CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. RALI. BIGHTS P-ESUTM.] CHAPTER XXI. "MY FBIBND FROM PARIS." (Shortly after six o'clock that evening, Raymond White punctually made his appearance at the West- end branch. He was not particularly pleased at being Compelled to encroach upon the scanty leisure which was of right his own but it was one of the business peculiarities of that unbusiness-like firm to transact its affairs at all sorts of extraordinary hours. Voices were audible in M. Parlandet's presence- chamber when Raymond knocked at the door—voices and hearty laughter-with clinking of glasses and a gurgling sound which he knew could only proceed from the pouring out of wine. "Oh!" he thought, "M. Parlandet has visitors this evening, seemingly. I suppose bq has forgotten all about my calling for instru, tion- The dis- arrangement of his faculties by our p 'ppery friend'a ruler appears to be set to rights by this time. Let us See. He knocked at the door, and entered at M. Par- laudet's reply. "Aha! dear M. Vhite!" exclaimed M. Parlandet, who was apparently in the highest possible spirits. "Welcome, my instructor, my guide, philosopher, and friend To what am 1 indebted for this extraordinary pleasure? But stop, permit me first to present to you Dotlwr old and very dear friend, just arrived from Tar's, M. Ch;ii ouiheux. Jules, my brave, let me introduce th. c to M Vhite. Enchanted to have the oppoitunity to make known one to the other two gentlemen of such rare and singular merit. The two met) made acquainted in these high-flown terms bowe and looked as foolish as men ordinarily look under similar circumstances, then eyed each other M-vniy. M. Chart milieux was a fresh- Ooloured fellow of about Raymond's age, also with I)e complex ion and light-coloured hair. In build, and he;>;hf. and fr;jme, even in facial expressions. th« two might have passed for brothers. The main di'Terence lay in the eyes and general re- finement or feat-Hie. in which respects Raymond had greatly the advanravi*. There was a downcast look about the Frenchmen, a of shv reluctance fairly and openly to meet another's which might per- haps have been set clown to the bash fulness not usual among his nation, but which contrasted 13trnngly wit'i the free and honest glance of the young Lancastrian. Further difference existed in their mode of wearing the beard, M. Chatouilleux's adorn- ments in that respect being cut to Paris fashion. The general likeness, however, between the two was sufficiently noticeable to strike M. Parlandet, who exclaimed, looking from one to the other- Jules! thou and M. Vhite might be taken for twins. Astonishing, the similarity in your appearance If I did not know all thy relations so thoroughly, I could swear that you were brothers at )east. But dear M. Vhite," he continued, you have pot yet told me to what I am indebted for the happiness of seeing you here to-night. Do not suppose for a moment that I am not charmed: but it was a pleasure I hardly dared to expect." Surely, M. Parlandet, you must recollect that I call by your own appointment," answered Raymond, 44 made in Augustine-close this afternoon, to receive instructions for important letters." «' Ah, then you evidently did not receive my message,; asking you to postpone your visit till to-morrow," responded Pari, in a tone of great vexation. How Unfortunate that my carelessness should have put you to such needless trouble. And yet I telegraphed it before six. How was that ?" You forget that I necessarily left the City early, to be here in time," returned Raymond. No message peached the Close before I came away." Tah ejaculated M. Parlandet apparently much annoyed. Dear M. Vhite, I have to beg of you at the least one thousand pardons for bringing you here in vain. I congratulate myself again, upon the other hand, for the chance that procures me a pleasure at once so precious and so rare. It is im- possible that I shall give you the instructions to-night. To-morrow, however, will do equally well. Come, as you are here, let us spend the evening together-you, my friend, and 1. We will be very sober and very fational. You shall be our Gamaliel; we will sit at your feet and learn to be good boys. Jules, my brave, fing for another glass for M. Vhite." But Raymond had no desire to be M. Parlandet's guest, and to enact Gamaliel for the benefit of himself and his friend. Parl's ready falsehood that after- noon, coupled with his language and his demeanour HOW, had started into life the old suspicions his recent good behaviour had almost lulled to sleep. The con- version was only superficial, tha,t was clear-perhaps ■ even worse, and utterly hypocritical. Were this last surmise correct it must have been for a purpose. Was that purpose to allay all mistrust ? Then, too, this stranger, with the downcast look-this intimate frieiid of M. Par'andet, never heard spoken of before—who was he ? Sudden alarm arose in Raymond's mind lest this might be the mysterious Poinq-qui-frappe," against whom he was so solemnly warned in the letter of his anonymous friend. These thoughts take minutes to write; they flew in a second through Raymond's brain and his hand arrested that of M. Chatouilleux, about, at M. Parlandet's request, to ring the bell. Pardon, M. Parlandet," he said. I shall be glad if you will excuse me, as there is no business necessity to remain. I never pass the evening away from my family if it can possibly be avoided. Indeed, you must permit me to go now." He turned to take his hat, and missed a glance of intelligence exchanged between the two. The stranger pointed rapidly with his thumb over his shoulder to- wards the window. M. Parlandet nodded. «< Ah, well, dear M. Vhite," he observed with a sigh, as if the necessity of parting with his young friend were very cruel; what must be, must. Painfully Sensible of the inferiority of our companionship to the society of your cha- ming family, we yield to the *»d decrees of adverse Fate. Some other time, and at ft very early date, we must hope that Fortune will be more propitious. Farewell, dear M. Vhite, fare- well!" chap 21 He had slipped his hand, into his pocket as he spoke, but drew it out as rapidly as if it had been bitten, fringing to view a little parcel well secured with ftring, sealed over, to prevent illicit opening, with ft. f ey Moeaw of wax.. „
Printing of every Description
Halloa!" exclaimed Pari. What is this ? Im- possible Alas! alas! I am ruined, lost, irretrievably and for ever Ah my wretched, wretched memory! My patron will never forgive me-never I" He threw himself upon a chair, and buried his face in his hands. The two men looked first at him, then at each other, with astonished surprise. A bystander, however, skilled in interpreting expression, would at once have perceived that Raymond's wonder was genuine, Chatouiileux's feigned. "Why, M. Parian et!" exclained Raymond, laying his hand sympathisingly upon the shoulder of his chief. What's the matter ?" "Lost—ruined—undone!" groaned Parl from be- tween his fingers. Pooh, pooh! Tell me, at any rate, what ails you ?" "Alas the parcel moaned M. Parlandet patheti- cally then proceeded in rapid jerks to explain. My patron desired particularly to receive this parcel to-day. Anxious to give him pleasure, I obtained it on my road to the office. I intended, of course, to deliver it to my benefactor there. Unluckily, my treacherous memory played me false. Now what shall I do ? It is highly important, I know. M. van Flewker is anxious to receive it.II do not know his address at Richmond. I have never been there. As well may I seek a needle in a haystack. Besides, the sacred rights of hospitality retain me here. I cannot leave my friend. No, M. Vhite, no! I am lost, I am undone! Farewell!" Why did he stop and raise his head a little to listen anxiously for Raymond's answer ? Was it that he anticipated the proposal he had so cleverly invited ? It came. "But, my dear M. Parlandet," interposed Ray- mond, "I see in all this no reason for despair. Naturally you cannot leave your friend, who, I suppose, is a stranger here, and probably doesn't speak the lan- guage." "Only arrived this morning, and cannot speak one English word," asserted M. Parlandet in a breath. But if you like to entrust the parcel to me, I will take it down to Richmond at once, and deliver it myself into M. van Flewker's own hands." M. Parlandet rose with a radiant countenance, and histantlv cast himself into Raymond's arms. n Noble young man he exclaimed with sobs of emotion. How can I ever repay your disinterested goodness ? Here is the parcel. Hasten with it to Richmond and if it would not be asking too great a favour I would beg you to look in here upon your re- turn, to satisfy my mind before I sleep that my patron is not incensed with his humble Parlandet." Raymond promised to comply with M. Parlandet's last request, unless he should be detained too long at Richmond to enable him to do so and, taking leave of the two friends, set forth upon his way. M. Parlandet and his companion maintained an attitude of eager attention until they heard the street- door close behind Raymond, then turned to one another with a smile of satisfaction. "Trapped at last!" observed M. Chatouilleux triumphantly. chap 21 We have him now, Poing, I think," returned M. Parlandet, gleefully rubbing his hands. Give him ten minutes to get well out of view, and then away til thy post. Whichever way he goes, thou wilt be there before him. Aha! M. Vhite, my very good friend, you have given me some trouble, but I fancy we have stopped your eminent career at last. Still, prudencn forbids our triumph till the end is sure. Caution, my Poing, and foresight will be much required. Thou knowest the ground, and shouldst be able to calculate to a foot the spot where thou wilt meet him, Wait till the coast is clear, and then-" He clenched his fist, and threw it upwards towards his shoulder with a gestwre his companion perfectly understood, for he nodded repeatedly. I shall expect thee to report success by twelve, at latest," Pari went on. Till then, I will await thee in the cafe. After that time I shall be here. Is it agreed ?" "Agreed said his companion, and the two shook hands. A parting glass now, Poing," said M. Parlandet again. "Not more—thou must keep thy head cool. Here's to the success of both our enterprises-first, of this little one, then of the great." They drained their glasses to the dregs, then hastily joined hands again, and parted. Meantime, Raymond White tranquilly pursued his way up Piccadilly, intending to take a Richmond omnibus, as M. Parlandet had expected. One over- took him shortly, and he seated himself outside. As the vehicle passed Chelsea, a church clock hard by struck the hour. Seven o'clock," thought Raymond, counting the strokes. Another hour will take me to Richmond, and ten minutes' sharp walking brings me to M. van Flewker's cottage. What a splendid evening!" It was early in May, and therefore nearly dusk. In about an hour the moon would rise. As Raymond had said, it was a splendid evening, one of the delicious gloamings which our fickle climate sometimes bestows at the close of spring as a foretaste of the summer delights in store, and follows up incontinently with weeks of rain and wind. High overhead the sky ex- tended in an even dome of blue, studded at intervals with the stars that were beginning to be visible singly, in pairs, in clusters, and in groups. Some heaps of snow-white clouds, tinged with the few rays that had loitered behind the sun, broke the uniform blueness of the firmament, and marked the spot through which the moon would break. The air was fresh and in- vigorating, without being cold. As the omnibus emerged from the house-rows, and drove on through market-gardens and nursery-grounds bounded by hedges, faint gusts of perfume began to be wafted across the road upon the gentle evening breeze. At one place a field of lavender blossoms, several acres in extent, gave out a grateful scent that caused the town-bred passengers eagerly to inhale their fragrance. The recollection of that pleasant odour often recurred to Raymond, months afterwards in very different scenes, rousing a homethirst terrible in the torment of its unslaked intensity. J The Richmond omnibus deposited Raymond White at the place of his destination shortly after eight I o'clock. He crossed the bridge, and went along by the side of the river towards Twickenham, in the direction of Van Flewker's house. I The furnished cottage hired by Mynheer Fabian van Flewker lay upon the bank of the river. It was called a cottage; but I need hardly say, that being a Richmond cottage, it was a tolerably spacious house, with stables, lawn, and carriage-drive, conservatory and greenhouses, large gardens and shrubberies, and everything that auctioneers btylethe usual appurts" of a gentleman's summer abode. Placed in its own grounds, the front of the cottage stood a little back r from the main road, while in the rear an easy slope led to the water's edge. There was a boat-house here, and a crank-looking. st»ucture-which the landlord I-W__ _gw,4t& L
Executed at the Chronicle^ Office, PenartJi.
xermeu a- uualJ, anu uuiy cnargea tor in the rent; our it was of so frail a character, that Fabian van Flewker had not the remotest intention of trusting his valuable person to its fragile charge. The sacrifice was not great, as middle-aged foreigners who wear blue spectacles are rarely of aquatic tastes. The cottage was approached at the back by the winding- road upon the river's bank, along which Raymond was coming. It was now half-past eight, and com- pletely dark. The moon would rise in half an hour, and he anticipated a pleasant walk upon his return to Richmond. He passed the little gate which led to the back of the cottage, and knocking at the door, asked to see his employer. The servant showed him into the library-a cheerful room upon the ground or-the light from whose windows streamed out upon the lawn towards the river. The merchant was at the table, writing. He raised his head in some surprise as Raymond entered, and his face darkened as the young man told him his errand, and presented the packet. Fool," he muttered, breaking open the seals angrily. M. Vhite, pray take a chair." Raymond complied. Please tell me the circumstances under which M. Parlandet asked you to bring this packet." T- he order was embarrassing. Raymond saw clearly, or thought he saw, that Parl had made some foolish blunder; and thoroughly believing in the genuineness of the tale by which he had been ttiduced to come to Richmond, was unwilling to plunge the unhappy flounderer deeper into the mire. He stated the reason of his calling at Parl's chamb ers, and the excuse made by that worthy gentleman for not giving him the instructions. Van Flewker stopped him. "M. Parlandet did tell you tat te letters could be postponed till to-morrow without harm, you say ?" He certainly did," replied Raymond, hesitat- ingly. Lie te first," inwardly remarked Van Flewker. Von, at any rate, cannot. Afterwards, M. Vhite ?" I was then going away, when M. Parlandet sud- denly recollected this parcel. He said it was of the utmost consequence you should have it to-night, and, I volunteered to bring it on at once." Lie te second," murmured the merchant. Any more, M. Vhite ?" chap 21 Not at present, sir," answered Raymond. "Very well, M. Vhite. Now, sir, listen to me. Tis parcel, vhich M. Parlandet considered of so much importance, vould have been as valuable yesterday, or von month hence, as it is now. His assertion tat te letters—von of tem at least—can be postponed, is incorrect, perhaps worse. That blunder, however, ve can amend. Here are paper and pens. I shall tell you vat I vish written. You vill do it for me here, at vonce." Van Flewker gave his sub the heads of the com- munication. Raymond jotted them down, drafted the letter roughly, submitted it to his superior for approbation, and copied it in a fair and clerkly hand. Very good, M. Vhite," observed the merchant, nodding approvingly; excellently and quickly done. I may take tis opportunity to say tat I am highly satisfied vit your conduct. You execute everyting intrusted to you vit promptness and ability as rare as tey are valuable. Continue as you have begun, M. Vhite, and you shall find Fabian van Flewker knows how to reward good service. Upon tis subject I shall shortly speak vit you again. Goot-night now, amd tank you. I repeat, you have done me able service. Goot-night. He shook hands with Raymond, saw him to the door, again wished him cordially good-night, and went in, leaving his clerk in the porch, astonished, delighted, confounded, almost at this unexpected termination to the interview. Praise from Van Flewker The thing was unex- ampled. Why only the other day Whiffles had said at the office that in all the time he had been in the merchant's service, he had never known him express unalloyed satisfaction with a single thing done for him by any of his subordinates. And here was high praise lavishly expended It was hardly credible. even now. ——— CHAPTER .XXII. RAYMOND PUTS A CASE. THE moon had risen when Raymond left M. van Flewker. and was sailing maiestically aloft through a cloudless sky, her clear rays lighting up the cottage and its grounds to brightness rivalling day, and casting by contrast into deeper blackness the portions of the landscape veiled in shade. Raymond walked rapidly along the path to the little gate leading on to the road by the river side. Arrived here, two figures —ladies—turned suddenly in from the direction of Twickenham, and stood before him. They were Gertrude and Natalie. A cry of recognition escaped the three at the same moment. The greeting- was friendly and warm. chap 22 "This is quite an unhoped for pleasure," said Ray- mond. Unexpected business suddenly brought me to Richmond; but I had quite given up the thought of meeting you. I have only this instant left M. van Flewker." Indeed!" returned Gertrude, while Natalie nodded to Raymond, and walked slowly on towards the cottage. Tell me, M. W7hite, for I have not seen you lately, do you think my father's health im- proved since our stay here ?" They had lived at Richmond then just three weeks, Hardly, I think, just yet, Miss van Flewker," re- turned Raymond, with a smile but consider the shortness of the time." Gertrude laughed. Of course, M. White: why, how silly I am You must pardon my foolish question for the anxiety I feel to see my doaresf father in his former health. After all I know thai his labour is chiefly for me." It was a little self-deluding fiction of fcMs loving soul, that the merchant's pursuit of money was solely for the endowment of his daughter with a collossal fortune. Raymond sighed. The thought called up by Ger- trude's innocent remark was a discouraging one. He drove it resolutely away, and continued the conversa- tion. "I can understand your feeling, believe me," he observed. "I judge of it as we estimate most things in this life-by my own sensations. I know how nervously apprehensive I am respecting my mother's health and then I am a man, you knoW, Miss van Flewker, one of that stern sex supposed to be sa. blunt in its susceptibilities." That may be true of some men," answered the girl hastily, but not of all. Certainly not of you, for example," she added, gently. For the first time in their acquaintance the thought darted into his, mind that perhaps Jie wM nat in--