en-fr  THE BISHOP'S SECRET by FERGUS HUME - Chapter 36
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CHAPITRE XXXVI - LA RÉBELLION DE Mme PENDLE.
— Dieu merci ! dit l'évêque en apprenant de la bouche de Gabriel que le criminel, qui connaissait son secret, avait promis de se taire, je puis enfin respirer librement, mais quel prix à payer pour notre sécurité, quel prix !
— Voulez-vous dire mon mariage avec Bell ? demanda Gabriel, d'un ton ferme.
— Oui ! Si elle était déjà peu souhaitable, elle l'est davantage désormais. Pour autant que je l'ai vue, je ne pense pas que ce soit la femme qu'il vous faut, et en plus c'est la fille de cet homme aux mains tachées de sang, oh ! Gabriel, mon fils ! comment puis-je consentir à ce que vous lui ouvriez votre cœur ?
— Père, répondit tranquillement le vicaire, vous semblez oublier que je chéris profondément Bell. Ce n'est pas pour faire taire Mosk que j'ai consenti à l'épouser ; quoiqu'il en ait été, je l'aurais épousée. Elle a promis de devenir ma femme quand les choses étaient en leur splendeur, je serais le plus méchant des hommes si je l'abandonnais maintenant qu'elle a des ennuis. Bell m'était déjà chère, elle me l'est plus encore à présent et je suis fier de devenir son mari.
— Mais son père est un meurtrier, Gabriel !
— Voudriez-vous la rendre responsable des péchés de son père ? Cela ne vous ressemble pas, père.
L'évêque gémit. — Dieu sait que je ne veux pas te contrarier, car tu as été un bon fils pour moi. Mais réfléchis un instant à quel point le crime de son père est de notoriété publique, partout sa vilenie est connue, si tu épouses cette fille, ta femme, si innocente soit-elle, devra porter les marques d'infamie de son géniteur. Comment toi, un homme sensible et raffiné qui d'habitude fuit le scandale comme la peste, supporteras-tu la honte d'entendre parler de ta femme comme de la fille d'un meurtrier ?
— Je prendrai des mesures pour éviter ce danger. Oui, père, quand Bell deviendra mon épouse nous quitterons l'Angleterre pour toujours.
— Gabriel ! Gabriel ! s'écria douloureusement l'évêque, où irez-vous ?
— Dans les mers du sud, répondit le vicaire, son mince visage s'illuminant d'excitation, là-bas, comme nous a dit Baltic, il faut des missionnaires pour les païens. Je deviendrai missionnaire, père, et Bell travaillera à mes côtés pour expier le péché de son père en m'aidant à apporter la lumière à ceux qui sont perdus dans les ténèbres.
— Mon pauvre garçon, tu rêves d'Utopie. D'après ce que j'ai vu de cette jeune fille, elle n'est pas du genre à mener une telle existence. Tu ne trouveras pas ta Priscilla en elle. C'est une femme du monde, matérialiste.
Le chagrin qui s'est abattu sur ses épaules détournera ses pensées des affaires de ce monde.
— Non ! dit l'évêque d'une autorité tranquille. Je suis, comme tu le sais, un homme qui ne parle pas à la légère ou sans expérience, et je te dis, Gabriel, que cette fille n'est pas du bois dont on peut faire une femme idéale. Elle est belle, je te l'accorde, elle semble douée d'une bonne dose de bon sens, mais, si tu veux pardonner mon franc-parler envers quelqu'un qui t'est cher, elle semble vaniteuse, elle aime les jolies parures et se faire admirer, et elle n'a pas un naturel raffiné. Elle dit qu'elle t'aime, c'est possible, mais tu vas voir qu'elle ne t'aime pas assez pour fondre sa vie dans la tienne, pour se condamner à l'exil parmi les sauvages par amour pour toi.. L'amour et la vie à deux ne suffisent pas pour une telle femme, elle veut — et elle voudra toujours — la société, la flatterie, l'amusement et l'excitation. Mon amour pour toi, Gabriel, me donne envie de ne penser que du bien d'elle, mais mon attention paternelle doute de sa capacité à être l'épouse qui conviendrait à ta nature.
— Mais je l'aime, bafouilla Gabriel, je veux l'épouser.
— Crois-moi, tu ne l'épouseras jamais, mon pauvre garçon.
Le visage de Gabriel s'empourpra. — Père, voulez-vous m'interdire... ?
— Non, interrompit le révérend Pendle. — Je n'interdirai pas, mais elle va refuser. Si tu lui parles de ton projet missionnaire, je suis persuadé qu'elle refusera de devenir ton épouse. Pose-lui la question, bien sûr, et respecte ton engagement envers elle comme tout gentleman, mais prépare-toi à être déçu.
— Ah, père, vous ne connaissez pas ma Bell !
— Nous ne sommes pas d'accord sur ce point, Gabriel. Je la connais mais pas toi. Mon expérience me dit que ta confiance est erronée.
— Nous verrons, dit Gabriel en se redressant, vous la jugez trop sévèrement, monsieur. Bell deviendra mon épouse, j'en suis certain.
— Si elle le devient, répondit l'évêque, tendant la main à son fils, je serai le premier à l’accueillir chez nous.
— Cher, cher père ! s'écria Gabriel avec émotion, je vous reconnais bien là, toujours gentil et généreux. Merci, père ! Et le vicaire, manquant de confiance en lui pour continuer la conversation, de peur qu'ils ne se détruisent l'un l'autre quitta précipitamment la pièce.
Avec un soupir de lassitude, Monseigneur Pendle se laissa choir sur son siège, en pressant des mains sa tête douloureuse. Il était grandement soulagé de savoir que son secret ne serait pas dévoilé par Mosk ; mais il n'était pas encore au bout de ses ennuis. Il était impératif qu'il réprimande et renvoie Cargrim pour sa duplicité, mais encore plus nécessaire pour la future organisation de leurs vies que Mme Pendle soit informée de la dernière résurrection de son mari. Aussi, prévoyant la fin de la malheureuse histoire d'amour de Gabriel, il était profondément désolé pour le pauvre jeune homme, sachant bien combien l'effet pouvait être désastreux sur quelqu'un de si impressionnable et si nerveux. Pas étonnant que l'évêque ait soupiré ; pas étonnant qu'il se soit senti déprimé. Ses ennuis ne s'étaient pas produits chacun à sa manière, " pas isolés, mais en bataillons ," et il avait besoin de toute sa force de caractère , de tout son courage, et de toute sa foi en Dieu, pour affronter et vaincre des angoisses aussi écrasantes. Dans son affliction, il déclamait Jérémie à voix haute et avec amertume : "Oh Toi qui as privé mon âme de la paix, j'ai oublié le bonheur ".
Mme Pendle revint à Beorminster à la date prévue, la santé et le moral admirablement revigorés. Les eaux astringentes de Nauheim avaient renforcé son cœur de telle façon qu'il battait à présent en pulsations régulières, alors qu'il palpitait faiblement auparavant ; elles avaient amené le sang à la surface de la peau et avaient coloré sa complexion anémique d'une teinte rosée. Ses yeux étaient vifs, ses nerfs calmes, son allure alerte, et elle commença à porter de l'intérêt à la vie et aux personnes qui l'entouraient. Lucy présenta sa mère devant l'évêque avec une fierté non dissimulée, ce qui était certainement pardonnable. — Voilà, papa, dit-elle fièrement, tandis que l'évêque n'en revenait pas de cette merveilleuse transformation. Que penses-tu de ma patiente maintenant ?
— Ma chère, c'est extraordinaire ! La source de Nauheim est l'authentique fontaine de Jouvence.
— Une fontaine bien prosaïque, je le crains, plaisanta Mme Pendle, son traitement n'est pas poétique.
— Il est pour le moins magique, mon amour. Je devrais aussi plonger dans ces eaux réparatrices, si je ne veux pas être pris pour votre père plutôt que votre... Sur ce, le révérend Pendle, se rappelant le mensonge du mot qu'il n'avait pas prononcé, ferma la bouche avec un haut-le-cœur d'appréhension, que les écossais appellent frisson d'angoisse.
Cependant, Mme Pendle, plus attentive à son apparence qu'à ses paroles, ne remarqua pas la phrase inachevée. — Tu as l'air d'avoir besoin de soins, dit-elle anxieusement, si j'ai rajeuni, toi, tu as vieilli. Voici exactement ce qui arrive lorsque je m'absente. Tu ne prends jamais soin de toi-même, mon cher.
Ne se sentant pas enclin à gâcher les premières joies des retrouvailles, le révérend Pendle coupa court à ces propos en riant, et remit son explication à un moment plus approprié. Pendant ce temps, George, Gabriel et Harry tournaient autour des voyageurs de retour avec des attentions, des questions et de nombreux compliments. M. Cargrim, qui boudait depuis que l'arrestation de Mosk avait bouleversé ses plans, n'était pas présent pour gâcher cette agréable fête de famille, et l'évêque passait une heure dorée d'une joie sans partage. Mais, à mesure que la nuit avançait, ce plaisir fugace s'évanouissait, et lorsqu'il fut seul avec Mme Pendle dans son boudoir, il était si sombre et si déprimé qu'elle insista pour apprendre la cause de sa mélancolie.
— Il y a certainement quelque chose qui ne va pas, George, dit-elle avec le plus grand sérieux, si c'est le cas, n'hésite pas à m'en parler.
— Peux-tu supporter d'entendre la vérité, Amy ? Es-tu assez forte pour cela ?
— Il y a quelque chose de sérieux, alors ? s'écria Mme Pendle, toute couleur s'évanouissant de ses joues. — Qu'est-ce que c'est, George ? Dis-le moi immédiatement. Je puis tout supporter hors cette attente.
— Amy ! L'évêque s'assit sur le divan à côté de sa femme, il lui prit la main qu'il étreignit chaleureusement en un signe encourageant. Tu sauras tout, très chère amie, et que Dieu te donne la force de supporter ces révélations..
— George ! Je... je suis calme, je suis forte, accouche !
L'évêque la serra dans ses bras, lui tint la tête contre sa poitrine et raconta, à voix basse et rapide, tout ce qui s'était passé depuis la nuit de la réception. Il ne s'épargna pas dans ce récit, il ne cacha rien, n'ajouta rien, mais calmement, froidement, rigoureusement, il raconta le retour de Krant, le chantage de Krant, la fin terrible de Krant. Ensuite, il parla des soupçons de Cargrim, de l'arrivée de Baltic, de l'arrestation de Mosk et de la promesse de ce dernier de garder le secret dont il avait pris connaissance de façon si brutale. Après avoir exposé le passé, il discuta du présent et organisa l'avenir. — Seuls Gabriel, Graham et moi-même connaissons la vérité maintenant, ma chérie, conclut-il, car ce malheureux Mosk peut déjà être considéré comme mort. La semaine prochaine, nous devrons, toi et moi, faire un petit voyage jusqu'à une paroisse éloignée dans l'ouest de l'Angleterre, et là, nous deviendrons mari et femme pour la deuxième fois. Gabriel gardera le secret ; George et Lucy ne doivent jamais connaitre la vérité ; et ainsi, ma très chère, tout— au moins au vu du public— sera comme si de rien n'était. Ne sois pas chagrine Amy, ne te culpabilise pas de façon injuste. Si nous avons péché, nous l'avons fait en toute bonne foi, et le fardeau du mal ne doit peser ni sur toi ni sur moi. Stephen Krant est fautif et il a payé de sa vie le prix de sa méchanceté. Autant qu'il se peut— pour autant que nous en sommes capables— nous devons corriger l'injustice. Dieu nous a éprouvés, ma très chère ; mais Dieu nous a aussi protégés ; alors remercions-le d'un cœur humble pour Sa miséricorde. Il nous donnera la force de supporter le fardeau ; par Lui nous agirons courageusement. « Car le Seigneur Dieu est un soleil et un bouclier, le Seigneur donnera la grâce et la gloire, Il ne refusera aucune bonne chose à ceux qui marchent droit. »
Comme les femmes sont merveilleuses ! Pendant des semaines, monseigneur Pendle avait redouté cette discussion avec sa délicate, nerveuse et sensible épouse. Il s'était attendu à des larmes, à des soupirs, à de grands chagrins, à des crises d'hystérie, à ce qu'elle se torde les mains, à toute la douleur indisciplinée de la nature féminine. Mais l'inattendu s'est produit, comme il le fait invariablement avec le beau sexe.. A l'étonnement non dissimulé de l'évêque, Mme Pendle ne pleurait ni ne s'évanouissait, elle maîtrisait son émotion avec une force de caractère qu'il ne soupçonnait pas qu'elle possédât, et sa première pensée n'était pas pour elle, mais pour son compagnon d'infortune. Plaçant ses mains de chaque côté du visage de l'évêque, elle l'embrassa affectueusement, tendrement, avec pitié.
— Mon pauvre chéri, comme tu as dû souffrir ! dit-elle doucement. Pourquoi ne pas m'en avoir parlé depuis longtemps afin que je puisse partager ton chagrin ?
— J'avais peur... peur de... de parler, Amy, dit l'évêque d'une voix haletante, confondu par son calme extraordinaire.
— Tu n'avais pas besoin d'avoir peur, George. Je ne suis pas une femme inconstante.
— Hélas ! hélas ! soupira l'évêque.
— Je suis ta femme, s'écria Mme Pendle, répondant à ses pensées de la manière qu'ont les femmes, cet homme mauvais et cruel est mort pour moi depuis des années.
— Aux yeux de la loi, ma...
— Aux yeux de Dieu je suis ta femme, l'interrompit Mme Pendle avec véhémence ; depuis plus de vingt-cinq ans, à nous deux nous ne faisons qu'un. Je porte ton nom, je suis la mère de tes enfants. Crois tu que cela n'a pas plus de poids que les demandes de ce misérable, qui m' maltraitée et abandonnée, m'a menti sur sa mort, et a extorqué de l'argent pour sa forfaiture ? Pour faire taire tes scrupules, je veux bien me marier de nouveau avec toi, mais pour moi ce n'est pas nécessaire, même si cette brute devait ressortir de sa tombe pour le susciter. Il...
— Amy ! Amy ! l'homme est mort !
— Je le sais; il est mort il y a trente ans. Ne me dis pas le contraire. Je suis mariée à toi et mes enfants peuvent garder la tête haute devant quiconque. Si Stephen Krant était venu me voir avec ses tentatives infâmes, je lui aurais tenu tête, je l'aurais méprisé, foulé au pied. Elle s'emporta dans un élan de fureur passionnée, et frappa le tapis du pied.
— Il l'aurait raconté, il nous aurait désonnhoré.
— Il ne peut y avoir de déshonneur dans l'innocence, répliqua ardemment Mme Pendle. Nous nous sommes mariés, toi et moi, en toute bonne foi. Il était déclaré mort et tu avais vu sa tombe. Je réfute que l'homme soit revenu à la vie.
— Tu ne peux pas réfuter des faits, dit l'évêque en secouant la tête.
— Je ne peux pas ? Je dénie tout du moment que ce misérable est concerné. Il m'a fascinée quand j'étais une gamine crédule et imprudente, comme un serpent fascine un oiseau. Il m'a épousée pour mon argent, et quand il n'y en a plus eu son amour est parti avec. Il m'a traitée comme la brute épaisse qu'il était ; tu sais qu'il l'a fait, George, tu sais qu'il l'a fait. Quand il s'est fait tuer en Alsace, j'ai remercié Dieu. Je l'ai fait ! Je l'ai fait ! je l'ai fait !
— Tais toi, Amy, tais toi ! Dit Monseigneur Pendle, en essayant de calmer son excitation, tu vas te rendre malade !
— Non, je ne vais pas me rendre malade, George, je suis aussi calme que toi; je ne peux m'empêcher de m'énerver. Je souhaitais oublier cet homme et ma triste vie avec lui. Je l'ai oublié dans ton amour et dans le bonheur de nos enfants. C'est la vue de cet étudiant au visage balafré qui m'a fait penser à lui. Pourquoi, mais pourquoi ai-je parlé de lui à Lucy et Gabriel ? Pourquoi ? Pourquoi ?
— Tu n'y attachais pas d'importance, ma chérie.
— J'étais folle, George, folle. J'aurais dû tenir ma langue mais je ne l'ai pas fait. Et mon pauvre garçon connait la vérité. Tu aurais dû nier.
— Je ne pouvais pas le faire.
— Ah ! tu n'as pas un cœur de mère. Tu aurais dû nier, mentir et jurer sur la Bible que c'était faux plutôt que de laisser un de mes chéris apprendre la vérité.
— Amy ! Amy ! Tu n'as pas toute ta tête pour parler de la sorte. Nier la réalité ? Moi, un pasteur... un... ?
— Tu es un homme avant toute chose... un homme et un père.
— Et un serviteur du Très-Haut, gronda sévèrement l'évêque.
— Eh bien, tu vois cela sous un autre éclairage que moi. Tu as souffert, je n'aurais pas dû souffrir. Je ne souffre pas en ce moment, et je ne vais pas retourner trente ans en arrière pour me briser le cœur. Elle fit une pause et se tordait les mains. — Es-tu certain qu'il est mort ? demanda-t-elle brutalement.
— Absolument certain, mort et enterré. Aucun doute cette fois-ci !
— Est-il nécessaire de nous remarier ?
— Absolument nécessaire, répondit-il d'un ton catégorique.
Alors, le plus tôt sera le mieux, répliqua Mme Pendle avec humeur. Eh bien voilà — elle ôta l'alliance de son doigt— prends ceci ! Je n'ai pas le droit de la porter. Ni jeune fille, ni épouse, ni veuve, qu'ai-je à faire d'une alliance ? et elle se mit à rire.
— Arrête ça, Amy ! cria l'évêque, sèchement, en voyant qu'après tout ça elle était en train de devenir hystérique. remets l'anneau à ton doigt, jusqu'à ce que je le remplace par un autre. Tu es la veuve de Krant, et en tant que sa veuve je t'épouserai la semaine prochaine.
De même qu'une goutte d'eau froide fait cesser le frémissement du café bouillant, ces quelques mots calmèrent l'excitation de Mme Pendle. Elle surmonta son émotion ; elle replaça l'anneau sur son doigt, et s'assit à nouveau auprès de l'évêque. — Mon pauvre George chéri, dit-elle, en lissant sa chevelure blanche, vous n'êtes pas fâché contre moi ?
— Pas fâché, Amy, mais je suis plutôt vexé que vous ayez dû parler avec autant d'amertume.
— Eh bien, chéri, je ne parlerai plus avec amertume. Stephen est mort, par conséquent ne pensons plus jamais à lui. La semaine prochaine nous allons nous à nouveau nous marier, et ce sera la fin de tous nos soucis.
— Ils le seront, plaise à Dieu, dit l'évêque avec solennité, ô ma très chère Amy, rendons Lui grâce pour Sa grande miséricorde.
— Tu penses qu'Il a été miséricordieux ? demanda Mme Pendle, douteuse, car son sentiment religieux n'était pas assez fort pour cacher le fait que leurs ennuis étaient injustes, qu'ils étaient des pécheurs innocents.
— Très miséricordieux, murmura l'évêque en inclinant la tête. — Ne nous A-t-il pas montré commentaire expier notre péché?
— Notre péché ; non, George, je ne suis pas d'accord avec cela. Nous n'avons pas péché. Nous nous sommes mariés avec la plus entière conviction que Stephen était mort.
— Ma chérie, tout ça c'est du passé et une fois pour toute. Regardons l'avenir, et remercions le Tout-Puissant qu'Il nous ait libéré de nos problèmes.
— Oui, je le remercie pour cela, George, dit Mme Pendle, assez humblement.
— J'en suis sûr Amy, répondit l'évêque ; et exhibant sa Bible de poche, il l'ouvrit au hasard. Son regard se posa sur un verset de Jérémie, qu'il lut avec une émotion reconnaissante.
Et je vous délivrerai de la main du vilain ; et je vous rachèterai de la main du terrible.
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For more info, please see "discussion tab" by clicking on the title of this chapter.
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CHAPTER XXXVI - THE REBELLION OF MRS PENDLE.
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'Thank God!'
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'Do you mean my marriage to Bell?'
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asked Gabriel, steadily.
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'Yes!
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If she was undesirable before, she is more so now.
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how can I consent that you should take her to your bosom?
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'Father,' replied the curate, quietly, 'you seem to forget that I love Bell dearly.
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It was not to close Mosk's mouth that I consented to marry her; in any case I should do so.
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Bell was dear to me before; she is dearer to me now; and I am proud to become her husband.
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'But her father is a murderer, Gabriel!
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'Would you make her responsible for his sins?
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That is not like you, father.
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The bishop groaned.
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'God knows I do not wish to thwart you, for you have been a good son to me.
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'I shall take steps to avert that danger.
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Yes, father, when Bell becomes my wife we shall leave England for ever.
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'Gabriel!
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Gabriel!'
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cried the bishop, piteously, 'where would you go?
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'My poor boy, you dream Utopia.
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From what I saw of that girl, she is not one to take up such a life.
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You will not find your Priscilla in her.
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She is of the world, worldly.
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'The affliction which has befallen her may turn her thoughts from the world.
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'No!'
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said the bishop, with quiet authority.
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'But I love her,' faltered Gabriel; 'I wish to marry her.
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'Believe me, you will never marry her, my poor lad.
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Gabriel's face flushed.
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'Father, would you forbid—?
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'No,' interrupted Dr Pendle.
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'I shall not forbid; but she will decline.
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If you tell her about your missionary scheme, I am confident she will refuse to become your wife.
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'Ah, father, you do not know my Bell.
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'It is on that point we disagree, Gabriel.
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I do know her; you do not.
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My experience tells me that your faith is misplaced.
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'We shall see,' said Gabriel, standing up very erect; 'you judge her too harshly, sir.
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Bell will become my wife, I am sure of that.
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'My dear, dear father!'
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cried Gabriel, with emotion, 'you are like yourself; always kind, always generous.
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Thank you, father!'
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With a weary sigh Dr Pendle sank into his seat, and pressed his hand to his aching head.
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No wonder the bishop sighed; no wonder he felt depressed.
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In due time Mrs Pendle reappeared in Beorminster, wonderfully improved in health and spirits.
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Lucy presented her mother to the bishop with an unconcealed pride, which was surely pardonable.
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unit 72
'What do you think of my patient now?
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'My dear, it is wonderful!
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unit 74
The Nauheim spring is the true fountain of youth.
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unit 75
'A very prosaic fountain, I am afraid,' laughed Mrs Pendle; 'the treatment is not poetical.
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'It is at least magical, my love.
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unit 80
This is just what happens when I am away.
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unit 81
You never can look after yourself, dear.
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unit 87
'Can you bear to hear the truth, Amy?
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unit 88
Are you strong enough?
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unit 89
'There is something serious the matter, then?'
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unit 90
cried Mrs Pendle, the colour ebbing from her cheeks.
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unit 91
'What is it, George?
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unit 92
Tell me at once.
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unit 93
I can bear anything but this suspense.
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unit 94
'Amy!'
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unit 95
The bishop sat down on the couch beside his wife, and took her hand in his warm, encouraging clasp.
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unit 96
'You shall know all, my dearest; and may God strengthen you to bear the knowledge.
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unit 97
'George!
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unit 98
I—I am calm; I am strong; tell me what you mean.
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unit 102
Having told the past, he discussed the present, and made arrangements for the future.
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unit 106
You need not grieve, Amy, or accuse yourself unjustly.
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unit 107
If we have sinned, we have sinned innocently, and the burden of evil cannot be laid on you or me.
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unit 108
Stephen Krant is to blame; and he has paid for his wickedness with his life.
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unit 109
So far as we may—so far as we are able—we must right the wrong.
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unit 111
He will strengthen us to bear the burden; through Him we shall do valiantly.
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unit 113
How wonderful are women!
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unit 116
But the unexpected occurred, as it invariably does with the sex in question.
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unit 118
Placing her hands on either side of the bishop's face, she kissed him fondly, tenderly, pityingly.
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unit 119
'My poor darling, how you must have suffered!'
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unit 120
she said softly.
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unit 121
'Why did you not tell me of this long ago, so that I might share your sorrow?
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unit 123
'You need not have been afraid, George.
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unit 124
I am no fairweather wife.
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unit 125
'Alas!
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unit 126
alas!'
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unit 127
sighed the bishop.
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unit 129
'In the eyes of the law, my—.
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unit 131
I bear your name, I am the mother of your children.
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unit 134
He—.
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unit 135
'Amy!
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unit 136
Amy!
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unit 137
the man is dead!
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unit 138
'I know he is; he died thirty years ago.
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unit 139
Don't tell me otherwise.
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unit 140
I am married to you, and my children can hold up their heads with anyone.
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unit 142
She rose in a tempest of passion and stamped on the carpet.
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unit 143
'He would have told; he would have disgraced us.
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unit 144
'There can be no disgrace in innocence,' flashed out Mrs Pendle, fierily.
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unit 145
'We married, you and I, in all good faith.
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unit 146
He was reported dead; you saw his grave.
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unit 147
I deny that the man came to life.
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unit 148
'You cannot deny facts,' said the bishop, shaking his head.
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unit 149
'Can't I?
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unit 150
I'd deny anything so far as that wretch is concerned.
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unit 151
He fascinated me when I was a weak, foolish girl, as a serpent fascinates a bird.
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unit 152
He married me for my money; and when it was gone his love went with it.
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unit 153
He treated me like the low-minded brute he was; you know he did, George, you know he did.
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unit 154
When he was shot in Alsace, I thanked God.
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unit 155
I did!
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unit 156
I did!
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unit 157
I did!
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unit 158
'Hush, Amy, hush!'
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unit 159
said Dr Pendle, trying to soothe her excitement, 'you will make yourself ill!
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unit 160
'No, I won't, George; I am as calm as you are; I can't help feeling excited.
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unit 161
I wished to forget that man and the unhappy life he led me.
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unit 162
I did forget him in your love and in the happiness of our children.
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unit 163
It was the sight of that student with the scarred face that made me think of him.
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unit 164
Why, oh, why did I speak about him to Lucy and Gabriel?
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unit 165
Why?
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unit 166
Why?
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unit 167
'You were thoughtless, my dear.
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unit 168
'I was mad, George, mad; I should have held my tongue, but I didn't.
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unit 169
And my poor boy knows the truth.
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unit 170
You should have denied it.
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unit 171
'I could not deny it.
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unit 172
'Ah!
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you have not a mother's heart.
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unit 175
'Amy!
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unit 176
Amy!
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unit 177
you are out of your mind to speak like this.
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unit 178
I deny what is true?
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unit 179
I, a priest—a—?
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unit 180
'You are a man before everything—a man and a father.
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unit 181
'And a servant of the Most High,' rebuked the bishop, sternly.
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unit 182
'Well, you look on it in a different light to what I do.
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unit 183
You suffered; I should not have suffered.
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I don't suffer now; I am not going back thirty years to make my heart ache.'
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She paused and clenched her hands.
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unit 186
'Are you sure that he is dead?'
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unit 187
she asked harshly.
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unit 188
'Quite sure; dead and buried.
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unit 189
There can be no doubt about it this time!
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unit 190
'Is it necessary that we should marry again?
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unit 191
'Absolutely necessary,' said the bishop, decisively.
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'Then the sooner we get it over the better,' replied Mrs Pendle, petulantly.
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unit 193
'Here'—she wrenched the wedding ring off her finger—'take this!
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I have no right to wear it.
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Neither maid, wife, nor widow, what should I do with a ring?'
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and she began to laugh.
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'Stop that, Amy!'
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cried the bishop, sharply, for he saw that, after all, she was becoming hysterical.
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'Put the ring again on your finger, until such time as I can replace it by another.
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You are Krant's widow, and as his widow I shall marry you next week.
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unit 203
'My poor dear George,' said she, smoothing his white hair, 'you are not angry with me?
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'Not angry, Amy; but I am rather vexed that you should speak so bitterly.
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'Well, darling, I won't speak bitterly again.
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Stephen is dead, so do not let us think about him any more.
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Next week we shall marry again, and all our troubles will be at an end.
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'Do you think He has been merciful?'
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'Most merciful,' murmured the bishop, bowing his head.
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'Has He not shown us how to expiate our sin?
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'Our sin; no, George, I won't agree to that.
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We have not sinned.
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We married in the fullest belief that Stephen was dead.
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'My dear, all that is past and done with.
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unit 217
Let us look to the future, and thank the Almighty that He has delivered us out of our troubles.
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'Yes, I thank Him for that, George,' said Mrs Pendle, meekly enough.
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unit 220
His eye alighted on a verse of Jeremiah, which he read out with thankful emotion,—.
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gaelle044 • 5129  commented on  unit 156  7 months, 1 week ago
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francevw • 14015  commented on  unit 1  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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

CHAPTER XXXVI - THE REBELLION OF MRS PENDLE.
'Thank God!' said the bishop, when he heard from Gabriel's lips that the criminal, who knew his secret, had promised to be silent, 'at last I can breathe freely; but what a price to pay for our safety—what a price!
'Do you mean my marriage to Bell?' asked Gabriel, steadily.
'Yes! If she was undesirable before, she is more so now. So far as I have seen her I do not think she is the wife for you; and as the daughter of that blood-stained man—oh, Gabriel, my son! how can I consent that you should take her to your bosom?
'Father,' replied the curate, quietly, 'you seem to forget that I love Bell dearly. It was not to close Mosk's mouth that I consented to marry her; in any case I should do so. She promised to become my wife in her time of prosperity, and I should be the meanest of men did I leave her now that she is in trouble. Bell was dear to me before; she is dearer to me now; and I am proud to become her husband.
'But her father is a murderer, Gabriel!
'Would you make her responsible for his sins? That is not like you, father.
The bishop groaned. 'God knows I do not wish to thwart you, for you have been a good son to me. But reflect for one moment how public her father's crime has been; everywhere his wickedness is known; and should you marry this girl, your wife, however innocent, must bear the stigma of being that man's daughter. How would you, a sensitive and refined man shrinking from public scandal, bear the shame of hearing your wife spoken about as a murderer's daughter?
'I shall take steps to avert that danger. Yes, father, when Bell becomes my wife we shall leave England for ever.
'Gabriel! Gabriel!' cried the bishop, piteously, 'where would you go?
'To the South Seas,' replied the curate, his thin face lighting up with excitement; 'there, as Baltic tells us, missionaries are needed for the heathen. I shall become a missionary, father, and Bell will work by my side to expiate her father's sin by aiding me to bring light to those lost in darkness.
'My poor boy, you dream Utopia. From what I saw of that girl, she is not one to take up such a life. You will not find your Priscilla in her. She is of the world, worldly.
'The affliction which has befallen her may turn her thoughts from the world.
'No!' said the bishop, with quiet authority. 'I am, as you know, a man who does not speak idly or without experience, and I tell you, Gabriel, that the girl is not the stuff out of which you can mould an ideal wife. She is handsome, I grant you; and she seems to be gifted with a fair amount of common sense; but, if you will forgive my plain speaking of one dear to you, she is vain of her looks, fond of dress and admiration, and is not possessed of a refined nature. She says that she loves you; that may be; but you will find that she does not love you sufficiently to merge her life in yours, to condemn herself to exile amongst savages for your sake. Love and single companionship are not enough for such an one; she wants—and she will always want—society, flattery, amusement and excitement. My love for you, Gabriel, makes me anxious to think well of her, but my fatherly care mistrusts her as a wife for a man of your nature.
'But I love her,' faltered Gabriel; 'I wish to marry her.
'Believe me, you will never marry her, my poor lad.
Gabriel's face flushed. 'Father, would you forbid—?
'No,' interrupted Dr Pendle. 'I shall not forbid; but she will decline. If you tell her about your missionary scheme, I am confident she will refuse to become your wife. Ask her by all means; keep your word as a gentleman should; but prepare yourself for a disappointment.
'Ah, father, you do not know my Bell.
'It is on that point we disagree, Gabriel. I do know her; you do not. My experience tells me that your faith is misplaced.
'We shall see,' said Gabriel, standing up very erect; 'you judge her too harshly, sir. Bell will become my wife, I am sure of that.
'If she does,' replied the bishop, giving his hand to the young man, 'I shall be the first to welcome her.
'My dear, dear father!' cried Gabriel, with emotion, 'you are like yourself; always kind, always generous. Thank you, father!' And the curate, not trusting himself to speak further, lest he should break down altogether, left the room hurriedly.
With a weary sigh Dr Pendle sank into his seat, and pressed his hand to his aching head. He was greatly relieved to know that his secret was safe with Mosk; but his troubles were not yet at an end. It was imperative that he should reprove and dismiss Cargrim for his duplicity, and most necessary for the rearrangement of their lives that Mrs Pendle should be informed of the untimely resurrection of her husband. Also, foreseeing the termination of Gabriel's unhappy romance, he was profoundly sorry for the young man, knowing well how disastrous would be the effect on one so impressionable and highly strung. No wonder the bishop sighed; no wonder he felt depressed. His troubles had come after the manner of their kind, 'not in single spies, but in battalions,' and he needed all his strength of character, all his courage, all his faith in God, to meet and baffle anxieties so overwhelming. In his affliction he cried aloud with bitter-mouthed Jeremiah, 'Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace; I forget prosperity.
In due time Mrs Pendle reappeared in Beorminster, wonderfully improved in health and spirits. The astringent waters of Nauheim had strengthened her heart, so that it now beat with regular throbs, where formerly it had fluttered feebly; they had brought the blood to the surface of the skin, and had flushed her anæmic complexion with a roseate hue. Her eyes were bright, her nerves steady, her step brisk; and she began to take some interest in life, and in those around her. Lucy presented her mother to the bishop with an unconcealed pride, which was surely pardonable. 'There, papa,' she said proudly, while the bishop was lost in wonder at this marvellous transformation. 'What do you think of my patient now?
'My dear, it is wonderful! The Nauheim spring is the true fountain of youth.
'A very prosaic fountain, I am afraid,' laughed Mrs Pendle; 'the treatment is not poetical.
'It is at least magical, my love. I must dip in these restorative waters myself, lest I should be taken rather for your father than your—' Here Dr Pendle, recollecting the falsity of the unspoken word, shut his mouth with a qualm of deadly sickness—what the Scotch call a grue.
Mrs Pendle, however, observant rather of his looks than his words, did not notice the unfinished sentence. 'You look as though you needed a course,' she said anxiously; 'if I have grown younger, you have become older. This is just what happens when I am away. You never can look after yourself, dear.
Not feeling inclined to spoil the first joy of reunion, Dr Pendle turned aside this speech with a laugh, and postponed his explanation until a more fitting moment. In the meantime, George and Gabriel and Harry were hovering round the returned travellers with attentions and questions and frequent congratulations. Mr Cargrim, who had been sulking ever since the arrest of Mosk had overthrown his plans, was not present to spoil this pleasant family party, and the bishop spent a golden hour or so of unalloyed joy. But as the night wore on, this evanescent pleasure passed away, and when alone with Mrs Pendle in her boudoir, he was so gloomy and depressed that she insisted upon learning the cause of his melancholy.
'There must be something seriously wrong, George,' she said earnestly; 'if there is, you need not hesitate to tell me.
'Can you bear to hear the truth, Amy? Are you strong enough?
'There is something serious the matter, then?' cried Mrs Pendle, the colour ebbing from her cheeks. 'What is it, George? Tell me at once. I can bear anything but this suspense.
'Amy!' The bishop sat down on the couch beside his wife, and took her hand in his warm, encouraging clasp. 'You shall know all, my dearest; and may God strengthen you to bear the knowledge.
'George! I—I am calm; I am strong; tell me what you mean.
The bishop clasped her in his arms, held her head to his breast, and in low, rapid tones related all that had taken place since the night of the reception. He did not spare himself in the recital; he concealed nothing, he added nothing, but calmly, coldly, mercilessly told of Krant's return, of Krant's blackmail, of Krant's terrible end. Thence he passed on to talk of Cargrim's suspicions, of Baltic's arrival, of Mosk's arrest, and of the latter's promise to keep the secret of which he had so wickedly become possessed. Having told the past, he discussed the present, and made arrangements for the future. 'Only Gabriel and myself and Graham know the truth now, dearest,' he concluded, 'for this unhappy man Mosk may be already accounted as one dead. Next week you and I must take a journey to some distant parish in the west of England, and there become man and wife for the second time. Gabriel will keep silent; George and Lucy need never know the truth; and so, my dearest, all things—at least to the public eye—shall be as they were. You need not grieve, Amy, or accuse yourself unjustly. If we have sinned, we have sinned innocently, and the burden of evil cannot be laid on you or me. Stephen Krant is to blame; and he has paid for his wickedness with his life. So far as we may—so far as we are able—we must right the wrong. God has afflicted us, my dearest; but God has also protected us; therefore let us thank Him with humble hearts for His many mercies. He will strengthen us to bear the burden; through Him we shall do valiantly. "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly".
How wonderful are women! For weeks Bishop Pendle had been dreading this interview with his delicate, nervous, sensitive wife. He had expected tears, sighs, loud sorrow, bursts of hysterical weeping, the wringing of hands, and all the undisciplined grief of the feminine nature. But the unexpected occurred, as it invariably does with the sex in question. To the bishop's unconcealed amazement, Mrs Pendle neither wept nor fainted; she controlled her emotion with a power of will which he had never credited her with possessing, and her first thought was not for herself, but for her companion in misfortune. Placing her hands on either side of the bishop's face, she kissed him fondly, tenderly, pityingly.
'My poor darling, how you must have suffered!' she said softly. 'Why did you not tell me of this long ago, so that I might share your sorrow?
'I was afraid—afraid to—to speak, Amy,' gasped the bishop, overwhelmed by her extraordinary composure.
'You need not have been afraid, George. I am no fairweather wife.
'Alas! alas!' sighed the bishop.
'I am your wife,' cried Mrs Pendle, answering his thought after the manner of women; 'that wicked, cruel man died to me thirty years ago.
'In the eyes of the law, my—.
'In the eyes of God I am your wife,' interrupted Mrs Pendle, vehemently; 'for over twenty-five years we have been all in all to one another. I bear your name, I am the mother of your children. Do you think these things won't outweigh the claims of that wretch, who ill-treated and deserted me, who lied about his death, and extorted money for his forgery? To satisfy your scruples I am willing to marry you again; but to my mind there is no need, even though that brute came back from the grave to create it. He—.
'Amy! Amy! the man is dead!
'I know he is; he died thirty years ago. Don't tell me otherwise. I am married to you, and my children can hold up their heads with anyone. If Stephen Krant had come to me with his villainous tempting, I should have defied him, scorned him, trod him under foot.' She rose in a tempest of passion and stamped on the carpet.
'He would have told; he would have disgraced us.
'There can be no disgrace in innocence,' flashed out Mrs Pendle, fierily. 'We married, you and I, in all good faith. He was reported dead; you saw his grave. I deny that the man came to life.
'You cannot deny facts,' said the bishop, shaking his head.
'Can't I? I'd deny anything so far as that wretch is concerned. He fascinated me when I was a weak, foolish girl, as a serpent fascinates a bird. He married me for my money; and when it was gone his love went with it. He treated me like the low-minded brute he was; you know he did, George, you know he did. When he was shot in Alsace, I thanked God. I did! I did! I did!
'Hush, Amy, hush!' said Dr Pendle, trying to soothe her excitement, 'you will make yourself ill!
'No, I won't, George; I am as calm as you are; I can't help feeling excited. I wished to forget that man and the unhappy life he led me. I did forget him in your love and in the happiness of our children. It was the sight of that student with the scarred face that made me think of him. Why, oh, why did I speak about him to Lucy and Gabriel? Why? Why?
'You were thoughtless, my dear.
'I was mad, George, mad; I should have held my tongue, but I didn't. And my poor boy knows the truth. You should have denied it.
'I could not deny it.
'Ah! you have not a mother's heart. I would have denied, and lied, and swore its falsity on the Bible sooner than that one of my darlings should have known of it.
'Amy! Amy! you are out of your mind to speak like this. I deny what is true? I, a priest—a—?
'You are a man before everything—a man and a father.
'And a servant of the Most High,' rebuked the bishop, sternly.
'Well, you look on it in a different light to what I do. You suffered; I should not have suffered. I don't suffer now; I am not going back thirty years to make my heart ache.' She paused and clenched her hands. 'Are you sure that he is dead?' she asked harshly.
'Quite sure; dead and buried. There can be no doubt about it this time!
'Is it necessary that we should marry again?
'Absolutely necessary,' said the bishop, decisively.
'Then the sooner we get it over the better,' replied Mrs Pendle, petulantly. 'Here'—she wrenched the wedding ring off her finger—'take this! I have no right to wear it. Neither maid, wife, nor widow, what should I do with a ring?' and she began to laugh.
'Stop that, Amy!' cried the bishop, sharply, for he saw that, after all, she was becoming hysterical. 'Put the ring again on your finger, until such time as I can replace it by another. You are Krant's widow, and as his widow I shall marry you next week.
As a drop of cold water let fall into boiling coffee causes the bubbling to subside, so did these few stern words cool down Mrs Pendle's excitement. She overcame her emotion; she replaced the ring on her finger, and again resumed her seat by the bishop. 'My poor dear George,' said she, smoothing his white hair, 'you are not angry with me?
'Not angry, Amy; but I am rather vexed that you should speak so bitterly.
'Well, darling, I won't speak bitterly again. Stephen is dead, so do not let us think about him any more. Next week we shall marry again, and all our troubles will be at an end.
'They will, please God,' said the bishop, solemnly; 'and oh, Amy, dearest, let us thank Him for His great mercy.
'Do you think He has been merciful?' asked Mrs Pendle, doubtfully, for her religious emotion was not strong enough to blind her to the stubborn fact that their troubles had been undeserved, that they were innocent sinners.
'Most merciful,' murmured the bishop, bowing his head. 'Has He not shown us how to expiate our sin?
'Our sin; no, George, I won't agree to that. We have not sinned. We married in the fullest belief that Stephen was dead.
'My dear, all that is past and done with. Let us look to the future, and thank the Almighty that He has delivered us out of our troubles.
'Yes, I thank Him for that, George,' said Mrs Pendle, meekly enough.
'That is my own dear Amy,' answered the bishop; and producing his pocket Bible, he opened it at random. His eye alighted on a verse of Jeremiah, which he read out with thankful emotion,—.
'And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked; and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.