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CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S…
CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. They bad been talking of Van Flewker. Gertrude thought she had Doticed that he had grown more care- I iqprn and anxious of late, and had confided her fear to Natalie, that his devotion to business was under. joining his health. I have thought of a little scheme, cousin," she continued, to make him work less hard, but want your help to carry it out." It was Van Flewker's wish that she should call Natalie cousin." The affection between the two was po thoroughly disinterested and true, that the notion of Natalie holding a dependent position in the family j Ilever occurred to anyone. M My help, little one ?" smiled Natalie, in pretended florrise. to Aha., but how knowest thou I shall .give It P And thy fine scheme. Come, tell it to me ?" In aboat three months, I suppose; we may begin to think of spring," returned Gertrude. Well, I pbsll then require change of air, cousin. Bloomsbury- I oquare will not at all agree with my delicate health at that season. You know what the consequence Will be. My father will want us to go to the sea-side. Jut I don't think the sea-side will agree with my health Jlty better than Bloomsbury-square. You will please then to suggest our taking a house some miles from town for the summer. You will have noticed that IfOuntry air and plenty of exercise are exactly what I fball require. By this means we shall entice my father away from that horrid City, where he stays DHUCh longer than is good for him, and force him to DHUCh longer than is good for him, and force him to in a more healthy place. What do you think of 1D1 scheme, cousin ?" Of Intri,uer exclaimed Natalie, in a playful tone. •• Who would ever have supposed that face of thine Sould hide such deep designs ? For thy scheme, it is passable, and may succeed. We shall see." It must succeed, cousin!" exclaimed Gertrude, flU-nestly. I cannot bear to see my father's face jpow gloomier and more sombre daily, especially when I know his care is mostly for me. Ah! if I .uld only persuade him that my wishes are more Moderate than he imagines If he would be guided fcy me, he would give up business altogether, and we jwould all go and live in some sweet quiet nook abroad; I care not where, so that he were content. A mind like his could soon find occupation that would pake him famous. I should like him to be a great gutbor, now, or a distinguished man of science. He urould be sure to achieve distinction in any pursuit lie undertook." •« Little one, thou art young and unworldly," said Natalie, with a smile at her own superior sagacity. II Dost think an intellect like thy father's could be content with the dull monotony of a studious life ?" Child, his place is in the busy, bustling world, among pen who shall honour, esteem, and revere him. Want of his accustomed labour would kill him in a month." It For my part," returned Gertrude, my dearest fSHthly wish is for my father's welfare. It is a fine thing, no doubt, cousin, for a man to win fortune by the strength of his brave will and clever brain. It should be so, at least, judging from the ardour with which men embark in the pursuit. But I cannot help thinking sometimes that it would be wiser to be con- tented with less, and t, live to enjoy existence. See how my father works. From the moment his eyes open in the morning till the time when weariness closes them at night, his thoughts are constantly em- ployed upon his projects his brain is incessantly Occupied in thinking how he shall increase his store. I think it would be better for him-I know it would be happier for us all-if he laboured less. And that is why I have planned my little scheme, cousin, in which I expect your assistance." She laid her soft hand upon Natalie's fingers, and looked beseechingly in the elder woman's face. Bless thee, Gertrude returned the governess. << One must have a hard heart to refuse thy simple prayer. But consider, my darling, we must be sage M well as cunning. Is there no other way ?" I know of none," returned Gertrude. I see no other chance of'withdrawing my father to some ex- tent from the influence of that odious M. Parlandet, Which I feel apre is injurious. I cannot tell you the leason, cousin, and therefore it may seem foolish when I assure you that a sensation of positive horror Oppresses me in that man's presence. As yonow, be is always most obsequious-too much so, indeed, to be honest-both to you and to me. But I am con- vinced there is a falseness lurking about him, which J can feel though I cannot see." Natalie laughed softly. And since when has this Strange sensation arisen ?" she asked, with a mdrry Jjwinkle in her gay, black eyes. II J. never liked him much, even when I was yqozger, cousin," returned Gertrude. There was always a servilit his behaviour towards my father Which I could nowndure. But it is latterly, within the last few months, indeed, that my feeling of dis- like towards him has grcwn almost to hate." 0 Within the last few months repeated Natalie. Come, let us see what has happened within that time, and perhaps we may get at the reason. First, U. Van Flewker has been, during that period, three J times away fdom home. He has vi-sited Paris, he has limited Turin, he has visited Vienna. That cannot be the reason for our sudden dislike. Let us try Sgain. Also, within that period of the last few months we have had here, after M. Van Flewker's return, four little reunions, parties consisting solely pf the young and the unmarried. At those parties we have seen friends whom we have known for long, AS well as made some new acquaintances, one in par- ticular, not altogether unpleasant. Are we coming any nearer the reason now ? Have we learnt to know Somebody, in every way the opposite to M. Pariandet -somebody whose frank and honourable character (Strongly contrasts with the servile instincts of that Sinuous mind ? Aha, my little one, is it that I have divined correctly ?" I do not know that you are altogether rignt in calling our new acquaintance the cause of my in- creased distrust of M. Parlandet, cousin," replied Gertrude, with the faintest possible increase of colour. 41 But I am very sure that you would not dream of comparing Monsieur White with him for a moment. Never was greater difference than that which exists between these two men! The one frank, open, loyal, with an eye whose expression tells you its owner is the soul of truth and honour; the other specious, hollow, smooth-full of compliments and silly talk, his very adoption of which shows he thinks we can understand nothing better." •<Dear,dear, dear ejaculated Natlie. ,"It js, 0 0 Printing of every Description cri o then, our gr&ad womanly dignity that Is oifended bj this poor M. Parlandet, who does not talk learnedly, enough for our elevated understanding. It Ï8 flattered, this great intellect, by astute Monsieur White, who is sufficieatly clear-sighted to see that our fevourite dish of compliments mast be delicately flavoured. Aba have I divined our reason now p" "Cousin!" exclaimed Gertrude, eagerly, you are unjust. No one knows better than you how I despise the trash of compliment, which always SeeJnsto me the refuge of those who have nothingYeal to say. A man who incessantly compliments a woman pays her in reality the very worst tribute in his power. It is as if he said to himself, I If I talk sense this creature will not understand. If I am serious she will laugh at me and flirt. It is easiest to praise her eyes, her hair, and her complexion, and to depreciate those of ethers. She will believe any quantity of this stuff, which costs no trouble, and like me all the better for feeding her vanity!' Can anything be more despicable than the woman who feels pleased by this r' Too grave, Gertrude, too grave, retorted Natalie. H You are too young to tike this gloomy view of life. Better not look below the surface for the springs which moves society, or we shall be as horrified as If we stripped the skin from human faces and beheld the ghastly apparatus of veins, and blood, and muscles underneath. Take the world as you find it, Gerty, dear; and do not think too hardly of your fellows." Cousin," said the girl, thoughtfully, I cannot. Some natures, I suppose, swim easily with the stream, accepting what they disapprove because op- position would be too painful. I only know it is impossible for me. I thoroughly distrust M. Parlandet, and cannot feel easy in his presence. As I told you, I can give no reason, but I am sure that he is false." Strangely, enough, I am inclined to think so, too," answered Natalie. I never see that man but a dreadful memory rises to my mind, which some day I will tellyou. I may be wrong, it is true but it is curious that he is always connected with this terrible idea. No, dear," she continued, in answer to a look from Gertrude. "Not now. Some other time, if it should be necessary, I will tell you to what I allude. Heavens!" she exclaimed, with a start, as a loud knock resounded upon the room door. Come in I" Promptly, at Natalie's bidding, M. Napoleon-Victoire Parlandet stepped into the room. Ladies," commenced that gentleman, with his most insinuating smile, "I have done myself the houour to call in the hope to see my most respected patron. Apparently, however, he is not here; aha?" My farther has been gone since ten, M. Parlandet," observed Gertrude, coldly. I am unfortunate then, in one respect," returned Parl. "The most fortunate of men, however, in another. I come to find my patron, with whom I have business of the most pressing. He is absent, and I am desolated. I have the felicity to behold his lovely daughter and her accomplished instructress and I am enraptured. Pleasure so pure and noble does not often fall to mortal lot." Neither Gertrude nor Natalie thought it necessary to comment upon M. Parlandet's description of his in- tense felicity. Unabashed, he drew a' chair to the table by Gertrude's side, and calmly surveyed her work with a. criticaleye. Wonderful it is," he continued, to possess the true artistic mind. You must find your glorious talent for the arts of design of great assistance, to combine these tender shades. The tints of the rose, the hues of the tulip, the verdure of the gracious evergreen, never have I previously beheld mingled with so much truth to Nature. It is difficult, I pre- sume, this'labour of the embroider y ?" Not particularly," was Gertrude's answer. Practice is mostly needed." Practice and taste, I doubt not," persisted Parl. A taste as delicate and as pure, as that by which the charming daughter of my benefactor is inspired. Ah! Miss Gertrude, the flbwers are happy that blush into being beneath your skilful touch. If I could ever envy those gay and glittering shades, I would wish to owe my existence to such lovely hands." Gertrude made no reply, continuing to sort her wools with apparent indifference. Either Parl's usual perspicacity had abandoned him, or the dark shade of impending catastrophe veiled his fortunate star. Clearer-sighted Natalie read in her pupil's face the tokens of a coming storm, and tried to avert its outbreak. "You are poetical to-day, M. Parlandet," she ob. served. Your language is quite flowery. Recollect, however, that the gay threads you envy are stabbed with needles and cut short by shears. You would scarcely like to be treated so harshly in return for your pretty speeches." •• Ah, Mademoiselle Natalie," responded the gallant Pari, with enthusiastic fervour, with what ecstacy should I hail the most cruel fate at the hands of your enchanting pupil! But she is too kind and merciful to use her devoted slave so hardly. Dearest Miss Gertrude, may I hold your wools Gertrude quietly declined. Still Parl rushed m- they will do it, these infatuated compliment-mongers —where wiser men had feared to tread. "Be not so cruel: fairest of divinities," he resumed. "Is there nothing-no service, great or small, that the humble Parlandet Ian render to the queen of his susceptible-heart ?" M. Parlandet befit over the embrpi'dery frame, ani* before Gertrude could guess his intention; seized h'er hand and pressed it to his lips. This was too. much. Quickly disengaging her hand, Gertrude rose, scorn and indignation biasing in her honest eyes. Yet she mastered herself firmly, and, thoroughly distrusting her opponent, was guarded both in tone and manner. You are mistaking me, M. Parlandet," she cr looking into his face, from which the smile faded into an expression of dismay; you are .surely mistaking me for one of the class of persons who appear to form your usual associates. Remember, if you please, that I am not a fitting sport for your idle fancy." I will not detain you longer. Good morning." You have seen a dog, mayhap, arrested by his master's voice, when upon the point of purloining some long-coveted bone. You will have seen him start, cock a furtive, conscious-stricken eye at his rebuker; then cower, expecting chastisement; and J finally make off abashed, with drooping ears and carefully-lowered tail, as hard as his legs will carry him. just so Parlandet collapsed-shrank together, physically almost as well as morally. His burly J dimensions seemed shorn of half their bigness as he slunk across the room, and vanished, without another ■f word, behind the friendly door. Once out of the presence that had quelled him, his native imprudence resumed the mastery t He turned upon the lancing, I 7 Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth. i having first carefully closed the door, and upitMW hissed forth, It is well, fine dame; it is well. You are triuraphamt now; but a time to turn the tables will arrive. I kriaw tke plm to etrike, I oft On joint in the armour. Then, coBfeppfciMW G«rtniflf» tbe vigor? wabmniael" ^egwyaojaiibed imgty igtiutttefoot, ai !■"■■■■ nifci '■»! « CHAPTER XIV. TREATS OF A LETTElt. 4. PARLANDET had scarcely quitted Bloomshnry Square five minutes before another visitor arrived, learing a knock and a murmur of talk with tha lervant, Gertrude and Natalie exchanged a look of nirprise. Is He has returned," said Natalie; to apologise, I eel sure. Do not treat him with disdain, my dearest. Jelieve me, that man is a dangerous enemy." It is not he, cousin," returned Gertrude. Be- ieve me, in turn, when I tell you he has not suf- icient sense of shame to feel he has done wrong; still less the candour to confess it. Har .v!" she whispered, as a modest rap was heard upon the doofc- 'Come in!" And enter Raymond White. A very different reception awaited this fortunate fouth from that which had greeted his superior. But it is only fair to say that his manner and behaviour singularly contrasted with the unblushing assurance af M. Parlandet. White, being in Pall Mail, had re- ceived a message from Augustine Close to imorm Pari that Van Flewker wished to see him in the City with- out delay. Paul bad left, mentioning that he should call in Bloomsbury Square; and it was in the, expec- tation of still finding him there, and of delivering the message, that Raymond had arrived. Before leaving the West-end, he had taken with him a letter directed to M. Parlandet, just delivered, bearing a foreign post-mark, and inscribed Urgence." He had done this, having noticed that Pari had been especially anxious for some days past to see the letters immediately upon delivery, tossing them over eagerly, as if in search of a well-known hand. It might be of importance Raymond thought, that this particular communication should reach its destination quickly. He mentioned this when Gertrude told him Pari had left the house, asking if it was likely that he would return. Natalie thought not, but wished to see the letter. The Genoa post-mark," she observed. What cor- respondenecan M. Parlandet have in Italy ? Is hey intending to join the Bersaglieri, and does- he want to know the rate of rifleman's pay? Fancy, my little one, those well-clothed shoulders bending beneath the knapsack. I fear that monsieur, although French, is not of the stuff from which heroes are made. It is a curious hand, too. Pah! how it smells of smoke There, take your fine letter, M. White!" she added tossing it towards him. With a smile, Raymond placed the letter upon the table at his side. "As M. Parlandet has gone on to the. City, you cannot be pressed for time, M. White," continued Natalie, and can keep mademoiselle company a few minutes. I have affairs of the house to look to- nothing very intellectual, but important all the same. Neither more nor less than dinner. Pray do not run away. I shall be incessantly of return;" With which literal translation of her native idiom, Mademoiselle Natalie flitted rapidly away. Van Flewker's very un-English habit of invittng his clerks to his occasional little parties had brought the young people sufficiently acquainted, to, remove reserve, and they chatted upon various themeit' Shakespeare and the musical glasses, if you like, or any other subject of passing interest. What can two persons of opposite sexes talk but conventionality, in the position of these two? Politics? A pretty topic, truly, with which to entertain a lady. Science ? Gertrude was not a blue," nor Raymond anything but a humble clerk, and neither was hypocrite enough to affect interest in a study which was not felt. There was an aquarium in the room, it is true, filled with the usual specimens of monsters which fashion just about that period was beginning to pet; but no one in the merchant's household looked upon it as any- thing but a pretty toy. Should theff talk of literature ? Cooks, at any rate presented a common ground upon which the two, both fairly read and of reflective minds, could meet at ease. But it was a dangerous topic, too for you may easily suppose that the department of literature about which two young people were most likely to converse was that which especially treats of love. It happened that a novel, recently published, was then making a remarkable stir in the literary world. Critics had been at loggerheads respecting the sex of the writer. Internal evidence," said the Weekly Reviler, "plainly demonstrated that the author of this remarkable production was a rare instance of feminine genius." The Coliseum was equally con- fident that the boolapshowed evident traces of a profound and powerml male intellect, which had pondered deeply, and in a spirit of broad philosophy, upon, the social problems of the day. The Literary Wallet devoted two columns to virulent fault-finding, and wound up by designating the novel a trumpery, feeble, and effete effusion." 17 Concerning the novel which had'provoked such varying criticisms, Van Flewker's daughter and Van Flewker's clerk were discoursing now. The story turned mainly upon some very disinterested conduct of one Philip Rolfef-whorn the writer had described as loving a lady named Sybil. He was. portrav as being much beneath kpfin wealttffcamd position, as believing himself sure ofMer-regard, but as unwilling to declare himself, for fear she might accept His suit. Acceptance, followed by marriage, would dMtw down her father's displeasure, and entail upon her the loss of her fortune. Disinterested, Mi),. Philip, therefore, sacrificed his feelings, and held his peace. The ques- tion in debate between Gertrude and Raymond was, how far such a course was consistent with true affec- tion, and whether Philip had acted for the real benefit of both. There, was just sufficient analogy between theirown position—although-no breath of attachment had ever passed between them—and that of the persons in the tale, to render the subject a delicate one to handle. It was not Raymond who had begun the discussion. Nay, I will even do him the justice to say that when he perceived its perilous tendency, he had tried to break it off. But as Gertrude apparently had not noticed his attempts, he was compelled to continue the argument. So they talkecj on. RAYMOND: Certainly, this is only a fiction; but 1 can easily suppose such a case might occur in actual life. So much, however,, depends upon minute shades of real circumstances, that it-is almost impossible tc give a positive opinion on Philip's conduot. It would be necessary, in tha first place, to know whether the ideas of both parties as to what constitutes real haoDiness tho.ougtyy agreed. o.