en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 21 Hard
Pour plus d'informations, s'il vous plaît, regarder le tableau de discussion.
CHAPITRE XXI - LA RÉCEPTION CHEZ Mme PANSEY.
Une fois par an, la veuve de l'archidiacre s'acquittait de ses obligations sociales en ouvrant la forteresse dans laquelle elle résidait. Sa réception, à laquelle était convié tout le gratin dont Beorminster s’enorgueillissait, prenait généralement la forme d'une fête en plein air, car Mme Pansey estimait qu'elle pouvait recevoir plus de monde et moins s'inquiéter de leur divertissement, en remplissant son jardin plutôt qu'en les entassant dans les petites pièces de réception de sa maison. D'ailleurs, le jardin était vraiment charmant avec ses larges pelouses verdoyantes, cernées de vastes parterres de fleurs aux couleurs chatoyantes, et semblait plus pittoresque encore maintenant qu'il était envahi par ces invités bien habillés, bien éduqués et particulièrement contents. Presque toutes les invitations avaient été acceptées, en premier lieu, parce que Mme Pansey rendait, par la suite, la vie difficile aux esprits frondeurs qui n'étaient pas venus, et, deuxièmement, pour la très bonne raison que la nourriture et les boissons distribuées par l'hôtesse étaient de la meilleure qualité. Ainsi, les divertissements de Mme Pansey étaient-ils généralement les plus réussis de la saison à Beorminster.
Pour cet évènement de circonstance, le faiseur de pluie et de beau temps avait accordé une journée particulièrement belle à l'hôtesse. La lumière du soleil emplissait une voûte azurée sans nuage, l'air était chaud mais tempéré par une brise qui soufflait doucement, et les invités, pour faire honneur à la fois à Mme Pansey et au temps agréable, portaient leur costumes les plus estivaux et les plus seyants. Les jolies filles riaient au soleil, les dames d'un certain âge comméraient dans le bruissement des frondaisons et les sévères tenues noires des membres du clergé pondéraient les teintes trop vives des toilettes féminines. La scène était animée et pleine de couleurs et de mouvements, de sorte que même le visage sombre de Mrs Pansey se transformait en un sourire inhabituel en saluant les nouveaux arrivants. De temps en temps, un orchestre jouait des airs de danse pleins d'entrain ; il y avait du croquet et du tennis sur gazon pour les jeunes, du café glacé et des commérages pour les vieux. Au final, la compagnie, étant la plupart du temps jeune et insouciante, s'amusait immensément. C'étaient bavardages, rires, amples sourires et courbettes ostensiblement affichées.
— Somme toute, je peux considérer cela comme un franc succès, déclara Mme Pansey, alors que, vêtue de sa plus belle tenue aux motifs fleuris, elle recevait ses invités à l'ombre d'une ombrelle japonaise multicolore. Et les jardins sont vraiment magnifiques.
Les jardins du Paradis ! fit observer Cargrim, flatteur, souriant au bras de son hôtesse.
— Ne profanez pas les Saintes Écritures, s'il-vous-plait ! le rembarra Mme Pansey, qui se réservait encore le droit d'être désagréable, y compris à sa propre réception, mais si vous appelez cela le jardin d'Eden, je dirais qu'il y a beaucoup de serpents.
Et beaucoup d'Adam et Ève ! dit le docteur Graham, qui inspectait la compagnie avec son cynisme habituel, mais je ne vois pas Lilith, Mme Pansey.
— Lilith ! docteur, quel nom inconvenant !
— Et quel personnage inconvenant, chère madame. Lilith fut l'autre épouse de notre ancêtre Adam.
— Comment osez-vous, docteur Graham ! le premier homme, un bigame ! C'est ridicule ! Sacrilège ! Une seule côte fut ôtée du flanc d'Adam !
— Lilith n'a pas été faite à partir d'une côte, Mme Pansey. Le diable l'a conçue pour duper Adam. Enfin, c'est ce que les Rabbinistes nous enseignent !
— Oh, ces créatures juives ! dit-elle, avec mépris. Je ne me soucie guère de leur opinion. Qu'est-ce que les juifs connaissent de la Bible ?
— Autant que les auteurs en savent en général sur leurs propres livres, je suppose, dit sèchement Graham.
— Vous devenez théologique, observa doucement Cargrim.
— Pour ne pas dire blasphématoire, gronda Mrs Pansey, en tout cas, le docteur est bien comme tous les sceptiques de sa profession sans conviction religieuse. Souvenez-vous d'Ananias et de ses mensonges, monsieur. — Je préfère me souvenir d'Ève et de sa curiosité, dit Graham en riant, et suivant un si bon exemple, je souhaiterais savoir ce qui se trouve sous cette jolie tente, madame Pansey.
— Elle est l'effet de la sottise de Daisy, docteur. Elle renferme une gitane qu'elle m'a poussée en engager sous le prétexte absurde de dire la bonne aventure.
— Oh, comme c'est plaisant ! Comme c'est réjouissant ! s'écria un chœur varié de jeunes voix. — Une vrai gitane, Mme Pansey ? et la bonne dame fut assaillie de questions.
— Elle suffisamment rusée et sale pour être authentique, mes chers. Certains d'entre vous la connaissent peut-être. La Mère Jael !
— Disparais, sorcière ! s'écria le docteur Graham, cette vieille chouette, oh, elle peut "pen dukherin" dans un but précis. J'ai entendu parlé d'elle, et la police aussi.
— Quel langage est-ce donc ? demanda mademoiselle Whichello qui survint à ce moment, ayant un sourire et un mot pour chacun. Cela ressemble à des jurons.
— J'aimerai voir cela, entendre qui que ce soit jurer ici, dit Mme Pansey d'un ton sinistre.
— Rassurez-vous, chère Madame, je parlais Romani, la langue noire, le calo jib que les gitans ont apporté de l'Est lorsqu'ils sont venus piller les cages à poules de l'Europe.
— Vous voulez dire que ces créatures ont une langue qui leur est propre ? demanda mademoiselle Whichello, incrédule.
— Pourquoi pas ? Je suppose que leurs ancêtres façonnaient des briques dans la plaine de Shinar et qu'ils ont eu la chance d’acquérir une langue sans avoir à se donner la peine de l'apprendre.
— Vous faites allusion à la Tour de Babel, monsieur ! dit Mme Pansey, avec une moue.
— Plutôt à la Tour de la Fable, chère dame, puisque toute l'histoire est un mythe.
Ne désirant pas entendre cette joute verbale et plutôt surpris d'apprendre que la Mère Jaël était présente, Cargrim s’éclipsa à la première occasion pour réfléchir à cette information et à l'usage qu'il pourrait en faire. La vieille femme poursuivait donc toujours l'évêque ?... l'avait même suivi en société, et était devenue la diseuse de bonne aventure personnelle de Mme Pansey afin de pouvoir continuer à incommoder le regard de sa victime par la vue de son immuable robe rouge. Le révérend Pendle s’avançait au même moment parmi les invités, son plus jeune fils à ses côtés, et il paraissait plus joyeux et plus semblable à lui-même qu'il ne l'avait été depuis quelques temps. Apparemment, il ne savait pas encore que la Mère Jaël se trouvait à proximité ; mais Cargrim décida qu'il devait être mis au courant de sa présence aussi rapidement que possible et être attiré par la ruse à s'entretenir avec elle de sorte que son aumônier intrigant puisse voir ce qui ressortirait de cette rencontre. Cargrim décida donc d'aller voir en personne la vieille gitane et de reprendre la conversation qu'elle avait interrompue en lui volant sa pièce d'or. D'une façon ou d'une autre, il présageait qu'il serait absolument indispensable de forcer la femme à faire des déclarations solennelles qui inculperaient ou exonéreraient l'évêque de la mort de Jentham. Cargrim, qui en était parvenu à cette conclusion, s'avançait donc sans se presser et avec vigilance à travers la foule joyeuse. Son intention était d'informer le révérend Pendle que la Mère Jaël disait la bonne aventure dans la tente aux rayures gaies, et il était résolu, dans la mesure du possible, à pousser le prélat à rencontrer la vieille chouette. Par le biais d'une telle rencontre, l'astucieux M. Cargrim espérait glaner des informations utiles de la conversation et du comportement du couple.
Malheureusement Cargrim fut empêché dans l'exécution de ce plan à cause de sa remarquable popularité. Il ne pouvait pas faire deux pas sans être apostrophé par une ou plusieurs de ses admiratrices; et bien qu'il ait aperçu l'évêque à quelques pas seulement, il ne pouvait le rejoindre à cause des « sirènes » qui ne voulaient pas le lâcher. Il échappait, aussi élégamment que possible, à leurs pièges, mais quand il se trouva en face de Daisy Norsham au bras du doyen Alder, il abandonna quasiment l'espoir d'atteindre son but. Il y avait peu de chance qu'il échappât à Daisy et son insipide babil. En outre, elle était plutôt ennuyée par la conversation édifiante de l'ancien pasteur, et elle recherchait la compagnie d'un homme plus jeune et plus frivole. Capeline, robe et paire de lunettes font incontestablement de Cupidon une divinité fort ennuyeuse.
— Oh, cher M. Cargrim ! s'écria l'exubérante Daisy, est-ce vraiment vous ? Oh, comme c'est très gentil à vous de venir aujourd'hui ! Et quelles sont les dernières nouvelles de la pauvre, chère Mme Pendle ?
— Je crois que les bains de Nauhein lui feront le plus grand bien, mademoiselle Norsham. Si vous me permettez...
— Nauheim ! lança le doyen, dans une toux sèche, m'est inconnue sauf en tant que terme géographique, mais la ville de Baden-Baden, jadis appelée Aurelia Aquensis, était très fréquentée par les Romains pour ses sources bienfaisantes et curatives. Je pourrais également citer Aachen, vulgairement appelée Aix-la-Chapelle, mais connue des Latins sous le nom d'Aquisgranum ou...
— Comme c'est intéressant ! interrompit Daisy, stoppant net ce torrent d'informations. Vous semblez tout connaître, Monsieur le doyen. La seule station thermale allemande où je sois allé est Wiesbaden, où les médecins me faisaient me lever à cinq heures pour boire les eaux. Et, tenez-vous bien, M. Cargrim, un orchestre jouait au Kochbrunnen à sept heures du matin. Avez-vous jamais entendu parler de quelque chose d'aussi horrible ?
De la musique à une heure si matinale, cela mériterait d'être essayé, Mlle Norsham!
— Wiesbaden était appelée Aqua Matticæ par les Romains, murmura le Dr Alder en tortillant ses lunettes — Je tiens d'une excellente autorité médicale que les eaux sont ce qui se fait de mieux pour recouvrer la santé et arrêter le déclin de l'âge. Je devrais conseiller à son Excellence Monseigneur l'évêque, de visiter les sources, car dernièrement j'ai remarqué que, malheureusement, il ne semblait pas au mieux de sa forme.
— Il a l'air beaucoup mieux aujourd'hui, observa l'aumônier en jetant un coup d'œil sur l'évêque qui causait maintenant avec miss Whichello.
— Oh, le pauvre cher évêque devrait se faire dire la bonne aventure par la Mère Jaël.
— Cela ne serait guère en accord avec son haut rang, Mlle Norsham.
— Oh ! Vraiment, je ne sache pas que ce soit si affreux, pépia Daisy dans un de ses éclats de rire argentins et affectés, et ce n'est qu'une amusette. La Mère Jael pourrait lui dire s'il va tomber malade ou pas, vous savez, et il pourrait prendre des médicaments le cas échéant.. D'ailleurs, elle dit la vérité, oui, vraiment, c'est trop effrayant tout ce qu'elle sait de moi. Mais je suis heureuse de dire qu'elle m'a prophétisé un bel avenir.
— Un mariage et de l'argent, je suppose.
— Eh bien, vous êtes intelligent, M. Cargrim, elle ne m'a parlé que de bonne fortune. Comment avez-vous deviné ? Je dois rencontrer mon futur mari ici, il doit être riche et m'adorer, et je dois être très, très heureuse.
Je suis sûr qu'une si jolie jeune femme mérite d'être aussi charmante, dit Cargrim en s'inclinant.
— Siderum regina bicornis audi, Luna puellas, cita le doyen, en jetant un coup d'œil de côté à la radieuse Daisy ; et si cette dame sure d'elle avait compris le latin, elle aurait jugé à partir de cette citation satirique que le révérend Alder n'était pas suffisamment subjugué par ses charmes pour envisager le mariage. Mais étant ignorante, elle était, selon le proverbe, bienheureuse ; et elle bavardait, délivrant un flot ininterrompu de propos frivoles, qui parfois était momentanément entravé par les lourdes masses d'informations que le doyen lâchait dans la conversation.
Laissant cette promesse de mai et ce vieux décembre prudent à leur flirt inégal, Cargrim tenta à nouveau d'atteindre l'évêque, mais fut, à sa grande aversion, capturé par mademoiselle Tancred. Elle l'entretint longuement, longuement de ses douleurs rhumatismales et des moyens par lesquels elle espérait les guérir. Retenu aussi fermement que le convive du mariage le fut par le Vieux Marin, Cargrim avait perdu l'occasion d'entendre une conversation très intéressante entre mademoiselle Whichello et l'évêque, mais, au front soucieux du révérend Pendle, il vit que quelque chose n'allait pas et s'irrita de sa détention forcée. Néanmoins, mademoiselle Tancred le garda près d'elle jusqu'à ce qu'elle eût épuisé son ruisselet de vétilles. Cargrim dut user de tout son tact, sa politesse et sa charité chrétienne pour supporter patiemment son bavardage.
— Oui, Votre Excellence, disait mademoiselle Whichello, avec contrariété, votre fils éprouvait de l'admiration pour ma nièce depuis très longtemps. Ils se sont récemment fiancés mais j'ai refusé de donner mon consentement jusqu'à ce qu'ils aient obtenu votre avis et votre approbation.
— George ne m'a rien dit à ce sujet, répondit le révérend Pendle, d'un ton blessé. Pourtant, il aurait dû effectivement le faire avant d'en parler à votre nièce.
— Cela va sans dire ! Mais, malheureusement, le cœur des jeunes hommes n'est pas toujours guidé par la raison. Cependant, le capitaine Pendle m'a promis de tout vous dire durant son actuel séjour à Béorminster. Et, bien sûr, Mme Pendle et votre fille Lucy connaissent toutes deux son amour pour Mab.
— Il semble que je sois la seule personne ignorante de ces fiançailles, mademoiselle Whichello.
— Vous avez été maintenu dans l'ignorance sans mon consentement, Votre Excellence. Mais je ne vois vraiment pas pourquoi vous devriez décourager cette union. Vous pouvez juger par vous-même qu'ils font un couple magnifique.
Le révérend Pendle jeta un regard fâché vers l’extrémité de la pelouse, où George et Mab discutaient avec sérieux.
— Je ne nie pas qu'ils vont physiquement bien ensemble, dit-il gravement, mais il faut plus que de belles apparences pour faire un mariage heureux.
— Dois-je comprendre que vous désapprouvez le choix de ma nièce ? s'écria la vieille dame menue, se dressant de toute sa hauteur.
— En aucun cas, en aucun cas ; comment pouvez-vous penser que je manque à ce point de politesse ? Mais je dois avouer que je désire que mon fils trouve un bon parti.
— Vous devriez plutôt lui souhaiter de trouver une femme comme il faut, répliqua mademoiselle Whichello qui commençait à se sentir contrariée. Mais si c'est la fortune que vous recherchez, je peux vous rassurer sur ce point. Mab héritera de mon argent lorsque je mourrai ; et si elle devait se marier avec le capitaine Pendle de mon vivant, j'allouerai au jeune couple mille livres par an.
— Mille livres par an, mademoiselle Whichello !
— Oui ! Et plus encore, si nécessaire. Sachez, Votre Excellence, que je suis bien mieux nantie que ne le pensent les gens.
L'évêque, un peu décontenancé, baissa les yeux sur ses élégantes bottes et ses guêtres impeccables. — Je ne suis pas aussi attaché aux conventions mondaines que vous ne le pensez, mademoiselle Whichello, dit-il avec douceur; et si George désirait épouser une fille sans le sou, je possède assez d'argent pour me plier à son caprice. Mais si son cœur veut faire de mademoiselle Arden son épouse, je voudrais, si vous me pardonnez ma candeur, en savoir plus sur la jeune femme.
Mab est la meilleure et la plus charmante fille du monde, dit la petite Jennie Wren, pâle et un peu nerveuse.
— Je peux constater cela par moi-même. Vous ne me comprenez pas, Mlle Whichello, aussi dois-je parler plus explicitement. Qui est Mlle Arden ?
— C'est ma nièce, répondit Mlle Whichello avec une dignité tremblante. L'enfant unique de ma pauvre sœur qui est morte quand Mab était encore dans les langes.
— En effet ! approuva l'évêque en hochant la tête. J'ai toujours cru comprendre qu'il en était ainsi. Mais... eh... M. Arden ?
— M. Arden ! bafouilla la vieille dame, détournant son visage de la compagnie, afin de ne pas montrer sa pâleur et son anxiété.
Son père ! est-il vivant ?
— Non ! s'écria Mlle Whichello secouant la tête. — Il est mort il y a longtemps.
— Qui était-il ?
— Un... un... un gentilhomme ! Gentilhomme... et rentier.
Le révérend Pendle se mordit la lèvre inférieure et eut l'air embarrassé. — Mademoiselle Whichello, dit-il enfin d'un ton hésitant, votre nièce est une charmante demoiselle, et, en ce qui la concerne, elle est propre à devenir la femme de mon fils George.
— Je le pense également, vraiment. larmoya la petite dame, avec une rugueuse affabilité.
— Mais, poursuivit l'évêque avec emphase, j'ai entendu des rumeurs sur ses origines qui ne me satisfont pas. Que ce soit vrai ou non, vous le savez mieux que quiconque, mademoiselle Whichello, mais avant de consentir à l'engagement dont vous parlez, je voudrais être pleinement informé sur ce point.
— A quelles rumeurs votre Excellence se réfère-t-elle ? demanda mademoiselle Whichello, absolument livide, mais d'un calme olympien.
— Ce n'est ni le moment ni l'endroit pour vous en informer, dit l'évêque à la hâte, je vois monsieur Cargrim qui s'en vient. Nous en reparlerons une autre fois, mademoiselle Whichello.
Comme l'aumônier, accompagné de trois ou quatre jeunes dames, dont Mlle Norsham, se pressait à la rencontre de l'évêque, Mlle Whichello admit la justesse de son discours, et ne se sentant pas le courage de parler frivolités, elle battit en retraite hâtivement et courut se réfugier dans la maison pour calmer son émotion. Ce que la pauvre petite dame ressentait n'était connu que d'elle-même ; mais elle présageait que le cours de l'amour sincère, du moins dans le cas de George et Mab, avait peu de chance de se dérouler sans incidents. Cependant, elle fit bonne contenance et espéra pour le mieux.
Pendant ce temps, Monseigneur Pendle était enveloppé par un tourbillon de jupons, tandis que l'escorte amazonienne de Cargrim, commandée par l'aumônier, insistait pour que la Mère Jael lui dise la bonne aventure. L'évêque eut l'air troublé d'apprendre que son fantôme à cape rouge était si proche, mais il réussit à garder sa contenance et refusa en riant de répondre à la demande des dames.
— Pensez à ce que diraient les journaux, insista-t-il, si un évêque consultait cette Sorcière d'Endor.
— Oh, mais vraiment, c'est juste pour rire.
— Mlle Norsham, un dignitaire de l'Église ne doit pas plaisanter.
— Pourquoi pas, votre Excellence ? ajouta Cargrim, avec amabilité. J'ai entendu dire que Richelieu jouait avec un chaton.
— Je ne suis pas Richelieu, répondit sèchement le révérend Pendle, ni la Mère Jaël un chaton.
— C'est pour les bonnes œuvres, Monseigneur, implora Daisy. — Je paie sa journée à la Mère Jael, et donne le reste au Foyer de Mme Pansey pour les domestiques au chômage.
— Oh, si c'est pour les bonnes œuvres, répéta le révérend Pendle en souriant, cela donne un autre tour à la question. Qu'en dites-vous, monsieur Cargrim ?
— Je pense que votre Excellence ne peut faire la sourde oreille aux prières de ces charmantes jeunes dames, répondit l'aumônier avec obséquiosité.
A présent, l'évêque souhaitait vraiment voir la Mère Jael afin d'apprendre pourquoi elle le harcelait si obstinément ; et comme elle parvenait toujours à disparaître, il pensait que ce serait un très bon moment pour lui mettre la main dessus. Il se prêta donc de bonne grâce à la plaisanterie de la bonne aventure et justifia ses intentions à la compagnie qui attendait.
— Eh bien, eh bien, jeunes dames, dit-il d'un air bon enfant, je suppose que je dois consentir à me sacrifier, ne serait-ce que pour faire avancer les buts charitables de Mme Pansey. Où la sibylle demeure-telle ?
— Sous cette tente ! Par ici, Votre Excellence!
Le révérend Pendle s'avança vers la tente aux guillerettes rayures, souriant largement, et, après un mouvement enjoué de la tête vers les nymphes radieuses qui l'entouraient, il envahit la sphère intime de la Mère Jael. Cargrim, poussant un soupir de soulagement d'avoir accompli son but, laissa retomber le rabat qu'il avait retenu pour le passage de l'évêque, et il fit demi-tour en se frottant les mains. Il avait atteint son but. Désormais, il ne restait plus qu'à voir ce qu'il adviendrait de la rencontre entre l'évêque et la gitane.
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For more info, please see discussion tab.
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CHAPTER XXI - MRS PANSEY'S FESTIVAL.
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'And the gardens really look nice.
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'The gardens of Paradise!'
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observed the complimentary Cargrim, who was smirking at the elbow of his hostess.
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'Don't distort Holy Writ, if—you—please!'
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'And many Adams and Eves!'
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'Lilith, doctor!
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what an improper name!
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'And what an improper person, my dear lady.
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Lilith was the other wife of Father Adam.
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'How dare you, Dr Graham!
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the first man a bigamist!
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Ridiculous!
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Profane!
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Only one rib was taken out of Adam!
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'Lilith wasn't manufactured out of a rib, Mrs Pansey.
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The devil created her to deceive Adam.
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At least, so the Rabbinists tell us!
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'Oh, those Jewish creatures!'
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said the lady, with a sniff.
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'I don't think much of their opinion.
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What do Jews know about the Bible?
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'We are becoming theological,' observed Cargrim, smoothly.
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Remember Ananias and his lies, sir.'
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'That is a piece of Daisy's foolishness, doctor.
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It contains a gipsy, whom she induced me to hire for some fortune-telling rubbish.
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'Oh, how sweet!
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how jolly!'
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cried a mixed chorus of young voices.
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'A real gipsy, Mrs Pansey?'
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and the good lady was besieged with questions.
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'She is cunning and dirty enough to be genuine, my dears.
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Some of you may know her.
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Mother Jael!
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'Aroint thee, witch!'
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cried Dr Graham, 'that old beldam; oh, she can "pen dukherin" to some purpose.
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I have heard of her; so have the police.
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'What language is that?'
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'I'd like to see anyone swear here,' said Mrs Pansey, grimly.
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'Do you mean to tell me that those creatures have a language of their own?'
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asked Miss Whichello, disbelievingly.
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'Why not?
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'You allude to the Tower of Babel, sir!'
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said Mrs Pansey, with a scowl.
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'Rather to the Tower of Fable, dear lady, since the whole story is a myth.
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There was but little chance of escape from Daisy and her small talk.
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Cupid in cap and gown and spectacles is a decidedly prosy divinity.
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'Oh, dear Mr Cargrim!'
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cried the gushing Daisy, 'is it really you?
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Oh, how very sweet of you to come to-day!
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And what is the very latest news of poor, dear Mrs Pendle?
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'I believe the Nauheim baths are doing her a great deal of good, Miss Norsham.
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If you will excuse—.
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'Nauheim!'
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'How interesting!'
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interrupted Daisy, cutting short this Stream of information.
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'You do seem to know everything, Mr Dean.
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And fancy, Mr Cargrim, a band played at the Kochbrunnen at seven in the morning.
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Did you ever hear anything so horrid?
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'Music at so early an hour would be trying, Miss Norsham!
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'Oh, the poor, dear bishop should have his fortune told by Mother Jael.
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'That would hardly be in keeping with his exalted position, Miss Norsham.
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But I'm glad to say she prophesied a lovely future.
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'Marriage and money, I presume.
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'Well, you are clever, Mr Cargrim; that is just the fortune she told me.
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How did you guess?
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'I am sure so charming a young lady deserves to be,' said Cargrim, bowing.
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'Yet he should certainly have done so before speaking to your niece.
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'No doubt!
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but unfortunately young men's heads do not always guide their hearts.
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And, of course, both Mrs Pendle and your daughter Lucy know of his love for Mab.
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'It was not with my consent that you were kept in ignorance, bishop.
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But I really do not see why you should discourage the match.
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You can see for yourself that they make a handsome pair.
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'Am I to understand that you disapprove of my niece?'
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cried the little old lady, drawing herself up.
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'By no means; by no means; how can you think me so wanting in courtesy?
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But I must confess that I desire my son to make a good match.
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'But if it is fortune you desire, I can set your mind at rest on that point.
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'A thousand a year, Miss Whichello!
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'Yes!
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and more if necessary.
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Let me tell you, bishop, I am much better off than people think.
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'I can see that for myself.
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You misunderstand me, Miss Whichello, so I must speak more explicitly.
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Who is Miss Arden?
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'She is my niece,' replied Miss Whichello, with trembling dignity.
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'The only child of my poor sister, who died when Mab was an infant in arms.
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'Quite so!'
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assented the bishop, with a nod.
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'I have always understood such to be the case.
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But—er—Mr Arden?
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'Mr Arden!'
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'Her father!
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is he alive?
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'No!'
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cried Miss Whichello, shaking her head.
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'He died long, long ago.
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'Who was he?
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'A—a—a gentleman!—a gentleman of independent fortune.
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Dr Pendle bit his nether lip and looked embarrassed.
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'I should think so indeed!'
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cried the little lady, with buckram civility.
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'To what rumours does your lordship refer?'
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asked Miss Whichello, very pale-faced, but very quiet.
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On another occasion, Miss Whichello, we shall talk about the matter.
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Still, she put a brave face on it and hoped for the best.
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'Oh, but really, it is only a joke!
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'A dignitary of the Church shouldn't joke, Miss Norsham.
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'Why not, your lordship?'
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put in Cargrim, amiably.
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'I have heard that Richelieu played with a kitten.
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'I am not Richelieu,' replied Dr Pendle, drily, 'nor is Mother Jael a kitten.
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'It's for a charity, bishop,' said Daisy, imploringly.
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What do you say, Mr Cargrim?
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Where dwells the sybil?
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'In this tent!
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This way, your lordship!
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His aim was attained.
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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 ago

For more info, please see discussion tab.
CHAPTER XXI - MRS PANSEY'S FESTIVAL.
Once a year the archdeacon's widow discharged her social obligations by throwing open the gaol in which she dwelt. Her festival, to which all that Beorminster could boast of in the way of society was invited, usually took the form of an out-of-door party, as Mrs Pansey found that she could receive more people, and trouble herself less about their entertainment, by filling her grounds than by crushing them into the rather small reception-rooms of her house. Besides, the gardens were really charming, and the wide-spreading green of the lawns, surrounded by ample flower-beds, now brilliant with rainbow blossoms, looked most picturesque when thronged with well-dressed, well-bred, well-pleased guests. Nearly all the invitations had been accepted; firstly, because Mrs Pansey made things unpleasant afterwards for such defiant spirits as stayed away; secondly, for the very attractive reason that the meat and drink provided by the hostess were of the best. Thus Mrs Pansey's entertainments were usually the most successful of the Beorminster season.
On this auspicious occasion the clerk of the weather had granted the hostess an especially fine day. Sunshine filled the cloudless arch of the blue sky; the air was warm, but tempered by a softly-blowing breeze; and the guests, to do honour at once to Mrs Pansey and the delightful weather, wore their most becoming and coolest costumes. Pretty girls laughed in the sunshine; matrons gossiped beneath the rustling trees; and the sober black coats of the clerical element subdued the too vivid tints of the feminine frippery. The scene was animated and full of colour and movement, so that even Mrs Pansey's grim countenance expanded into an unusual smile when greeting fresh arrivals. At intervals a band played lively dance music; there was croquet and lawn-tennis for the young; iced coffee and scandal for the old. Altogether, the company, being mostly youthful and unthinking, was enjoying itself immensely, as the chatter and laughter, and smiling and bowing amply testified.
'Altogether, I may regard it as a distinct success,' said Mrs Pansey, as, attired in her most Hamlet-like weeds, she received her guests under the shade of a many-coloured Japanese umbrella. 'And the gardens really look nice.
'The gardens of Paradise!' observed the complimentary Cargrim, who was smirking at the elbow of his hostess.
'Don't distort Holy Writ, if—you—please!' snapped Mrs Pansey, who still reserved the right of being disagreeable even at her own entertainment; 'but if you do call this the Garden of Eden, I daresay there are plenty of serpents about.
'And many Adams and Eves!' said Dr Graham, surveying the company with his usual cynicism; 'but I don't see Lilith, Mrs Pansey.
'Lilith, doctor! what an improper name!
'And what an improper person, my dear lady. Lilith was the other wife of Father Adam.
'How dare you, Dr Graham! the first man a bigamist! Ridiculous! Profane! Only one rib was taken out of Adam!
'Lilith wasn't manufactured out of a rib, Mrs Pansey. The devil created her to deceive Adam. At least, so the Rabbinists tell us!
'Oh, those Jewish creatures!' said the lady, with a sniff. 'I don't think much of their opinion. What do Jews know about the Bible?
'As much as authors generally know about their own books, I suppose,' said Graham, drily.
'We are becoming theological,' observed Cargrim, smoothly.
'Not to say blasphemous,' growled Mrs Pansey; 'at least, the doctor is, like all sceptics of his infidel profession. Remember Ananias and his lies, sir.' 'I shall rather remember Eve and her curiosity,' laughed Graham, 'and to follow so good an example let me inquire what yonder very pretty tent contains, Mrs Pansey?
'That is a piece of Daisy's foolishness, doctor. It contains a gipsy, whom she induced me to hire for some fortune-telling rubbish.
'Oh, how sweet! how jolly!' cried a mixed chorus of young voices. 'A real gipsy, Mrs Pansey?' and the good lady was besieged with questions.
'She is cunning and dirty enough to be genuine, my dears. Some of you may know her. Mother Jael!
'Aroint thee, witch!' cried Dr Graham, 'that old beldam; oh, she can "pen dukherin" to some purpose. I have heard of her; so have the police.
'What language is that?' asked Miss Whichello, who came up at this moment with a smile and a word for all; 'it sounds like swearing.
'I'd like to see anyone swear here,' said Mrs Pansey, grimly.
'Set your mind at rest, dear lady, I was speaking Romany—the black language—the calo jib which the gipsies brought from the East when they came to plunder the hen-coops of Europe.
'Do you mean to tell me that those creatures have a language of their own?' asked Miss Whichello, disbelievingly.
'Why not? I daresay their ancestors made bricks on the plain of Shinar, and were lucky enough to gain a language without the trouble of learning it.
'You allude to the Tower of Babel, sir!' said Mrs Pansey, with a scowl.
'Rather to the Tower of Fable, dear lady, since the whole story is a myth.
Not caring to hear this duel of words, and rather surprised to learn that Mother Jael was present, Cargrim slipped away at the first opportunity to ponder over the information and consider what use he could make of it. So the old woman still followed the bishop?—had followed him even into society, and had made herself Mrs Pansey's professional fortune-teller so that she might still continue to vex the eyes of her victim with the sight of her eternal red cloak. Dr Pendle was at that very moment walking amongst the guests, with his youngest son by his side, and appeared to be more cheerful and more like his former self than he had been for some time. Apparently he was as yet ignorant that Mother Jael was in his immediate vicinity; but Cargrim determined that he should be warned of her presence as speedily as possible, and be lured into having an interview with her so that his scheming chaplain might see what would come of the meeting. Also Cargrim resolved to see the old gipsy himself and renew the conversation which she had broken off when she had thieved his gold. In one way or another he foresaw that it would be absolutely necessary to force the woman into making some definite statement either inculpating or exonerating the bishop in respect of Jentham's death. Therefore, having come to this conclusion, Cargrim strolled watchfully through the merry crowd. It was his purpose to inform Dr Pendle that Mother Jael was telling fortunes in the gaily-striped tent, and his determination to bring—if possible—the prelate into contact with the old hag. From such a meeting artful Mr Cargrim hoped to gather some useful information from the conversation and behaviour of the pair.
Unfortunately Cargrim was impeded in the execution of this scheme from the fact of his remarkable popularity. He could not take two steps without being addressed by one or more of his lady admirers; and although he saw the bishop no great distance away, he could not reach him by reason of the detaining sirens. As gracefully as possible he eluded their snares, but when confronted by Daisy Norsham hanging on the arm of Dean Alder, he almost gave up hope of reaching his goal. There was but little chance of escape from Daisy and her small talk. Moreover, she was rather bored by the instructive conversation of the ancient parson, and wanted to attach herself to some younger and more frivolous man. Cupid in cap and gown and spectacles is a decidedly prosy divinity.
'Oh, dear Mr Cargrim!' cried the gushing Daisy, 'is it really you? Oh, how very sweet of you to come to-day! And what is the very latest news of poor, dear Mrs Pendle?
'I believe the Nauheim baths are doing her a great deal of good, Miss Norsham. If you will excuse—.
'Nauheim!' croaked the dean, with a dry cough, 'is unknown to me save as a geographical expression, but the town of Baden-Baden, formally called Aurelia Aquensis, was much frequented by the Romans on account of its salubrious and health-giving springs. I may also instance Aachen, vulgarly termed Aix-la-Chapelle, but known to the Latins as Aquisgranum or—.
'How interesting!' interrupted Daisy, cutting short this Stream of information. 'You do seem to know everything, Mr Dean. The only German watering-place I have been to is Wiesbaden, where the doctors made me get up at five o'clock to drink the waters. And fancy, Mr Cargrim, a band played at the Kochbrunnen at seven in the morning. Did you ever hear anything so horrid?
'Music at so early an hour would be trying, Miss Norsham!
'Aqua Mattiacæ was the Roman appellation of Wiesbaden,' murmured Dr Alder, twiddling his eye-glass. 'I hear on good medical authority that the waters are most beneficial to renovate health and arrest decay. I should advise his lordship, the bishop, to visit the springs, for of late I have noticed that he appears to be sadly out of sorts.
'He is looking much better to-day,' observed the chaplain, with a glance at the bishop, who was now conversing with Miss Whichello.
'Oh, the poor, dear bishop should have his fortune told by Mother Jael.
'That would hardly be in keeping with his exalted position, Miss Norsham.
'Oh, really, I don't see that it is so very dreadful,' cried Daisy, with one of her silvery peals of artificial laughter, 'and it's only fun. Mother Jael might tell him if he was going to be ill or not, you know, and he could take medicine if he was. Besides, she does tell the truth; oh, really, it's too awful what she knew about me. But I'm glad to say she prophesied a lovely future.
'Marriage and money, I presume.
'Well, you are clever, Mr Cargrim; that is just the fortune she told me. How did you guess? I'm to meet my future husband here; he is to be rich and adore me, and I'm to be very, very happy.
'I am sure so charming a young lady deserves to be,' said Cargrim, bowing.
'Siderum regina bicornis audi, Luna puellas,' quoted Mr Dean, with a side glance at the radiant Daisy; and if that confident lady had understood Latin, she would have judged from this satirical quotation that Dr Alder was not so subjugated by her charms as to contemplate matrimony. But being ignorant, she was—in accordance with the proverb—blissful, and babbled on with a never-failing stream of small talk, which was at times momentarily obstructed by the heavy masses of information cast into it by the dean.
Leaving this would-be May and wary old December to their unequal flirtation, Cargrim again attempted to reach the bishop, but was captured by Miss Tancred, much to his disgust. She entertained him with a long and minute account of her rheumatic pains and the means by which she hoped to cure them. Held thus as firmly as the wedding guest was by the Ancient Mariner, Cargrim lost the chance of hearing a very interesting conversation between Miss Whichello and the bishop; but, from the clouded brow of Dr Pendle, he saw that something was wrong, and chafed at his enforced detention. Nevertheless, Miss Tancred kept him beside her until she exhausted her trickle of small talk. It took all Cargrim's tact and politeness and Christianity to endure patiently her gabble.
'Yes, bishop,' Miss Whichello was saying, with some annoyance, 'your son has admired my niece for some considerable time. Lately they became engaged, but I refused to give my consent until your sanction and approval had been obtained.
'George has said nothing to me on the subject,' replied Dr Pendle, in a vexed tone. 'Yet he should certainly have done so before speaking to your niece.
'No doubt! but unfortunately young men's heads do not always guide their hearts. Still, Captain Pendle promised me to tell you all during his present visit to Beorminster. And, of course, both Mrs Pendle and your daughter Lucy know of his love for Mab.
'It would appear that I am the sole person ignorant of the engagement, Miss Whichello.
'It was not with my consent that you were kept in ignorance, bishop. But I really do not see why you should discourage the match. You can see for yourself that they make a handsome pair.
Dr Pendle cast an angry look towards the end of the lawn, where George and Mab were talking earnestly together.
'I don't deny their physical suitability,' he said severely, 'but more than good looks are needed to make a happy marriage.
'Am I to understand that you disapprove of my niece?' cried the little old lady, drawing herself up.
'By no means; by no means; how can you think me so wanting in courtesy? But I must confess that I desire my son to make a good match.
'You should rather wish him to get a good wife,' retorted Miss Whichello, who was becoming annoyed. 'But if it is fortune you desire, I can set your mind at rest on that point. Mab will inherit my money when I die; and should she marry Captain Pendle during my lifetime, I shall allow the young couple a thousand a year.
'A thousand a year, Miss Whichello!
'Yes! and more if necessary. Let me tell you, bishop, I am much better off than people think.
The bishop, rather nonplussed, looked down at his neat boots and very becoming gaiters. 'I am not so worldly-minded as you infer, Miss Whichello,' said he, mildly; 'and did George desire to marry a poor girl, I have enough money of my own to humour his whim. But if his heart is set on making Miss Arden his wife, I should like—if you will pardon my candour—to know more about the young lady.
'Mab is the best and most charming girl in the world,' said the little Jennie Wren, pale, and a trifle nervous.
'I can see that for myself. You misunderstand me, Miss Whichello, so I must speak more explicitly. Who is Miss Arden?
'She is my niece,' replied Miss Whichello, with trembling dignity. 'The only child of my poor sister, who died when Mab was an infant in arms.
'Quite so!' assented the bishop, with a nod. 'I have always understood such to be the case. But—er—Mr Arden?
'Mr Arden!' faltered the old lady, turning her face from the company, that its pallor and anxiety might not be seen.
'Her father! is he alive?
'No!' cried Miss Whichello, shaking her head. 'He died long, long ago.
'Who was he?
'A—a—a gentleman!—a gentleman of independent fortune.
Dr Pendle bit his nether lip and looked embarrassed. 'Miss Whichello,' he said at length, in a hesitating tone, 'your niece is a charming young lady, and, so far as she herself is concerned, is quite fit to become the wife of my son George.
'I should think so indeed!' cried the little lady, with buckram civility.
'But,' continued the bishop, with emphasis, 'I have heard rumours about her parentage which do not satisfy me. Whether these are true or not is best known to yourself, Miss Whichello; but before consenting to the engagement you speak of, I should like to be fully informed on the point.
'To what rumours does your lordship refer?' asked Miss Whichello, very pale-faced, but very quiet.
'This is neither the time nor place to inform you,' said the bishop, hastily; 'I see Mr Cargrim advancing. On another occasion, Miss Whichello, we shall talk about the matter.
As the chaplain, with three or four young ladies, including Miss Norsham, was bearing down on the bishop, Miss Whichello recognised the justice of his speech, and not feeling equal to talk frivolity, she hastily retreated and ran into the house to fight down her emotion. What the poor little woman felt was known only to herself; but she foresaw that the course of true love, so far as it concerned George and Mab, was not likely to run smooth. Still, she put a brave face on it and hoped for the best.
In the meantime, Bishop Pendle was enveloped in a whirl of petticoats, as Cargrim's Amazonian escort, prompted by the chaplain, was insisting that he should have his fortune told by Mother Jael. The bishop looked perturbed on hearing that his red-cloaked phantom was so close at hand, but he managed to keep his countenance, and laughingly refused to comply with the demand of the ladies.
'Think of what the newspapers would say,' he urged, 'if a bishop were to consult this Witch of Endor.
'Oh, but really, it is only a joke!
'A dignitary of the Church shouldn't joke, Miss Norsham.
'Why not, your lordship?' put in Cargrim, amiably. 'I have heard that Richelieu played with a kitten.
'I am not Richelieu,' replied Dr Pendle, drily, 'nor is Mother Jael a kitten.
'It's for a charity, bishop,' said Daisy, imploringly. 'I pay Mother Jael for the day, and give the rest to Mrs Pansey's Home for servants out of work.
'Oh, for a charity,' repeated Dr Pendle, smiling; 'that puts quite a different complexion on the question. What do you say, Mr Cargrim?
'I don't think that your lordship can refuse the prayer of these charming young ladies,' replied the chaplain, obsequiously.
Now, the bishop really wished to see Mother Jael in order to learn why she haunted him so persistently; and as she had always vanished heretofore, he thought that the present would be a very good time to catch her. He therefore humoured the joke of fortune-telling for his own satisfaction, and explained as much to the expectant company.
'Well, well, young ladies,' said he, good-naturedly, 'I suppose I must consent to be victimised if only to further the charitable purposes of Mrs Pansey. Where dwells the sybil?
'In this tent! This way, your lordship!
Dr Pendle advanced towards the gaily-striped tent, smiling broadly, and with a playful shake of the head at the laughing nymphs around, he invaded the privacy of Mother Jael. With a sigh of relief at having accomplished his purpose, Cargrim let fall the flap which he had held up for the bishop's entry, and turned away, rubbing his hands. His aim was attained. It now remained to be seen what would come of the meeting between bishop and gipsy.