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ALL BJOOTS RESERVED. BEST POLICY. BY W. PETT RIDGE, jntbor of "A Son of the State," "Secretary to Baylies, M.P. "A Cjever Wife," "An Important Man," "Mord Exn'ly," &c- This story that Jamas toldnote the other afternoon down a.t Edmonton—.Jaiaes baa cost the Strand Board of Guardians, boy and xnan, a pretty penny—I have taken the trouble to verify, and I ;«.m rather astonished to find that it has the virtue of comparative accuracy —so easy it is minis world to ■waver trom a line of conduct. "Honesty is the best policy," read out James from an advertisement on the back oi my newspaper. He took off hie cap, rubbed bie cropped white hair, and gave a short laugh. "Oh. yes. Twice! Ought to be wrote up in letters of ¡;;()}d! Ought to be inscribed oo every lamp-poet! Honesty the best policy, indeed! For other people, per- M ^gaeesed from what he did ^beii be^had removed his pipe from his month n&t he ■poke ironically "Loooere!" said James, pointing the stem of his pipe at me. "A ounce of facts warta a ton aE argument. Til give you a case in pojat." .8 James having ptdicd off what he called i "koop" determined that the money fcbns ao- qmred should take him into society brighter and loftier than *hat which Hagger- affords. Wherefore, iustead of gong to a shop that advertised misfits as though it were a matter for pride to ha ve had so many efforts rejected, be went to a tailor who meafrared turn, who arranged an impressive fall in the hack for the frocs coat; tetected with the touch of an artist the true, the one, th- indisputable place for the two back but- tons invented a doable breasted waistcoat that somehow made James appear quite slim, and furnished two qmte reticent pairs of trousers. Tne^e and a silk hat at fifteeo and six enabled to stroll m at the Criterion ba, without T»'jK.tonng frcwnsj to ask the barmaids whe* h^r his friend, Sir William Something Lad oeen m, to express perturba- tion on ret*' r>g a negative reply; it also eoi bled him t,. sjt languidly on the handle of his stick quite to the steps 01 Pall Mall; dubs. It was in tins way that he met M. Henri Fasqnellfc, temporarily of Gerrard- etreet, and, mdieed, never permacently at an; one piaoe of his own accord, and when each had discovered that the other was oo- inc on:, for something to turn up, tney 5>i. good d^d, "that one Smxlaj »to ?* » Old toe-street (since, alas °° rxM Sc ud put ttoigto Md secure A competency T '"Explain votrreelf, said James. II Fasquelle, though hampered by a iforeica rongue and the near presence of other ytw^r: fx>rs, contrived to do so "Co-n I trust you?" asksd James. 1;=¡ the iremory of his mother, M. Fas iveile said (and sua it with tears), he could -Uciaro that in matters of this kind he was the very eouJ of horour. "Than I tEll you what,' s*dd James, hold- rag out his hand, "we'll have a dash at it." James tells me that to had the ordinary ^very-day mug in Lon<lfvn is the easiest waiter; to find a. mag of a peculiar pattern » a task. Nevertheless, beang something of « connoisseur w the article, n did a wee* iater find one bearing the assume*. °j Boreter, a man possessing isiung-cards and » fox-hoad pui in his necktie, a meerschaum cigarette- bolder, and other eridercces of ucCMng m a good circle- Borster had beej ra the City, but the City had found tami with him and had sent him to Hollowav ►nd subsequently to Wormwood Scrubbs, and be was ready now to do iimoc?t anything "on robe croBfa" as opposed to the correct line of conduct described aa "on the straight." To bim the scheme was explained under a bond ot secrecy that nothing but an earthquake "V>uld break Somewhere in the West Cen- tral district (street not to he mentioned even » such a dear old chum as Borster) Russian iJw-notes were being imitated with such artistic preciseness that only the specialist -sold dwset ths masquerade. They could be in A-rstwerp. in Perlm, ui Paris—in. *;»am especially, beemae <w *■« Franco- K,>sriian understanding. For five hundred rounds Boreter should have ten thousand rouuds' worth. On Boreter asking of James *n • oM. FasqoeJle the reason why baej them aelvee did not take advan^g^ of this aotoo- tag opportunity for making a fortune, the 1. bad to confess that they were so well Strewn and to unfavourably known to the 'Xilice that every act of their was being -vatched with unkind suspicion. Whilst Bolster, on the contrary — "Why, compared with GS,' &aid James, in a confidential whisper, "campared ,¡t.h 118 you're whiter than the drivelling snow! Borster, with all the conceit of the amateur, was inclined a.t first to take this as a deliberate insult, but the great advan- tages of his intermediate position were etrsa- uoiislv pointed out in a f >reign language br M. Fasqttelie and in very "«d, forcible ian-1 jmagfe by James, and i.ftwo houis of lard, coutinur us debate, !'•' rster was com-1 pelled to admit that the occasion and all the circumstances were unique. xNow, I'm a strictly business nytn said Borsrer, aooepting a cigarette from M. Fasquelle, "aod I should like this little affarr ruin on strictly bvusiness lines. Where and when can I touch these so-called notes?" "BruxeUts," said M. FatiOaelle. "A week to-day." added James. "Why DOt in London?" "How many more times, demanded James, »w*at*rilv "am I to tell you that we are being Sid' by men whoSe ey« like ks ?" '•In London," RU<i M, Pa«qaelle v/ith a regretM wave of his <nzu?ette, \t, is im- ^Eible. In many »nMfK town"—here he kissed his tan?- to Old Com > tou-street—"it is in this regard im-poes- ^WherealxHite in Brussels?" asked after a pause. M Fasquelle borrowed a penal from James, wrote tbe address on the table, u-txi rutted it out immediately. "Hue b^gan Boreter. The other two begged bim in a. whisper not to talk so loudly. If any one of these eoiiotHided detectives (vv io could not always be confounded) wer% to f ear so much w a syllable, then would fh<* ^&me be up indeed. Easy to find the small u.vern 1:' question, said M. Faequelle; tt was but the throw of a stone from the Palace P^yale, ana Brussels was just one of i^oee "uiet plac*» where the poboe would be very i»*4jkely >o tBfrfare. This Was the great doW, for should the police get wind of it then there was no other prospect but a dr<xry five yeare for one xiid all. Horswr admitted. | tius and that r;e, for his | a*t w.juld sedl bis hps in regard to the matbir. It was thereupon agreed tbat each travel s«par3't £ iy» *ia Slashing, one via Oste«<l> tis other via Calais, and aPP<>intment, three o'clock in the aftercoon o' following Wedcesdav, wa& agreed upon and ra-tifiea. James tells me tfet only ex- perience of Con tin*?77-' .at any- body can go acroes Ciwni^' wbo Uk^s to do »> but for his p..rt--nev..r again. Looking bock apoo it all, he thinks he can see that there was low cunning In th., iwraTigement that he should Flushing. Jan«e6 had o«ice been to wacton bv steamer,but that had been mere Serpentine fcfeating, compared with this Tuesday n1g,ht voyage It will be understood, without toe ki-cwledge of details, that James event't^'ly arrived at Brussds a lixip, white-faced, -°J' lorr. person, a stranger -n a strange Ian I, with no further knowledge of the tongue than that contained in the words, "an revoiT," which, taken alo-M and used on irriviog m a foreign town, could not be OQSldered as a sufficient outfit. He had, V.owever, the name of the tavern writ-ton on card, and a white-hatted oachman drove • im there, and. encouraged by the thought that be was t-n return that evening with two jtandred a.nd fifty pounds in his packet—for '{ Fasquelle had in we ted that the profits Ton Id be uactly halved and was quite ob- r mate on this pomt wh»»n TameN had sug- *ted that something extra shordd be „ j, wed to Fasquelle for 'he tronble snd 1 :pense of nbtainmg the notef^—encouraged, say, by the prospect of coming again hoj ^eered slightly on the \>v He'becamef "ruj mora cheerful when ho found his eoi- • igoe, M. Fasquelle, waiting for himoataide e tavern, dea«-shaven for the beUeru>ent « • disguise and wearing <loncb hat that • emed calculated to excite suspicion rather ian to allay it. "Ah. aw hgatiwl" ossd M. FaequeBe. "W hat there is left of me," growled James. "000 moiety of you,' •coi'ired Fasquelle with enthusiasm, "is worth the two of other men. Good comrade always "Yes well, don't go slapping me on the shoulder like that. I only feel like about sixpence-halfpenny in tho pound." "Soaie wine?" "Wine be hanged said 'ames. "I want something to drink." "At three hours," remarked. Fasquelle, taking James's arm and conducting him through the passage, "a.t hroe hours BoTster w-ill come to arrive. .Tames remembeirs the oicj square room where the mating took rH^ce with its oM- fas-hioned English spirting prints, its French billiard table, its comic uvoers, and a view through the windows of a wall which would have been blank only that some ingenious artist had painted thereon some astonishing scenes of red-coated hun^siivm taking rifle shots at foxes, of sports.,ien preparing to air) at birds that were already tailing to the ground. Fasquelle seemed > n good terms with the proprietor so tar «s James could guess, and at any rate tLe proprietor fur- xirshfd James with some •" .>:celi snt Ba £ S and crusty, filling ham sandwich. At three o'clock to he minute Bolster walked in. Borstcr also lvii mc-de seme chii ge in his appeartfiCe ,"1<1 looked the kind of man who might have about him n half penny stamp, but was »ot hkely to have A penny one. In point >«f Tact he had the Englich not as inside a letter-case in his hip pocket, and he produced t!i2m at once; he shewed them to James and to Fasquelle. "Now, eaid Borster, sariousl^, "it's understood that we mean business.' "Strict business," agreed Jamee. Fas- quelle tried to express his cordial acceptance of this suggestion, but could do it only by pantomime. "And we needn't waste time over it. "The sooner it's over," said James, humorouslv, "the quicker." „ "Then produce the bits of Russian paper, said Borsu?r. "My dear friend is up on top," explained Fasq ooile, painting upwards. "Second stage. FTim you must not see. Give me your dear, charming Bronk of England notes and in the spaoe of two minutes I return with-" "You go with him. James." To explain what followed James had to ask my assistance. I have to pretend to be James, James plays the character of Fas- quelle. I take James by the arm for three or four steps, goino- as it were out of a large room into a dim passage. ("That seat over there," says James, 'la the entrance from the street.') James orders me to hold r asquelle s arm very securely, fnd this I do. Upstair in this wav to a room where Fa*quefle, still held affectionately, gives three quick raps, and, after a pause, a fourth. Door opened half-way. A large bundle tied with blue tape handed out to Fasqudle. The Bank of England notes handed in. A return downstairs, I as James still holding the arm of James as Fasquelle. "Grip tigl/t," whispers the stage manager. I hold him, as I think, securely, but not so securely when he gives a sudden rrelo- dram&tic start as to prevent him from releas- ing himself. Fasquelle, with a cry of "Heavens The Foiioe!" thrCws the bundle out. of the win- dow, daTts into the large room, a.nd gives swift, hurried, generous warning to Borster. In another moment the three are escaping in various directions; Boreter wildly, without knowing where he is going, out into the corridor where the sporting subjects are painted, James butting the inoffensive arrival out of the way and making a mad dash out into the street and away down the hill of the Montagne de la Cour, Fasquelle ap- parently vanishing into space. James, find- mg his way by aocadent more than design, run.3 up against the Gafe du Nord, and hiding himself in the waiting-room takes the train back to London. "And what." I ask of James when he has mopped the inside of his soft black hat and has regained something like calm after the excitement of this description, "what wa.8 the end of the afiaiT 1" "The finish up of it?" echoes James, vio- lently. "Why, Tve give it to you." "Bat surely something happened ?" "There'd been quite enougn 'appeo," says James, grimly. "Borster a-nd me met now c?id again and talked it over; sometimes we James, grimly. "Borster aDd me met now c?id again and talked it over; sometimes we I ^^oKght Faftqvuilla -light Ka.vo got irmteU. stabbed, and thai made -as feel pretty thank- ful it was him and not us; then we heard he had got away, and reckoned it was very wise of aim to keep hiss/elf dark." "Quite so." "But since I've been in 'ere," James, deliberately, "I've come to see that it w?s all a blooming plant on the part of Mister Herr Mossieo Fasquelle, Esquire. He'd done that trick before, bless yon; he's done it times without number ainoe. And then you talk to me about honesty being the best I Bah!" growls James, rubbing his corduroyed ktiee in conclusion. "1 haven't got the patience to discuss tie subjec' I [THE END.]



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