en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 30 Hard
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CHAPITRE XXX - CHANTAGE.
Pendant quelques instants, Graham ne parla plus, mais il regarda avec pitié le corps ébranlé par le chagrin et les épaules voutées de son ami si douloureusement accablé. En effet, la position de l'homme était telle qu'il ne voyait pas quel réconfort il pouvait apporter, et donc, très sagement, il garda le silence. Cependant, comme l’évêque, recouvrant son calme, demeurait toujours toujours silencieux, il ne put s'empêcher de lui offrir un peu de soutien.
— Ne soyez pas si affligé, Pendle ! dit-il en posant la main sur son épaule, ce n'est pas votre faute si vous êtes dans cette situation.
L'évêque soupira et murmura avec un hochement de tête : — Omnis qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati !
— Mais vous n'avez pas commis de péché ! brailla Graham, désapprouvant le contenu. Vous ! votre femme ! moi-même ! tout le monde croyait que Krant était mort et enterré. L'homme a pris la fuite, menti, et falsifié, pour obtenir sa liberté.. pour se débarrasser des liens du mariage qui l'embarrassaient. C'était lui le pécheur, pas vous, mon pauvre, et innocent ami !
— C'est vrai, docteur, mais j'en pâtis. Si Dieu dans sa miséricorde ne m'avait pas soutenu en ces temps difficiles, je ne sais pas comment j'aurais supporté mon malheur, affaibli, mortel égaré que je suis.
Ce propos convient à votre âge et à votre charge, dit d'un air grave le docteur, et j'approuve tout à fait cela. Malgré tout, il y a une autre expression religieuse... je ne sais pas si on peut le qualifier de message — « Dieu aide ceux qui s'aident eux-mêmes ». Vous feriez bien Pendle, de le prendre à cœur.
— Comment puis-je m'aider moi-même ? dit l'évêque désespéré. L'homme est mort à présent, sans aucun doute ; mais il était vivant quand j'ai épousé sa supposée veuve, donc la cérémonie est nulle et non avenue. Ne nous voilons pas la face.
Avez-vous consulté un avocat sur ce point ?
— Non. La loi ne peut pas sanctionner une union... du moins à mes yeux ... je sais que c'est contre les fondements de l'Église. Pour autant que je sache, si un mari abandonne sa femme et ne donne pas de nouvelles pendant sept ans, celle-ci peut se remarier après cette période sans être passible de poursuites pour bigamie, mais de toute façon la deuxième cérémonie n'est pas légale.
Mme Krant est devenue votre femme avant la fin des sept ans, je sais, déclara Graham, en fronçant les sourcils.
— Incontestablement. Et par conséquent, elle est... aux yeux de la loi, bigame... frissonna l'évêque, bien que... Dieu m'est témoin , elle croyait vraiment son mari mort. Mais je m'en tiens au point de vue religieux, docteur, en tant qu'homme d'église, je ne peux vivre avec une femme dont je sais qu'elle n'est pas ma femme. Voilà la raison pour laquelle je me suis séparé d'elle.
Mais vous ne pourrez pas toujours la tenir à l'écart, Monseigneur ! à moins que vous ne lui expliquiez la situation.
— Je n'ose pas le faire en raison de son état de santé, le choc la tuerait. Non Graham, je vois bien que tôt ou tard elle doit savoir, mais j'ai souhaité son absence pour prendre le temps de considérer ma terrible situation. J'ai fait le tour de la question sous tous ses aspects... mais, que Dieu m'aide ! Je ne vois aucun espoir... pas d'échappatoire. Hélas ! Hélas ! C'est sans espoir, j'ai essayé en vain.
Graham réfléchit. Êtes-vous totalement sûr que Jentham et Krant soient un seul et même homme ? hésita-t-il.
— J'en suis certain, répondit Pendle avec assurance. Il n'y avait pas de doute possible avec le visage basané de gitan et cette cicatrice particulière sur la joue droite. Et il savait tout de ma femme, Graham — sur sa famille, son nom de jeune fille, le montant de ses biens, et son rôle à la paroisse de Marylebone. En plus de tout ça, il m'a montré son certificat de mariage et nombre de lettres que lui avait écrites Amy, lui reprochant sa cruelle désertion. Oh, il ne fait aucun doute que ce Jentham soit – ou plutôt ait été – Stephen Krant.
— On le dirait bien ! soupira Graham, lourdement. Il n'y a évidemment aucun espoir de prouver qu'il soit un imposteur face à une telle évidence.
Il est venu extorquer de l'argent, je suppose ?
— Est-il besoin de le dire ! dit amèrement l'évêque. Oui, son seul but était le chantage ; il se satisfaisait de laisser les choses en l'état, dans la mesure où son silence était acheté au prix qui était le sien. Il m'a dit que si je lui donnais deux cents livres il me remettrait le certificat et les lettres et disparaîtrait, et ne m'ennuierait plus jamais.
— Je doute qu'une telle canaille tienne parole, Pendle. De plus, bien que les romanciers et les dramaturges attachent une réelle importance aux certificats de mariage, ils ne valent vraiment pas le prix du papier sur lequel ils sont écrits... sauf, peut-être, comme preuve flagrante. Le registre de l'église, dans laquelle la cérémonie a eu lieu, est le document capital et il ne peut être ni cédé ni détruit. Krant allait vous donner de la roupie de sansonnet en échange de votre bel or, Pendle. Cependant, la nécessité fait loi, aussi je suppose que vous avez cédé au chantage.
La tête grisonnante de l'évêque s'affaissa sur sa poitrine, les yeux fixés sur le tapis, il semblait ainsi être un homme submergé de honte. — Oui, répondit-il, douloureusement à voix basse, je n'ai pas eu le courage d'affronter les conséquences. D'ailleurs, pouvais-je faire autrement ? Je ne pouvais pas laisser l'homme dénoncer notre mariage comme faux, imposer sa présence à ma pauvre femme, et dire à mes enfants qu'ils étaient des bâtards. Le choc aurait tué Amy ; il aurait brisé le cœur de mes enfants ; il m'aurait couvert d'opprobre dans ma haute fonction aux yeux de toute l'Angleterre. J'étais innocent, je suis innocent. Oui, mais le fait est et reste que je ne suis pas marié avec Amy et que mes enfants n'ont pas le droit de porter mon nom. Je vous demande, Graham... je vous le demande, qu'aurais-je pu faire d'autre que payer face à cette honte et à cette disgrâce ?
— Vous n'avez pas besoin de vous excuser, Pendle. Je ne vous blâme pas du tout.
— Mais je m'adresse des reproches moi-même... en partie, répondit tristement l'évêque. En tant qu'honnête homme, je savais que mon mariage était illégal et, en tant que prêtre, je devais éloigner la femme qui n'était pas... qui n'est pas ma femme. Mais pensez à sa honte à elle, à la honte de mes enfants innocents. Je ne pouvais pas le faire, Graham, je ne pouvais pas le faire. Satan est venu à moi sous un tel déguisement que j'ai cédé à sa tentation sans lutter. J'ai accepté d'acheter le silence de Jentham à son prix ; et comme je ne souhaitais pas qu'il revienne, de peur qu'Amy ne le voie, j'ai convenu d'un rendez-vous pour le rencontrer à Southberry Heath dimanche soir, et là, de lui payer ses deux cents livres pour le chantage.
— Lui avez-vous parlé à l'endroit où son corps a été retrouvé ? demanda Graham à voix basse, sans oser regarder son ami en face.
Non, répondit l'évêque, sans se douter que le docteur cherchait le meurtrier ; je l'ai trouvé au carrefour des Quatre Routes.
— Vous aviez l'argent sur vous, je suppose ?
— J'avais l'argent en billets de dix livres. Comme je ne voulais pas retirer une telle somme de la banque de Beorminster, de peur que mon geste ne provoque quelque commentaire, j'ai fait exprès pour ça un voyage à Londres et récupéré l'argent là-bas.
— Je pense que vous avez été d'une prudence extrême, Monseigneur.
— Graham, je vous ai dit que j'étais submergé de peur, pas tant pour moi que pour les êtres qui me sont chers. Vous savez combien le moindre secret est connu dans cette ville ; j'étais épouvanté à l'idée que mon histoire puisse devenir de notoriété publique, et que l'on m'associe de quelque façon à Jentham. C'est pourquoi, j'ai même déchiré la souche du chèque, et jeté le carnet, de peur qu'une trace ne reste pour provoquer la curiosité. J'ai pris les précautions les plus sophistiquées pour me protéger de la découverte.
— Et de préférence celles qui étaient inutiles, rétorqua sèchement Graham. Bon, et vous avez rencontré l'escroc ?
Oui, dimanche soir – ce dimanche où j'étais allé à Southberry dire une messe de confirmation , et en revenant, peu après vingt heures, j'ai retrouvé Jentham, au rendez-vous, aux Quatre Routes. C'était une nuit d'orage humide, Graham, et j'étais presque sûr qu'il ne viendrait pas au rendez-vous, mais il était là, effectivement, et pas très heureux de se tremper, je ne suis pas descendu de cheval, mais lui ai tendu le paquet de billets, et demandé le certificat et les lettres.
— Ce qu'il refusa probablement de faire au dernier moment.
— Vous avez raison, dit lugubrement l'évêque ; il a déclaré qu'il garderait le certificat tant qu'il n'aurait pas reçu cent livres de plus.
Le scélérat ! Qu'avez-vous dit ?
— Que pouvais-je dire, sinon oui ? J'étais en son pouvoir. À tout prix, si je voulais me sauver moi-même et ceux qui me sont chers, je devais mettre en sécurité les preuves qu'il possédait. Je lui ai dit que je n'avais pas l'argent supplémentaire sur moi, mais que si nous nous retrouvions au même endroit dans une semaine, je devrais l'avoir. J'ai alors repris ma route découragé et misérable. Le lendemain, conclut tranquillement l'évêque, j'apprenais que mon ennemi était mort.
— Assassiné, dit explicitement Graham.
— Assassiné, dites-vous, répondit timidement Pendle ; Oh, mon ami j'ai bien peur que le Cain qui l'a trucidé ait maintenant le certificat en sa possession, et détienne mon secret. Comme savoir cela m'a fait souffrir, Dieu seul le sait. Chaque jour, chaque heure, j'ai attendu un signe de l'assassin.
— Vous les avez passées avec le diable ! dit le docteur, surpris par son écart de langage.
– Oui, il peut venir me faire chanter lui aussi, Graham !
— Pas quand il court le risque de se faire pendre, mon ami.
— Mais vous oubliez, dit l'évêque en soupirant. Il pouvait compter sur sa connaissance de mon secret pour m'obliger à dissimuler son péché.
— Étiez-vous contraint à ce point?
Monseigneur Pendle rejeta sa noble tête en arrière et , regardant intensément son ami, il répliqua d'une voix ferme et sans faille. — Non, dit-il gravement. Mon secret eût-il été dévoilé, que j'aurais quand-même fait arrêter cet homme
Eh bien, dit Graham en haussant les épaules, vous êtes plus héroïque que moi, monseigneur. Le prix à payer pour faire prendre le misérable semble trop lourd.
— Graham ! Graham ! Je dois faire ce qui est juste, quel que soit le danger.
— Fiat justitia ruat cœlum ! murmura le docteur, une citation des pages roses du dictionnaire pour vous. Le ciel s'écroulera certainement sur votre famille, si vous parlez.
L'évêque grimaça et pâlit. — C'est un lourd fardeau, Graham, un lourd fardeau, mais Dieu me donnera la force de le supporter. Il me sauvera selon Sa miséricorde.
Le petit docteur méditait en regardant la pointe de ses bottes. Il voulait dire à Pendle que l'aumônier le soupçonnait du meurtre, et que Baltic, le missionnaire, avait été introduit à Beorminster pour prouver ces soupçons, mais, à l'heure actuelle, il ne voyait pas comment il pouvait commodément le mettre au courant de l'information. De plus, l'évêque semblait être à mille lieues de penser que quelqu'un puisse l'accuser du crime, et Graham renâclait à être le fâcheux qui lui ouvrirait les yeux. Il fallait pourtant qu'il soit informé, ne fût-ce que pour se mettre en garde contre les machinations de Cargrim. Évidemment, le docteur n'avait jamais pensé un seul instant que son ami respecté fût l'auteur d'un acte de violence, et il avait tout à fait cru son récit de la rencontre avec Jentham. La manière toute simple dont l'évêque avait raconté l'épisode aurait convaincu tout homme sain d'esprit de son innocence et de sa rectitude. Ses accents, ses regards et sa candeur attestaient tous de sa conviction.
Finalement Graham trouva une méthode pour aborder le sujet de la trahison de Cargrim, en évoquant la vieille gitane et sa prédiction lors de la garden-party de Mme Pansey. — Que connaissait la Mère Jael de votre secret ? demanda-t-il avec quelque hésitation.
— Rien ! répondit tout de suite l'évêque ; il est impossible qu'elle sache quelque chose, à moins – il fit ici une pause – à moins qu'elle ne soit au courant de qui a tué Jentham, et qu'elle ait vu le certificat et les lettres !
— Pensez-vous qu'elle connaisse le meurtrier de l'homme ?
— Je ne peux le dire. Lors de cette garden-party je suis allé sous la tente pour faire plaisir à certaines dames qui voulaient que j'aille me faire dire la bonne aventure.
— Je sais que vous y êtes allé, monseigneur ; et vous en êtes ressorti l'air perturbé.
Pas étonnant, Graham ; car Mère Jael, en me lisant les lignes de la main, a fait allusion à mon secret. J'ai cru, d'après ces dires, qu'elle le connaissait ; et je l'accusais d'avoir obtenu l'information de l'assassin de Jentham. Cependant, elle n'avait pas parlé clairement, mais m'avait averti d'ennuis à venir, et parlé de sang et de la tombe, jusqu'à ce que je me rende vraiment compte qu'elle s'imaginait que j'avais tué l'homme. Je ne pouvais rien tirer d'elle, aussi ai-je quitté la tente complètement effondré, comme vous pouvez vous en douter. J'avais l'intention de la voir à une autre occasion, mais je ne l'ai pas fait jusque là.
— À votre avis la femme connait votre secret ? demanda Graham.
— Non Tout bien considéré, j'ai conclu qu'elle en savait un peu, mais pas trop –de toutes façons, pas assez pour me nuire de quelque manière que ce soit. Krant – donc Jentham – était de sang gitan, et j'imaginais qu'il avait vu Mère Jael, et peut-être, pour se vanter, avait-il fait allusion au pouvoir qu'il exerçait sur moi. Je suis pourtant quasiment certain que, pour sa propre sécurité, il n'avait pas révélé mon secret. Après tout, Graham, les allusions de Mère Jael étaient vagues et peu satisfaisantes, bien qu'elles m'aient suffisamment perturbé pour m'inquiéter sur le moment.
— Eh bien Monseigneur, je suis d'accord avec vous. La mère Jael n'en sait pas davantage sinon elle aurait parlé plus clairement. En ce qui la concerne, je crois que votre secret est assez bien gardé, mais, ajouta Graham en jetant un coup d'œil vers la porte, qu'en est-il de Cargrim ?
— Il ne sait rien, Graham.
— Peut-être que non, mais il a de forts soupçons.
— Des soupçons ? répéta l'évêque, de la frayeur dans la voix. — Que peut-il soupçonner ?
— Que vous ayez tué Jentham, dit calmement Graham.
Incrédule, le révérend Pendle regarda son ami. — J'ai... j'ai... assassiné... j'ai tué... quoi.... Cargrim... dit, balbutia-t-il, puis il s'adressa à lui avec vivacité : Cet homme est-il devenu fou ?
— Non, mais c'est un scélérat, je vous l'ai déjà dit. Ecoutez-moi, Monseigneur, et, dans le style précis qui était le sien, Graham raconta à l'évêque Pendle tout ce que Harry Brace lui avait appris concernant Cargrim et ses projets.
L'évêque écouta dans un silence incrédule , mais, presque malgré lui, il fut obligé de croire l'histoire de Graham. Que cet homme en qui il avait confiance, qu'il avait traité avec une telle gentillesse, fût celui qui creusait la fosse dans laquelle le faire tomber, était quasiment incroyable, et lorsqu'il fut forcé de voir la réalité de l'accusation, il ne sut que dire d'un tel traitre. Mais il décida d'une chose. — Je vais le renvoyer immédiatement ! dit-il avec détermination.
— Non, Monseigneur. Il est mal avisé d'acculer un rat dans un coin, et Cargrim pourrait s'avérer dangereux s'il est géré de manière abrupte. Mieux vaut tolérer sa présence jusqu'à ce que Baltic découvre le vrai criminel.
— Je n'apprécie pas cette situation, dit l'évêque, fronçant les sourcils.
— Aucun homme ne le ferait. Cependant, il est préférable de temporiser plutôt que de tout risquer et de tout perdre. Laissez-le plutôt rester, Pendle.
— Très bien, Graham, je suivrai votre conseil.
— Bien ! Graham se leva pour partir. Et Gabriel ? demanda-t-il, la main sur la porte.
— Envoyez-le moi, docteur. Je dois lui parler.
— Vous ne le réprimanderez pas pour être venu me voir en premier, j'espère.
— Le réprimander, dit l'évêque avec un sourire mélancolique. Hélas, mon ami, la situation est trop grave pour des réprimandes !
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For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.
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CHAPTER XXX - BLACKMAIL.
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'Don't grieve so, Pendle!'
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'But you have not done sin!'
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cried Graham, dissenting from the text.
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'You!
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your wife!
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myself!
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everyone thought that Krant was dead and buried.
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He was the sinner, not you, my poor innocent friend!
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'True enough, doctor, but I am the sufferer.
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You will do well, Pendle, to lay that to heart.
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'How can I help myself?'
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said the bishop, hopelessly.
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There is no getting behind that fact.
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'Have you consulted a lawyer on your position?
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'No.
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'Certainly.
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It was for that reason that I sent her away!
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'I dare not do that in her present state of health; the shock would kill her.
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I have considered it in every way—but, God help me!
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I can see no hope—no escape.
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Alas!
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alas!
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I am sorely, sorely tried.
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Graham reflected.
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'Are you perfectly certain that Jentham and Krant are one and the same man?'
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he asked doubtfully.
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'I am certain of it,' replied Pendle, decisively.
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'I could not be deceived in the dark gipsy face, in the peculiar cicatrice on the right cheek.
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Oh, there can be no doubt that this Jentham is—or rather was—Stephen Krant.
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'It would seem so!'
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sighed Graham, heavily.
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'Evidently there is no hope of proving him to be an impostor in the face of such evidence.
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'He came to extort money, I suppose?
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'Need you ask!'
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said the bishop, bitterly.
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'I doubt if such a blackguard would keep his word, Pendle.
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Krant was giving you withered leaves for your good gold, Pendle.
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Still, Needs must when Sir Urian drives, so I suppose you agreed to the bribe.
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'Yes,' he replied, in low tones of pain, 'I had not the courage to face the consequences.
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Indeed, what else could I do?
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I was innocent; I am innocent.
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'There is no need to excuse yourself to me, Pendle.
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I do not blame you in the least.
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'But I blame myself—in part,' replied the bishop, sadly.
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But think of the shame to her, of the disgrace to my innocent children.
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I could not do it, Graham, I could not do it.
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Satan came to me in such a guise that I yielded to his tempting without a struggle.
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'Did you speak with him on the spot where his corpse was afterwards found?'
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asked Graham, in a low voice, not daring to look at his friend.
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'You had the money with you, I suppose?
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'I had the money in notes of tens.
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'I think you were over-careful, bishop.
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'Graham, I tell you I was overcome with fear, not so much for myself as for those dear to me.
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I took the most elaborate precautions to guard against discoveries.
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'And rather unnecessary ones,' rejoined Graham, dryly.
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'Well, and you met the scamp?
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'Which, no doubt, he declined to part with at the last moment.
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'The scoundrel!
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What did you say?
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'What could I say but "Yes"?
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I was in the man's power.
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I then rode away downcast and wretched.
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The next day,' concluded the bishop, quietly, 'I heard that my enemy was dead.
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'Murdered,' said Graham, explicitly.
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What I have suffered with that knowledge, God alone knows.
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Every day, every hour, I have been expecting a call from the assassin.
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'The deuce you have!'
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said the doctor, surprised into unbecoming language.
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'Yes; he may come and blackmail me also, Graham!
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'Not when he runs the risk of being hanged, my friend.
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'But you forget,' said the bishop, with a sigh.
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'He may trust to his knowledge of my secret to force me to conceal his sin.
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'Would you be coerced in that way?
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'No,' said he, gravely.
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'Even at the cost of my secret becoming known, I should have the man arrested.
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'Well,' said Graham, with a shrug, 'you are more of a hero than I am, bishop.
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The cost of exposing the wretch seems too great.
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'Graham!
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Graham!
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I must do what is right at all hazards.
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'Fiat justitia ruat cœlum!'
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muttered the doctor, 'there is a morsel of dictionary Latin for you.
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The heavens above your family will certainly fall if you speak out.
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The bishop winced and whitened.
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'It is a heavy burden, Graham, a heavy, heavy burden, but God will give me strength to bear it.
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He will save me according to His mercy.
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The little doctor looked meditatively at his boots.
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His accents, and looks, and candour, all carried conviction.
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'What does Mother Jael know of your secret?'
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he asked with some hesitation.
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'Nothing!'
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'Do you think she knows who murdered the man?
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'I—cannot—say.
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unit 145
'I saw you go in, bishop; and you came out looking disturbed.
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'No wonder, Graham; for Mother Jael, under the pretence of reading my hand, hinted at my secret.
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I could make nothing of her, so I left the tent considerably discomposed, as you may guess.
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I intended to see her on another occasion, but as yet I have not done so.
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'Is it your belief that the woman knows your secret?'
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asked Graham.
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'No.
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Still, I am quite certain that, for his own sake, he did not reveal my secret.
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'Well, bishop, I agree with you.
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Mother Jael cannot know much or she would have spoken plainer.
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'He knows nothing, Graham.
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'Perhaps not, but he suspects much.
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'Suspects!'
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unit 164
echoed the bishop, in scared tones.
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'What can he suspect?
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'That you killed Jentham,' said Graham, quietly.
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Dr Pendle looked incredulously at his friend.
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'No; but he is a scoundrel, as I told you.
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But he made up his mind to one thing.
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'I shall dismiss him at once!'
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he said determinedly.
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'No, bishop.
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unit 178
Better tolerate his presence until Baltic discovers the real criminal.
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'I don't like the position,' said the bishop, frowning.
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'No man would.
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However, it is better to temporise than to risk all and lose all.
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Better let him remain, Pendle.
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'Very well, Graham, I shall take your advice.
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'Good!'
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Graham rose to depart.
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'And Gabriel?'
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he asked, with his hand on the door.
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'Send him to me, doctor.
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I must speak to him.
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'You won't scold him for seeing me first, I hope.
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'Scold him,' said the bishop, with a melancholy smile.
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'Alas, my friend, the situation is too serious for scolding!
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francevw • 14145  commented  9 months, 2 weeks ago
francevw • 14145  commented  9 months, 2 weeks ago

Petit résumé relatif à la question du vouvoiement-tutoiement. Nous pourrons toujours le modifier si nécessaire.
- La plupart des personnages se vouvoient comme sans doute on le faisait à cette époque.
- Les époux se vouvoient
- Les enfants vouvoient leurs parents
- Les parents tutoient leurs enfants
- Le docteur Graham tutoie Harry Brace et les enfants de l'évêque
- Les fiancés ? au début ils se vouvoyaient puis il me semble qu'on a glissé vers le tutoiement

by francevw 9 months, 2 weeks ago

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

THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME (1900)

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

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

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

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

by francevw 9 months, 2 weeks ago

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

CHAPTER XXX - BLACKMAIL.
For some moments Graham did not speak, but looked with pity on the grief-shaken frame and bowed shoulders of his sorely-tried friend. Indeed, the position of the man was such that he did not see what comfort he could administer, and so, very wisely, held his peace. However, when the bishop, growing more composed, remained still silent, he could not forbear offering him a trifle of consolation.
'Don't grieve so, Pendle!' he said, laying his hand on the other's shoulder; 'it is not your fault that you are in this position.
The bishop sighed, and murmured with a shake of his head, 'Omnis qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati!
'But you have not done sin!' cried Graham, dissenting from the text. 'You! your wife! myself! everyone thought that Krant was dead and buried. The man fled, and lied, and forged, to gain his freedom—to shake off the marriage bonds which galled him. He was the sinner, not you, my poor innocent friend!
'True enough, doctor, but I am the sufferer. Had God in His mercy not sustained me in my hour of trial, I do not know how I should have borne my misery, weak, erring mortal that I am.
'That speech is one befitting your age and office,' said the doctor, gravely, 'and I quite approve of it. All the same, there is another religious saying—I don't know if it can be called a text—"God helps those who help themselves." You will do well, Pendle, to lay that to heart.
'How can I help myself?' said the bishop, hopelessly. 'The man is dead now, without doubt; but he was alive when I married his supposed widow, therefore the ceremony is null and void. There is no getting behind that fact.
'Have you consulted a lawyer on your position?
'No. The law cannot sanction a union—at least in my eyes—which I know to be against the tenets of the Church. So far as I know, if a husband deserts his wife, and is not heard of for seven years, she can marry again after that period without being liable to prosecution as a bigamist, but in any case the second ceremony is not legal.
'Mrs Krant became your wife before the expiration of seven years, I know,' said Graham, wrinkling his brow.
'Certainly. And therefore she is—in the eyes of the law—a bigamist'—the bishop shuddered—'although, God knows, she fully believed her husband to be dead. But the religious point of view is the one I take, doctor; as a Churchman, I cannot live with a woman whom I know is not my wife. It was for that reason that I sent her away!
'But you cannot keep her away for ever, bishop!—at all events, unless you explain the position to her.
'I dare not do that in her present state of health; the shock would kill her. No, Graham, I see that sooner or later she must know, but I wished for her absence that I might gain time to consider my terrible position. I have considered it in every way—but, God help me! I can see no hope—no escape. Alas! alas! I am sorely, sorely tried.
Graham reflected. 'Are you perfectly certain that Jentham and Krant are one and the same man?' he asked doubtfully.
'I am certain of it,' replied Pendle, decisively. 'I could not be deceived in the dark gipsy face, in the peculiar cicatrice on the right cheek. And he knew all about my wife, Graham—about her family, her maiden name, the amount of her fortune, her taking up parish work in Marylebone. Above all, he showed me the certificate of his marriage, and a number of letters written to him by Amy, reproaching him with his cruel desertion. Oh, there can be no doubt that this Jentham is—or rather was—Stephen Krant.
'It would seem so!' sighed Graham, heavily. 'Evidently there is no hope of proving him to be an impostor in the face of such evidence.
'He came to extort money, I suppose?
'Need you ask!' said the bishop, bitterly. 'Yes, his sole object was blackmail; he was content to let things remain as they are, provided his silence was purchased at his own price. He told me that if I paid him two hundred pounds he would hand over certificate and letters and disappear, never to trouble me again.
'I doubt if such a blackguard would keep his word, Pendle. Moreover, although novelists and dramatists attach such a value to marriage certificates, they are really not worth the paper they are written on—save, perhaps, as immediate evidence. The register of the church in which the ceremony took place is the important document, and that can neither be handed over nor destroyed. Krant was giving you withered leaves for your good gold, Pendle. Still, Needs must when Sir Urian drives, so I suppose you agreed to the bribe.
The bishop's grey head drooped on his breast, his eyes sought the carpet, and he looked like a man overwhelmed with shame. 'Yes,' he replied, in low tones of pain, 'I had not the courage to face the consequences. Indeed, what else could I do? I could not have the man denounce my marriage as a false one, force himself into the presence of my delicate wife, and tell my children that they are nameless. The shock would have killed Amy; it would have broken my children's hearts; it would have shamed me in my high position before the eyes of all England. I was innocent; I am innocent. Yes, but the fact remained, as it remains now, that I am not married to Amy, that my children are not entitled to bear my name. I ask you, Graham—I ask you, what else could I do than pay the money in the face of such shame and disgrace?
'There is no need to excuse yourself to me, Pendle. I do not blame you in the least.
'But I blame myself—in part,' replied the bishop, sadly. 'As an honest man I knew that my marriage was illegal; as a priest I was bound to put away the woman who was not—who is not my wife. But think of the shame to her, of the disgrace to my innocent children. I could not do it, Graham, I could not do it. Satan came to me in such a guise that I yielded to his tempting without a struggle. I agreed to buy Jentham's silence at his own price; and as I did not wish him to come here again, lest Amy should see him, I made an appointment to meet him on Southberry Heath on Sunday night, and there pay him his two hundred pounds blackmail.
'Did you speak with him on the spot where his corpse was afterwards found?' asked Graham, in a low voice, not daring to look at his friend.
'No,' answered the bishop, simply, not suspecting that the doctor hinted at the murder; 'I met him at the Cross-Roads.
'You had the money with you, I suppose?
'I had the money in notes of tens. As I was unwilling to draw so large a sum from the Beorminster Bank, lest my doing so should provoke comment, I made a special journey to London and obtained the money there.
'I think you were over-careful, bishop.
'Graham, I tell you I was overcome with fear, not so much for myself as for those dear to me. You know how the most secret things become known in this city; and I dreaded lest my action should become public property, and should be connected in some way with Jentham. Why, I even tore the butt of the cheque I drew out of the book, lest any record should remain likely to excite suspicion. I took the most elaborate precautions to guard against discoveries.
'And rather unnecessary ones,' rejoined Graham, dryly. 'Well, and you met the scamp?
'I did, on Sunday night—that Sunday I was at Southberry holding a confirmation service, and as I rode back, shortly after eight in the evening, I met Jentham, by appointment, at the Cross-Roads. It was a stormy and wet night, Graham, and I half thought that he would not come to the rendezvous, but he was there, sure enough, and in no very good temper at his wetting, I did not get off my horse, but handed down the packet of notes, and asked him for the certificate and letters.
'Which, no doubt, he declined to part with at the last moment.
'You are right,' said the bishop, mournfully; 'he declared that he would keep the certificate until he received another hundred pounds.
'The scoundrel! What did you say?
'What could I say but "Yes"? I was in the man's power. At any cost, if I wanted to save myself and those dear to me, I had to secure the written evidence he possessed. I told him that I had not the extra money with me, but that if he met me in the same place a week later he should have it. I then rode away downcast and wretched. The next day,' concluded the bishop, quietly, 'I heard that my enemy was dead.
'Murdered,' said Graham, explicitly.
'Murdered, as you say,' rejoined Pendle, tremulously; 'and oh, my friend, I fear that the Cain who slew him now has the certificate in his possession, and holds my secret. What I have suffered with that knowledge, God alone knows. Every day, every hour, I have been expecting a call from the assassin.
'The deuce you have!' said the doctor, surprised into unbecoming language.
'Yes; he may come and blackmail me also, Graham!
'Not when he runs the risk of being hanged, my friend.
'But you forget,' said the bishop, with a sigh. 'He may trust to his knowledge of my secret to force me to conceal his sin.
'Would you be coerced in that way?
Dr Pendle threw back his noble head, and, looking intently at his friend, replied in a firm and unfaltering tone. 'No,' said he, gravely. 'Even at the cost of my secret becoming known, I should have the man arrested.
'Well,' said Graham, with a shrug, 'you are more of a hero than I am, bishop. The cost of exposing the wretch seems too great.
'Graham! Graham! I must do what is right at all hazards.
'Fiat justitia ruat cœlum!' muttered the doctor, 'there is a morsel of dictionary Latin for you. The heavens above your family will certainly fall if you speak out.
The bishop winced and whitened. 'It is a heavy burden, Graham, a heavy, heavy burden, but God will give me strength to bear it. He will save me according to His mercy.
The little doctor looked meditatively at his boots. He wished to tell Pendle that the chaplain suspected him of the murder, and that Baltic, the missionary, had been brought to Beorminster to prove such suspicions, but at the present moment he did not see how he could conveniently introduce the information. Moreover, the bishop seemed to be so utterly unconscious that anyone could accuse him of the crime, that Graham shrank from being the busybody to enlighten him. Yet it was necessary that he should be informed, if only that he might be placed on his guard against the machinations of Cargrim. Of course, the doctor never for one moment thought of his respected friend as the author of a deed of violence, and quite believed his account of the meeting with Jentham. The bishop's simple way of relating the episode would have convinced any liberal-minded man of his innocence and rectitude. His accents, and looks, and candour, all carried conviction.
Finally Graham hit upon a method of leading up to the subject of Cargrim's treachery, by referring to the old gipsy and her fortune-telling at Mrs Pansey's garden-party. 'What does Mother Jael know of your secret?' he asked with some hesitation.
'Nothing!' replied the bishop, promptly; 'it is impossible that she can know anything, unless'—here he paused—'unless she is aware of who killed Jentham, and has seen the certificate and letters!
'Do you think she knows who murdered the man?
'I—cannot—say. At that garden-party I went into the tent to humour some ladies who wished me to have my fortune told.
'I saw you go in, bishop; and you came out looking disturbed.
'No wonder, Graham; for Mother Jael, under the pretence of reading my hand, hinted at my secret. I fancied, from what she said, that she knew what it was; and I accused her of having gained the information from Jentham's assassin. However, she would not speak plainly, but warned me of coming trouble, and talked about blood and the grave, until I really believe she fancied I had killed the man. I could make nothing of her, so I left the tent considerably discomposed, as you may guess. I intended to see her on another occasion, but as yet I have not done so.
'Is it your belief that the woman knows your secret?' asked Graham.
'No. On consideration, I concluded that she knew a little, but not much—at all events, not sufficient to hurt me in any way. Krant—that is Jentham—was of gipsy blood, and I fancied that he had seen Mother Jael, and perhaps, in his boastful way, had hinted at his power over me. Still, I am quite certain that, for his own sake, he did not reveal my secret. And after all, Graham, the allusions of Mother Jael were vague and unsatisfactory, although they disturbed me sufficiently to make me anxious for the moment.
'Well, bishop, I agree with you. Mother Jael cannot know much or she would have spoken plainer. So far as she is concerned, I fancy your secret is pretty safe; but,' added Graham, with a glance at the door, 'what about Cargrim?
'He knows nothing, Graham.
'Perhaps not, but he suspects much.
'Suspects!' echoed the bishop, in scared tones. 'What can he suspect?
'That you killed Jentham,' said Graham, quietly.
Dr Pendle looked incredulously at his friend. 'I—I—murder—I kill—what—Cargrim—says,' he stammered; then asked him with a sharp rush of speech, 'Is the man mad?
'No; but he is a scoundrel, as I told you. Listen, bishop,' and in his rapid way Graham reported to Dr Pendle all that Harry Brace had told him regarding Cargrim and his schemes.
The bishop listened in incredulous silence; but, almost against his will, he was obliged to believe in Graham's story. That a man whom he trusted, whom he had treated with such kindness, should have dug this pit for him to fall into, was almost beyond belief; and when the truth of the accusation was forced upon him, he hardly knew what to say about so great a traitor. But he made up his mind to one thing. 'I shall dismiss him at once!' he said determinedly.
'No, bishop. It is unwise to drive a rat into a corner; and Cargrim may prove himself dangerous if sharply treated. Better tolerate his presence until Baltic discovers the real criminal.
'I don't like the position,' said the bishop, frowning.
'No man would. However, it is better to temporise than to risk all and lose all. Better let him remain, Pendle.
'Very well, Graham, I shall take your advice.
'Good!' Graham rose to depart. 'And Gabriel?' he asked, with his hand on the door.
'Send him to me, doctor. I must speak to him.
'You won't scold him for seeing me first, I hope.
'Scold him,' said the bishop, with a melancholy smile. 'Alas, my friend, the situation is too serious for scolding!