en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 29 Hard
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CHAPITRE XXIX - LA CONFESSION DE L'ÉVÊQUE PENDLE.
M. Cargrim était très en colère, et Baltic était le motif de son état d'esprit peu chrétien. En tant qu'employeur du soit-disant missionnaire et véritable enquêteur, l'aumônier s'attendait à être informé de chaque nouvelle découverte, mais Baltic ne partageait pas ce point de vue. De sa manière solennelle, il informa Cargrim qu'il préférait conserver ses informations, méthodes et soupçons pour lui-même jusqu'à ce qu'il soit sûr de capturer le véritable criminel. Lorsque l'homme sera incarcéré dans la prison de Beorminster, quand sa complicité dans le crime sera prouvée, sans doute aucun, Baltic promet d'écrire, pour l'édification de son employeur, un compte rendu détaillé des mesures prises ayant permis d'atteindre un résultat aussi satisfaisant. Aucun des arguments de Cargrim ne parvint à faire fléchir cette détermination implacable.
Cet état de choses était d'autant plus vexatoire que Cargrim savait que l'ex-marin avait rencontré Mère Jael, et soupçonnait judicieusement qu'il avait obtenu de la vieille de précieuses informations susceptibles d'incriminer l'évêque. Si ces preuves nouvellement trouvées incriminaient l'évêque ou pas, Baltic refusa fortement de le dire et Cargrim fut furieux d'être laissé dans l'ignorance. Il était particulièrement soucieux de la culpabilité de Monseigneur Pendle et qu'elle puisse être prouvée sans perdre de temps, M. Leigh de Heathcroft sombrant rapidement, bientôt un nouveau recteur pourrait être nécessaire à cette paroisse convoitée. Certes Cargrim, comme il l'imaginait crédulement, avait contrecarré la candidature de Gabriel en révélant à l'évêque, l'amour du jeune homme pour Bell Mosk. Pourtant, même si Gabriel n'était pas nommé, Monseigneur Pendle avait ouvertement informé Cargrim qu'il ne devait pas s'attendre à une nomination, donc, l'aumônier prévoyait qu'à moins d'exercer une influence sur l'évêque avant le décès de Leigh, la faveur serait attribuée à un étranger. Ce n'était pas étonnant, alors, qu'il détestât le mutisme de Baltic et enrageât de sa propre impuissance. Il regrettait presque d'avoir sollicité l'assistance d'un homme qui se révélait plus susceptible d'être un obstacle qu'une aide. Pour une fois, le cerveau intrigant de Cargrim ne pourrait concevoir aucun recours.
Rôdant dans la bibliothèque comme à son habitude, Mr Cargrim fut très étonné d'avoir la visite du Dr Graham. Bien sûr, la visite était pour l'évêque, mais Cargrim, se trouvant seul dans la bibliothèque, s'avança avec onction, manière obséquieuse d'accueillir le nouvel arrivant, et il lui demanda poliment ce qu'il pouvait pour lui.
— Vous pouvez informer l'évêque que je désire le voir, je vous prie, dit Graham, avec un visage parfaitement impassible.
— Monseigneur fait une courte sieste en ce moment, répondit affablement Cargrim, mais si je peux faire quoi que ce soit ...
— Vous ne pouvez rien faire, M. Cargrim. Je souhaite un entretien privé avec l'évêque Pendle.
— Il doit s'agir d'une affaire importante.
— En effet, rétorqua brusquement Graham, si importante que je dois voir l'évêque sur-le-champ.
— Oh, certainement, docteur. Je suis désolé de constater que vous n'avez pas l'air bien.
— Je vous remercie, je vais aussi bien que possible.
— Vraiment ! en considération de quoi, docteur Graham ?
— En considération du fait que l'on me fait attendre ici, M. Cargrim. À la suite de ce discours significatif, il ne resta plus pour l’aumônier vaincu que de battre en retraite aussi gracieusement qu'il le pouvait. Cargrim savait parfaitement, par expérience, qu'une joute verbale avec le docteur Graham, dont la langue était acérée, ne pouvait que terminer en déconfiture. Mais, en dépit de toute sa ruse, il se brûlait généralement les doigts à cette flamme si souvent touchée.
Extrêmement curieux de connaître la raison de la visite inattendue de Graham et de son air défait, Cargrim, après avoir informé l'évêque que le médecin l'attendait, tenta de jouer le rôle de tiers dans l'entrevue en se glissant derrière son supérieur. Graham , toutefois, était trop malin pour lui, et après quelques mots à l'évêque, il fit entendre au chapelain que sa présence n'était pas indispensable. Ainsi Cargrim, tel les Pari aux portes du Paradis, se trouva forcé d'épier aussi proche qu'il le pouvait de la porte de la bibliothèque, et il tendit en vain l'oreille pour deviner ce qu'il se disaient tous les deux. Eût-il su que le sujet essentiel de l'entrevue concernait le secret de Monseigneur Pendle, qu'il en eût été encore plus enragé qu'il ne l'était. Mais, pour le moment, le Destin était contre le rusé chapelain, et, à la fin, il fut contraint de s'adonner à une marche solitaire et boudeuse, au cours de laquelle ses réflexions sur Graham et Baltic étaient tout le contraire d'aimables. En tant que vaincu rapporteur, M. Cargrim ne méritait pas son habit.
Monseigneur Pendle avait l'air d'un homme brusquement tiré de son sommeil, et était enclin à se montrer grincheux envers Graham qui l'avait dérangé à un moment aussi inopportun. Encore qu'il soit cinq heures de l'après-midi, ce qui n'était pas vraiment une heure normale pour une sieste, comme le fit froidement remarquer le médecin.
— Je ne dormais pas, dit l'évêque en s'installant à son bureau. Je me suis juste allongé pendant à peu près une demi-heure.
— Rongé d'inquiétude, je présume ?
— Oui, soupira l'évêque Pendle. mon fardeau est beaucoup plus lourd que je ne peux supporter.
— Je suis entièrement d'accord avec vous, répondit Graham, je suis donc venu vous aider à le supporter.
— Ce n'est pas possible. Pour y parvenir, vous devriez connaître la vérité, et que Dieu me vienne en aide ! Je n'ose même pas vous la dire.
— Il n'est pas nécessaire pour vous de le faire, Pendle. Je connais votre secret.
L'évêque fit pivoter sa chaise d'un mouvement rapide et observa le visage compréhensif de Graham avec un mélange d'expression d'effroi et de stupéfaction. À peine sa langue pouvait-elle formuler un mot.
— Vous... connaissez... mon... secret ! bafouilla Pendle, les lèvres pâles.
— Oui, je sais que Krant n'est pas mort à Sedan comme nous le supposions. Je sais qu'il est revenu à la vie, à Beorminster, sous le nom de Jentham ! Tenez bon, monsieur ! ne cédez pas, car l'évêque, en poussant un profond soupir, était tombé en avant sur son bureau et, la tête grisonnante au creux de ses bras, il était là, silencieux et brisé dans l'angoisse du doute, de la peur et de la honte.
— Soyez un homme, George Pendle, dit Graham, qui savait que le père était plus viril que le fils, et avait donc besoin de la tonicité des mots plutôt que d'un remède calmant de la médecine. Si vous croyez en vos prêches, si vous êtes un fidèle serviteur de votre Dieu, faites appel à votre religion, à votre Dieu, pour vous aider à supporter vos ennuis. Redressez-vous en homme, mon ami, et faites face au pire !
— Hélas ! — Hélas ! Les eaux se sont refermées sur moi, Graham.
— Pouvez-vous espérer autre chose si vous vous laissez couler sans effort ? dit le docteur, assez cyniquement ; mais si vous ne pouvez pas tirer de force de la religion, alors soyez tel un stoïcien, et libre de l'assistance surnaturelle.
L'évêque releva la tête et se dressa soudain de toute sa hauteur jusqu'à ce qu'il domine le petit docteur. Son visage pâle prit une expression plus calme, et, étendant le bras, il déclama de sa voix la plus profonde un texte des Psaumes, de la plus majestueuse manière qu'il pût : « En Dieu reposent mon salut et ma gloire ; le rocher de ma force, mon refuge, est en Dieu.»
— Bravo ! dit Graham avec un hochement de tête satisfait, voilà l'esprit qui convient pour résoudre les problèmes. Et maintenant, Pendle, avec votre permission, nous allons aborder le sujet plus en détail.
— Ce sera aussi bien, répondit l'évêque, et il parla d'un air recueilli et grave, sans aucune trace de sa récente agitation. Quand il en avait le plus besoin, la force lui venait d'en haut, et il était capable de discuter du douloureux sujet de ses malheurs personnels, avec courage et avec jugement.
— Comment avez-vous appris mon secret, Graham ? demanda-t-il après une pause.
— Indirectement de Gabriel.
— Gabriel, dit l'évêque en tremblant, est à Nauheim !
— Vous vous trompez, Pendle. Il est revenu à Beominster ce matin, et comme il avait peur de vous parler au sujet de Jentham, il est venu me demander mon avis. Le pauvre garçon est effondré et souffrant, et il se trouve actuellement dans mon cabinet en attendant mon retour.
— Comment Gabriel a-t-il découvert la vérité ? demanda Pendle, l'air douloureux..
— D'une confidence de sa mère.
L'évêque, en dépit du calme qu'il s'imposait, gémit à haute voix. Que sait-elle de tout ça ? Murmura-t-il, tandis que des gouttes de transpiration perlaient sur son front et trahissaient son angoisse intérieure. — Cette honte n'aurait-elle pu m'être épargnée ? Ne vous précipitez pas, Pendle, votre femme ne sait rien.
— Dieu Merci ! dit l'évêque avec ferveur ; puis ajouta presque immédiatement, — Ma femme, dites-vous. Hélas ! Hélas ! c'est que je n'ose l'appeler ainsi.
— C'est donc vrai ? demanda Graham, soudain très pâle.
— Parfaitement exact. Krant n'avait pas été tué. Krant était revenu ici sous le nom de Jentham. Ma femme n'est pas ma femme ! Mes enfants sont illégitimes ; ils n'ont pas de nom ; ce sont des parias. Oh quelle honte ! Oh, quelle disgrâce ! et Monseigneur Pendle gémissait à haute voix.
Graham éprouvait de l'empathie pour la détresse de cet homme, qui était surement naturelle après la terrible calamité qui était tombée sur lui et les siens. George Pendle était un prêtre et un prélat, mais il était aussi un fils d'Adam, et sujet, comme tout mortel, à la force comme à la faiblesse, aux moments de doute, à la peur, aux tremblements, à la plus grande consternation. Que le mal vînt à lui seul, il eût pu le supporter avec plus de tolérance, mais qu'il le séparât de sa femme chérie, qu'il fît de ses enfants, dont il était si fier, des parias, qui pourrait penser qu'il dût se sentir enclin à crier avec Job : « Est-ce bon pour toi que tu opprimes ? » Néanmoins, comme Job, l’évêque tenait fortement son à intégrité.
Pourtant, pour qu'il puisse avoir un peu de réconfort dans son malheur, que cette angoisse puisse lui être épargnée, Graham lui confirma que Mme Pendle ignorait la vérité, et relata intégralement l'histoire et la façon avec laquelle Gabriel en était venu à relier Jentham avec Krant. Pendle écoutait en silence et remerciait Dieu intérieurement qu'au moins une telle pitié lui soit accordée. Puis, à son tour, il se confia à son vieil ami, se remémorant les premiers jours de sa relation amoureuse et de son mariage, parla de la longue période de paix et de bonheur tranquille dont sa femme et lui avaient bénéficié, termina par un compte-rendu détaillé de la visite et des menaces de Krant et l'angoisse que sa réapparition avait causée.
— Vous vous en souvenez, Graham ! dit-il, avec une parfaite maîtrise de soi, — comment, il y a près de trente ans, j'étais vicaire de St Benedict dans Marylebone, et comment vous, mon vieux camarade d'université, pratiquiez la médecine dans la même paroisse.
— Je m'en souviens, Pendle ; il n'est pas nécessaire de vous torturer l'esprit en vous remémorant le passé.
— Je dois le faire, mon ami, dit l'évêque, avec fermeté, afin que vous puissiez comprendre pleinement ma position. Comme vous le savez, ma chère épouse — car je dois encore l'appeler ainsi — est venue résider là sous son nom de femme mariée, Mme Krant. Elle était pauvre et malheureuse, et quand je l'ai conviée, en tant que vicaire de la paroisse, elle m'a raconté sa misérable histoire. Comment elle avait quitté sa maison et sa famille pour ce misérable qui avait séduit son affection naïve et juvénile par sa beauté physique et ses manières enchanteresses ; comment il la traita mal, dépensa quasiment tout son argent, et finalement l'abandonna, l'année qui suivit le mariage, avec juste assez de quoi éviter la famine. Elle me dit que Krant était parti pour Paris et servait comme engagé volontaire dans l'armée française, tandis qu'elle, brisée et malheureuse, était venue dans ma paroisse pour se vouer à Dieu et travailler parmi les pauvres.
— C'était une femme charmante ! Elle l'est encore aujourd'hui ! dit Graham avec un soupir. — Je ne suis pas surpris que vous l'ayez aimée.
— Que je l'aie aimée, Monsieur ! Pourquoi parlez-vous au passé ? Je l'aime toujours. J'aimerai toujours cette douce compagne de ces nombreuses et heureuses années. Dès que je l'ai vue dans ce pauvre logement londonien, je l'ai aimée de toutes mes forces. Mais comme vous savez, étant déjà mariée, elle ne pouvait pas être ma femme. Ensuite, peu de temps après la reddition de Sedan, cette lettre est arrivée pour lui announcer que son mari était mort, et qu'en mourant, il avait demandé pardon pour ses mauvaises actions. Hélas ! hélas ! Cette lettre était un faux !
— Nous avons cru tous les deux qu'elle était authentique, Pendle, et vous êtes allé en France après la guerre pour voir la tombe de l'homme.
J'y suis allé et j'ai vu la sépulture... je l'ai vue avec sa pierre tombale, dans un petit cimetière d'Alsace, avec le nom de Stephen Krant peint en lettres gothiques noires. Je n'ai jamais douté qu'il était allongé sous terre, et j'ai cherché partout cet homme, Léon Durand, qui avait écrit cette lettre à la demande de son camarade mourant. Je vous demande, Graham, qui aurait pu ne pas croire à l'évidence de la lettre et de la pierre tombale ?
— Personne, assurément ! répliqua Graham gravement, mais c'est dommage que vous n'ayez pas pu trouver Léon Durand, afin d'ôter l'ultime doute à cette affaire
— Le trouver ! fit l'évêque en écho et avec passion. Personne au monde n'aurait pu trouver l'homme. Il n'existait pas !
Alors, qui a écrit la lettre ?
Krant lui-même, comme il me l'a révélé dans cette même pièce, le sale menteur !
— Mais son écriture ? sa femme n'avait-elle pas ...
— Non ! cria Pendle, en se levant et allant et venant, en grande agitation, le bonhomme avait déguisé son écriture pour que sa femme ne puisse pas la reconnaître. Il ne voulait pas rester uni à elle, mais vagabonder par monts et par vaux, et vivre sa vie dans le péché. Voilà pourquoi il a envoyé cette fausse lettre pour faire croire à Amy qu'il était mort. Et elle l'a cru, plus particulièrement après que je sois revenu lui dire que j'avais vu sa tombe. Je croyais aussi qu'il était mort. Vous auriez fait pareil, Graham.
— Certainement, approuva Graham, à n'en pas douter. — Qui aurait pu croire que Krant ait été une telle canaille ?
Je l'ai traité ainsi quand il est venu me voir ici, dit Pendle, d'un geste emphatique. Tout vieil homme et prêtre que je suis, j'aurais pu le tuer, quand il était assis sur la chaise là, souriant de mon malheur, et se moquant de ma position.
— Comment a-t-il su que vous étiez marié à Mme Krant ?
En retournant à la paroisse de Marylebone. Il avait vagabondé partout dans le monde, comme le Cain qu'il était ; mais s'étant retrouvé sans le sou, il était revenu en Angleterre pour retrouver Amy, et, j'imagine, la voler du peu d'argent qu'il avait bien voulu lui laisser. Il connaissait son adresse à Marylebone, car elle lui avait dit où elle se rendait avant qu'il ne l'abandonnât.
— Mais comment a-t-il eu connaissance du mariage ? demanda de nouveau Graham.
— Je ne peux le dire ; mais il savait que sa femme, après son abandon, s'était dévouée aux bonne œuvres, sans aucun doute il était allé à l'église et s'était enquis d'elle. L'ancien bedeau qui a assisté à notre mariage est toujours vivant, donc je suppose qu'il a dit à Krant qu'Amy était ma femme et que j'étais évêque de Beorminster. Mais quelque soit la façon dont il a appris la vérité, il est parvenu jusqu'ici et lorsque je suis entré dans cette pièce pendant la réception, je l'ai trouvé qui m'attendait.
— Comment avez-vous reconnu un homme dont le visage vous était inconnu ?
— D'après un portrait qu'Amy m'avait montré, ainsi que la description qu'elle m'a donné de son apparence gitane et de sa cicatrice sur le visage. Il n'avait pas changé du tout, et j'avais devant moi le même visage cruel que j'avais vu sur le portrait. Je suis resté confus tout d'abord, car je connaissais son visage mais pas son nom. Quand il m'a appris qu'il était Stephen Krant, que ma femme était en réalité sa femme et que mes enfants n'avaient plus de nom, je... je... oh, mon Dieu ! s'écria Pendle, couvrant de ses mains son visage, ce fut terrible ! Terrible !
— Mon pauvre ami !
L'évêque se laissa tomber sur une chaise. — Après bientôt trente ans, gémit-il, rendez-vous compte, Graham... quelle honte, quelle horreur ! Oh, mon Dieu !
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For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.
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CHAPTER XXIX - THE CONFESSION OF BISHOP PENDLE.
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Mr Cargrim was very much out of temper, and Baltic was the cause of his unchristian state of mind.
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And from this stern determination all Cargrim's arguments failed to move him.
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For once, Cargrim's scheming brain could devise no remedy.
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'You can do nothing, Mr Cargrim.
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I wish for a private interview with Dr Pendle.
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'Your business must be important.
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'It is,' retorted Graham, abruptly; 'so important that I must see the bishop at once.
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'Oh, certainly, doctor.
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I am sorry to see that you do not look well.
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'Thank you; I am as well as can be expected.
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'Really!
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considering what, Dr Graham?
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But in spite of all his cunning he usually burnt his fingers at a twice-touched flame.
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As a defeated sneak, Mr Cargrim was not a credit to his cloth.
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'I was not asleep,' said the bishop, settling himself at his writing-table.
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'I simply lay down for half-an-hour or so.
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'Worn out with worry, I suppose?
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'Yes,' Dr Pendle sighed; 'my burden is almost greater than I can bear.
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'I quite agree with you,' replied Graham, 'therefore I have come to help you to bear it.
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'That is impossible.
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To do so, you must know the truth, and—God help me!—I dare not tell it even to you.
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'There is no need for you to do so, Pendle.
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I know your secret.
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Hardly could his tongue frame itself to speech.
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'You—know—my—secret!'
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stuttered Pendle, with pale lips.
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'Yes, I know that Krant did not die at Sedan as we supposed.
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I know that he returned to life—to Beorminster—to you, under the name of Jentham!
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Hold up, man!
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Stand up manfully, my friend, and face the worst!
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'Alas!
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alas!
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many waters have gone over me, Graham.
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'Can you expect anything else if you permit yourself to sink without an effort?'
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'Good!'
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said Graham, with a satisfied nod; 'that is the proper spirit in which to meet trouble.
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And now, Pendle, with your leave, we will approach the subject with more particularity.
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'How did you learn my secret, Graham?'
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he asked, after a pause.
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'Indirectly from Gabriel.
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'Gabriel,' said the bishop, trembling, 'is at Nauheim!
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'You are mistaken, Pendle.
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The poor lad is broken down and ill, and is now lying in my consulting-room until I return.
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'How did Gabriel learn the truth?'
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asked Pendle, with a look of pain.
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'From something his mother said.
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The bishop, in spite of his enforced calmness, groaned aloud.
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'Does she know of it?'
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he murmured, while drops of perspiration beaded his forehead and betrayed his inward agony.
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'Could not that shame be spared me?'
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'Do not be hasty, Pendle, your wife knows nothing.
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'Thank God!'
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said the bishop, fervently; then added, almost immediately, 'You say my wife.
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Alas!
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alas!
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that I dare not call her so.
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'It is true, then?'
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asked Graham, becoming very pale.
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'Perfectly true.
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Krant was not killed.
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Krant returned here under the name of Jentham.
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My wife is not my wife!
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My children are illegitimate; they have no name; outcasts they are.
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Oh, the shame!
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Oh, the disgrace!'
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and Dr Pendle groaned aloud.
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Nevertheless, like Job, the bishop held fast his integrity.
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'You remember, Graham!'
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'I remember, Pendle; there is no need for you to make your heart ache by recalling the past.
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'I must, my friend,' said the bishop, firmly, 'in order that you may fully understand my position.
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'She was a charming woman!
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She is so now!'
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said Graham, with a sigh.
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'I do not wonder that you loved her.
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'Loved, sir!
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Why speak in the past tense?
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I love her still.
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I shall always love that sweet companion of these many happy years.
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But you know that, being already married, she could not be my wife.
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Alas!
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alas!
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that letter was false!
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I ask you, Graham, who would have disbelieved the evidence of letter and tombstone?
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'No one, certainly!'
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'Find him!'
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echoed the bishop, passionately.
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'No one on earth could have found the man.
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He did not exist.
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'Then who wrote the letter?
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'Krant himself, as he told me in this very room, the wicked plotter!
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'But his handwriting; would not his wife have—.
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'No!'
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He did not wish to be bound to her, but to wander far and wide, and live his own sinful life.
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That was why he sent the forged letter to make Amy believe that he was dead.
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And she did believe, the more especially after I returned to tell how I had seen his grave.
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I thought also that he was dead.
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So did you, Graham.
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'Certainly,' assented Graham, 'there was no reason to doubt the fact.
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Who would have believed that Krant was such a scoundrel?
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'I called him that when he came to see me here,' said Dr Pendle, with a passionate gesture.
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'How did he find out that you had married Mrs Krant?
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'By going back to the Marylebone parish.
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'But how did he learn about the marriage?'
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asked Graham, again.
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'How did you recognise a man you had not seen?
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He had not altered at all, and I beheld before me the same wicked face I had seen in the portrait.
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I was confused at first, as I knew the face but not the name.
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cried Pendle, covering his face with his hands, 'it was terrible!
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terrible!
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'My poor friend!
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The bishop threw himself into a chair.
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'After close on thirty years,' he moaned, 'think of it, Graham—the shame, the horror!
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Oh, God!
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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 9 months, 3 weeks ago

For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.

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