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CAUGHT AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S BRAND. [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] CHAPTER XXXIV. MOXSIEO^ TKQICCIIKT'S^BOOKS. *1 Ayc'T a* Wt^ijntiyi&d -hear k, sir," remarked Widd^H, whe*i Kteclise.r related to him, the follow- ing evening, the mishap that taken place. "If you'd only ha' waited for the party hinside the ouse, he couldn't ha' got away. You'd" have had him IS snug as a rat in a trap." Put, my goot Vattell. who could subbose de pcojundrel vould have the imputence to give me in cbarge ?" demanded Kleckser, still smarting at the recollection of the indignity. "It were a leary dodge, I must say," returned the housekeeper, suppressing a t'rin. Hows ever. I Ispose the game's all up now, Mr. Kleckser, eh ? You paean to give in arterthis, don't. ver?" Give in ?" cried Kleckser anarily. Not von pit I am more tetermined dan ever to pring de scamp to pook." Bravo, sir. That's right. Never say die's my inotto, and I likes your pluck," rephed Waddell, admiringly. "Why you almost deserve to he a Hinglishman. Well, look'here; my advice just comes to this—that is if you like to foller it. You didn't before, you know." "I vill, Yat"II, my friend; I vill inteet dis time," declared Kleckser, humbly. "Then this is how the thing stands now," said the jollified oracle. "As the bird's most likely frightened away fr.om here, we Hmst find out where he's gon", If 'e was a Hinglishman, [ should say Inspector Snapper, of the detectives, would be'our man. Being a foreigner, we must apply elsewhere. Snapper's an old chum of mine. He knows a French gent as is up to the dodges of all the foreigners—honest men and scampsu- in London. If I can get him to bring you and this French gent together, he's the man. You come here at eight to-morrow morning, and we'll see what's to be donp." And you really tink dis Frenchman vill find out Barmann P" asLpli Kleckser. incredulously. I don't think anything about it," replied Waddell, 41 cos I'm certain. Sn.p! There's one thing more. Can you draw or paint ?" "Trawor baint!" repeated Kleckser, greatly as- U-nisliedattl)eol,estion. "No. Yhy ?" That's a pity." replied Waddell. shaking- his head, gravely. You see, if you could, I'd ha' got you to make up a picter of this 'ere chap. Description's all wery well; but it don't convey nothing to the heve." A sudden idea struck Kleckser. I have no bor- trait of de man ve seek, it is true," he replied put tit you never notice de resemplance petween dis fellow and Mr. Vhite ?" Waddell brought, down his fist upon the table with a thump that, marie Kleckser start. By George, you've hit it! "he observed. '« Get a portrait of Mr. White, and the trick's done!" Kleckser was punctual next morning to the ap- pointed time. Waddell in person opened the door, and leading Kleckser into the kitchen, introduced him to his friend, Inspector Snapper, a good-tempered ji looking man. about forty, jolly in person and de- j jneanour, fond of joking—the sort of man by whom it must almost be a pleasure to be detected. Morning sir," said the inspector to Kleckser. "Happy to make your acquaintance, sir, and shall be glad to do you any little service. Jem here," pointing with his thumb to Waddell, "has put me Up to the circumstances or mur ■ I'm quite of ojib opinion. iloiif76Ter TTVrnciTet's your mJIi, au. Have you the missing party's likeness ?' Kleckser produced a photograph of Raymond, which be had obtained on the preceding evening from Mrs. White, and handed it to the inspector. Anything near the mark Jem ?" asked the in- spector, handing the portrait to his, old comrade. Near enough to 'dentify Vith. only a precious sight too good-lookin' answered/Waddell. Don't matter, so long a £ it'll do." replied Inspector Snapper. Them foreigners—which I don't nipan no disreFpect to you. sir—ain't generally over 'andsome. 'Andsome is as me does. you know, sir, arter all. Party French, I understand)?" Kleckser assented. "Curious now, but most o' them vinlent furrin icamps is either French or Italian," observed the inspector, philosophically. The Germans goes mostly info swindling and begging letters, or tries the area-sneak line. T'ot-hers do the forgerv, consr^y, and criminal business. Don't stick at using ki or pistols either, that's the worst of it. Three of Mounseer Tronchet's men have had their goose cooked within the last two months "Goose cooked!" repeated Kleckser. "I ton't unterstand." Al'hy, been put. an end to. Rubbed out—gone nnder, as the Yankees say." explained the inspector. "Now. sir. if you're quite ready. we'll be off to Monsieur Tronchet. Mnrnin,u. Jem." And Inspector Snapper and Kleckser took their leave. Monsieur Tronchet. occupied the second and third floors of a house in Windmill-street, Havmarket. Nobody lorlg-pd above him, consequently none but visitors to Ins establishment had anv business higher than the first-floor landing. To render thi, fact more patent, ;1 stout oalron door. iron-cased within, shut off the staircase leading to the second storey from the rest of the house. A slide, protected inside by a itout iron eratinsr. occupier) the centre of, the door, through which the inmates of the fortress could reconnoitre anyone apnh ing for admission. The only visible sipn of this being M. Tronchet's residence, was afforded by a neat brass plate let into the side of the door-jamb, bearing the inscription, "Tronchet Engraver. Please to ring the bell." Inspector Snapper, arriving here with Kleckser, Obeyed the in Tie rRTlg once, tyvice. thrice, pausing a few seconds between each peal: then waited. Presentlv p a peculiar tap upon the slide in fhe door, to which the inspector answered in a, similar mar nc-r. The slide was withdrawn, and Kleckser and his co-.y.pmiori admitted. Behind a desk, in the iront, joom of the second storpy, sat Monsieur 'roivhet;—short, dai k-ha'rf', with a swarthy, dose-shaven face. in which Sparkled one sinirularlv acute and watchful eve. The otllPr war, II, hlank. Tie !,n<p to receive h;s visitors, shook hands cordially with Inspector Snapper, and bowed to Kleckser. Ti- introduced his comDanion in a few I Printing of every Description I 0" 1 I woros. rTiH-1.•TTSrTrTfTrutTe^Trr two with STie FrenclT- man, th n took his leave. Chap 34 I Well, monsieur," said M. Tronchet, turning to j Kleckser. as soon as Inspector Snapper had dis- appeared. to our affair, if you please. You will pardon my requesting you to be brief, for my time is valuable. Above all. however, let me recommend you to withhold nothing. Treat me with the frank- ness you would exercise towards your physician. Detail your malady, with all its symptoms. Permit me to judge of their connection with the case. Mon- sieur, I listen." Thus adjured, Kleckser recounted the story of White's mysterious absence, M..Tronchet making notes of the heads of the narrative, and asking questions occasionally upon points which were not clear. The shadow of a smile flitted across his at- tentive face for a moment, when Kleckser told of M. Barmann's escape at Lucerne, and of the scheme adopted by that artful gentlemen upon the previous day, to elude pursuit. When the tale was ended, M. Tronchet rose from his chair,^and paced a short time up and down the room, with hands clasped upon his back. Presently he stopped before Kleckser. "The only ground for your belief that your friend is living is that letter from Lucerne ?" he asked. Nothing but that," was Kleckser's reply. M. Tronchet shook his head. Flimsy and un- reliable," he said. "Probably a mere threat of this Biirmann to extort money from his employer, Par- landet. The latter is evidently the principal in the scheme. You have not the letter with you, I under- stand ? Was it signed, and how ?" The letter was signed Poing, returned Kleckser, "What!" ejaculated M. Tronchet, incredulously, as if he could not believe his ears. Poing," repeated Kleckser," an abbreviation, I have reason to suppose, of Poing-qui-frappe." Impossible!" exclaimed the Frenchman. You: reasons for the supposition, monsieur, if you please." It is in the same handwriting as the previous com- munication from Genoa, which I mentioned first, anc which was signed with that name in full." Chap 34 But, monsieur, that is impossible, I repeat,' reiterated M. Tronchet, angrily. It is certain that Poing-qui-frappe, a French subject and noted convict escaped from the prison at Genoa in April last, an< was supposed to have fled to England; but it is alsc certain that he was surrendered to the French autho rities at the latter end of May, by them returned to the custody of the Sardinian Government, and is now working out at the bagne his increased sentence of im- prisonment for life. You will see, therefore, that it is absolutely impossible you could have met him at Lucerne and here." Chap 34 "I can say nothing about that," replied the bewildered Kleckser. I only know that the two letters were AM itten by the same man, and it is fair to infer this Biirmann and I'oing-qui-frappe to be identi- cal. Who else could have so accurate a knowledge of the whole affair. M. Tronchet did not condescend to reply to the tyro's question, but going to an iron safe fixed in the wall. took from a series of large brass-bound books, labelled upon their backs, alwavy volume bearing the letters M—P, and br ught it forward to the table. Here, monsieur, he observed to Kleckser, rapidly turning over the leaves, is a record of all the doings of all living criminal French subjects, who have been brought bel are the tribunals. it is compiled from the detailed summary of the indict- ment, which, as no doubt you know, contains the criminal's entire history and is regularly posted up by me whenever anything respecting him transpires We shall find here everything connected with this Poing-qui-frappe at present known. Page 463. Here is his history in brief- PoiNG-Qut-KRArPK (Armand Blaize).—Born 1S30, at Mon- tigney, IHe-et- Vilajlle. Father, shoemaker, living mother, farmers daughter, dead. ISijtnaicui? ii.t (a minute description of the fellow follows) Bred to paternal trade. At fifteen j stabbed it fellow apprentice through jealousy. Extenuating I circumstances; one year's itupiisomnent. Discharged in '46* J went to Paris; became connected with gang of housebreakers with violence. Kepeatedly arrested; as often discharged for wallt of proof, In '4S f01Ulà guilty of burglary, with ll1Ul.'<ler. at MontreuiL entenceu to b;ne for ten years Escajied. and was coHeerne.1 hI revolution of June, '49. bought upon barri- cades, whene he was wounded and t'iken. 1 emitted to lwne. Again escaped, injuring a gaoler. Fled to Italy with aconirade, and joined banditti in pontifical states. I eft JlcighbollrllOod of Home in '51, and joincd band of smugglers upon Sardinian coast. Arretted for highway robbery and murder of a custom- house officer, near Genoa, in '00. sentenced to bagne for twenty-one yeais Escaped, April. 'ijf), killing gaoler. 'Hr- reTalerc,1 it is supposed rolll motives of 1'< 11',C, "l comrades at end of May, and sentenced to hard labour for life. You see, monsieur, your statement cannot possibly be right." I can't understand; it seems not," muttered Kleckser, in confusion. "I can only say, that all I have told you is absolute fact. The affair seems to grow more mysterious now than ever. Of course, you are certain your record is correct ?" Monsieur, I wish I were as certain of ten thousand francs," returned M. Tronchet, proudly. Now tell me. You have seen this person you think is Poing-qui-lrappe. Describe him, if you please." "I can do better than that," returned Kleckser, drawing forth Haymond's photograph. Here is a likeness of my missing friend White. Deduct the expression of honesty and candour, and it is the por- trait of the man I encountered at Lucerne." >1. Tronchet seized the picture. "It is he Kleckner heard him mutter Poing himself! I never forget, a face, and [ could swear to his among a million. Malediction there is some roguery here. Monsieur," he continued, •« more is in this affair than I can understand. I am with you now, heart and soul. My professional reputation is at stake. No matter My agents are numerous and able, and we shall find out what there may be to discover. Leave the portrait here, and favour me with a visit at this hour to-morrow. By that time I think I can promise you some further news." You may be very sure that, Kleckser did not fail to keep his appointment with M. Tronchet next morn- ing. Punctually as the clock struck nine, he rang the bell beside the brass-plate which veiled the police agent's actual occupation from inquisitive observers the ceremonies of admission of the preceding day were again gone through and Kleckser once more found hin self in M. Tronchet's apartment. As I anticipated, monsieur," commenced the 11 I have news for you respecting the person of whnm you are in search. Whether you will consider it satisfactory, ( cannot say. The residence of M. Barmannhas been found." "Thank Heaven ejaculated Kleckser. "That is fortunate, at any rate." 1 am not so sure of that., monsieur," returned M. Tronchet. drily. "Thereis less difficulty in discover- S ing flie den of a wild be;;st than in entering it to shake him by the paw. You persist in your desire to have an interview with this person ?" have an interview with this person ?" fV.<ior>lv ciiariee I know of for riiscoverirur J Executed at the Chronicle Office, Penarth. my friend," -8td Kleckser, ,r and r wilr--ft-in- tli& n risk." You will run the risk, even if you learn that he is the identical Poing-qui-frappe whose amiable ante- cedents I had the honour of submitting to you yester- davr" In any cafe." returned Kleckser, firmly. "I am • to presume, then. you have found. ut your mistake Pw M. Tronchet shook his head. "Your M. Bar- mann is my Poing-qui-frappe," he replied;about that there is no shadow of doubt. How he contrived again to break out of prison without my receiving notice is altogether another matter. Ten days ago, I know he was In Genoa. Ten days ago, you say "you met him in Lu-eme..N«w, he is unquesfcloHftWjrhere. The whole affair is an inextricable puzzle. You will seek him, then Twill ?" "Well. wilful man must have his way," returned M. Tronchet. "I war-h my hands of anything that may occur: at least, go prepared. Have you arms? Can you use a pistol, at need?" I can take fair aim, but have no weapon with me," was the reply. "Then take this," said M. 'fronc""t. opening a drawer and bringing out a revolver. Do. not use it unless you are in danger but tf you mwst- fire, tihrow not your shot away. The agent who will show you Pointr's abode is a man in whom you xiam Ask his advice, if you like; but I tell YOU frankly, the affair is so hazardous that I shall give him orders not to expose himself to danger. Do me one favour in return. If you succeed, acquaint me with the result." Depend upon it Twill." replied Kleckser. Many thanks. M. Trouchet, for your kind assistance and advice." They shook hands warmly. M. Trouchet summoned his aeent, waiting below, and in Kleckser's hearing gave him his instructions. Then the two set out. CHAPTER XXXV. A PROPOSAL. THE time had now arrived when M. Parlandet thought it would be advisable to take another step towards realising his grand scheme. In the course of the forenoon, therefore, he sauntered down to the office in Augustine-close. Mynheer Fabian van Flewker is a good deal changed for the worse, since you and I last saw him. Never particularly healthy or well-looking, his sallow face is now of a. tawny yellow, which even extends to what. under other circumstances, are the whites of his eyes. We note this. because, when Pari entered the room, the merchant, had taken off his blue spectacles, and was polishing their glasses upon his- handkerchief; so dreamily. however, and with such evident absence of energy, that it was clear his thoughts were very far away. He had returned from the Continent only that morning, and lookpctso ill, so' anxious, and altogether unhappy, that even Pari was struck with his expression, and stood still for a moment to contemplate his patron unobserved. Slowly and mechanically Van Flewker pursued his task for a minute, then dropped his hands wearily,, and fank back listlessly in his chair. Depressed." thought M. Parlandat, anxious, and1 ill at ease. Good, so far; but he must be roused. This frame of mind is dangerous. My patron," her continued aloud, taking a step forward. The merchant never stirred. My benefactor," continued Parl, in a louder tone-, again advancing. Van Flewker slightly turned his head. Ah M. > Parlandet," he observed." you there: sit down, but don't talk. I am not in a humour to discuss business matters to-day." You are unwell, my patron ?" inquired Parl, with, much sympathy. "Then I am dumb. Far be it. from yonr humble servitor to trespass upon the weak- ness of that mighty mind. It is true I came upon important affairs, hut you are iM. It is enough. I fly to pray for your recovery." "IF. must have meant this metaphorically, for he still retained his seat, and pursued his conversa- tion. "May I enquire, without indiscretion, what the precise nature of this distressing malady ? Is it the mind, or the body, whiah has temporarily given way P" Both—both," groaned the merchant. I am sick at heart, man sick and weary." Chap 35 "I have heard," pursued M. Parlandet, than in cases of this description, relief is sometimes afforded by sharing sorrows with a. sympathising mind. If it would afford you any solace, beloved patron, to deposit your griefs in this friendly bosom (striking the I article), command it. I am a vessel of whatever shape you please. Fill me, my benefactor, fill me to the brim." chap 35 No better tribute could be paid to M. Parlandet's talents as an actor, than the fact that his persistent sympathy actually imposed upon Van Flewker. J Very strong and self-reliant must be the spirit that does not turn instinctively, in the hour of trouble and distress, to almost any quarter that seems to offer romfort. Even the wire-drawn consolations of his manager soothed the merchant's wounded pride. You know the object with which I set out a fortnight back," he commenced. To trace out, and to neutralise the i-inister influence which for a month has weighed upon the house. I went to Brussels. Vandegger and son were civil, but co!d. I showed them that excellent business might be done with America, where civil war cannot be long delayed, and proposed a, mutual plan. They answered, they had just closed their Philadelphia, branch. Sub- sequent inquiry proved that this was false; they freighted a vessel only the previous week. At Antwerp and at Ghent I was met with similar excuses, similar subterfuge. In Rotterdam, Wouterson would not see me. He was in Vienna, I was told. As I passed out, I saw him cross the street. In Hamburg, that ungrateful Schmidt—a man whom I have raised from the gutter—resigned his agency, told me to my face his credit would not permit him to do business for a tottering house Here, upon my return, I find these pleasant greetings." Van. Fiewker laughed grimly. This, requiring payment of a large account within three diys this, calling in money agreed to he left as a fixed deposit for a. year this, shorter and sharper, but perlups not more cruel, threatening a. iiat if aftpr twenty-four hours the debt is still un- paid. What fo.-e-:ght could piovide against these sudden bio s ? Connections fall away creditors threaten f unds to meet a panic cannot be raised in time ruin and bankruptcy stare me in the face. I have cause, you see, to feel both sick and weary." Good M. Tarlandet suppresed a little inward chuckle. It works," was the thought that passed throueh his kind !v mind. 61 Ali. i-es. the scheme works-