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"--------.-CAUGHT AT LAST;…


But it is time tnat you made his personal acquaint- ance. The first of the three clerks who reached the Close the morning after Kleckser had analysed the character of M. Parlandet for his companions' enlightenment, was Whiffles, who foun^ t'ie counting-house occupied by BillPordy, the erranl-h. <y—a chubby youth of about fourteen, with red '1 -■ .1(,V nose, and a leer in his greenish eyes extreme.y akin to a squint. Pordy was gifted with a comic turn, and possessed more than .the share of mischief usual at his age. He was constantly .getting into hot water with the clerks. bcarcely a week passed without his being threatened with dismissal- a threat forgotten by all parties as soon as uttered. The boy was an excellent mimic, and frequently amused the clerks for hours when business was slack. Anybody been, Pordy ?" asked Whiffles. "Ain't there just?" replied that eccentric youth, pointing his thumb over his shoulder towards the sanctum. "Guvnor's back," he added in a stage whisper. And ain't he grumpy ? that's all ? He smacked my 'ed, Mr. Whiffles," concluded the injured youth. Did he ?" said Whiffles, equably. Ah, well, I daresay you deserved it. If Mr. van Flewker wants me, he'll call, I s'pose." And Whiffles busied himself in his books. Had a philosopher been present interested in ascer- taining the precise length to which a boy's tongue can possibly be protruded, he might have gained the knowledge by measuring the organ of Pordy, vibra- ting derisively behind unconscious Whiffles's stool. Retribution, in the shape of Kleckser, however, at that moment entered the counting-house from the rear. Two sounding slaps, one upon either ear, followed by the yell such discipline usually evokes from the juvenile pipe, testified to the promptness of hand of the avenger. Chap 3 You shall make faces at Mr. Viffle behint his pack, leetel boseivicht (Miscreant), exclaimed the German. I have great mind to baint your saucy chops as all von clown, and turn you out in de street." Kleckser, be it remarked in passing was the only person in the office of whom Pordy stood in actual awe; not from the lad's receiving more punishment at his hands than at those of the rest, but owing to the quaintness of the chastisements the German con- stantly devised., One of these consisted in placing Pordy upright between his knees, and, after gazing In solemn silence into the boy's face, addressing him gravely for several minutes in the German tongue. This Pordy especially hated. In the first place, he did not understand a syllable that Kleckser said in the next, he shrewdly guessed the exhortation was not of a complimentary kind. An additionally comic element was introduced into the relations of the pair, by Kleckser undertaking to correct Pordy's pronunciation. The gravity of the clerks was often overset by the remarkable jargon resulting from the collision of the Cockney with the Teuton dialect. Occasionally, however, the lad's love of mimicry overcame even his fear, and led him, whenever he thought it could be done with impunity, to imitate Kleckser's accent and faulty grammar to his face. Sometimes the German perceived the trick more frequently it escaped his notice. When he did detect the offender, the punishment was dire. Chap 3 Oh, Mr. Kleckser, sir, please don't!" exclaimed the peccant Pordy, rubbing his ears alternately. I didn't go to make faces, sir. It was quite ahaccident, eir; indeed it was Vhat you mean by haccident,' bosewicht V ex- claimed Mentor. Am I not always telling you not to put von h vhere Nature and de grammar say dat he shouldn't come ? Spell de vord." ««H-a-x,hax," commencedPordy; then stopped, see. ing in his tutor's eye that he was wrong, and tried again. A-k-s—aks, s-i—si, d-e-n-t—dent—aksident. That's right, ain't it, Mr. Kleckser ?" I Pordy," observed Kleckser, gravely, I will have to talk to you, if you ton't take care. It's not right von bit; all de oder vay." Not right von bit; all de oder vay," mimicked Biill in apparent dismay, Dear me, sir who'd ha' thought it ? Oh, please, sir, tell me how to spell it! I should so like to know." Kleckser was about to comply in all simplicity, when Whiffles pointed out that Pordy was only laughing at him. The lad's eager disclaimers and Kleckser's threatened revenge were both summarily stopped by .a shrill whistle from the speaking-tube communicating with the private room, summoning Whiffles. At a desk in the back office sat the principal of the firm. A stout man with broad shoulders, a long body, and short legs. Seated, he appeared of average height; when he rose, you saw that he was below the middle size. Age, about fifty; complexion, a sallow olive; black hair, whiskers and moustache, .and an unmistakably Jewish nose. The colour of his eyes you could not see for his spectacles, except when he removed these occasionally to rub the lenses; then you perceived that they were weak, twinkling, and watery, yet with an expression of much shrewdness. The hue of the glasses being a light blue, the precise direction of the wearer's gaze was an inpenetrable mystery. The sanctum itself was a comfortable room, hand- somely furnished. Upon a table at one side were three telegraphic-instrument dials, communicating respectively with the West-end department, with the marine-stores at Wapping, and Van Flewker's resi- dence in Bloomsbury-square. Viewing the man sit- ting at this centre, and thinking of the wires radiating therefrom in three different directions, you were irre- sistibly reminded of a watchful spider, ensconced !n the recesses of its web. Came a heedless fly, buz- zing about any of the extremities, and got his gauzy wings entangled in the meshes of the web, the spider upon him in an instant, and flashes directions along the wires how best to secure his prey. A gutta- percha speaking tube, communicating with the counting house, ascended the wall at the merchant's side, and vanished near the ceiling. Opposite the i.Was 'a *ar £ e window, looking into the garden attached to the house; and higher up in the wall, f« commanding the apartment, was a small perture, occupied by a pane in a movable frame which opened from the passage. .>^lnn™fpnLiletterS a?d newsPapers, in variously S manv hut°PeS' covered with postage stamps ot many hues, was upon the desk. Van Flewker and mastered the contents in a rapid glance, and laid each upon one of four different heaps. At this moment Whiffles knocked u Mr. Vhiffle, said the merchant, querulously, i, I »m here just half von hour, and not von of mv clerka is yet arrive. Vhat is the reason ?" "I've been 'ere this ten minutes, sir," answered Whiffles; and the other gentlemen have just come f in. It's only this minute gone ten." t "Hey, vhat?" exclaimed the merchant, snap. I pishly, pulling out his watch. U Is M. Parlandet ] here ?" I "Not yet, sir." Telegraph lie shall come doW,- «