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The Cumiiag cf tis Fool


[A;,1: TU-th "n:]. The Cumiiag cf tis Fool BY s .A-jlror o? i-Liv.i Brown l-.d ,.d >' H "Love anc\ E. ddd' id .? dMrs.. Brau- '!3' oi :r--d:? ..ov, was wont to d.:■■■.>■, k; .i :■ :ld. an '> sue fenew tiiafc \vllh ,diL-d of u:ig exaggerated 1;:A.- riv. ine-smy- u «.•1 > 'ad leisured, k:>o knew it, rtiiv! f i .to be ;-o ii; .-I'dmai .Iy fond to not even tor a > J. <■ s m i V v a, was srnilingly agreed with ids wiic. He Wi*s air1 1 r 1 » > r j x ed to a fault, with no o in life than to live pcaettib !cl3 fathers, had all the i. i*> was J c. )"[13. Brall- don's distaste ot tx.e country a-dlior love of town. It was necessary her Charlotte should mrcJce an üsLimr.blö match. A fortune with a husband was not everything *o Mrs. Brandon's wny of t t,. Vbe man for Charlotte- mast have qi «, which her father lacked. He must have dash along with his wGülth-that magnetism necessary to make her establishment a brilliant social ccaire. And it was on this very question of select- ing a husband for the beautiful, grey-eyed Charlotte, who, to her mother's regret, had all the reserve of her unambitious father, that Mr. Brandon proved, in an unmistak- ably eloquent way, that he was no fool—that, on the contrary, he was very alert for a county gentleman who had no interests be- yond the confines of his estate. He was sitting in the library reading, when the noise of carriage in the avenue caii-od him to look out of the wirmcw. He sighed. It was his own carriage. His wife, and daughter had returned from town. A few minutes later, and Brandon flounced into the library hot and palpitating. "Had a good time as usual, Neil?" he asked. she replied, offering her face somewhat condescendingly fo: b ki And before he could put her < < >n she launched into a dithyrambie d pL on of the various functions she and Charlotte had attended. "And that is not all," she added. "I have at last found a husband for Charlotte, a charming man, handsome, travelled, and wealthy—suitable in every way. in fact." "His he asked, his eye seeking Burke, which lay on an oak table in the re- cess near the window. "Oh, I don't know that you will find Mr. Claude Petherwick in there," she snapped, following the direction of his gaze. "What about poor Arthur Barrington? His family is in there, and he loves Char- lotte, and will make her a steady, sensible husband. Besides, if my eyes do not deceive me, the girl is not indifferent to his atten- tions." "Richard Brandon!" cried Mrs. Brandon, importing something like astonishment into her voice. "Would you have Charlotte shut- up in that ugly ivy-clad house as you would like me to remain confined To, no, Bid < -1, ',o must do better that." u come, Jsoil; t I d aw that Bail.tOiia place.;is a^p^i*>i -more than The L i c At am >oi will allow mat CI ] c c riii^t 1 au <. av in the matter of choosing a husband. Say no more on the i b ( my dear, but let us see your Mr. "11 J u, a gloaj r < i "I na« t f ir ±tm ,ji t>o\vn' for Ic cl 1 all > a you d' > ] I d mre y \\i)} c '^1] '<x Mr. Petherwick." At ':hi-j moment the door opened, and Char- lottt ;cripped into tbc i < m To her father it seemcd that she 1 i ray of sHushino with tier, Her large gE., eyes were rerillu- mined with the joy <■ i °mg him again. She wou.nd her arms round his neck, and kissed his bearded face again and again. "And how is my little he asked, gaz- ing fondly into her eyes. "Very \vtrn. p^ai, and glad to get home again," she i I. How sweet and fresh the air is! "Vv hat a relief to the stifling atmos- phere in i?" "So you i had enough of town?" For one year at least, papa," she laugh- ingly replit'd. "And you are not sorry to leave the new friends you have made, including- Mr. Claude Petherwick, of whom your mother has just given mo a gIcv.'iL'g description. 'Pon my soul it makes me wish I was not the old fogey i.het I am." Ch:vJo's head fell. Confusion replaced the joy in her eyes. She glanced anxiously at her mother. There was a world of mean- ing in that glance. And its significance was not lost upon her father. "Mr. Petherwick will soon be here," broke in Mrs. Brandon. "Come, Charlotte, we shall draw up the list of guests at once, and send out the invitations. Our shooting party will be more enjoyable- this year than it has ever been before. It will be a memorable one, too. (This with a denant glance at Mr. Brandon.) Your father will admit that." The party at The Grange was a merry one beyond a doubt. Mrs. Brandon was de- lighted. Everything was going just as she had planned. Charlotte and Claude Pether- wick were much together. Unquestionably Petherwick was the most dashing man pre- sent. By reason of his brilliant conversation, of his knowledge of the world, and particu- larly of the Riviera, whither he went every winter, he stood out pre eminently from among the male guests, who were more or less after Mr. Brandon"^ stamp—county' men, devoted to the horse and the gun. Birds were plentiful in the coverts, but few fell to Claude Petherwick"s gun. He was no sportsman. Mr. Brandon and Arthur Bar- imgton saw that on the first day of the shoot. At dinner he invariably selected his own topics of conversation. They had small in- terest for the men, but the ladies were vastly interested in them. He seemed to know Everybody in Europe of note—^Russian princes, Italian counts, and French barons. "Met them at Monte Carlo, you know," he sh iS turn*n8 to Mrs. Brandon, who ^rested h ^Cr WK'e"°Pen eYes *low vastly in- Your knowledge of Riviera hotels seems ue extensive," hazarded Mr. Brandon, who qui€tly summing up tho bold-eyed "bo, he allowed, was the best 1 *dvertiBement that' had ever ri»ited 'v d v'' 1' I.r ;t:!Ù :"ik¡iJ; The Grange, so faultless was the cut of his clothes. "When I leave my property in France," drawled Petherwick, and go to the Riviera, I never stay at the same hotel twice. It is only by moving about that you get to know people." "How delightful!" murmured Mrs. Dr-an- don. "Fiddlesticks!" muttered Mr. Brandon between his teeth. Somehow he was becom- J ing distrustful of this smooth-tongued man of the world, this friend of princes, counts, and barons. He ventured to question his wife concerning Petherwick's antecedents. She answered him with a frown of surprise, fol- lowed by words which she had often used be- fore—words which mildly suggested that he was a fool. The fool smiled in his good-humoured way. "To do the fellow justice," he said to him- self, "he is not so enamoured of the girl as NeH supposes. There is hope for poor Bar- rington vet." One morning, when the skies were lower- a sure portent that rain would fail, Mr, Brandon flid not join the guns, but went for a stroll jwmnd the estate. He had reached the pasture near the village when the storm t broke, and he sought the inn for shelter. "This way, sir, if you please," said the landlord, delighted to welcome the lord of tbe -manor into his snug parlour. Mr. Brandon lit a cigar and was sipping the refreshment he had ordered, when voices fell on his ear. I "I tell you. this is one of the softest cribs t] v {un has yet struck," he heard dis- t tinetlv. J He icited at the end of the room whence the bound proceeded, and di\in <i that a very J thin partition, papered over to give it the J semblance of a wall, divided from the j voice. i "There are loads of jewels," continued • the speaker, "and they have simply to h1.: picked up. Half an hour before you arrived this morning the captain came over to tell me that everything would be in readiness by to-morrow night. W to be on the job a two o'clock in the morning." "But is the house not watched, Bill? Has j it not occurred toO the captnin that the local copper might have received instruct!c-s to keep a sharp lookout so long as guests are staying at the house?" "You trust the. captain, Joe, as I trust him. We have always found him a deep s 'un, and you may be sure that his plans are all right. Why, the job's worth doing, if only for the lady's necklace, which the cap- tain says is at least worth a couple of thou- sand. And think of the other sparklers, not, to speak of money." ell, ",Yell, if the captain says it's right, I'm with him again. But you know I always am a bit cautious, Bill." "Quite right, my boy. And now let us have something to eat. To-night, when they're dining, we'll have a peep at the back of the house." Mr. Brandon rose and stepped into the bar, where the landlord was polishing glasses. "You need not mention to anyone that I have been here, Oakes," he said, "and, by the way, do !IlOt trouble your head about tnat little matter which I understand you and my agent have been discussing. After your leuso expires you can stay on at the old rent if you like." "Thank you very much, sir." Mr. Brandon turned into the pasture, letting t! <• llwdlord showering benedictions on the rain, which lis felt sure had prevented hi* >rw: ii'V? i»cf'-»f-^d_. The gaas had returned Jor lunch. They did not go hack to the coverts. Whereat the ladies were glad. The guests divided their time betweon the billiard-room and the library. Arthur Barrington. who had openly his dislike of Petherwick,' found himself alone with Charlotte Brandon. "At J.a<?fc I have an opportunity of speaking with you, Miss Brandon," he said. "And I am going to make the most of it." As liD spoke a mounted his cJieeks, I e s. and something like a flash shot into his eyes. His demeanour, usually so reserved, startled the girl, who glanced at him appre- hensively. "Miss Brandon," he continued, "I have been living in torture since I came here. I came with the full intention of having an en- joyable time. Your father has done his best to make it so, but your mother is treating me as though I was here on sufferance. f am going awav, but before I go I must say some- thing to you that has been on my lips for a long time. I love you, Charlotte, and I can- not bear to think that that fellow Petherwick, who seems to have impressed your mother deeply, will steal you from me. Come, tell ID8 that he has not hypnotised you, that he has not come between you and me?" He seized her hands. She did not attempt to draw them away, but shyly raised her eyes to hiis. Then Arthur Barrington knew that the elegant Petherwick, with an estate in France, with foreign princes, counts, and barons as bis friends, had not made the least impression on Charlotte Brandon. "You will not leave now," she said, after their lips had met. "Who talks about leaving?" a voice broke in ujpon them, and the next moment Mr. Brandon stood, a satisfied spectator of their confusion.. "T came to look for you, Barrington," said Charlotte's father. "1 want, to speak wits y°"v' 'I also would like a few words1 with you, sir," said the voung man, his eyes seeking those of the blushing Charlotte. "Ah, I understand," said Mr. Brandon, leading the way to the rustic summer-housw > at the bottom of the garden. j • "I want you to help me in adelicate matter," bej. in Mr. Brandon, after they en. tered the summer-house. Arthur Barrington glanced at Charlotte's latber in amazement. "Yer;" 1. want a little assistance," Mr. Brandom continued, "and of all the men here it is you alone whom I should like to help me. Can I rely on you?" < Y oudo not say what you want with me, Mr. Brandon," the young man replied, "but if you think I can help you in any way, you have only to command me." "Very good, Barrington. I cannot go into the ail'air now. All I beg of you is not to go to bed to-morrow night. Conceal yourself in the thicket outside the garden. Remain there until you see two men pass through the gate. Then you can leave your hiding- place. But on no account follow them. Just stand outride the gate. You will reinember that, I particularly want you to bear that, in mind. Don't enter the garden, not cvenil you see fhe two men running towards you. Afterwards it is probable that you will hear me calling out to you. Then you will act as I direct. Have I made myself clear?" have and- you haven't," ventured dB^riagtoi*. "I, gather from what you saj i', ¡Ú; ''f¡'wJíf. that some mystery is afoot, though vou do D.. giNx Toe the ghost of an idea what it is." f<1M': mind the mysterv. I have you promise that you will do ivi I suggest?" You have," replied Barrington, im- pressed by Mi-. Brandon's tone. They left the in ) 1 e, a:d returned to the I 1 1 where Peih erwiek was carrying evcrv;b:n., before him. iNext day th.L?. 1 1 3 out, the sportnmen returning with v, bags, elated at their success. More guests had arrived, and Mrs. Brandon assured 'herself at dinner that even- ing that the shooting party was a huge success. 0 Petherwick was the life and soul of the company. There was not a woman present, excepting Charlotte Brandon, who did not vote him charming. His story of how he came to the rescue of the Russian prince at the tables of Monte Carlo brought the ad- miring glances of the women full upon him The prince was gambling heavily, and it seemed probable that he would have to send to St. Petersburg for money to take him hom^, when Petherwick whispered directions in his ear. Hie prince took the hint, and when he left the table he found that he had win a small fortune. "Never shall I forget the look of gratitude in his, eyes and the clasp of his hand> added Petherwick. "Of course, he insisted on nr; dinirig with him -011 the following evening." Mrs. Brandon's eyes sparkled as ° she listened to this story. Her bosom heaved with satisfaction. Even her diamond neck- lace seemed to be perturbed, the agitation producing added light from the facets. Music, cards, billiards, and conversation,, and then the guests retired one by one. M. Brandon remained in the library reading until one o'clock. Then he extin- guished the light and retired to a small ante- room leading out of the spacious hall. About an hour afterwards he opened the door noiselessly and passed into the .garden. He entered the summer-house and waited. Bv- and-bye the noise of approaching footsteps- fell on his ear. He glanced out of the win- dow. The light of the stars revealed two- dar*. iígures moving stealthily towards the house. In a few moments they had passed through the French winders, which 1 been obligingly opened for them by some.' within. Mr. P 01 Left the summer-house with heavy b J 1 either arm. One ef those he 1 few yards from the gar- den gate, tno omer just within. Noiselessly he crept to the hops0, and entered by the side door. He made straight for the ante- room and waited. In less than half an hour he fancied lie heard deadened footsteps. He jumped- up and placed' his ^ar t-o the keyhole. Then the swinging of the French windows on th«i'r hinges told him that his visitors were leav- ing. He entered the drawing-room, and, moving auickly towards the open windows, saw three dark figures speeding across the lawn. The next moment he was rushing after them. Suddenly two of theni were abruptly pulled up. For a moment, the third man, who was some twenty paces behind them, stood an one stupe Hed. Barrington, do not let him es- caped" shouted ;iir. Brandon.. Arthur Barrington heard the command; Fa stood in the gateway, saw two men wrig- e'.og on the ground, and h'ild his arms wide MK rr in order to preven t the third man from passi'ig thr-'v; d- dn: .;v came, "-r ] soon got into cdnn with d'wdeetee. There MK rr in order to preven t the third man from passing d- dn: came, "-r ] soon got into cdnn with d'wdeetee. There o* vt;d- -'■ !vro-d^o tw-> -:e :n. 1: .s and. and ended' in d.r'dvur Bar- •• "et-on falling to the ground, stabbed in the arm. d ne groan lis uttered was follow? .1 by a loml re ":rt. It was new vh.e iwd 01 die feg:- tive to fed 1. d!he d dleJ' won; h-r. I'.1 -d(;Ú's revewer ;e- v u: taiga. Id- r-'w-ie-s of he id'-bt was 'woken by a shrill "v;dsd:v peed n few 'I'l+ !aJ:er iddits fiooea'W'd, bobbing uo m l down as they advanced. They, wore h-n:.eri;s carried be the arr-wi and the gardener, who had been ordered to keep vigil. "You, Brown," said Mr. Brandon to the groom,- "keep an etc on these two rascals." d Tde light waV fifshed upon them as they la-V wriggling on the lawn, making frantic ehor's to rid th omselvcs of tho mantraps whieh bald their feet in a vice-like g-dp. On my soul, I am forgetting Barring ton," continued Mr. Brandon., snatching the lantern from the gardener's hand, and rush- ing towards tl den gate. W<nl, Bar- rington," he d^i, "are you much hurt?" "Mot so as I thorght," was the reply. "I believe i have stopped the bleeding by tying my handkerchief ro'irnd my arm." "Good. We'll now lock to prisoner num- ber three. Ah, just as I supposed-r-Mr. Claude Pet' the friend of princes, counts, and n You thought von would wave us >id::esly, LIr. Petherwick. And, of co did not intend to leave emptv-handeu. "What i3 this, St::?" asked the gardener. "I have just sieop.d upon it." lIe handed a black leather Mr. Brandon. "Just what Is saying," replied Mr. Brandon, o.nenuig the satchel., Pether- wick thought he would take something in lieu of his luggage. IXere are my wife's neck- lace and rings, my daughter's diamond bracelet, and other jewels, which I fancy will be claimed by some of my guests. So this is your way of repaying my hospitality, air." r,ity was a grcan and a curse. iife and his confederates were taken to the stables and locked in, after bing securely bouiid. The groom and gardener kept watch at the door all night, with revolvers in theii hands. "We have had a most exciting- night.' said Mr. Brandon to, his wife at breakiast next morning. "An exciting night! What do you mean, Richard?" The voices of the lady guests in the hah delayed his answer. "My riugs have disappeared!" cried one. "Mine, too, are c exclaimed another. "I beg you not v to distress, yourselves,' said Mr. Brandon, walking briskly into the hail, and leading his excited guests to Mrs. Brandon. "Your rings are' quite safe, I S. sure you. I was iust telling my wife we have on exciting night." c "For Heaven's sake, explain yourself. Richard! What has happened?" And Mrs. Bi vnicn shot at him the old look he knew .00 wed that look which tcld him as plain M words that he was a fool. npy this, Nell. Our guest, Mr. Claude Petherwick, the authority of the Riviera and its hotek, thought he would re- pay the interest you bate taken in him hI fdeaimg your jewels and those of our friends Hi is locked in the stables with two of hij confederates, I have telegraphed to Scotlano Yard, and' expict ofSeeys will come down by n. I On bearing these words Mrs. Brandon uttered a pathetic wail, and sank on the a,-pet. A couple of detectives duly arrived, and 'í uo time in examining the prisoners. 'T is a fine haul, sir," said the chief to ,1H>itrld(n, "You have succeeded where have hÜed. have captured Henry -,l-iu|e, alias Count Battini, Baron Geni- •> etc., W leader of a band of inter- p I thieTea, who have terrorised Riviera ..v,.vl hc,j.b. We beard that he had come ;G [_.o;don to play the gentleman, combining 1 Sl pleasure, of course. He was cr d "d mo if than one reception when the was at it* height, but he always eluded us. He's a mighty clever thief, but his day is over." From that moment, until the trial and From that moment, until the trial and sentence of Henry Eankine, Mrs. Brandon I was in indifferent health. But she speedily recovered. Eagerly did she welcome the match between Charlotte and Arthur Bar- rington. Her husband appeared to her in a new light. The word "fool" was eradicated from her vocabulary, when applied to him, as any rate. J