Eames declared that he did not believe a word of it. Nevertheless, as he walked home he came to the conclusion that if Mr Shorter must have been the handsome gentleman with Indian securities, to whom ‘no’ had been said once too often.
While sitting with Conway Dalrymple, he had forgotten to say a word about Jael and Sisera.
Dr Tempest at the palace.
Intimation had been sent from the palace to Dr Tempest of Silverbridge of the bishop’s intention that a commission should be held by him, as rural dean, with other neighbouring clergymen, as assessors with him, that inquiry might be made on the part of the Church into the question of Mr Crawley’s guilt. It must be understood that by this time the opinion had become very general that Mr Crawley had been guilty—that he had found the cheque in his house, and that he had, after holding it for many months, succumbed to temptation, and applied it to his own purposes. But various excuses were made for him by those who so believed. In the first place it was felt by all who really knew anything of the man’s character, that the very fact of his committing such a crime proved him to be hardly responsible for his actions. He must have known, had not all judgment in such matters been taken from him, that the cheque would certainly be traced back to his hands. No attempt had been made in the disposing of it to dispose of it in such a way that the trace should be obliterated. He had simply given it to a neighbour with a direction to have it cashed, and had written his own name on the back of it. And therefore, though there could be no doubt as to the theft in the mind of those who supposed that he had found the cheque in his own house, yet the guilt of the theft seemed to be almost annihilated by the folly of the thief. And then his poverty, and his struggles, and the sufferings of his wife, were remembered; and stories were told from mouth to mouth of his industry in his profession, of his great zeal among the brickmakers of Hoggle End, of acts of charity done by him which startled the people of the district into admiration:—how he had worked with his own hands for the sick poor to whom he could not give relief in money, turning a woman’s mangle for a couple of hours, and carrying a boy’s load along the lanes. Dr Tempest and others declared that he had derogated from the dignity of his position as an English parish clergyman by such acts; but, nevertheless, the stories of these deeds acted strongly on the minds of both men and women, creating an admiration for Mr Crawley which was much stronger than the condemnation of his guilt.