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i"" in- A,, f-1 Tlr CAUGHT AT LAST; OBj THE FELON'S BRAND. [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] V CHAPTER IV. M. l'ARLAN"E" DISPLAYS HIS ABILITY. NOT long afterwards M. Parlandet arrived and upon Rearing his principal's desire, appeared in the (sanctum. The conversation that ensued, like all between these two, was mostly carried on in French; but as this happens to be an English story, intended for English readers, I shall take the liberty of giving it chiefly in our native tongue. w Well, M. Parlandet," was the merchant's greeting, "here have been fine doings again in Hamburg The Old game —the old game! Will you never learn a little wisdom ?" f' But, monsieur, what has happened now ?" inquired Pari, in well-acted amazement. "What has happened?' retorted his principal. It Everything has happened. Stupidity, carelessness, disobedience to my express orders. That is all, M. fariandet; nothing more." "Monsieur van Flewker, you surprise, you alarm, you horrify me. But one source of satisfaction is open to my troubled mind. It is that your anger, with- put doubt so just and so noble, is not directed against your most humble slave." Against whom else then ?" cried the merchant, in ghrill and passionate tones. U Without doubt against that wretched Schmidt, the Hamburg agent," replied Parlandet, coolly. « That miserable good-for-nothing; so ungrateful to the best of men and most munificent of benefactors." "Schmidt!" shrieked Van Flewker, savagely. I'Schmidt has done nothing but carry out your in- structions, M. Parlandet—your careless and erro- neous interpretation of my express desires. When Schmidt acts for himself, he always meets my wishes. When he is inspired by you, I find my plans invariably grossed. What say you to that, monsieur ?" Monsieur van Flewker," replied Pari, solemnly, Spreading his fleshy fingers, terminated by long, black- tipped nails, widely apart over the region usually occupied by the heart, my conscience—that never- faiUng consoler of the upright man-speaks me free from blame. If Schmidt has done wrong, it is that be has misconceived my orders. Come, let us hear I what crime the unhappy man has perpetrated." Van Flewker re-commenced. 44 Did I not expressly order, before I went to Paris, that no bills drawn by Saxon wool-merchants, typon houses here were to be negotiated without Schmidt making special report upon the standing of the drawers ? Answer me that, monsieur." I Monsieur, your memory, as ever, is of the most accurate," replied Parlandet. Chap 4 11 Good. Further, did I not explain to you, clearly, plainly, in unmistakable terms, that the reason for this precaution was my having received advices from Schmidt that the crop of German wool this year was defective; that sheep had perished by hundreds from the murrain and the protracted winter: that the J Australian fabric was rapidly beating the Saxon material out of the market; and that the wool fair at Chemnitz would be of the most indifferent kind ? And in the teeth of all this," continued the merchant, with increasing vehemence, when mv back is hardly turned; before, in fact, I have even Crossed the Channel, you telegraph to Schmidt to make it widely known throughout the German wool- trade that he is in a position to procure them dis- ( counts upon most advantageous terms. Your reasons for this extraordinary proceeding, M. Parlandet, if you please ?" demanded the merchant, dropping his tone to calm and concentrated wrath. "And why have bills for more than nine hundred pounds been discounted against my orders ?" The deuce thought Paul. The matter is more gerious than I had supposed." He drew breath and uttered a long and incoherent rhapsody about devotion, duty, &c., which his chief listened to with growing impatience. At last, taking advantage of a break, he said— I am to understand, then, M. Parlandet, that you did not issue any such instructions to Schmidt ?" gflked Van Flewker, eyeing his manager keenly. "Monsieur, I did not," said Parlandet, "boldly; « Schmidt has entirely misconceived my meaning. Se is to blame, not 1." It Good!" ejaculated Van Flewker. "I am not surprised, M. Parlandet, that you should take this line. It entirely accords with my experience of your Character; and I should have been vexed at having formed an erroneous judgment, had you told the truth. As it happens, I can prove that you are speaking what you know to be false. I have seen Schmidt, and he has furnished me with this. Do you recognise it ?" I Van Flewker handed to Parlandet the copy of the telegraphic dispatch which he had sent to the Ham- burg agent, and had then entirely dismissed from his memory. Most men would have been abashed at this open conviction of having said the thing which isnot; but this was one of those dilemmas in which M. Par- landet shone. Aha thought he, as his eye rapidly took in the sense of the despatch, and the entire transaction again rose up before h's mind "it a vu Schmidt (He has seen Schmidt.) And upon that hint he spake. £ ol Strange!" he said, meditatively, laying the des- patch upon the desk; strange! my dear M. van Flewker how wonderful are the workings of the human mind! Stranger still the doctrine of chances. Now, I could have sworn that this message had never b"en sent. I distinctly recollect, now you recall the circumstance, writing out instructions, which must be somewhere in my drawers at the West-end, for Schmidt, exactly according to your orders. I recollect further thinking at the same moment how easy it would be, by merely altering a word or two in the despatch, to convey precisely the opposite meaning. Insensibly, without doubt, the pen must have traced my thoughts upon the paper, and thus have followed the direction of my mind. By an unfortunate acci- dent the wrong message, then, must have been sent to Mr. Vhiffle, who, no doubt, forwarded it without ex- amination. A most careless proceeding of the book- keeper, M. van Flewker, and justly deserving your severest reprehension." < "Very ingenious, M, Parlandet," observed Van Flewker, dryly. "You couldn't lay your-hand upon the other despatch now, could you, at a moment's notice?" Most unluckily, my dear sir," replied unblushing poticer" Most unluckily, my dear sir," replied unblushing Jar], "I could not. But yesterday I now remember -v- Printing of every Description P, g,cieared out air useress papers; and trial ■ message, no doubt, was among the number. But it i is really, as you observe, a most singular coincidence, and deserves to be remembered." As it will be, M. Parlandet," returned the merchant. Van Flewker did not think it necessary to inform nis subordinate that no real harm had actually been done. The Hamburg agent, aware of his chief's approaching visit, had retained the bills until he could receive from Van Flewker's own mouth instructions as to the course he should pursue. Of this PstJandet knew nothing. It was not his habit to concern him- self with the inferior details of business matters; to meaner intellects ho entrusted the labour of carrying his ideas into execution. This little difficulty being as M. Parlandet con- ceived, satisfactorily surmounted, he next proceeded to acquaint his chief with the various business opera- tions that had taken place during the fortnight of his absence. Application made three days ago," said worthy M. Parlandet, to your most devoted, let me see, a solicitor, one Mr. Valkare Hooke, New-square, Lincoln's Inn. This monsieur had been commissioned by a client to mortgage his large estate in Ireland, includ- ing a splendid castle, spacious grounds, several farms, a flourishing village, and rich salmon fisheries upon the coast-for a most paltry sum. A little two thousand pounds is all required." Here came in an angry ejaculation from Van Flewker, which arrested Parl. Be not alarmed, my benefactor," was his exhor- tation. The transaction is genuine. I have seen with my own eyes the plan of the estate. It is mag- nificent, superb!" What has been done in the matter ?" demanded the merchant. But nothing whatever!" responded Parl. That is to say, except just the preliminary negotiations." And the outlay," observed Van Flewker, is to be but one little two thousand pounds ? I must say, | decidedly cheap at the money." Is it not ?" responded Parl. A trifle, a bagatelle a wretched, inconsiderable grain of sand! To be gained so easily, too. The client of M. Valkare Hooke resides at Brussels in embarrassed circumstances, and would certainly not be able to redeem the mortgage. He is one officer retired-Major 0'——something; these cursed names of barbarians it is impossibe to re- collect Tah tah! tah! What can it be ? Aha! I have it. Major 0'Blandish, late Dragoons of the Enniskilling. The estate calls itself Knick-Knack- ah, these names !-Knockmavelty, it is that, Knock- mavelty Castle, in the department of Galway. Ah M. Van Flewker, believe me, this grand opportunity must not be cast away." Chap 4 Good said Van Flewker, coolly disentangling the facts from Parl's embroidery. An Irish major, hiding at Brussels from his creditors, in debt, desires to borrow two thousand pounds on mortgage of Knockmavelty Castle, Galway. You have seen the plan put forth by his solicitor-naturally very favour- able and promising. Now, let us see if we can dis- cover how the case really stands." He turned to the speaking-tube at his side, and called for Whiffles. When the book-keeper ap- peared, his master asked him whether he knew any- thing of the investment so strongly recommended by Karl. "Knockmavelty Castle, sir?" said Whiffles pon- dering. Oh, ah that's the Irish swindle Meehan wrote about. It's a do, Mr. Van Flewker that's what it is. Eh ejaculated Parl, in extreme surprise. Go on, Mr. Viffle," said the merchant. Tell me all vhat you know about it." Well, sir, the advertisement was in all the papers for more than a week, and thinking it was as well to know if there was anything in it, I told Mr. Gwillim to write to Meehan in Dublin to make enquiries. We received the answer yesterday. The thing's a swindle, sir." Fetch de letter," said the merchant. Whiffles, upon his return, read an extract from the Dublin letter, which fully bore out his statement. Parlandet's face, during the reading of the extract by Whiffles, would have lormed a study. The air of proud self-satisfaction which he had worn a short time before had dwindled gradually to an expression of appalled dismay, most ludicrous to an uninterested observer, from which he was roused by a quick question of his master— Well, M. Parlandet ?" I was about to remark, my very dear and most respected Monsieur van Fiewker," said Parl, when interrupted by your summoning M. Viffle, that, in matters of this sort, however promising they may ap- pear at the outset, the utmost caution is an indis- pensable necessity. You will notice with pleasure, I feel sure, how entirely this observation has been justified." A knock at the door stopped Van Flewker's answer. A person, who says his name's 'Ooke—Valker 'Ooke--vants ter see yer, sir," announced Pordy. Eh ?" exclaimed the merchant, turning angrily towards Parl. What is the meaning of this, Monsieur T'arlandet ?" I The fox was in the toils. This time there was no escape double and wind as he might, the earths were stopped. It is true, my benefactor," he confessed, that m the extremity of my zeal for your service, I may have been a. little precipitate. You will pardon the error, for the sake of the willing mind. I did certainly mention to this Monsieur Hooke that he 'should call to-day, but it was with the view to ex- amine more closely the nature of the affair." Go into the office and wait," said Van Flewker, savagely. Boy, dell de gentleman he shall walk in." Exit Pari, in considerable trepidation, and enter Mr. Walker Ho ike, whose stay in the sanctum was of the briefest kind. In less than five minutes M. Parlandet was again in his master's room. "This is too bad!" shrieked the merchant, before his subordinate had time to close the door. You have agreed, in my name, to execute this mortgage, although my express orders are that all such proposals are to be referred to me. You tell this man to come here—here, to my office, and before my people- to bring his deed to be executed, and to receive the money. Where is your authority for this ? In future, undertake nothing without consulting me. Make no engagements without my special order. If I am net here, advise with Vhiffle. I can rely upon him, although I cannot trust you. Now, out of my sight! I shall take care your power of mischief is stopped in future. Go! There is the door Pari saw that in his present mood he might as well toy with an angry lion as trifle with Van Flewker. Assuming an air of the deepest contrition, he spread both hands deprecatingly upon -his breast in his accus- -"j i -ii -L cl at ena Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth. tomed manner, Bowed" His very lowest, and rapidly withdrew; but there was a dangerous glitter in the manager's eye as he muttered to himself, when at a safe distance from the Close upon his return home, Wait a little-wait a very little, dear benefactor I The good time will come. Chap 4 Fan Flewker had been sorely vexed by what bad taken place. The credit of the house had been im- perilled. What if Mr. Walker Hook, in revenge for his summary dismissal, were to spread a report that the well-known firm of Fabian van Flewker and Com- pany had been unable to command the sum that his client required ? There would be a run upon the house in an hour! Parlandet must be allowed no chance of repeating so dangerous a blunder. Van Flewker summoned Whiffles to the sanctum, and began to dictate a letter. Its contents were these: Fabian van Flewker and Co.'s General and Foreign Agencyj London, August 1859. James Waterton, Esq., L'pool. DEAR SIR,-Yoil will oblige us greatly if, at your easiest convenience after receipt, you will select and consign to our iddress a young man of intelligence and ability, age ::5 to 50, not a Londoner. well acquainted with French and Ger- man, and thoroughly versed in every kind of business routine. We are in want of a person answering this de- scription, to act as confidential clerk in one of our establish- amts. You will please select only Illch a person as you have ascer- tained, by previous examination, to be really fitted for the position. It is indispensable that he should be an Englishman, and never have lived in London before. Our Mr. Fabian vaD. Flewker states that he is sick of foreigners, and wants a man upon whom he can in every respect rely. You will further oblige us by furnishing the person you may select with sufficient money to pay his fare (second class, ordinary train) to town, and to remain here, if we consider it necewary, several days. Should he be found suitable, he will be engagad at once. Requesting your best attention to this communication, we are, dear sir, your most obedient servants. FABIAN VAX FLEWKER AND COMPANY. Well," said Whiffles to himself, as he sealed and directed this epistle in the outer office, that's the first shot against Parl's comfort. I wonder ',¡"tV 'e'll take it?" Time will show." < CHAPTER V. A NEW MAN. ABOUT a week after Mynheer Fabian van Flewker had ordered a confidential clerk of his correspondent at Liverpool, much in the same manner as he would have desired the sample of any choice description of goods, a young man walked into the office in Augustine Close, and asked to see the principal. A fresh-coloured young fellow, about eight-and- twenty, middle height, with regular features, dark- blue, piercing eyes, and light' curling hair. His beard and whiskers, which grew in some profusion, were exactly of the colour of his hair. If ever man possessed written upon an open countenance that letter of recommendation said to consist in a pleasing exterior, the man was Raymond White. He was the bearer, he said, of a note, to be delivered only into Van Flewker's hands. There was'a blunt directness in his manner peculiarly striking. Pordy being sent into the web with the message speedily introduced the new-comer to the presence of the spider. "Boy," said the merchant, say M. Kleckser he shall telegraph for M. Parlandet." This was a congenial task to Pordy. It afforded him the means of mystifying his tutor. Rushing into the outer office, with great importance visible upon his physiognomy, he exclaimed- Oh, Mr. Kleckser, sir, Mr. van Flewker says you're to here a word or two so low as to be inaudible- directly, please, sir." "Vants me, hey?" ejaculated Kleckser, taking the message to be a summons from his principal, jumping hastily from his stool, and making for the door. Pordy allowed him to go nearly to the end of the passage, then called him back and delivered his master's message distinctly, with a grin. "Leetel monstare!" exclaimed Kleckser. "Vhy you not open your mout from de first? Vait, my poy. I shall talk to you bresently." He telegraphed the message as desired, then turning to the errand boy, took him between his knees, and, without paying the slightest attention to Pordy's re- monstrances, gravely recited some dozen verses of Schiller's Song of the Bell." While this punishment was proceeding without, the merchant in the sanctum within had ascertained from the letter brought by Raymond White that he was the confidential clerk sent up from Liverpool on view by Messrs. Waterton. I understand from Mr. Vaterton," said the mer- chant, turning over the letter, that he has tell you for vhat purpose I vish your service. I require as clerk a person of ability and intelligence, in whom I can place perfect trust. Do you think you fulfil tese requisites, Meestare—er—Meestare Vhite ?" I hope so," returned the young man, modestly. "Good" remarked van Flewker. Tat is veil. I like a man to have a proper confidence in himself, but not to be eaten up by self-conceit. Vhat you tink, hey ?" 11 Well, sir," said Raymond White, if a man knows he can do a thing well, I think there is no self-conceit in his saying so. If he cannot do it, he can learn." "Very good teory, Meestare Vhite. I hope you carry it to practice," observed Van Flewker. I never say what I would not stand to, sir," re. turned Raymond, composedly. "Ten you are shust do man for me. But ve shall see. Come in said the merchant, to a knock at the door. Ah M. Parlandet," he continued, as that gentleman made his smiling appearance tis is I Meestare Vhite, from Liverpool, whom I have toughts to engage. M. Parlandet, my manager, Meestare Vhite. Oblige me by conversing vith tis genteiman, M. Parlandet, and let me know to-morrow your opinion of his abilities. Good day, messieurs." And Mynheer van Flewker caught up his hat and went out, leaving M. Parlandet and White in mutual bewilderment. This was the first intimation the manager had received of his principal's intention to provide him with a second, and it would be no ex- aggeration to say that, he surveyed, the new-comer with a very evil eye mentally, however, only, for M. Parlandet was far too astute not to perceive in an instant that this unexpected difficulty must be warily met. White, upon his part, also' felt embar- rassed. It is a nervous thing, let me tell you, for a V young fellow, however fairly confident of his abilities, to be set face to face before a smiting gentleman with a black beard, who is to report next morning upon the arrangement of his brains." It was singular that though the present was certainly the first occasion upon which Raymond White had seen M. Parlandet, that gentleman's features seemed strangely familiar. He could not. recollect when or where they had met, but the impression