler, car il pensait qu'il pourrait s'affranchir du sens trop littéral du proverbe « Il ne faut pas réveiller le chat qui dort » ; mais la Mère Jael réussissait toujours à se dérober. Elle semblait avoir le pouvoir de se dématérialiser. Où se volatilisait-elle en ces occasions ? L'évêque ne put jamais le découvrir. La verrait-il une minute dans son manteau rouge, appuyée sur sa béquille et le fixant avec insistance, et le laisserait-elle faire un pas dans sa direction qu'elle s'évanouirait comme un fantôme. Pas étonnant que les nerfs de l'évêque commençassent à céder ; la vue constante de cette silhouette silencieuse au regard menaçant aurait privé plus d'un homme de ses facultés mentales, mais le révérend Pendle résistait à la panique qui le saisissait parfois et s'efforçait de faire face à l'apparition — les escamotages soudains de la Mère Jael méritaient un tel nom — avec flegme et sang-froid. Cependant, parfois, l'effort semblait au-delà de ses capacités.
Au fil des semaines, Cargrim commença, lui aussi, à remarquer la persécution de la Mère Jael, et à faire le lien entre la vieille femme et Jentham et entre Jentham et l'évêque. Il commença à se demander si elle connaissait la vérité sur le meurtre. Il pensait qu'elle pourrait posséder des connaissances plus importantes que celles qu'elle avait transmises à la police, et qu'un seul mot d'elle pourrait faire porter le crime sur l'évêque. S'il était innocent, pourquoi le hanterait-elle ? Mais encore une fois, s'il était coupable, pourquoi l'évitait-elle ? Pour obtenir une réponse à cette énigme, Cargrim tenta d'attraper l'insaisissable fantôme de la Mère Jael, mais, trois ou quatre fois, elle réussit à disparaître de sa diabolique manière. Enfin, un jour où elle épiait l'évêque qui parlait au doyen à la porte nord de la cathédrale, Cargrim se glissa doucement derrière elle et lui saisit le bras. La Mère Jael se retourna en glapissant comme un lapin pris au piège.
— Pourquoi épiez-vous l'évêque ? l'interrogea Cargrim, abruptement.
— Pardonnez-moi, mon cher, je ne l'épie pas, pleurnicha Mère Jael en reculant.
— Balivernes, j'ai vu que vous l'observiez à diverses reprises.
— Il n'y a aucun mal à ça, mon agneau. On dit bien qu'un chien peut regarder une saucisse, une pauvre gitane peut bien regarder un évêque. Je m'demandais, mon mignon, ajouta-t-elle dans un murmure rauque, c'est quoi son prénom ?
— Le prénom de l'évêque ? George. Pourquoi veux-tu savoir ?
— George ! refléchit la Mère Jael, ne tenant aucun compte de la question, j'ai toujou's su qu'son p'tit nom était George.
— C'est George aussi, comme son père. Réponds-moi ! Pourquoi veux-tu connaître le prénom de l'évêque ? et pourquoi le surveilles-tu ?
— Ah, noble Gadjo, c'est qu'des menteries !
— Aucun de doute, alors dis-le moi.
— Monsieur, mon joli ! les gens comme toi veulent savoir ce que les gens comme moi pensent.
Cargrim perdit son sang-froid face à ses dérobades. — Tu es un sale personnage, Mère Jael. Je vais informer la police à ton sujet.
— Oh, p'tit Jésus, écoute le ! J'n'ai rien fait de mal. Je ne suis qu'une pauvre vieille gitane ; que je sois foudroyée si je mens.
— Si tu me dis quelque chose, dit Cargrim en changeant de tactique, tu l'aura, et il prépara une pièce de monnaie.
La Mère Jael regardait le demi-souverain étincelant qu'il tenait entre le doigt et le pouce, et ses vieux yeux s'illuminaient. — Oui, mon mignon, oui ! Que se passe-t-il ?
— Dis-moi la vérité sur le meurtre, murmura Cargrim en jetant un coup d'œil en direction de l'évêque.
Mère Jael poussa un cri strident, attrapa le demi-souverain et s'éloigna si vite qu'elle était au coin de la rue avant que Cargrim ne se remette de sa surprise. Il la suivit immédiatement, mais malgré toutes ses recherches, il ne put trouver la vieille sorcière. Pourtant, elle avait les yeux sur lui.
— George ! et George ! dit la mère Jaël, qui l'observait d'un curieux angle du mur dans lequel elle s'était comprimée, je me demande quel Georges l'a fait ?
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For more info, please see discussion tab.
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CHAPTER XX - MOTHER JAEL.
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If ever Hope told a flattering tale, she did to Mrs Pendle through the lips of cunning Dr Graham.
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I see I was wrong.
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'You were decidedly wrong, Mrs Pendle.
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It is only a fool who ceases to acquire knowledge and benefit by it.
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I am not a cabbage although I do live in a vegetable garden.
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The ardent lover immediately declared his willingness to escort Lucy to the world's end.
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In her sweet company even the dull little German watering-place would prove a Paradise.
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Cupid is the sole miracle-worker in these days of scepticism.
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'It is all right, bishop!'
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said the victorious doctor.
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Go to Bath, or Putney, or Jericho, bishop; travel is your anodyne.
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'I cannot leave Beorminster just now, Graham.
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When I can I shall take your advice.
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The doctor shrugged his shoulders and walked towards the door.
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There he paused and looked back at the unhappy face of the bishop.
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A thought struck him and he returned.
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Why not tell me your trouble and let me help you?
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I shall keep your secret, whatever it may be.
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'I have no fears on that score, Graham.
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If I could trust anyone I should trust you; but I cannot tell you what is in my mind.
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'Is it money worries, bishop?
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'No, my worldly affairs are most prosperous.
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'It is not this murder that is troubling you, I suppose?
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'The—the murder!'
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he stammered, 'the murder, Graham.
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Why should that trouble me?
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'Then I give it up,' said the doctor, with another shrug.
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'Graham!
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'Yes, what is it?
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'Do you think that there is any chance of the murderer of this man being discovered?
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'Has anything new been discovered since the inquest?
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'Nothing.
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So far as I know, Tinkler is satisfied and the matter is at an end.
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Whosoever killed Jentham has only his own conscience to fear.
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'And God!'
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said the bishop, softly.
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Well, good-day, my lord.
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'Good-day, doctor, and many, many thanks for your kindly help.
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'Not at all.
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There is one great truth that you should become a convert to, bishop.
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'Ay, ay, what is that?'
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said Pendle, listlessly.
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'That medical men are the father-confessors of Protestantism.
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Good-day!
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Yet something extraordinary must be the matter to move so easy-going, healthy a man as Dr Pendle.
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George Pendle is a riddle which would puzzle the Sphinx.
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Hum!
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hum!
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another fabulous beast.
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But not all his philosophy and will could accomplish the impossible.
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'We are a finite lot of fools,' said he, 'and when we think we know most we know least.
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And here may end his speculations for the present.
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'Oh, Lord!'
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said he, aghast, 'are we starting out on an African expedition, Lucy?
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'Well, I'm sure, Harry, mamma and I are only taking what is absolutely necessary.
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Other women would take twice as much.
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'She will be one of the other women then.
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Altogether the palace was no home for a quiet prelate in those days.
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His wonder was that she and Lucy were not dead and buried.
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On returning to the empty palace, Bishop Pendle settled himself down for a long rest.
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But, as usual, the chaplain had no tangible reason for this belief.
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The sight of her became almost insupportable.
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Wherever he went, wherever he looked, that crimson cloak was sure to meet his eye.
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But the effort was beyond his strength at times.
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If he was innocent, why did she haunt him?
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But again, if he was guilty, why did she avoid him?
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Mother Jael turned with a squeak like a trapped rabbit.
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'Why do you watch the bishop?'
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asked Cargrim, sharply.
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'Bless ye, lovey, I don't watch 'im,' whined Mother Jael, cringing.
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'Nonsense, I've seen you look at him several times.
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'There ain't no harm in that, my lamb.
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They do say as a cat kin look at a queen; and why not a pore gipsy at a noble bishop?
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I say, dearie,' she added, in a hoarse whisper, 'what's his first name?
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'The bishop's first name?
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George.
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Why do you want to know?
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'George!'
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pondered Mother Jael, taking no notice of the question, 'I allays though' the sojir was George!
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'He is George too, called after his father.
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Answer me!
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Why do you want to know the bishop's name?
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and why do you watch him?
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'Ah, my noble Gorgio, that's tellings!
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'No doubt, so just tell it to me.
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'Lord, lovey!
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the likes of you don't want to know what the likes of me thinks.
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Cargrim lost his temper at these evasions.
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'You are a bad character, Mother Jael.
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I shall warn the police about you.
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'Oh, tiny Jesius, hear him!
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I ain't done nothing wrong.
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I'm a pore old gipsy; strike me dead if I ain't.
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'Yes, dearie, yes!
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What is it?
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At once he followed, but in spite of all his search he could not find the old hag.
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Yet she had her eye on him.
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'George!
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and George!'
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francevw • 14085  commented  1 year, 1 month ago

For those who are interested in listening to the novel: https://librivox.org/the-bishops-secret-by-fergus-hume/

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, 1 month ago

For more info, please see discussion tab.
CHAPTER XX - MOTHER JAEL.
Doctor Graham was not the man to fail in carrying through successfully any scheme he undertook, and what he had promised the bishop he duly fulfilled. After a rather lengthy interview with Mrs Pendle and her daughter, he succeeded in arousing their interest in Nauheim and its baths: so much so, that before he left the palace they were as eager to go as formerly they had been to stay. This seeming miracle was accomplished mainly by a skilful appeal to Mrs Pendle's love for experimenting with new medical discoveries in connection with her health. She had never tried the Schott treatment for heart dilation, and indeed had heard very little about it; but when fully informed on the subject, her interest in it was soon awakened. She soon came to look on the carbolic spring of Nauheim as the true fountain of youth, and was sanguine that by bathing for a few weeks in its life-giving waters she would return to Beorminster hale and hearty, and full of vitality. If ever Hope told a flattering tale, she did to Mrs Pendle through the lips of cunning Dr Graham.
'I thought you knew nothing about new medicines or treatments,' she observed graciously; 'or, if you did, that you were too conservative to prescribe them. I see I was wrong.
'You were decidedly wrong, Mrs Pendle. It is only a fool who ceases to acquire knowledge and benefit by it. I am not a cabbage although I do live in a vegetable garden.
Lucy's consent was gained through the glowing description of the benefit her mother would receive from the Nauheim waters, and the opportune arrival of Sir Harry Brace contributed to the wished-for result. The ardent lover immediately declared his willingness to escort Lucy to the world's end. Wherever Lucy was, the Garden of Eden blossomed; and while Mrs Pendle was being pickled and massaged and put to bed for recuperative slumbers, he hoped to have his future wife all to himself. In her sweet company even the dull little German watering-place would prove a Paradise. Cupid is the sole miracle-worker in these days of scepticism.
'It is all right, bishop!' said the victorious doctor. 'The ladies will be off, with Brace in attendance, as soon as they can pack up a waggon load of feminine frippery.
'I am sincerely glad to hear it,' said Dr Pendle, and heaved a sigh of relief which made Graham wag his head and put in a word of advice.
'You must take a trip yourself, my lord,' he said decisively; 'nothing like change for mental worry. Go to Bath, or Putney, or Jericho, bishop; travel is your anodyne.
'I cannot leave Beorminster just now, Graham. When I can I shall take your advice.
The doctor shrugged his shoulders and walked towards the door. There he paused and looked back at the unhappy face of the bishop. A thought struck him and he returned.
'Pendle,' he said gently, 'I am your oldest friend and one who honours and respects you above all men. Why not tell me your trouble and let me help you? I shall keep your secret, whatever it may be.
'I have no fears on that score, Graham. If I could trust anyone I should trust you; but I cannot tell you what is in my mind. No useful result would come of such candour, for only the One above can help me out of my difficulties.
'Is it money worries, bishop?
'No, my worldly affairs are most prosperous.
'It is not this murder that is troubling you, I suppose?
The bishop became as pale as the paper on the desk before him, and convulsively clutched the arms of his chair. 'The—the murder!' he stammered, 'the murder, Graham. Why should that trouble me?
'Cargrim told me that you were greatly upset that such a thing should have occurred in your diocese.
'I am annoyed about it,' replied Pendle, in a low voice, 'but it is not the untimely death of that unhappy man which worries me.
'Then I give it up,' said the doctor, with another shrug.
'Graham!
'Yes, what is it?
'Do you think that there is any chance of the murderer of this man being discovered?
'If the case had been handled by a London detective while the clues were fresh I daresay there might have been a chance,' replied the doctor. 'But that mutton-headed Tinkler has made such a muddle of the affair that I am certain the murderer will never be captured.
'Has anything new been discovered since the inquest?
'Nothing. So far as I know, Tinkler is satisfied and the matter is at an end. Whosoever killed Jentham has only his own conscience to fear.
'And God!' said the bishop, softly.
'I always understood that what you Churchmen call conscience was the still small voice of the Deity,' replied Graham, drily; 'there is no use in being tautological, bishop. Well, good-day, my lord.
'Good-day, doctor, and many, many thanks for your kindly help.
'Not at all. I only wish that you would let me help you to some purpose by treating me as your friend and unburdening your mind. There is one great truth that you should become a convert to, bishop.
'Ay, ay, what is that?' said Pendle, listlessly.
'That medical men are the father-confessors of Protestantism. Good-day!
Outside the library Cargrim was idling about, in the hope of picking up some crumbs of information, when Graham took his departure. But the little doctor, who was not in the best of tempers for another conversation, shot past the chaplain like a bolt from the bow; and by the time Cargrim recovered from such brusque treatment was half-way down the avenue, fuming and fretting at his inability to understand the attitude of Bishop Pendle. Dr Graham loved a secret as a magpie does a piece of stolen money, and he was simply frantic to find out what vexed his friend; the more so as he believed that he could help him to bear his trouble by sympathy, and perhaps by advice do away with it altogether. He could not even make a guess at the bishop's hidden trouble, and ran over all known crimes in his mind, from murder to arson, without coming to any conclusion. Yet something extraordinary must be the matter to move so easy-going, healthy a man as Dr Pendle.
'I know more of his life than most people,' thought Graham, as he trotted briskly along, 'and there is nothing in it that I can see to upset him so. He hasn't forged, or coined, or murdered, or sold himself to Pluto-Pan Satan so far as I know; and he is too clear-headed and sane to have a monomania about a non-existent trouble. Dear, dear,' the doctor shook his head sadly, 'I shall never understand human nature; there is always an abyss below an abyss, and the firmest seeming ground is usually quagmire when you come to step on it. George Pendle is a riddle which would puzzle the Sphinx. Hum! hum! another fabulous beast. Well, well, I can only wait and watch until I discover the truth, and then—well, what then?—why, nothing!' And Graham, having talked himself into a cul-de-sac of thought, shook his head furiously and strove to dismiss the matter from his too inquisitive mind. But not all his philosophy and will could accomplish the impossible. 'We are a finite lot of fools,' said he, 'and when we think we know most we know least. How that nameless Unseen Power must smile at our attempts to scale the stars,' by which remark it will be seen that Dr Graham was not the atheist Beorminster believed him to be. And here may end his speculations for the present.
Shortly, Mrs Pendle and Lucy began to pack a vast number of boxes with garments needful and ornamental, and sufficient in quantity to last them for at least twelve months. It is true that they intended to remain away only eight weeks, but the preparations for departure were worthy of the starting out of a crusade. They must take this; they could certainly not leave that; warm dresses were needed for possible cold weather; cool frocks were requisite for probable hot days; they must have smart dresses as they would no doubt go out a great deal; and three or four tea-gowns each, as they might stay indoors altogether. In short, their stock of millinery would have clothed at least half-a-dozen women, although both ladies protested plaintively that they had absolutely nothing to wear, and that it would be necessary to go shopping in London for a few days, if only to make themselves look presentable. Harry Brace, the thoughtless bachelor, was struck dumb when he saw the immense quantity of luggage which went off in and on a bus to the railway station in the charge of a nurse and a lady's-maid.
'Oh, Lord!' said he, aghast, 'are we starting out on an African expedition, Lucy?
'Well, I'm sure, Harry, mamma and I are only taking what is absolutely necessary. Other women would take twice as much.
'Wait until you and Lucy leave for your honeymoon, Brace,' said the bishop, with a smile at his prospective son-in-law's long face. 'She will be one of the other women then.
'In that case,' said Harry, a trifle grimly, 'Lucy will have to decide if I am to go as a bridegroom or a luggage agent.
Of course all Beorminster knew that Mrs Pendle was going to Nauheim for the treatment; and of course all Beorminster—that is, the feminine portion of it—came to take tender farewells of the travellers. Every day up to the moment of departure Mrs Pendle's drawing-room was crowded with ladies all relating their experiences of English and Continental travelling. Lucy took leave of at least a dozen dear friends; and from the way in which Mrs Pendle was lamented over, and blessed, and warned, and advised by the wives of the inferior clergy, one would have thought that her destination was the moon, and that she would never get back again. Altogether the palace was no home for a quiet prelate in those days.
At the last moment Mrs Pendle found that she would be wretched if her bishop did not accompany her some way on the journey; so Dr Pendle went with the travellers to London, and spent a pleasant day or so, being hurried about from shop to shop. If he had not been the most angelic bishop in England he would have revolted; but as he was anxious that his wife should have no cause of complaint, he exhausted himself with the utmost amiability. But the longest lane has a turning, and the day came when Mrs Pendle and Lucy, attended by the dazed Harry, left for Nauheim viâ Queenborough, Flushing and Cologne. Mrs Pendle declared, as the train moved away, that she was thoroughly exhausted, which statement the bishop quite believed. His wonder was that she and Lucy were not dead and buried.
On returning to the empty palace, Bishop Pendle settled himself down for a long rest. Remembering Graham's hint, he saw as little of Cargrim as was compatible with the relationship of business. The chaplain noted that he was being avoided, and guessing that someone had placed Dr Pendle on his guard against him, became more secretive and watchful than ever. But in spite of all his spying he met with little success, for although the bishop still continued weary-eyed and worried-looking, he went about his work with more zest than usual. Indeed, he attended so closely to the duties of his position that Cargrim fancied he was trying to forget his wickedness by distracting his mind. But, as usual, the chaplain had no tangible reason for this belief.
And about this time, when most industrious, the bishop began to be haunted, not by a ghost, which would have been bearable as ghosts appear usually only in the nighttime, but by a queer little old woman in a red cloak, who supported herself with a crutch and looked like a wicked fairy. This, as the bishop ascertained by a casual question, was Mother Jael, the gipsy friend of Jentham, and the knowledge of her identity did not make him the easier in his mind. He could not conceive what she meant by her constant attendance on him; and but that he believed in the wisdom of letting sleeping dogs lie, he would have resented her pertinacity. The sight of her became almost insupportable.
Whether Mother Jael intended to terrify the bishop or not it is hard to say, but the way in which she followed him tormented him beyond measure. When he left the palace she was there on the road; when he preached in the cathedral she lurked among the congregation; when he strolled about Beorminster she watched him round corners, but she never approached him, she never spoke to him, and frequently vanished as mysteriously and unexpectedly as she appeared. Wherever he went, wherever he looked, that crimson cloak was sure to meet his eye. Mother Jael was old and bent and witch-like, with elf locks of white hair and a yellow, wrinkled face; but her eyes burned like two fiery stars under her frosted brows, and with these she stared hard at Bishop Pendle, until he felt almost mesmerised by the intensity of her gaze. She became a perfect nightmare to the man, much the same as the little old woman of the coffer was to Abudah, the merchant in the fantastic eastern tale; but, unlike that pertinacious beldam, she apparently had no message to deliver. She only stared and stared with her glittering, evil eyes, until the bishop—his nerves not being under control with this constant persecution—almost fancied that the powers of darkness had leagued themselves against him, and had sent this hell-hag to haunt and torment him.
Several times he strove to speak to her, for he thought that even the proverb of sleeping dogs might be acted upon too literally; but Mother Jael always managed to shuffle out of the way. She appeared to have the power of disintegrating her body, for where she disappeared to on these occasions the bishop never could find out. One minute he would see her in her red cloak, leaning on her crutch and staring at him steadily, but let him take one step in her direction and she would vanish like a ghost. No wonder the bishop's nerves began to give way; the constant sight of that silent figure with its menacing gaze would have driven many a man out of his mind, but Dr Pendle resisted the panic which seized him at times, and strove to face the apparition—for Mother Jael's flittings deserved such a name—with control and calmness. But the effort was beyond his strength at times.
As the weeks went by, Cargrim also began to notice the persecution of Mother Jael, and connecting her with Jentham and Jentham with the bishop, he began to wonder if she knew the truth about the murder. It was not improbable, he thought, that she might be possessed of more important knowledge than she had imparted to the police, and a single word from her might bring home the crime to the bishop. If he was innocent, why did she haunt him? But again, if he was guilty, why did she avoid him? To gain an answer to this riddle, Cargrim attempted when possible to seize the elusive phantom of Mother Jael, but three or four times she managed to vanish in her witch-like way. At length one day when she was watching the bishop talking to the dean at the northern door of the cathedral, Cargrim came softly behind her and seized her arm. Mother Jael turned with a squeak like a trapped rabbit.
'Why do you watch the bishop?' asked Cargrim, sharply.
'Bless ye, lovey, I don't watch 'im,' whined Mother Jael, cringing.
'Nonsense, I've seen you look at him several times.
'There ain't no harm in that, my lamb. They do say as a cat kin look at a queen; and why not a pore gipsy at a noble bishop? I say, dearie,' she added, in a hoarse whisper, 'what's his first name?
'The bishop's first name? George. Why do you want to know?
'George!' pondered Mother Jael, taking no notice of the question, 'I allays though' the sojir was George!
'He is George too, called after his father. Answer me! Why do you want to know the bishop's name? and why do you watch him?
'Ah, my noble Gorgio, that's tellings!
'No doubt, so just tell it to me.
'Lord, lovey! the likes of you don't want to know what the likes of me thinks.
Cargrim lost his temper at these evasions. 'You are a bad character, Mother Jael. I shall warn the police about you.
'Oh, tiny Jesius, hear him! I ain't done nothing wrong. I'm a pore old gipsy; strike me dead if I ain't.
'If you tell me something,' said Cargrim, changing his tactics, 'you shall have this,' and he produced a coin.
Mother Jael eyed the bright half-sovereign he held between finger and thumb, and her old eyes glistened. 'Yes, dearie, yes! What is it?
'Tell me the truth about the murder,' whispered Cargrim, with a glance in the direction of the bishop.
Mother Jael gave a shrill screech, grabbed the half-sovereign, and shuffled away so rapidly that she was round the corner before Cargrim could recover from his surprise. At once he followed, but in spite of all his search he could not find the old hag. Yet she had her eye on him.
'George! and George!' said Mother Jael, who was watching him from an odd angle of the wall into which she had squeezed herself, 'I wonder which of 'em did it?