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Parker's Private Secretary

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Tiio story I im to teil relates to an incident in tli3 history otEngland wbioh you will ruit find in üooks, but which, nevertheless, had agreat effect ou her dtstiniis. About tho bcginning of thia century, while tho Revolutiooary war was raufing, communication iu oipher was natural!y very prevalont, and ingenuity was tiixcd to the utmost, on ono hand to nveiit, and on tho other to dot-eet the medium uscd iu secret corresj ondence. As a rule, tho deoipherer had beaten the oiphers, and do known meilied wus securo of di-teotioa. If canveiitional signa mevely were nsed, the recurrence of die differer.t wymbo's gave a koy easily followed out. Sorne iugenious spirits corresponcied by refere::ce to lbo pages and liues of particular editious of books - methods, although they might preserve the secreta, disclosod bat was oftcn quiie as dtiugerous, that there was a secret. I ma about to to teil yoü of a plan wbioh fr a loug time WM not o;ily uiidetected. but unsiipected. It was at the time wlien t!o first Napoleon had assimbled bia fleet and transporta at Breet, with the ostensible, and bb is generally believêd, the real view of making a desecut ou Ergland. The greatest precutiöns wcro observed by the Euglisb GoTernment in regard to eorreBpondence from Franoe, and auy amount of espionado was praodced at - ti ffioe, which left Sir Jaméb (ra ham's subsequent perfurmers in that line f'ar behiod. ïhe naüonal exciteinent was intense, aud the poJilical departments of the overnment were aduiiuisteud witb an iron sway. Wy unele, Hir Georgo Trovor, wa?, all tho o:lil then knew, high iu the Admiralty, a:.d as it was Irom biin that 1 heard this anecdote, its veracity may be dt pended 00. The dispatches to and from the Ad miralty were the subjeetso! tbc greatest vigilancc', end tKe mest elringcnl regulatons. The olerks were not permitted to send or receivo letters which were uot first gubmitted to the chief clerk ; and it was believêd that letters addressed even to private remdeuees were freiuently opened at the postoffiee. At the time I speak of, the cbief clerk eldcrly man of the name of Parker - :i wizened, iry, dapper individual, so iiubucd with tho ofEeial tinoture of Wbiteball that it had become second nature to him. ile livcd und brcathed, and thought and slept solely for the Admiralty, and knew uo other pleasure or care, He was wilhal a gei.ial and kindly soul, koen and encrgeiio in the affaire of his oliice, and in uil othera a mere cbi:d. He had as bis priva e georetary a younp fellow of the name of Buuuinont, who wan i!C of the moet promixiug subordinates iti (he establisbmeDt. He was modest aud unaesumiag, very good looking, wilb a countenance sugaeeuveof dcpresiion and melanoboly. Ho was evidontly of gnod educution, and probably well boin a'so, for bis manncis were easy, aud indicatod good brreding. He wus a naíive of Jersey, and had been introduced to the cotice Öf Admiralty authorities by soiüe influentiul member of Parliameni. Ile was tnuch likediu the offico, and discharged bis dulies to pcrfectioOi On; Hjornin: Pavker presented himgelf befcre my unelo witb a vis;igo pale with woe, aud Iretiibliug wilh exci tement, 'Why, what is the matter, Parlier ? Has Bonaparte come ?" "Ho may have, for aught I know," siiid Parker. "ïhiugs aro all wrong, tíir George I" "Wbat is wrong?" "The lottors aro wrong. There is a spy among us. I havo known it for a ong time, r.oiv I am quite sure ; but I canno1 fiod him out." Parker want on t explain thal ho had for eome time suspected that some oue in the office commuoicated their private information and dispatohes otitside. ilo h:.d rcdoublcd bis p! eeautioDg'; but, more than ever confirmed in liis sus picione, was eutircly baffled in bis ciideavois todetect tbc culprit, "But, Parker," said my unele, "how do you come to bo ho miro that your seerets bavu traospired?" 'By iJie funds, Sir George. They answer to the uews aa suroly is the ioli rope. I find thetn going U) and down h8 if they weio f-itt i ut; iu tho office," said Parker, personilying the stock txcbiiiiL'e for a moment. "Have all the letters of tbo clerks been examined -strictly ?" "'es!, I read thetn all myself." "Find lictliing iu thtin ?" "Migbty little. Some are from homo, and sume from friendo but most of them fiom sweetlicarls," said Parker, twisting bis face ioto a grim Miiile, "uud rum thiugs they say iu them." "Aud the youug wen's letters, ar they rem, too?" 'Tl ov are more earefol lile, as tbev know I am to seo tliom ; but Lord, e&ve yon, sir, they are all uu'; notaba-portl of h lm in them." "Tliig matter must bo seen te," gak my uncle. "Ihiivehad my own :uid gil logg on the samo tubjuut. Jiring uie all the letters which to aiid me pent by tho clerks fur tlie next wtek There is no reatoo why you should have all the rum things to yourt'eif." So my unele had ibe letters for a Week, and found them very miich ns Parker bad described thern. The sus picious symptoms iucreaaed ; tho stock exohaoge responded more sensitivel} than ever; but uot tho slightest ground for suapeoting any one transpirad, My unole was bewildurod, and Parker was r.ij)i(ily verging to insanity. "It is otrtainly not tho clerks," bí my uoole. "There is no treason there," said he, pushir.g back the letters of the day. "By the wiy, how doC9 young Beaumoot get on ? She seeins a niee oreature, thut sister of Lis, to judgo by tlie lottt-rs " "Ho is the best hand in the office, a long sight; uud his sister is a very ladylike oreature. They are orplians, poor thiüg, aiid hu supports her uut of liis salary. She callcd at the office to non tbs ago, and I gave him lo:ive tosoe ïer for a few momont3 in my room. int he koen t was againtt tho rules, nul has not seen her since." "But what are we to do f" said my unclo. 'I thiuk I will spenk to tho Jirat Lord."' 80 ho ppoke to the First Lord, who holight tho afiair serieus enough. ' It must be in the letters," said he. "It caunoi be ia the letters," said my uncTc. "As you pleaso, snid the chief ; "but lthough you eannot h'ud it there, per' inps another can. 1 would try an exiert." My uncle had go faith in experts or 3ow street runners, and miatrusted hem. But lic could not refute to try he experiment sujjgcsted. So the most xperieDoed decipherer in Loudon was ummoned into eouneil, and to liim tbc etters ol the day were eecre'Jy submit ed. Ho read them all very cnrefully, lookd at them in tho light, aud looked at lie Iií lit through the:u. At last he put hem a!l usideexceptiug ouu from Eliuor Jeaumoot. "Who U the lady th writes this ?" aid tha taciturn man of skill at last. "A very sweet yonDg woman," sait] 'arker, emartly ; "sister of my private eerctary." "Dot-a tho write often ?:) "ïcs, pIio id bis oniy correspondont, D(i writcs ubuut twice a week." '■U'hero doos she live ?" "Sho lives in Jersey, fo Beaumonl told me. Tbcir futlier was 'm buHiness t here.:' 'And does she always writc aboutthe itiie tort of thhiys - uuut's rbeumatism, tionics, equire's tea partics, und the !ke T' "Muob tbc satne, excopting when she peaks of ]3eaumont himnelf "Hum !":aid tïio expert. 11 Well, eir," iaid my ancle, wbo was atlicr impatieiit of tho man of skill's lompoeity, 'aud what may 'hum' ■ean ? Have the young woman and h r aunt'e rheurnatiaiii doao the ruishief?" "Hum ! Sho dates from Fleet street." "Aud why should i-he not date from Jeet street ! ' "I tshould bo sorry to prevent lier," lid tho unmovcd philosophcr. "Hus lis correspoudence continucd long?" "Oh, ves - a couple of years or po, ut not nearly so regulurly as lattly." ''Pur how long reulurly ?" "Abottt two mouths." "That is about the timo when you rst pugpected the betrayal of confience Í" 'Keally, my friend, if you eao't Bee urther into a millstonc than that you ïay give up tho profepsion," said my uclo. "Take iny vord for it the ISeaumonts have uothing to do with it. Rubish ?" "Hum I" And wih tbat the man of sill took his hot and departed, eaying ie would returo in two days. '1 he two uys, howevcT, wcro five beforo he ciuie jack, and was agaici closeted vith my nele and Parker, with whom he had allen iu (,reat disfavor. "Wunts to make a job," said tho later - "a regular humbug." "Sir Geurde," said the regular humag, "has Beauraont a lockcd desk in ïis room ?" "Ycs, fir," said Parker, ho has." "Have you a key nhich will open it ?" "1 have - aud what of that ?" "I wifh to have tho desk opencd vvithut his kuowUdge, and the conteut rou.;ht to uie." "And on vvhat pretense," said my nole, "do you prnpose to put this iuult on a man against whom there is no easonablo grour.d of suspiciun, and who as not beeu allowed to speak for him elf?" "Thero need bo no insult, for he will ;now nothingof it ; neither will any ouc lse." "I will not permif t, sir." "Bat," said Parter) whosc official noous made him unwi]]ing to bretik off ie ntgotiations in this manner, ''what iretenae have you for doing this to Jcaumont a:;d not to tho other ekrks?" "ihall I teil you ? There isno sueh erson as Eliuor Beaumont, and tho ad ress in Fleet Street f B notorioas haunt f Mipected foreigoefi." ' GkoH gracious !" paid tny uncle, hanging color, "you dou't say that ?" "Itisafaot; but you wül neo the eceRsity of being cautious and eilent in iio matter. DeteotlOD hantrs on a bread, as it stands, and a whisper will reak it." ''What do you mean," paid Parker, about Elinor Beaumont? I have ceen ïer V" "There is 110 Elinor Beanmont in ersey. I sent aud havo ascerhiincd the act" ''I am siiro there is eorne mistako bout all this, which Bcnumont eau clear up. Let us send for him." "If you do tho game is up. I trust, n fact, ho does not know of my visits. We cunnot be too cautious iu this matter I" "Pedantic ass," muttered my uucle; "but I suppose we had botter give liim his own wuy. If you meet Parker and a e Lere at Beven to-night, wo hall hitve this wondorful desk oponed, and your great diaooveries shall be made." Tli y i! et fgain that eveniii-. The desk w.iS opeuud by Parker, and a bondis ol letters, carelully paoked up, all froin Iilinor Beaumont, and a qtuntity of cirouliirs, play büla and shop reoeipta were bnndod'tn the export. Tha( gentleman read tbrongh the letters oud Hccwcd miiuh struck by the iMt. "ltead tliat," said ho, handing it to my uncle. Asho lutter s importaut, I give it eutire : 130 Flbbi St., Sept. 23, 1803. My Dar Oharles-AMhoagh we had an adverse wind all the way, we made without iliiücnlty the port we were bound for. My annt, Iu splte of her Bfly years, enjoyed the tflpmuch and Ia ready tosall agaln. 1 hope you wlll thlnk of sencling the line yon promised on the 25th, and come ymir8elf,-as our party is now ïmicii smaller and we Bhonld enjoy the Visit. Wlicu ! w;is in London last ivcck I saw yourcousin Harry, fresh from Wlndsor. There 1 8 but llttle change to be observed In liini- not as ïmieli as you wuuld expect. Come to u.s on Frlday, Yonrs very aSbclionatelv, K.B. My anale rcad tb is out load, from beginning to end, and thon iaid, "Do you see anything auspicious iu that ? It soems to me very innocent." "Hum ! it may bc. Was tb ere anything elso in the desk ?"eaid be, addrejsng Parker. 'Toa may go and look," growled that jotentato; and he lod the way, the cx)ert foltowing. The desk was quite empty with the oxeeption of two or three sarips of wasto ïaper. On one of these tho exjioi t wunced upon and returned with au üir of elation to the other room. He tbcn mfolded the serap of paper, discloseiT a ïalf sheet exactly the size of the paper on wl.ich Elinor Beaumont's letters were vrit'en, ia which oblong hules at atérrala had Been cut. He then plaetd this half sheet orer ho letter, and banded botb, thus placed o my uncle, whoso astonished eyes rend he following words nhich the holes left vieiblo: "Fleet wind bound. Pifty sail of tho ino. Twenty-five smaller. Should the j irind uhanga expect us on Priday." "The devil !" said my ocle; "and' elson ordered off to the West Indies." i Then was there, as you may euppoe, ! iurr,ing and sourrying, and rur.niugaud ■ bnsiug aud dispatc'uing of goverumetit ouriers, and somaphore tetegraphs, and arrier pigeons, and all the old world , noaue of óommnnieatioD thon in faahion. "ie key thus obtained düclosed the whole correspondenoe which tumtd out o be a conuecting series of letters from he French Government, smugglcd into ! fersoy. Tho rest history knows ; the ntüudcd evnsion was abacdrtied and Napoleon went elaewhere. '■Kut what put you on the cent ?" i sked my unole aftervvurds, with many ipologies to the expert. "I suspected the trick from tho first, lthough it was a very good specimen of t. The le'.tcrs were too innocent, and oo litUo point iu them. But tbey were done with admirable skill. The grammar was complete ; and the little dota or narks which burg!ars use to guide them i) wiïting the words wbich. are to be ead were euiirely absent. Tho way in vhich the deception ia cffeoted is this : 'ho oorreapoiidents, before oommenoing, iike a tlieet of paper, and cut holes in it vhieli, of coursu, in the two half sheets sactly correspond. They cach take De-half aboet, apd wLen the letter ia to e writteo, tho writer so arrangea tho words that those intended to read shiill ppear in lbo holes when the half sheet 8 placed over tho paper, which is of the ame size. Wbou his correspondent reeivcs the letter, be places his half sheet ver it and reads tho wordH as you did. 'ho difliculty, whichwás well conquerod n the case, is to make the senso run uently aud to prevent uny visible break D the wiiting. Without the half sheet jitli the holes in it, no one can have the lightest clue to the real ineaiiiuí. My suspicions, once uroueed, werb onfiriiu'd by the nquiriea which I nide. Tho wholo story about the eister was a fiibrication. The letters did enne rom Jersey, the auswers went to Fleet treot to the chargo cf very notorioui 'oreign agcuts. fiut it our Iriend had lot heen fooi cnough to leave his half heet iu his desk, we might have groped u vuin for tho mys'.ery. Beaumont disuppaared tbat very iglit, and was uever bcard of agtiin at he Admiralty. It transpired afterwards hat some accomplice had warned him f the expait's visita to tho Admirulty, nd his inquines in Jersey. Ho had nude an attornpt to get adniittanco to iis room, but was scared by the sounds ie heard, and coutrivcd to escape to trance. Tho lady who acted the sister, ud who visited the Admiralty, ' partly o put the authnrities off their auard, nd [robably also to interchangc the koy o tho oipher, was a Pariaian celebrity vho both before and afterward was reowued for her daring in olitical inriguo.


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