CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. RALL RIGII'rg RISURVXD-],, CHAPTER XIX. TACTICS. I* was a curious circumstance that from the day when JRaymond White bad his explanation with M. Par- landet, that worthy gentleman's behaviour towards tais subordinate manifestly changed. Up to that period It bad not been always pleasant, varying from open Insolence to mock civility, alternated with a little ,sarcasm and various petty-minded sneers, often before Van Flewker at M. Vhite's conscientious scruples. The episode of the lottery tickets was one Parl was particularly fond of recalling, dragging it in by bead and shoulders, in and out of season, until Raymond fairly hated the sound of the words. Now the tables were turned, M. Vhite was everything with Parl. He was loud in his praises to the clerks in the City of Raymond's foresight and business capacity. It was Incredible, he declared, how much he was indebted to the shrewdness of M. Vhite in the performance of his arduous duties. He could not conceive how it was possible for him to have done without that shrewd- ness before. Even to the merchant, in one of his lucid intervals—and there were times whenParlandet found it advisab!e to put forward a sensible and prac- ticable idea-he took occasion to state that for the plan of a certain operation, which proved successful, lie had been mainly indebted to the able assistance of that dear M. Raymond Vhite. Whereat Mynheer Fabian van Flewker opened his eyes a little wider than usual, whistled gently, but said nothing. M. Parlandet's suddenly conceived attachment for Jjis junior proceeded to such lengths, as to become almost embarrassing to its object. He displayed the utmost interest in the state of Raymond's health, was pissiduous in anxious inquiry into the condition of his 61, cold, tenderly attentive and solicitous as to the progress of his headache or his cough. But his most effectual means ot obliterating the unfavourable im- pression his cunning told him by Raymond felt, and of arousing a certain degree of interest in his Msistant's breast was of a far more artful kind. About this period M. Parlandet was, as he stated, jproitten with remorse for the errors of his mis-spent Career, and overcome fey a vehement desire to enter upon a better course. Who so well calculated to assist ihim in this laudable endeavour as that dear young friend who was a shining example of the beauties of ^'blameless life ? Might he not beg the co-operation of that valued friend in the path of reform upon Which he was steadfastly resolved to enter ? Now Raymond was not credulous, and it is only fair to state that he certainly did look upon his chief's fudden conversion with a suspicious eye. But there iIJ an astonishing attraction in proselytism; and artful M. Parlandet, knowing this, assailed his enemy upon J the weakest side. The more honourable and con- jfoientious a man, the more is he liable to fall before these tactics. So hard it is adequately to judge another's heart—so terrible would be the self-reproach Of him who should reflect that he might have saved an erring fellow, if he had not denied help pitifully graved, tnat I think few good men would care to go through life with such a weight upon their souls. Raymond, at any rate, did not feel himself justified In refusing the assistance M. Parlandet vociferously Maimed. To the best of his ability, he modestly and humbly endeavoured to remove the doubts Parl professed himself to feel, and did, it must be admitted, ex prience a certain glow of satisfaction when, after due (deliberation, his disciple professed himself entirely convinced by the arguments of his instructor. It Was an error incident to a simple, honest, genuine pature, and I do not feel called apbn to excuse him for being taken in. Cunningly, warily, the arch-hypocrite played the part he bad set himself to carry through. He reformed pis manners, he amended his language ostensibly, at least, he changed his vicious course of life. You must Dot suppose that M. Parlandet was by any meaas so bungling a practitioner as to fall into the mistake of rendering the change abrupt, and therefore suspicious. Gradually, in the lapse of weeks, conviction appeared to steal upon his mind. He had even, as he averred, any a struggle to sustain with ancient habits and predilections the indifference of years was difficult to overcome; it was hard to contend against the Irishes and desires of a sinful heart. In time, how- ever, he trusted to be able to make more earnest efforts in the good cause; and, in the meantime, Nothing would afford him so much comfort and con- ization as the privilege of receiving his dear young friend's assistance and advice. It is an old, old story, and has been often acted out before—the tale of a corrupt and astute intellect play- ing upon a noble, generous mind for a sinister pur- pose. Though failing sometimes, the artifice has fre- quently succeeded. It succeeds now, but the end is #ot yet. The period occupied by M. Parlandet's penitence brought the winter to a close, and carried the actors to this little history far into the spring. May setting In unusually warm and fine, Gertrude van Flewker brought into execution her little plot for inducing her father to take a house some distance out of town. The merchant selecte i a cottage near Richmond, close -by the river side as the place of their abode. It was §, comfortable house, imbedded in flowers, with roses agd honeysuckle trained against the front; well fur- pished, and an easy distance from the station. Thither the family removed, and there the merchant's daughter expected to realise the summer's dream. CHAPTER XX. TOUCHING THE FLIGHT OF AN OFFICE RULER AND ITS RESULTS. THE ordinary monthly sitting of the Tobacco Par- rent" had just occurred in Augustine Close— the congress of the republican firm of Fabian van JPlewker and Company. As usual, all the employes pf the merchant had participated; all had discussed the position of the business; all had freely given their opinions upon the measures to be adopted juring the ensuing month. Van Flewker alone, as was his custom, sat still and silent, hearing much and joying little, until the council was at an end. M. Farlandet was still closeted with his chief; the clerks bAd returned to the front office, and were yet dis- coursing of what had just occurred. Pordy," said Eleckser, suddenly interrupting- an floquent speech of Gwillim. Vhere's that Bill ? leetle rMCtJ OS to de pump for some vater. De .¡, got into my tt114 maje
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me as iflll& tined-off herrings. Cut away, yoi» young son of the gutter, and fill de pottel." "Yes, Mr. Kleckser," replied the boy, starting off upon his errand. He came back in a minute, as if struck by a sudden idea, and whispered confiden- tially, I say, Mr. Kleckser, sir, vould you like it hieed 11" Hiced!" exclaimed the German. "Vhat you mean, imp?" Vhy, with the chill on, o' course," returned Pordy. "Vhat else? Look 'ere, Mr. Kleckser. I'll tell yer 'ow I does it. Fust I pumps the bottle nearly full. Then I goes to the pastrycook's round the corner There they keeps them spicy tarts and the shaky stuff-vhat d'yer call it ? Oh, blaak mangy. Veil, they've got hiced vater there, too: an' so I says to the svell vith the vhite hapron behind the counter, says I, Mr. van Flewker sends his complimunks, 'e does, an' he'd like some hiced vater.' Then the svell fays, says 'e, I There it is in the filter.' All right,' says 1. So I fills up the bottle from the filter with the hice-cold vater, vifceh it's fit to friz your innards till yer might skate upon 'em, and that 'ere hices the lot. Now d'yer hunderstand ? Poor beggars!" added the boy compassionately, half aside; I elpose they don't know vhat hiced vater his in furrin parts." chap 20 Get avay, leetel humbug!" roared Kleekser, half amused, half angry at the novel recipe, while the other clerks exploded with glee. "Fetch de vater dis instant, or I'll pull your tonkey ears to tvice their longness. Veil, I'm sure, retorted Pordy. That's all a cove gets for vantin' to do another cove a sarvice. See if I 'elps yer agin, that's all!" Vill you pe off, I say!" cried Kleckser, snatching up a ruler and throwing it with an aim at the errand- boy's head that only failed by reason of his ducking. This movement caused that missile to strike M. Par- landet, that moment entering, a smart blow in the region called by the learned the epigastrium, and changed the benevolent smile beaming over that worthy gentleman's countenance to an expression of severe anguish The errand-boy disappeared, leaving behind him a tableau. Kleckser still in the attitude of the quoit- thrower who has launched his discus, horror gradually creeping over his face, and raising his hair as he per- ceives the effect of his shot. M. Parlandet, who has sunk into a chair near the door, clasping his hands in dolor over the affected spot, rocking to and fro in fruitless gaspings to recover breath. The three clerks at the desk, divided between their sense of the ridiculous, and of the impropriety of laughing. Whereunto are added, presently, the blue goggles of Mynheer Fabian van Flewker himself, who has fol- lowed his manager to say a final word, glaring in at the door in mute amazement upon the scene. "M. Kleckser exclaimed the merchant, "can you explain what is the meaning of all this ? What is the matter with you? What ails M. Parlandet?" I-inteet-really-yes-M. Parlandet," floun- dered unhappy Kleckser, blushing up to the roots of his hair, then becoming dumb. "Explanatory, doubtless, monsieur," observed the merchant, drily. Still, I fail to gather from your lucid explanation what has exactly taken place. M. Parlandet, I appeal to you. Will you favour me with some interpretation which I can understand of this singular scene ?" Kleekser cast a piteous glance at Parl, who man- fully came to the rescue. It was not worth his while to make an enemy, even of so comparatively unim- portant a person as the foreign correspondent, and the opportunity he considered he now had of secur- ing Kleckser's gratitude was too good to be thrown away. M. van Flewker, my esteemed and honoured benefactor," commenced Parl. He had by this time recovered breath, and now placed himself in his favourite position for making a speech-one hand in his left waistcoat arm-hole, the other blandly flourished in mid air. Van Flewker had sown the whirlwind, and must reap the storm. He had tapped the stream of elo- quence, and must stem the deluge of its burst. He shrugged his shoulders philosophically, straddled across a chair, leant his chin upuu its back, looked at Pari, and listened. The manager began But two minutes since, M. van Flewker, I was listening to the words of wisdom flowing from your honoured lips, and was happy. I was, apparently, in the enjoyment of my usual excellent health. Now, esteemed benefactor, I have received a warning that I am mortal-that I must die In one word, beloved patron, a sudden and afflicting spasm of the heart smote me as I crossed this threshold, and I sank into a chair powerless, breathlex,, helpless, the pitiful wreck you He expanded his arms to their fullest extent as he concluded, and stood before Van Flewker like a sign- post. The merchant nodded, and opened his mouth. Before he could speak, M. Parlandet instantly turned on the flood again. You will say that affords no explanation of the appearance presented by M. Kleekser. But M. Kleckser is y,ung, he is kind-hearted and noble, he is my frieud. Beholding me stricken down suddenly,' helpless and gasping, in the flower of my age, his instant impulse was to rush to my assistance. He must have been arrested in his career by his horror at perceiving what his inexperience doubtless took for the hues of impending dissolution overspreading my pallid coutenance." Emotion here apparently stopped M. Parlandet's further utterance. His explanation seemed satis- factory, although his face, ruddy with rouge, rendered its veracity a trifle doubtful. Van Flewker nodded, rose from his chair, and was quietly leaving the room with the remark So that was all," when his.eye fell upon the fatal ruler which had temporarily impeded M. Parlandet's breath. And that, M. P ar landet. p., he asked. chap 20 For that, respected benefactor." answered Pari, promptly, lam unable to account, except that in M. Kleckser's benevolent anxiety for my welfare, it may, perhaps, insensibly have escaped from his nerveless hand, and have flown towards me Van Fiewker smiled. The tale was ready-witted, though, as it happened, he knew every word of it to be false. For, having run against Pordy in the passage, and cuffed his ears for not takinsr better care, the boy in his eager self-defence had blurted out the actual reason of his sudden exit from the counting- house. Very ingenious, M. Parlandet," said the merchant, and quietly walked away. Farl gazed after his chief for a moment with a look of dismay; then, suddenly recovering his spirits, snapped bis lingers, and addressed himself to Kleckser. Dear Mr. Kleckser." he said, with a smile; I am awar§_of the warmth of yourfriendshin. Favour me- A
m future, if you please, with less striking proofs ef its intensity. "M. Vhite," continued Parl,addressing himself now to Raymond, "'i have received instructions from M. van Flewker to dictate to you several letters of greatr importance. But it is only necessary to tell you the heads. In this moment, it is not possible even to give you these, as I am a little disarranged by M. Kleck- ser's proof of fervent attachment——" Bermit me to assure you, M. Parlandet," broke in Kleckser. And permit me to assure you, M. Kleckser," interrupted Parl, that I entirely appreciate the sin. cerity of your explanations-" I aimed at de poy, and hit you endirely by acci- tent!" Dear M. Kleckser," returned Pari, blandly, I quite understood that from the commencement. M. Vhite, as I was observing when M. Kleckser interrupted- 11 Titn't!" growled Kleckser, in an undertone, savagely. Well, continued Parl. placidly, as I was observing when M. Kleckser didn't interrupt me, as it is im- possible to give you these heads n,if. will you favour me by coming to my chambers this evening after six ? Then I will furnish you with all that shall be necessary. Raymond, of course, assented, and Parlandet smilingly withdrew, bestowing his benediction upon all present, and especially upon Kleckser, whom he once more assured of his entire and absolute for- giveness. The door had hardly closed behind him before Kleckser went off into a tornado of fage. Several reasons combined to swell his wrath. In the first place he had been originally in the wrong. Next, M. Parlandet, whom he detested and despised, had screened him from Van Flewker by a falsehood. Thirdly, M. Par!andet had cut short his apologies, and declined to allow him to exhaust himself in civil speeches and laboured politeness; than which I do not think a greater outrage can be offered to the cere- monious character of the Teutonic mind. Kleckser therefore boiled over. It is von confountet shame!" he spluttered, smashing his fist upon the desk with vehemence. I to pelieve dat tisgusting Frenchman goes avay mit de itea I vished to insult him. Chentelmen, I abbeal to you if de whole affair was not a berfect accitent ?" chap 20 He turned indignantly to his companions, who could hardly help laughing outright at his comic violence. Well, my dear Kleckser," observed conscientious Raymond, of course we all know you did not intend to hit M. Parlandet; but still the accident might certainly have been avoided if the ruler had never been thrown." Pless my heart, M. Vhite cried Kleckser, with tremendous irony, turning the vials of his wrath upon Raymond, "you ton't mean to say so Vhat a vonter- ful tiscovery Tit somepody tell you dat now, or tit you find it all out py yourself ?" Don't be angry with me, my dear Kleckser," laughed Raymond. "It wasn't my fault that the accident happened, you know." Veil, I titn't say it vas, tit I ?" retorted Kleckser, in higher wrath than ever. Put I'll tell you vhat it is. M. Vhite. Ever since M. Parlandet's peen your bubil, as he terms it, in de contuct of life, he's a pigger hypocrite, and a vorse man altogeder dan he vas pefore." My dear Kleckser, be reasonable," urged Raymond, seriously. "Believe me, you will regret what you have just said when you are cooler. Indeed, you are terribly unjust." Chustice pe hanged cried Kleckser, worked up to a pitch of tremendous exasperation by Raymond's calmness. I look upon your remarks as insulting. M. Vhite and I'll not bear dem any longer. You shall hear more of dis 1" And the little German, valiant and irate, rushed at his hat, stumped it upon the top of his head, and bounced ferociotWIY out of the place. Half an hour Mer, having thought over his foolish quarrel, Kleckser began to suspect that he had played rather an undignified part. The conviction strengthened every minute, till he became thoroughly ashamed of his precipitate injustice. Shall I go pack and peg Vhite's pardon now ?" he soliloquised. "Peg it I must, dat's berfectly clear. Ah, veil! I shall catch him alone early to- morrow, and vill take de opportunity den Alas for the good intentions of to-day postponed until to-morrow. Some morrows never come. (To be continued.)