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CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. fALL BIGHTS BU]MVXDL CHAPTER XXV. DOG-KCATIC. A XEXANCHOLY group gathered together in the pleasant little parlour of Mrs. White's cottage to con- sider what should be done. Ruth and her mother exhausted every piebable and improbable as to the cause (^Raymond's absence, and wm fast settling down into a kind of dull dismay. The despondency to which the hard teachings of life frequently render age so prompt had seized upon lira. White from the time when they began to wonder why Raymond did not arrive, and had strengthened feoarly until it had grown into a conviction of the WOWt. Hope was a s, urdier and more vigorous plant $B the breast of her daughter, and Ruth as yet re- fUWd to believe that all might not still be well. It was notable, as a proof of the entire faith both fBtertained in the strength of Raymond's principles, Ibat the idea of his voluntary absence never crossed tbeir minds for an instant. The sun might sooner Tanish from its place in the firmament than Ray- mond be guilty of anything dishonourable or wrong. Kleckser's belief in White's honour, though power- ful, was necessarily not so strong as that of his fQlations. Partly this arose from his lesser intimacy with his friend; it was partly owing to his greater knowledge of the world, and of the temptations to Which fallible human nature often yields. His fears, fcowever, in this direction, went no further than that Raymond might possibly have fallen into dissipation. JQeckser would have scouted with as much indigna- tion as the mother, the notion of his Mend having tfteo guilty in the manner charitably hinted by M. ptrlandet. There sat the three, in sad and moody filence pondering. Little Chrissy, after torturing Mrs. mite and Ruth with querulous inquiries after Unky Yay, had cried herself asleep, in the firm expectation, 90 far as tender childhood ever does look forward, of Ming him upon the morrow. Bleeding as their own hearts were, these kindly souls had left the child in this belief. Why spoil her happy dream ? they had thought. She will awaken to the mournful reality soon luough- « I am at de end of my vits, tear lady," Kleckser bad just replied to a question of the mother, put for the twentieth time, in the desolate confusion of her woe. I' I ton't know vhat to tink, nor vhat to say. De whole affair seems to me like von great ugly tream, from vhich ve shall vake up presently on a sudden. I keep looking at te toor and exbecting de poor tear fellow to valk in every minute, and shake us heartily py de hand. It isn't, it can't pe true The faintest possible shadow of a smile flitted across JIIn. White's face at his vehemence. "Alas! my young friend," she returned mournfully, It when you come to my years you will learn how piany sad things both are and can be in this world of Pial. What will you say if I tell you that I have foreseen and feared some such terrible event as this lor weeks? Aud my forboding has come true, as I bave known it would and must." An ejaculation of wonder broke simultaneously from both the listeners. chap 25 14 Strange as what I say may seem," continued Mrs- White, it is not Jess true. Weeks ago my boy acquainted me that he was in possession of a secret affect- ing the reputation of a very evil man. I cautioned him then to use every care not to place himself in that bad man's power; but my heart sank within me, for I (eared his honest frankness would be no match for the other's guile. So the event has proved. It is in this direction we must seek. Pray Heaven we may not And our search crowned with a lamentable end." U Dere is only von man of all Vite's acquaintance to whom you can possibly refer, tear lady, and dat is 81. Parlandet," observed Kleckser. Am I right ? yes. Veil, den, believe me ven I assure you dat it is perfectly imbossible he can have peen in any vay con- cerned in Vite's tisappearance." My dear Mr. Kleckser," returned Mrs. White, I Kannot of course tell how my poor boy's dis- ippearance has been managed, or what part this man bas taken in the deed. That he was the instigator t am thoroughly convinced. His artifice will naturally have led him to employ means at which we eannot even guess. Yet I will stake my life the guiding mind, if not the acting hand, in whatever I laay have happened has been his." "Tear madam," said Kleckser, I am not tisposed to tink too veil of Parl. I pelieve him to be pad, Borrupt, and cruel; put I assure you he vould not tore to act such a part as you fear. Anyting mean, meaking, or underhand I could pelieve of him noting I pold or taring, even in crime. "But are there not means we might employ to folve the mystery ?" inquired Ruth. The police- why not try them ? Their practised skill in detect- ing wrong-doers would surely find the clue to what- ever has taken place." "De bolice!" ejaculated Kleckser, with intense ISOntempt. Pardon me. Miss Ruth.; put if we call J4 de bolice, dey vill only listen to all ve have to say, io and look at de Richmond omnipus, den at M. van flewker's cottage, den into de river; come pack ana fell us dey can't find anyting out, and pring in a pig MU of expenses for making dat tiscovery." But couldn't we write to the Commissioners, or Pbody, stating when Raymond was last seen, and nothing had been heard of him since ? Surely it faud be somebody's business to attend to these things," persisted Ruth. chap 2t U Wrong again, tear Miss Ruth," replied remorseless JReckser. Ve can write to de Commissioner, as vot, Ouggest. Veil! vhat vill pe de result ? In about IIfIek or two a rebly vill come, dat Sergeant Hawke 1tu peen tirected to acknowletge de receipt of your communication, and dat if anyting is heard of de poiesing barty information vill pe forwarted in tue fiourse, vhich means dat you're not to pe troublesome tnd exbect ever to hear anyting more from dat quarter." chap 25 But we can advertise, and offer a reward, can we liot pro Ven, yes, but I ton't pelieve dere's de slightest Chance of ever getting an answer." But surely something m-ght be done!" cried Ruth, In utter despair. it is terrible, that here, close by this great oetropolis, a ma,n sho-ild suddenly vanish from hit: family circle without a k\r, and it is no. Jpody's business to try and discover the cause." My tear lady." retained Kteekser, with au nir of -yi- Printing of every Description immense superiority, if von tousand bounds had I suttenly tisappeared mitout leaving a trace behind of deir vhereabouts, de bolice vould be called in, and vould take de greatest interest in de search. Dis case, you see, is altogeder tifferent. Noting is miss- ing put a tear good young fellow, who toes his tuty like a honest man in every phase of life. So it's only de pusiness of his relatives and friends vhen he un- accountaply tisappears. Nopody's pusiness, tear Miss Ruth, is de secret of half de vickedness and misery dat happen in de world." But what we can do ? Is there nothing—nothing whatever than you can advise ?" asked poor Ruth. "It may seem hard to say," returned Kleckser, put I should atvise for de present dat ve to noting at all. Noting abbarent, at least-no bolice, no atver- tisements, no openly offered revard. If Mrs. Vhite's susbicions are correct, and M. Parlandet has peen in anyway the cause of Raymond's sutten disappearance, ve have a very artful and vily enemy to fight, and must fight him with his own veapons, and in his own vay. Let us accept his view; feign dat ve pelieve Raymond to have peen temporarily led astray, and hope dat he vill soon return. Meantime, I shall again inquire narrowly into de vay Pari passed last night; vhether he had any visitors, who dey vere, and vhat passed. WaddeJl is no true housekeeber if he can't trow some light upon dese points. Of von ting I feel berfectly assured. De more I tink over de case, de more strongly to I feel con- vinced dat some great teception has been bractised upon Raymond, vhich has taken him away from town. He is not in London still, vherever he may pe. Of dat I am as certain as of my life. No power on earth could else keep him avay from home. Furder, if Parlandet is de teceiver, ve shall find him out, So cheer up, tear Mrs. Vhite and Miss Ruth Ve shall vork together in dis indricate search mit loving hearts and villing hands-you for your son and proder, I for my friend and it vill take more dan de cunning of M. Parlandet to peat such odds." They thanked the honest fellow warmly for his aid and cheering words. Insensibly to themselves, he had raised the spirits of both by his reso!ute and en- couraging tone. Mrs. White felt a ray of hope again glide into her despairing heart, as she snook hands at parting with her sturdy coadjutor. Ruth forgot his comical accent and quaint expressions, as her eyes met his with a look of fervent gratitude for the timely consolation, that sent a thrill of exultation through the German's heart. As the cottage door closed behind the German, he seemed to tread on air. Most of his nation have a tinge of romance, and it was impossible for him to depart without turning to take a parting glance at the walls enclosing his divinity. It was nearly mid- night. All the inhabitants in that quiet suburb had long since gone to rest, and perfect silence prevailed in the little garden before the cottage. You might have fancied yourself fifty miles away from the roar and turmoil of Babylon, whose distant lights still flared beneath the sky. Presently a murmur came through the window of the little parlour he had just left-the murmur of a voice speaking in low, con- tinuous, and reverent tones. He stole on tiptoe to the wall and listened. Through the casement pene- trated the earnest voice of the mother, bending before the Throne of Grace, in solemn and touching supplication for her absent son. Kleckser was not religious, yet his hand stole involuntarily upwards to remove his hat, until the prayer of the widow and the fatherless was done. When the absence of light from the parlour window told the watcher that the inmates of the cottage had retired, Kleckser turned to traverse the short path leading to the garden gate. But an enemy opposed his progress. Plato the dog, shut out by accident, and ) furious at the mischance, his white spikes bristling with indignation in the moonlight, snarled vengeance upon the intruder. Kleckser possessed the average ghare (If pluck which falls to tll; lot of most men when the adversary is human, but he had a rooted objection to encounter- ing a canine foe. He knew from painful experience 11 that doggish teeth bite hard, and entertained a whole- some terror of the horrors of hydrophobia. A death from this malady had happened within his own knowledge. The fact of a family keeping a d,z was usually sufficient reason for his dropping their acqvaintance; nothing but his strong iiidiuauou towards Ruth had induced him in this instance to violate his ordinary rule. WIth" the instinct of his species, the philosopher had mal ked the dislike of Kleckser, and repaid it by a series of outrages which increased the d alike ten- fold. Not satisfied with constantly administering- to the German strong doses of bark, h<s had sniffed about his calves and around his chair, growling about his calves and around his chair, growling I ominously the while, in a manner ti.ghly distressing to Kleckser's nerves. Upon onor two occasions, indeed, when Ruth's back had been turned, I am bound to confess that Kleckser had been moved to bestow a retaliatory kick upon the philosophic ribs. You may fancy Plato's triumph, therefore, when he had his enemy alone in the garden at midnight. A baleful glean) of exultation seemed to Kleckser's ter- rified vision to shoot from the animal's eyes, as he gnashed his sharp white teeth in expectation of the coming feast. The awkwarkness of the position con- sisted in Plato being posted, savagely growling, at the gate which Kleckser must necessarily pass to leave the garden. What was to be done ? Dere are times," thought Kleckser, vhen von must tisguise one's sendiments, and dis is von. Here goes. "Good tog, Blato!" he muttered, cautiously ad- vancing on tiptoe, while the philosopher's upper lip drew up in an instant, exposing a formidable row of pointed incisors. "Good tog! Tit they shut him out, boor fellow! Never mind, Blato. It's a fine night, and you can sleep comfortaply unter de lilac tree. You ton't mind my going out, old poy? It isn't as if I were a purglar vanting to get in, you know. Good tog!" Oat r-Jc\\iU um LI v "Io.AI-. • simply growled. Hang de prute exclaimed Kleckser in greater dismay than ever. I can't stop here all de night! Blato, my tear fellow, pe reasonaple. You know me, ton't you ? Your old friend Kleckser "—the hypocrite —" who likes you so much—at a distance," he added, aside. Quoth Plato: Arrh !—arrrrh !—arrrrrrh to Te teuce vhat is to pe done ?" cried Kleckser. U) know. Ill take off his attention, and make a run for it. Once outside de gate, I ton't care. Hi! Blato, poy vhat's that ? Look, under de fence. 8sss cats ciats At her, Blato, at her!" But Plato was not to be tempted by this mild artifice. Be turned a deaf ear to the voice otlthe charmer, r and repeated his former observation in more menac- ing toiMK. Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth. .» is not to pear!" cried tne captive. I shall charge de enemy and rout him. Animals, I have read, quail before the eye of man. and slink tiscom- fited avay. Let us see vhether dis prute vill quail pefore me. Hallo, Blato, brute! Get out of de vay, and let de lord of de creation bass out of de gate." Accompanying this demand with a dignified march upon Plato's position, Kleckser was hugging himself in the belief that the inferior was about to be cowed by the superior animal. His hand was already stretched out in anticipation to unlatch the gate, when Plato, gathering himself up for a spring, rushed with a savage bark upon the foe. A yell of alarm, followed by a shriek denoting personal anguish, escaped from the lord of creation, as, with Plato hanging to his skirts, and shaking them with much vehemence and energy, he rushed round the gravel path surrounding the little bed that formed the centre of the garden, until, arriving near the door, he managed to escape the enemy's gripe, and scale the trelliswork against the house. Clinging to this post of vantage, some four feet above the ground, Kleckser securely defied the efforts of Plato, jumping up with his mouth full of coat-tail to reach him. 11 Ack, Himmel ejaculated the German, when he had ascertained that he was out of present danger. VhaA a tog I ton't pelieve he's a tog at all, but a very fiend. Here's a bosition for a respectable foreign corresbondent in de service of Fabian van Flewker and Company! Hanging to the trelJis of a house at twelve o'clock at night, mit a savage prute vatching at de pottom of it to eat him. Vhat a horriple bosition. Vhat shall I to ? Vhat shall I to ?" To Kleckser's intense satisfaction, the steady tramp. of a pair of heavy boots crunching the gravel foot- path came at this moment upon his ear. Dank Heaven he exclaimed. Here is rescue at last. Hi! friend, whoever you are, come here and help a tistressed vayfarer 1" chap 25 Up came rescue in the shape of a policeman, who leant across the gate, and turned his bull's-eye on the scene. Hullo young feller, what are you doin' hup there ? No g4, o' course; but the dog's got yer pretty fast anyhow. Waluable hanimal that. Get down d'rectly, and come along o' me." Get town!" roared Kleckser. Not if I know it, vhile dat treatful peast is at de pottom. Look how he's torn my coat alreaty, and pitten my leg. I shall have de-vat you call him ?—de Hundemith [hydro- phobia], I know; and I shall tie. Put I shall first revenge myself upon dat frightful prute. Call off te tog, boliceman, dis instant, or I shall rebort you at de station." Gammon returned X 99. That game won't do. my shaver. Get down, I say; and don't give any more trouble." Look here, boliceman, I'll tell you how de whole ting happened," commenced Kleckser. "Oh, bother tellings," returned the incredulous guardian of the night. You can pitch yer yarn to the inspector. Come down, I say or da you want me to fetch yer ?" It is difficult to decide whether Kleckser's indigna- tion at being taken for a thief might not eventually have overcome his dread of Plato, if the noise of the altercation had not attracted the notice of the inmates of the house. Bolts and bars were withdrawn, and Sarah's Wiltshire accent was presently audible, inquiring who was making all this noise at that time o' night. Dere's de servant!" exclaimed Kleckser, joyfully. "Now, Mr. Boliceman, you'll soon see whether I'm to pe insulted vid impunity. Sarah Sarah come out,, and fetch avay de tog he shouted. Thus adjured, Sarah unclosed the door, and, step- ping into the garden, beheld Kleckser still clinging desperately to the trellis, Plato beneath, licking his lips and keeping guard, while the policeman at the gate looked stolidly on. The briefest possible ex- planation sufficed. Sarah applied her invariable argument to the philosopher's ribs, and the philoso- pher retreated, growling and snapping at the broom, into the washhouse. The policeman, satisfied, con- tentedly resumed his way, and Kleckser, released from his unpleasant position, bent his course towards, home, stopping at intervals to rub his bitten leg and utter imprecations on Plato, and vainly endeavouring to recollect a paragraph he had lately read, which- announced a certain, speedy, and painless remedy- tor hydrophobia. CHAPTER XXVI. GODLIKE SYMPATHY. KIND-HEARTED M. Parlandet. in the success of whose artless little manoeuvres I hope you are by this time beginning to take a tender interest, hearing nothing from the. White family for several days after Ray- mond's disappearance, began to grow uneasy. An evil conscience is a terribly troublesome monitor it will not allow its proprietor a moment's rest. He in- quired several times of Kleckser whether anything had yet been discovered respecting M. Vhite, receiv- ing the negative reply with an expression of intense surprise. When a fortnight had passed, he thought it time to see what the enemy was doing. The silence and resignation of the family puzzled and confounded him. There could be little difficulty, thought M. Par- landet, in introducing himself into the house under pretext of sympathy for Raymond's continued absence. A graceful recantation of his former slanders would obtain the mother's confidence, acquaint him with the measures being taken to discover the absentee, and enable him to frustrate them at his ease. chap 26 With this view, M. Parlandet presented himself one afternoon at the cottage of Mrs. White, and was" shown in to that lady. She rose to receive him quietly, yet with a look of some surprise, motioned to a chair, and waited for an explanation. I hope, dear madam," he began, it is in your power to give me brtter news of our dear fugitive than I have myself received. Am I correct in pre- suming that, a though he has not yet appeared at- the office, M. Raymond has returned home ?" We have unfortunately received no news what- ever of my son," replied Mrs. White. Has anything been heard of him by Mr. van Flewker ?" Alas, no! dear madam," returned M. Parlandet1 with a doleful sigh. Your question casts me back to the abyss of sorrow from which I was beginning to emerge. Hastening upon the wings of hope and friend- ship to greet my younr friend after his absence, and to congratulate his charming family, it is most distress- ing to discover that my hones are not yet destined to be fulfilled. But is it possible that no result at all has attended so many ardent researches ?" This was a fishing question, put to discover whether a y researches hA, been made, "My son has not yet returned, sir," answered Mrs. White; Heaven alone can tell whether he ever will." said the dissembler: