CAUGHT AT LAST; ] OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] CHAPTEM. XXX.-( Continued). During the time of Kleckser's absence upon his foray into the enemy's territory, the enemy made himself as amiable as bearded foreign gentlemen well could be. He talked incessantly to his young friends, be gave them excellent advice, he told them agree- able stories with such excellent effect, that Whiffles at last laid down his pen in despair, and told him he Could write no more. « Good, my son," returned M. Parlandet, compos- ing his features to a look of sober gravity, we will be serious and get on with our task. But, pee, dear Vhiffle, I at least can laugh and work as Well. Look. There is M. Kleckser's Hamburg letter, beautifully inscribed in that delightful Ger- -111an character that looks as if an intoxicated spider bad bathed himself in the ink and crawled all 0 ver the paper-done, finished. Here I put the last stroke to the letters I took from you-also done, finished. But my hungry fingers itch for more. More work, my Vhiffle, plenty more. I am insatiable this afternoon." Well, I'm sure, I don't know what more to give you, Mr. Parlandy, unless- Hulloa, there's the govenor's whistle. Whiffles disappeared to Van Flewker's summons, returning presently in a tremendous hurry. « Well, it is lucky you're here this afternoon, Mr. lparlan dy he exclaimed. The governor wants me to go down to Wapping directly, and I shall be away at least an hour and a half. Look here, will you just take up this letter to Bombay, and finish it according to these directions ?" Rely upon me, my son, rely upon your faithful Parlandet!" exclaimed that gentleman joyously, and Whiffles went his way. This was an unexpected stroke of good fortune. It afforded an opportunity for a little more judicious tampering, which Pari was not the man to leave Unused. Gwillim had taken little part in the conversation that afternoon. The presence of M. Parlandet op- pressed him. Ever since their memorable conversa- tion, he had expected something to occur bearing upon the hints there thrown out. An uneasy feeling hung about him of his somehow being a tool in Par- landet's skilful hands; although he was unable to see precisely in what manner he was being used. His 4esire to obtain a more lucrative position fought daily battles with his reverence for Van Flewker and his instinctive distrust of Pari, until the Welshman's powers of reasor;.ing-1Iever very acute or vivid-were en- tangled in a hopeless maze. "Veil, my dear Gwillim," said M. Parlandet, ad- dressing his young colleague directly for the first time that afternoon, have you been to the opera again, lately?" N-n-not since that evening, M. Parlandet," re- plied the clerk, with a significant glance at his ques- tioner. "But you enjoyed yourself upon that occasion, I think, my friend," pursued Pari, with much in- terest. 64 Ye-yes; oh, yes. Up-p-p-pon the whole, very m-m-much," answered Gwillim. "Delighted to hear it, my young friend," returned Pari, paternally. Have you, perhaps, reflect a little now and then upon our conversation after the per- formance, eh ?" I've n-n-not forgotten it," said the young man, with an uneasy wriggle. Nor I, my friend, nor 1. That evening stands out in my memory as distinguished from many other pvenings. Then it was I enjoyed the felicity of your agreeable society. I was entranced by your delight- fully innocent and refreshing belief in the goodness Of humankind. I felt myself listening to you, quite young again Pity, great pity that your childlike trust in a certain person should have beeh so thoroughly misplaced. I did think so, if you re- member, at the time. New, I hold the proofs of that person's criminality in my hands. Aha what you say to that ?" ..G.g-gl-good Heavens, M. Parlandet, you don't may so ?" ejaculated Gwillim, starting bolt upright, with horror upon his stool. Ha-ha-have you di-di- fti-di-di-discovered anything fresh ?" "Ilush!" whispered Pari, laying a warning grip upon the young man's arm. Caution, my Gvillim, Caution The pear is not yet ripe. We must not shake him from the tree before the proper time. Discover anything ? you ask Ah, would that I had not! Would that the anguish of bringing to light the secret crime of one whom I have loved, respected, almost worshipped, had fallen into other hands! But what is to be done ? Friendship and gratitude joust yield to justice. And M. Parlandet blew his nose sonorously. Startled and almost terrified as Gwillim felt, to find that progress was actually being made towards the great convulsion which he dreaded while he de- sired, yet the hope of advantage to himself which rart had known so skilfully how to call into life, asserted itself more powerfully than sorrow for his patron's coming fall. "Then if m-m-mat-matters turn out as you f-S-say, M. Parlandet," he hesitatingly stammered, MI sup-p-p-pose I may reckon upon your not f-f-for- aetting the p-p-promise——" "My promise that your talents should not be overlooked, as now?" completed Parl. "Depend Upon me, my Gvillim, they shall not. Rely firmly jraon me. Naturally, however," he added, with an pjr of indifference, any little assistance it may be jp your power to give—always, of course, in the Interests of society-will be freely rendered." Oh I c-c-camt be of any use in the m-m-matter, I'm sure!" exclaimed Gwillim, appalled at the pros- r!t of open rebellion. I don't know anything about M. Parlandet." U Dear Gwillim," observed Parl, mildly, U reflect. Be sure, first, I shall ask-ør rather the interests of fodety, so important and essential, shall ask- nothing that you cannot easily perform. Next, re- fnember that where a man does net sow he cannot expect to reap." chap 30 The question was assuming a very distasteful fppect, and Gwillim hardly dared to think of the position in which he would find himself if M. Par- landet's enterprise failed. He reflected, however, that Part's stake upon success was even greater thaa his own. He was dazzled by that artful schemer's Jjjrilljajit promisesand f -wtnvatrmwes
r 1 Printing of every Description
Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth.
he finally consented to Tend wliat Kefp Ke could to overturn the dynasty of Van Flewker. Rely on me. my Gwillim," concluded Pari. I may not want to bring you forward at all; indeed, I fully believe that I shall not; but in case it should be necessary, your evidence must be given. But now, these letters, what is to become of them ? Do you think Whiffle or Kleckser will soon return?" We'd b-b-bet-better have them signed, at any rate," replied Gwillim. Mr. van Flewker has g-g-got to approve them yet." Ah, well, gather them up, and give them all to Me," said Pari. I will tain them in, and we shall soon get that part of the business over." Oh, will you really ? I shall b-b-be so much obliged, M. Parlandet," declared Gwillim, heartily. I d-d-do ab-b-bominate showing the g-g-ggl-gov- ernor letters. If he isnt in a g-g-good temper, there's always sure to be a row. Here they are, M. Parlandet." "Tell me first, my friend," said Pari, as he received the bundle of letters," what time does M. van Flewker usually leave ?" At five, to c-c-catch the train that starts at the half-hosrf." And it is now, what ? Twenty-five minutes past four," said M. Parlandet, looking at his watch. Good I know, then, what to do." He took up the letters, and left the counting- house. Outside the door M. Parlandet did a very singular thing. He stopped, deliberately selected the letters written by himself, and placed them at the bottom of the heap. Then he drew from his breast-pocket a paper, also in his own handwriting, and inserted it among .the last-placed papers. After which, he knocked at Van Flewker's door. Ah, M. Parlandet!" exclaimed the merchant, in a tone of surprise, as the smiling countenance of his manager looked into the room. What brings you down here ? Anything important, eh?" he added, glancing at the bundle of papers in M. Parlandet's hands. chap 30 "My benefactor, no," returned Pari. "Finding myself unoccupied at the West-end, anxious to devote my energies to the service of the most beloved of patrons, I hastened here to assist the young men in the office. Fortunately, as you see," he continued, spreading out the letters rapidly before Van Flewker with one hand, and shutting them together like a pack of cards, with the other, "I was enabled to be of use. These only await the signature of the most illustrious man of the day to carry his name to all the quarters of the globe. chap 30 The merchant shrugged his shoulders. Very disinterested to give yourself so much trouble, M. Parlandetand in such sultry weather, too. Give me the letters." M. Parlandet placed his papers in a pile before his patron. Is it in the power of the most humble of servitors to be of further use ?" he asked, submissively. Shall I peruse a portion of the documents, and sign them in the name of the iirm ?" Obliged," returned the merchant, drily. "I .fer doing that myself." And he began to read his letters. But this proceeding would not answer M. Paf- landet's purpose. It was his object, certainly, to have the papers signed; but to have them read and criticised'would never do. He placed himself at his patron's side, and looked over his shoulder. By gentle, unobtrusive hints and suggestions, he con- trived to engage the merchant in discussion, which diverged to a dozen topics, and ended in the pro- mulgation of a magnificent scheme. Van Flewker's eager mind forgot the letters as he listened to his subordinate's glowing pictures of undreamt-of wealth pictures all the more seductive, as increasing em- barrassments rendered their realisation more desirable now than ever. The glozing tongue of the tempter led the merchaat on, sinking him deeper and deeper in the Paradise of Fools, until a neighbouring clock struck five. Van Flewker started, with an exclama- tion of annoyance. "Already five!" he ejaculated, and the letters not yet signed. I must be off immediately, or I shall lose my train. Call Vhiffle, M. Parlandet, at once." Parl summoned the cashier through the speaking- tube. Mr. VhifHe said the merchant, hastily, I must go. But I have not yet had time to read my letters. I shall sign them now but you must look through them very carefully before they are sent to the post. If anything seems doubtful, keep it back, and let me see it to-morrow. That will do." Whiffles retired. Van Flewker seized a pen, and hastily signed the letters without reading their con- tents; Parl, anxious to assist the most benevolent of benefactors, unfolding and laying them in readiness before him. The paper in his own handwriting, which he had placed near the bottom of the pile, was signed unnoticed among the rest; but upon this the mer- chant, in his hurry, let fall a blot. "Bah!" he exclaimed, testily. "Erase that, M. Parlandet, before the letter goes. I cannot stop another moment, or I shall lose my train. Good evening." He snatched up his hat and was gone. It shall be done, my patron," asseverated Parl. Oh, yes rely upon it that it shall be done. Illus- trious benefactor, it—shall—be—done!" he sang, exultingly, as the merchant's steps ceased echoing along the passage. "Napoleon, my son, I con- gratulate thee!" he continued, slapping himself upon the breast. It was a stroke of genius. It was an heroic exploit. It was a magnificent under- taking. It was a deed that deserved to succeed; and it has succeeded. Yes, we have made one other little step upon the grand road to-day." He replaced in his pocket-book the paper which had been the object of so much enconium, and which was now authenticated by the merchant's signature, gathered up the letters, and issued jauntily into the passage. As he turned the corner past the safe-room, he ran against Kleckser, at that moment coming out. "Aha, dear M. Kleckser," he exclaimed, "pray spare my corns this time. The infallible remedy advertised by the papers does not consist of ledgers. What you think, eh? After you, my son; after you." He waved his hand politely towards the entrance, and followed the German into the counting-house. Vhiffle, my friend, here are the letters, all signed, ready to be dispatch when they have pass your critical eye. And now, my children, as I sup- pose I can be of no further service I shall return to F my hermitage, and pass the evening in the fasting and devotion suitable to the recluse." Over a pottel of vine and a cigar, I subbose," suggested Kleckser. "Over a bottle of wine and a cigar, my dear Kleckser, as you wisely surmise," repeated PI. -im-lv
ne reward of honest toil, my happy privilege of industry and virtue. Take my blessing, and adieu!" 61 Well, he's been of some use this afternoon, at any rate," remarked Whiffles, after M. Parlandet had departed. "I never knew him do so much work before. P'raps 'e's going to turn over a new leaf. Hanged if I can make out what put it into. his. head, though." "Veil, I can guess," said Kleckser, dough time vill show vhether I'm right. I'm glad he- came here dis afternoon, Vhiffie, as veil as you are, put for a tifferent reason." chap 30 CHAPTER XXXI. MEASURES OF THE COALITION. I MUST ask you to come a few steps back ivrith me upon our journey through the story of M. Parlandet's wiles, and to accompany Kleckser during his visit to the branch office of Fabian van Flewker and Company in Pall Mall. While Pari was carrying out bir4 preparations for launching the ship in which he interred his employer to depart upon a certain involunt; Ty foreign tour, Kleckser was busily engaged in rummaging the manager's apartments. He had no difficulty in gaining access; a pass key opening the door hung in the office-at; Augustine-close, for Van Flewker's special use, aDd Kleckser had slipped it into his pocket when going out. Walking quietly up-stairs, he applied this mild persuasive, and stood within Parl's apartments-his private apartments, be it understood, for in the. re- ception-room it was not probable anything of a com- promising nature would be found. The jumble of effects that he discovered in drawers, in carpet-bags, in old cigar-boxes, jammed between the looking-glass and the wall, and. even stuck be- hind the picture-frames, was singularly characteristic of the proprietor's erratic tastes and habits. For letters Kleckser particularly looked; and these were just the objects of which fewest were to be found. Old French novels, dog's-eared and in every sense dirty; a couple of opera-glasses drawing materials, and some crayon sketclies--Parl at one period having imagined his genius lay in the direction of art; a heavily-loaded life-destroyer; numbers of half-blackened pipes fishing-tackle needles and thread odd pamphlets, hand-bills, with here and there a stereoscopic view, made up the staple of M. Parlandet's very miscellaneous property. Hidden beneath some shirts, in one of the drawers containing clothes, the searcher came upon a thin, triangular-edged stiletto, with a bent blade. Hum!" soliloquised Kleckser, as he drew forth the last-named article, and held it up between his eye and the window. De fellow means mischief vhen he uses dis, I should say. Vhat a sanguinary rascal Internal hemorrhage vould pe inevitable from a stab of dis murderous veapon. Stains, too, ubon de blade! Pah! Put none of dese tings telt me vhat I vant to learn! Holloa vhat's dis ?" Lying in a fold of a coat upon the drawers, un- opened, careless Parl never having taken the trouble to break the seal, if he even knew of its arrival, was a letter. Kleckser snatched it eagerly. The post- mark was Lucerne. Don't know de hand," mused the German;" ve've no pusiness correspontents in Switzerland, except at Berne. Must pe brivate affairs. Tare I open it ? It's a great risk. I ton't pelieve dat careless tevil knows anything apout his letter. Put if he toes, and tis- covers I have peen here ? I ton't care; I'll chance anyting to serve Vhite. Here goes And Kleckser tore open M. Parlandet's letter. It was in French, and rather long. He turned to the conclusion and read the signature "TQn devout, POING" [" Thy devoted, POING "]. The German hastily devoured the contents, which were, in English, as follows chap 31 Lucerne. My FltIEND,-No answer yet to the letters I have been sending you this 'month past for more supplies How is this? Am I to suppose they have never reached your hands? Impossible, One letter might miscarry; three could not-- How is it, then, I have not been favoured with a reply ? I cannot suppose for a moment you have changed your mind with regard to the prosecution of our scheme If I could- but, no it is absurd. I wish now finally, and for the last time, to inform you that I must have more of the needful at once, without further delay. It is requisite for the completion of my task it is requisite for my return to England; it is re- quisite for my personal comfort here. You will probably perceive more clearly the necessity of in- stantly complying with my desire, if 1 recall to your mind our mutual position. When you wished me to come to England, several months ago, to do a service that was in my particular line, you will re- member I was unable immediately to fulfil your request. The pruning attentions of certain Government efficials at Genoa, to much engrossed by the charms of my agreeable society that they could not bear to lose sight of me for an instant, retained me there. One person in particular, who filled an odious post, could not prevail upon himself tc part. with your friend. I had' endeavoured so frequently to beat into his head the fact that I could not be always at his side, that I imagined at last Nature had omitted in his composition the article of brains, Well, I was wrong. He possessed more than I believed. I ant sure of this, from having seen them partly protruding from his shattered skull, partly scattered about the walls of a room, where he met with an unfortunate accident the night I sud- denly left Genoa. Poor man His obstinate infatuation for my society proved his ruin. Rushing, in the ardour of his affection, to clasp me in his arms, his headeameUJ contact with some hard substance—it might have been a door-key; they, were heavy, those of the palace in which I lived—and he fell lifeless to the ground. I mention this occurrence merely tCil show what difficulties I surmounted when hastening to friend- ship's call. However, I arrived in London. My friend required me, and' I came. I undertook the service you desired. An obstacle stood in your way, and yoti wanted itremoved. I re moved the obstacle. I appeal to you if the service was not effectually per- formed. I asked for no reward. I was contented to have been useful to my friend. Subsequently, you required another service, upon which I have been engaged now just two months. I appeal to you, once more, if that also has not been effectually done. Certain promises however, were made by you which have not been carried out. I was to receive my task accom- plished, upon this occasion a pecuniary reward. Well, I re- quire that reward. I have dono my work and 1 wish for my pay. 1 have asked for it, three times you have returned no answer. I ask for it now, and 1 warn you I shall not ask. again. You will of course at once perceive the justice of my claim, and hasten to execute my desire. It may quicken your resolution, perhaps, to know that I have retained in my hands the power of replacing in your path that obstacle which was so very inconvenient before. Its unpleasantness, I think, you would find now greater than ever. I say no more, because to %lie wise man a liint is sufficient, tuither than.' this, if it is not worth your while to purchase silence, it may be IVorth the while of other* to buy a, secret. Think of tfl shall TM iv.un here until ten days from this date have ex- rrired. If 1 y: that time 1 do not receive what I hltve asked for, you will ha 4<vouti>e!f to thank for what may follow. Address '• M. Ijouifc"! juw.isn. voste vmott., Lucerne." Klecks ■•p'.read over this letter several times. It was clear j" Iwn that it contained a clue. The most gratifyiril Jtoint, however, was the assurance he con- sidered it ■ > give of the existence of his friend. The outlines ( the plot now traced themselves before him. Ra nond was the obstacle which Poing had been emr 5ved by Pari to remove, and which the actual pe- etrator now threatened his principal to re- store, un: is bribed to secrecy. To effect this, it was certain 1 ymond lived. The place of his conceal- ment COt h only be obtained from Poing, Witb wbom an undel wadiu« must be established. t1 u: