Archibald Clavering Gunter.

Baron Montez of Panama and Paris: a novel online

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have proofs — written evidence from your books — that
you never made the investments in the Panama Canal
stocks you reported to my brother. You simply said
you made them. You simply charged them to him on
your ledger, but your stock book shows no such pur-
chases, at that time, nor at any other time. You put my
brother's and his ward's money into your own pocket,
but never bought the shares. I know well enough, if
I bring suit in America, where I will bring it, having
nailed your securities there, for I have had advice on
this point, that American courts will follow a precedent
they have already established, and decide in favor of my
brother."

" But this is even more than I have taken from him
and your ward," falters Montez.

" There is a young lady up-stairs you have robbed.'*

"Who?"

" Miss Minturn."

" What — my stenographer ? She shall have her salary,"
says Fernando, grimly.

" She wants more I She is the sole heir of George
Merritt Ripley, and Alice his wife, whom you murdered
on the Isthmus, and robbed of their gold — some sixty
thousand dollars ! "

** You can't prove it ! "

" Whether I prove it or not, I'm going to collect it.
I have notes and an assignment covering the value of all
your New York securities, made out to me, in that room.



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250 BARON MONTEZ.

Will you sign them, or shall the contents of your pocket-
book be given to the papers to-night ? *'

** There is no Parisian paper that would dare to pub-
lish them.*'

"There is one ! "

" Imbecile I You rave ! What one ? "

** The Parisian edition of the New York Herald! "

** Yes," mutters Montez, "you're right ! That terrible
American paper would publish any news ! "

" Now will you sign, or not ? "

" No ! " cries Montez, desperately, and rises to go.

"Ah, you hope to slip away from town before the
Herald can give them the news — but you don't go ! "

" What will stop me ? *'

" The contents of this box you sent me ! I've got wit-
nesses in there of your own confession ! I'll have you
under lock and key in half an hour ! You can't get out
on bail even, before I'll spread over town the knowledge
of the contents of that pocketbook. Then you know
you will never leave Paris alive ! *'

" No ! " cries Fernando, desperately, for he knows he
could not exist two hours before the Parisian mob, know-
ing its contents, would rise up against him. "I'll sign! "

Then he puts his hand to his brow, and mutters :
" Three million piastres ! Give me the pocketbook ! "

" When you have signed ! Not before ! I also want
an assignment of your contract with the young American
lady. Miss Mintum."

" Oh — certainly ! You ask a small thing after very
great ones."

So Harry leads him into the room, where there is an
affrighted notary and an astonished attach/ of the Ameri-
can consulate. Here Baron Montez, the agony of resti-
tution being on him, does the hardest five minutes'
work of his life — he signs over, in proper legal form, all
his American securities to Harry Sturgis Larch mont, in
trust for various other parties. These acknowledgments
are certified to by the notary, and made good in the
United States by the seal of the American consulate in
Paris.

Then Montez whispers : " The pocketbook ? Quick ! "

"You did not think I had it upon me with such gentle-
men as you about ! " laughs Larchmont, who h^ grpw;^



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BARON MONTEZ. 25 I

faint himself now that he has won. " Til give you an
order on the American Legation for it — good after three
o'clock to-morrow. By that time the American stocks
are in my hands, or there are no ocean cables."

This being done, Montez turns to go. Larchmont fol-
lows him to the hall, for he thinks it just as well to
see this gentleman outside his portals, as he has heard
female voices up-stairs, and fears descent from inquisitive
young ladies.

At the door, Montez turns and hisses : " It was for this
you brought me here — so that you might play with me
and conquer me ! *'

**0h," replies Harry, very modestly, though the
triumph of victory is on his face, " I did not conquer you
— it was a young lady — Miss Minturn ! ''

'*Ah, that damned stenographer!*' shrieks Montez.
** She who plotted with you, and entered my employ to de-
stroy me ! She — your accomplice — your tool — your "

** I'll trouble you not to say anything about her ! "
mutters Harry, his face growing very stern. " Please go
away ! " He has opened the door.

But up-stairs there is a maniac chuckle: "Lo, the
bridegroom goeth — Let me at him ! Tm going to throw
an orange peel at Baron Montez of Panama I "

" What is that ? " says the Baron with a start.

** That is the voice of my brother whom you have made
a lunatic ! " whispers Harry. Then he says :

" For God's sake go away. If I hear him again I shall
kill you ! "

Montez with a gasp runs down the stairs of the man-
sion, and springs into his carriage very nimbly, as Harry
Larchmont, closing the door, mutters to himself : " Damn
him ! I don't think he'll forget his wedding-day in a
hurry ! *' Then tears come into his eyes and he murmurs,
« Poor Frank ! "



CHAPTER XXV.

THE PREFERRED CREDITOR.

Then Mr. Larchmont looks at his watch. He has
just time. He springs up-stairs to the door of Louise's



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252 BARON MONTEZ.

room, raps on it, and would shout : " Victory ! '* but the
girl knows his step, and is before him. His face tells its
own tale.

She cries : ** You*ve won 1 Thank Heaven ! I — I
am so happy for you."

" Yes, we've won ! *' answers Harry — " won in full !
But to nail our flag over his — 1 must go at once —I have
just time to do it ! Good-by — our interview this even-
ing ! ** His voice grows very tender, and wringing her
hand, he mutters : " God bless you ! It was all you ! "

By this time he is down the stairs, but at the foot of
them he turns and cries : " 1*11 attend to your dress ! *'
then opens the front door, springs down the steps, and
gets into his brother's carriage, which has been wait-
ing for him for the last hour.

In it he drives, with even more than Parisian reckless-
ness, to his American lawyer, Mr. Evarts Barlow, and
getting him into his carriage, the two post off to the
Paris agents of the New York bankers who hold the
American securities of Fernando Montez. At their sug-
gestion, the agency cables their home house, that all the
stocks, bonds, and investments of Baron Montez in their
hands have been transferred and made over to Harry
Sturgis Larchmont, by personal deed of their former
owner, properly acknowledged and registered, which they
(the agency) now hold ; that all further dividends upon
said securities, earned now or in future, are to be paid in
to Mr. Larch mont's account, at his bankers in New York.

This being done, Harry remembers he has another
errand, and telling it to his lawyer, the latter laughs :
** What ? — A Parisian modiste^ so soon ! '*

" Certainly ! She's worn one dress three days run-
ning ! " replies Harry. Then he says, in a voice that
makes Barlow glance very sharply at him : " She's like a
dream in muslin ! What will she be under the genius of a
Worth or a F^lix ? YouVe a treat before you to-night ! "

So it comes to pass ' that, about four o'clock this after-
noon, a forewoman of a great Parisian dressmaker calls
upon Louise, and presents a note which reads :

My Dear Miss Minium:

With this I send you some robes to choose from. You need
not fear the expense. If you take them all, they are easily within



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BARON MONTEZ. 253

your income. I'll explain the financial part of it this evening. I've
nailed everything — by your aid.

** Yours most sincerely,

Harry Larchmont.

P. S. Please, for my sake^ put on the prettiest to-night. The
great lawyer I told you of wilf call with me — upon your business. '*

This kind of a note dazes the girl. The dresses dis-
played to her delight but astound her. In her present
state of mind, she would send the woman away and
tell her : " To-morrow — any other time ! " But Harry's
note says : " For my sake !"

So Louise looks over the robes, and now the legacy
left her by Mother Eve comes into play. The dresses
fight their own battle ; for they are exquisite conglom-
erations of tulle and gauze— the tissues and webs of
Lyons thrown together by a genius for such effects.

Just at this moment Jessie adds her efforts to this
scene. She comes in and chirps : " My ! How lovely! "
and looks over the gowns with exclamations of delight,
but not of envy. For she cries : " How beautiful you
will be this evening! "

** This evening ! Mr. Larchmont has written you ? '*

" Yes — this unsatisfactory note, half an hour ago,*'
pouts Jessie. It only says : * Have a nice dinner for four
this evening at eight sharp. I shall bring Mr. Evarts
Barlow with me. ' Evarts Barlow ? — he is one of the great
lawyers of Manhattan. I saw him last season. He's not
so old, either,," goes on Jessie, contemplatively. " I think
I'll put my best foot forward. I've got some dresses of
the Montez trousseau that are rather comme il faut, I
imagine. I'll go at that trousseau and wear it out quick,
before I'm promised again. It shan't do double duty ! "

She goes away, and Louise, thinking of Miss Severn's
remarks about putting her best foot forward, says to her-
self : " Why should not I do the same ? My foot is also
a pretty one, I believe ! " Then she laughs, for there is
something in all these remarks of Mr. Larchmont's and
Jessie's, that brings a sudden spasm of doubt to an idea
that had burned itself into her brain in those hot days on
the Isthmus, when Harry had raved in the delirium of
the fever.



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254 BARON MONTEZ.

Then Mother Eve flying up in this lovely creature, with
the assistance of the forewoman, who is very expert in
such matters, Louise finds herself in such a toilette by
dinner-time, that, looking on herself, she is amazed, per-
cliance a little awed, by her own image ; for she is a
dream of fairy beauty.

So Miss Minturn coming down into the great parlor of
Francois Larchmont, with its wealth of bric-a-brac^ statues,
and paintings, Jessie runs to her and says : " Don't we
contrast just right ! — only you overpower me — you have
so much esprit I '* for Jessie has a dear, generous heart,
and there is a great soul in Louise's eyes this night.

As they stand together, two gentlemen in evening
dress enter and gaze upon them amazed.

" Great heavens, Larchmont ! " whispers the lawyer to
Harry. " Why didn't you tell me I had such pretty
clients ? I would have worked for them as if inspired."

" 1 — I didn't know she was quite so pretty, myself ! **
mutters Harry, who has eyes for only one of them.

A moment after, the introductions are made, and
Barlow and Jessie, followed by Louise and Larchmont,
go in to one of those pretty little dinners, that are all the
more pleasing because they are not quite banquets.

As they sit down. Miss Mintum's thoughts give a
jump to the time she first saw the gentleman beside her
in evening costume — to the night of the dinner party at
Larchmont Delafield's, when she was not guest, but
stenographer. Then recollections bring blushes. It is
her pretty shoulders Mr. Larchmont is now looking at,
not Miss Severn's.

Into this reminiscence Jessie breaks : " Guardy Harry,
have you got me into your clutches thoroughly? Are
you legally my guardian now ? "

" Yes ! " replies Larchmont. Then he looks curiously
but anxiously at Louise, and says : " I am also the
guardian of another young lady ! "

" Another ward ? You wholesale guardian ; who is
she ? " laughs Jessie.

" Miss Minturn ! "

*' I ! " gasps Louise, her eyes growing astonished and
almost affrighted.

"Why, certainly!" remarks Barlow. "I had the
order of court made to-day. You're only nineteen ? "



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BARON MONTEZ. 255

" Y-e-s ! "

"Then not of . age in Paris, though you may be in
America. It was necessary for the proper protection of
your interests and property, that a guardian should be
appointed. Heiresses must be looked after."

" Heiress ! — I^,? " stammers Louise.

"Of course," interjects Harry, "if you don't like it,
you can have some one else appointed to-morrow — Mr.
Barlow, for instance — but for to-night," he rises and bows
profoundly to her, " I believe I have the honor of being
your guardian and your trustee."

Here Jessie suddenly exclaims : " Both Harry's wards !
Delightful ! Louise, we can do our lessons together and
have the same governess. Half of the present one will
be enough for me ! "

"Jessie ! " cries Larchmont, sternly,. for Louise's eyes
have looked rebellious at the mention of lessons and a
governess. " Miss Minturn is a little older than you.
This appointment is more form than otherwise."

" Oh ! — Well, it don't matter being Harry's ward,"
giggles Miss Severn. " He is a good, indulgent guard-
ian. He lets you do as you like. But if it was Frank !
— Whew ! — Louise, he might decree that you were only
eleven or twelve years old to-morrow mo^-ning ! "

" And if you were sullen, kodak you," interjects Harry,
grimly.

But a scream from Jessie interrupts him. " Oh, good-
ness ! " she ejaculates. " He didn't get a picture of
me ! "

" Yes — a very charming one. It is labelled, ^L enfant
gdtie' You look as if you were springing at the camera."

" And so I was ! '.' mutters poor Jessie. " I thought
he had not snapped it in time. Did he really get one ? "
The tears come into her eyes, and she begs : " Please
don't show it — Please "

"Not if you're a good, obedient little girl!" says
Harry, with great magnanimity.

As for Louise, she has been silent during this. The
word " heiress " has put her into a kind of coma ; the
term " guardian " has given her a fearful start, and some-
times her eyes look at Harry Larchmont in a half -bash-
ful, half-frightened sort of way.

Then the conversation runs pleasantly on, Harry tell-



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256 BARON MONTEZ.

ing Barlow of his Isthmus adventures; some of his
stories making Miss Mintum, who has gradually been
regainigg her intellect, blush, though they make her
more tender to the man relating them, for they bring
back the days she had struggled for his life by his
bedside in the room of young George Bovee.

This talk of the Isthmus leads to talk of the Panama
Canal, Barlow remarking: "The Senate will probably
pass the Lottery Bill to-night."

" That will give the enterprise six months longer to
exist, I imagine ; but more empty pocketbooks and more
bankrupt stockholders, when the inevitable crash comes,**
rejoins Larchmont. " By the by, I wonder if the Baron
is looking after it this evening ! Eh, Jessie ? What
would you have said to journeying to Italy about now,
with his chocolate, face beside you ? "

At this Miss Severn shudders, grows pale, but says
firmly : " He has kinks in his hair. I would have said,
* No ! ' right in his face, to both notary and priest."

With this, as the dinner is over, Miss Jessie rises, and
going to the door, turns, and lifting her skirts a little,
courtesies, after manner of dancing-school children, and
says : " I bid you adieu till aprh U cigar ^ my guardian ! *'

And Louise, who has risen also, a kind of reckless
mirth coming to her, follows Jessie's example, and,
courtesying to the floor, murmurs : " Your obedient
ward, Monsieur Larchmont ! "

Then the two go off laughing towards the parlor, leav-
ing the gentlemen to cigars and coffee. But they don't
take very long over these, for Barlow says : " We owe a
little explanation to Miss Minturn about her affairs."

To this Harry replies : " Very well ! Let's get it
over ! " a curiously anxious look passing over his face.

Then the two coming into the parlor, Mr. Larchmont
takes Jessie aside, and whispers : " Would you mind run-
ning up-stairs for a little ? Mr. Barlow and I have some
business with Louise — Miss Minturn."

" Shall I not come down again ? " falters Jessie.

" No, perhaps you had better not. Perhaps it would
be well to bid Mr. Barlow good-evening now ! I im-
agine you have lessons to learn ! "

At which Miss Jessie astonishes him. She says :
" Yes, and you have something to say to Louise. But —



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BARON MONTEZ. 257

I'll be down to congratulate ! " and so with a bow to
Barlow moves out of the room.

Then Harry and Mr. Barlow go into a business con-
versation with Miss Minturn.

Mr. Larchmont says : " I have received a number of
millions of francs in trust for three creditors of Baron
Montez. You, Miss Minturn, are the preferred creditor.
Your dividend first ! "

" My dividend on what ? "

Here the lawyer remarks : " You are the sole heir to
your mother, and she was the sole heir of her parents.
They were robbed, I understand from Mr. Larchmont,
of sixty thousand dollars on the Isthmus, in 1856. This
at interest at six per cent., for thirty-two years, com-
pounded yearly, amounts to nearly four hundred thous-
and dollars— two millions of francs."

" Oh, goodness !— So much ? '*

" Certainly ! " answers Harry, " I've computed it ! '*
and he bows before her, and says : " Behold another
American heiress ! "

Here Louise astounds the lawyer and stabs Harry to
the heart. She says in broken voice : " You, Mr. Barlow,
take it for me — you be my guardian. You can be
appointed to-morrow ! "

** Good heavens ! " cries Larchmont. " What have I
done ? Can't you trust me ? "

" Trust you ? Of course I can ! ** murmurs Louise ;
'* but two wards will be too much for you to guide."
Then she says faintly : " Yes, let Mr. Barlow be my
guardian — take care of my money — I'll leave it to his
judgment ! "

" Of course, if you ask it I can hardly refuse,'* returns
the lawyer ; " but you had better think over it till to-
morrow."

And noting that the girl is strangely agitated, Evarts
Barlow remarks : " I will go now, and see you in the
morning. Your interests this evening are thoroughly
safe in the hands of Mr. Larchmont I "

So this diplomat makes his bow, and taking Larch-
mont with him to the hall door, he whispers : " This
strain has been too much for your pretty ward. If
you're not careful, she'll require the doctor, not the
lawyer ! I'm afraid she has wounded your feelings."
17



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258 BARON MONTEZ.

" My heart ! " replies Harry, with a sigh. And Barlow
bidding him adieu, Larchmont marches in to his fate,
and goes into the great parlor where Miss Mi n turn
stands, more beautiful than ever before this evening.

It is the beauty of resolution.

As he looks at her, the laces and tissues clinging
about her exquisite figure are so still, she would seem a
.statue, were it not for the quick heaving of a maiden
bosom that throbs up white and round and trembling
beneath its laces, and a little nervous twitching of lips
that should be red, but are now pale. There is a fear
in her eye She uplifts a dainty hand almost in warning,
for he has come up to her, pride upon his face, agony
in his heart, and anguish in his eyes, and said sternly :
" How dare you do it ? '*

"Do what?"

** Refuse to accept me as your guardian ! Imply I
was not worthy of the trust — I, who think more of it
than any man upon earth ! "

"Oh," says the girl, *' I presume I can choose my
mentor — I have arrived at years of discretion enough for
that ! " Then she falters : " Let me go away ! I — I have
saved your bride for you ! "

• " Have you ? '* mutters Harry, surlily. " That's some
little blessing ! '*

" Yes — let me go away "

" Not out of this house to-night ! *'

" Why not ? "

" Because I forbid you ! " answers Harry. " To-mor-
row you may have Barlow— or any one else you like —
but to-day the courts of France made me your guardian —
and to night you obey me /"

"You forget — to-morrow — you are not my guardian
then ! Let me go ! May you be happy I " And, fearing for
herself, Louise glides towards the door. But his hand is
upon her white arm, and his voice whispers : " Not with-
out me ! "

On this the girl pulls herself away, faces him with eyes
that blaze like stars, and stabs him with these cutting
words : " Do you want to compel me to run away from
you as I did from Montez that awful night ? '*

" Why won't you have me for your guardian ? '*

" One ward is enough ! "



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BARON MONTEZ. 259

" Ah ! You are jealous of Jessie ! **

" Pish ! Of that child ? "

" Yes — jealous of her ! " answers Harry, who has dis-
covered that the Roman way is the only true method of
winning this Sabine virgin. Then he astounds and petri-
fies her, for he murmurs : " You love me ! "

" I ? My Heaven ! How dare you ?" And the girl is
before him with flaming eyes.

But he smites her with : '* Because I have your
diary! "

** Impossible ! "
. " Yes, from Mrs. Winterburn in Panama ! "

" Ah ! the traitress ! " Louise's hands fly to her affright-
ed face ; she bows her drooping head, tell-fcale blushes
cover her face, her neck, and even her snowy shoulders,
making what had been glistening white, gleaming pink.
But she forces herself to again look at this man, and her
eyes seem to be scornful, and disdain is on her lips, as she
mutters : " And you dared to read it .^^ "

" No I "

" Then how did you discover ? '*

" Ah ! I have you— ah ! "

" O Heaven ! "

" A bunch of violets and a card dropped out of it — my
tokens of the blizzard. They were mine before — they are
mine now ! " cries Harry, and pulls them out of his breast
and kisses them. Then he says tenderly : " I stole your
confession — I give you mine I I love you with my soul !
good angel of my life — whose scorn kept me from mak-
ing a fool of myself in Panama — whose kind nursing
saved me from the fever ! I love you ! Without you for
my wife, life has but little for me — what does the kind
nurse — who saved it in far-away Panama — say?"

And Louise stands fluttering before him — loveliness
personified — loveliness astounded — loveliness in doubt
— loveliness blushing — loveliness that is about to be
happy ; for a sturdy arm that has played in many a
foot-ball game is round her waist, and is giving her
such a grip as never Princeton man received in college
jouissance.

The girl gives no answer save a little sigh ; she has
almost fainted in his arms. But a moment after, her
happy eyes seek his, and she falters : " Was it only to



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26o BARON MONTEZ.

save your brother? Was it only to save your fortune
you went to Panama ? "

" That at first/* answers Harry, stoutly. ** But after-
wards I fought to be rich enough to put you in the place
in society that you will adorn ! " Then he queries : " Shall
1 continue to be your guardian ? Shall I tell Barlow he
need not oust me in court to-morrow ? "

** Since you are going to be my permanent guide,"
returns the young lady with a piquant moue^ ** I suppose
you might as well get into practice as my guardian."

" Then may God treat me as I treat you ! "

There are tears in her beautiful eyes, there are kisses
on her cherry lips, as Louise says playfully : " Dear
Guardy ! I shall give you even more trouble than Jessie ! "

" Then I will cut my guardianship very short ! " cries
Larch mont, a gleam of joy flying into his face as he walks
up to the girl, who can't now meet his eyes, as his arm
goes around her waist again. For he says : " I, Harry
Sturgis Larchmont of New York, demand of you, Harry
Sturgis Larchmont, at present of Paris, the hand of your
ward. Miss Louise Ripley Minturn, in marriage ! And I,
Harry Sturgis Larchmont, guardian of said young lady,
accept your proposition, my worthy young man, for I
have a deuced good opinion of you, and solemnly be-
troth her to you, and announce that the nuptials shall
take place within the month.*'

" Within the month ! " falters Louise. ** But I have
only known you four ! '*

" Yes, but guardians must be obeyed ! "

Then there are more kisses, and Mr. Larchmont walks
out, and mutters to himself : " By Jove ! that was a
harder battle than I had with the Baron this morning ! "

About half an hour afterward, meeting his friend
Barlow at the Cafd de la Paix^ he says : " You need not
make any motion about that guardianship business !
The young lady has had the good taste to accept me,
after all ! "

"As a guardian?** asks Barlow, in tones of cross-
examination.

** As a husband as well !" remarks Larchmont, "and
the sooner you get to work at the wedding settlements,
the better it will please both the guardian and ward."


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