Part 3 out of 6
Restante at Charing Cross."
"What names?" asked Hugh, highly interested.
"Oh! a number. They are always being changed," the French girl
"Where do you write when you want to communicate with him?"
"Generally to the Poste Restante in the Avenue de l'Opera, in Paris.
Letters received there are collected for him and forwarded every day."
"And so clever is he that nobody suspects him--eh?"
"Exactly, m'sieur. His policy is always '/Rengraciez/!' and he cares
not a single /rotin/ for /La Reniffe/," she replied, dropping again
into the slang of French thieves.
"Of course he is on friendly terms with Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo?"
Hugh remarked. "He may have been at Monte Carlo on the night of the
"He may have been. He was, no doubt, somewhere on the Riviera, and he
sent Paolo in one of the cars to rescue you from the police."
"In that case, he at least knows that I am innocent."
"Yes. And he probably knows the guilty person. That would account for
the interest he takes in you, though you do not know him," said
Lisette. "I have known Il Passero perform many kindly acts to persons
in distress who have never dreamed that they have received money from
a notorious international thief."
"Well, in my case he has, no doubt, done me signal service," young
Henfrey replied. "But," he added, "why cannot you tell me something
more concerning Mademoiselle? What did you mean by saying that she was
a /marque de ce/? I know it is your slang, but won't you explain what
it means? You have explained most of your other expressions."
But the girl thief was obdurate. She was certainly a /chic/ and
engaging little person, apparently well educated and refined, but she
was as sly as her notorious employer, whom she served so faithfully.
She was, she had already told Hugh, the daughter of a man who had made
jewel thefts his speciality and after many convictions was now serving
ten years at the convict prison at Toulon. She had been bred in the
Montmartre, and trained and educated to a criminal life. Il Passero
had found her, and, after several times successfully "indicating"
where coups could be made, she had been taken into his employment as a
decoy, frequently travelling on the international /wagon-lits/ and
restaurants, where she succeeded in attracting the attention of men
and holding them in conversation with a mild flirtation while other
members of the gang investigated the contents of their valises. From
one well-known diamond dealer travelling between Paris and Amsterdam,
she and the man working with her had stolen a packet containing
diamonds of the value of two hundred thousand francs, while from an
English business man travelling from Boulogne to Paris, two days
later, she had herself taken a wallet containing nearly four thousand
pounds in English bank-notes. It was her share of the recent robbery
that Il Passero had paid her three days before at the Concordia
Restaurant in the Via Garibaldi, in Genoa.
Hugh pressed her many times to tell him something concerning the
mysterious Mademoiselle, but he failed to elicit any further
information of interest.
"Her fortune at the Rooms is wonderful, they say," Lisette said. "She
must be very rich."
"But she is one of Il Passero's assistants--eh?"
The girl laughed lightly.
"Perhaps," was her enigmatical reply. "Who knows? It is, however,
evident that Il Passero is seriously concerned at the tragic affair at
the Villa Amette."
"Have you ever been there?"
She hesitated a few moments, then said: "Yes, once."
"And you know the old Italian servant Cataldi?"
She replied in the affirmative. Then she added:
"I know him, but I do not like him. She trusts him, but----"
"I would not. I should be afraid, for to my knowledge he is a
/saigneur a musique/."
"And what is that?"
"What?" cried Henfrey. "Is he guilty of murder--and Mademoiselle knows
"Mademoiselle may not know about it. She is probably in ignorance, or
she would not employ him."
Her remark was of considerable interest, inasmuch as old Cataldi had
seemed to be most devoted to his mistress, and entirely trusted by
"Do you know the circumstances?" asked Hugh.
"Yes. But it is not our habit to speak of another's--well,
shortcomings," was her reply.
"Surely, Mademoiselle should have been told the truth! Does not Il
Passero know?" he asked.
There flitted across his mind at that moment the recollection of
Dorise. What could she think of his disappearance? He longed to write
to her, but The Sparrow's chauffeur had impressed upon him the serious
danger he would be running if he wrote to her while she was at Monte
"I question whether he does know. But if he does he would say
"Ah!" sighed Hugh. "Yours is indeed a queer world, mademoiselle. And
not without interest."
"It is full of adventure and excitement, of ups and downs, of constant
travel and change, and of eternal apprehension of arrest," replied the
girl, with a laugh.
"I wish you would tell me something about Yvonne Ferad," he repeated.
"Alas! m'sieur, I am not permitted," was her obdurate reply. "I am
truly sorry to hear of the dastardly attack upon her. She once did me
a very kind and friendly action at a moment when I was in sore need of
"Who could have fired the shot, do you think?" Henfrey asked. "You
know her friends. Perhaps you know her enemies?"
Mademoiselle Lisette was silent for some moments.
"Yes," she replied reflectively. "She has enemies, I know. But who has
"Is there any person who, to your knowledge, would have any motive to
Again she was silent.
"There are several people who hate her. One of them might have done it
out of revenge. You say you saw nobody?"
"Why did you go and see her at that hour?" asked the girl.
"Because I wanted her to tell me something--something of greatest
importance to me."
"And she refused, of course? She keeps her own secrets."
"No. On the other hand, she was about to disclose to me the
information I sought when someone fired through the open window."
"The shot might have been intended for you--eh?"
"It certainly might," he admitted. "But with what motive?"
"To prevent you from learning the truth."
"She was on the point of telling me what I wanted to know."
"Exactly. And what more likely than someone outside, realizing that
Mademoiselle was about to make a disclosure, fired at you."
"But you said that Mademoiselle had enemies."
"So she has. But I think my theory is the correct one," replied the
girl. "What was it that you asked her to reveal to you?"
"Well," he replied, after a brief hesitation, "my father died
mysteriously in London some time ago, and I have reason to believe
that she knows the truth concerning the sad affair."
"Where did it happen?"
"My father was found in the early morning lying in a doorway in
Albemarle Street, close to Piccadilly. The only wound found was a
slight scratch in the palm of the hand. The police constable at first
thought he was intoxicated, but the doctor, on being called, declared
that my father was suffering from poison. He was at once taken to St.
George's Hospital, but an hour later he died without recovering
"And what was your father's name?" asked Lisette in a strangely
"Henfrey!" gasped the girl, starting up at mention of the name.
"/Henfrey/! And--and are--you--/his son/?"
"Yes," replied Hugh. "Why? You know about the affair, mademoiselle!
Tell me all you know," he cried. "I--the son of the dead man--have a
right to demand the truth."
"Henfrey!" repeated the girl hoarsely in a state of intense agitation.
"Monsieur Henfrey! And--and to think that I am here--with you--/his
son/! Ah! forgive me!" she gasped. "I--I---- Let us return."
"But you shall tell me the truth!" cried Hugh excitedly. "You know it!
You cannot deny that you know it!"
All, however, he could get from her were the words:
"You--Monsieur Henfrey's son! /Surely Il Passero does not know this/!"
MORE ABOUT THE SPARROW
A month of weary anxiety and nervous tension had gone by.
Yvonne Ferad had slowly struggled back to health, but the injury to
the brain had, alas! seriously upset the balance of her mind. Three of
the greatest French specialists upon mental diseases had seen her and
expressed little hope of her ever regaining her reason.
It was a sad affair which the police of Monaco had, by dint of much
bribery and the telling of many untruths, successfully kept out of the
The evening after Hugh's disappearance, Monsieur Ogier had called upon
Dorise Ranscomb--her mother happily being away at the Rooms at the
time. In one of the sitting-rooms of the hotel the official of police
closely questioned the girl, but she, of course made pretense of
complete ignorance. Naturally Ogier was annoyed at being unable to
obtain the slightest information, and after being very rude, he told
the girl the charge against her lover and then left the hotel in
Lady Ranscomb was very much mystified at Hugh's disappearance, though
secretly she was very glad. She questioned Brock, but he, on his part,
expressed himself very much puzzled. A week later, however, Walter
returned to London, and on the following night Lady Ranscomb and her
daughter took the train-de-luxe for Boulogne, and duly arrived home.
As day followed day, Dorise grew more mystified and still more anxious
concerning Hugh. What was the truth? She had written to Brussels three
times, but her letters had elicited no response. He might be already
under arrest, for aught she knew. Besides, she could not rid herself
of the recollection of the white cavalier, that mysterious masker who
had told her of her lover's escape.
In this state of keen anxiety and overstrung nerves she was compelled
to meet almost daily, and be civil to, her mother's friend, the odious
Lady Ranscomb was for ever singing the man's praises, and never weary
of expressing her surprise at Hugh's unforgivable behaviour.
"He simply disappeared, and nobody has heard a word of him since!" she
remarked one day as they sat at breakfast. "I'm quite certain he's
done something wrong. I've never liked him, Dorise."
"You don't like him, mother, because he hasn't money," remarked the
girl bitterly. "If he were rich and entertained you, you would call
him a delightful man!"
"Dorise! What are you saying? What's the good of life without money?"
queried the widow of the great contractor.
"Everyone can't be rich," the girl averred simply. "I think it's
positively hateful to judge people by their pockets."
"Well, has Hugh written to you?" snapped her mother.
Dorise replied in the negative, stifling a sigh.
"And he isn't likely to. He's probably hiding somewhere. I wonder what
"Nothing. I'm sure of that!"
"Well, I'm not so sure," was her mother's response. "I was chatting
about it to Mr. Sherrard last night, and he's promised to make
"Let Mr. Sherrard inquire as much as he likes," cried the girl
angrily. "He'll find nothing against Hugh, except that he's poor."
"H'm! And he's been far too much in your company of late, Dorise.
People were beginning to talk at Monte Carlo."
"Oh! Let them talk, mother! I don't care a scrap. I'm my own
"Yes, but I tell you frankly that I'm very glad that we've seen the
last of the fellow."
"Mother! You are really horrid!" cried the girl, rising abruptly and
leaving the table. When out of the room she burst into tears.
Poor girl, her heart was indeed full.
Now it happened that early on that same morning Hugh Henfrey stepped
from a train which had brought him from Aix-la-Chapelle to the Gare du
Nord, in Brussels. He had spent three weeks with the Raveccas, in
Genoa, whence he had travelled to Milan and Bale, and on into Belgium
by way of Germany.
From Lisette he had failed to elicit any further facts concerning his
father's death, though it was apparent that she knew something about
it--something she dared not tell.
On the day following their midnight stroll, he had done all in his
power to induce her to reveal something at least of the affair, but,
alas! to no avail. Then, two days later, she had suddenly left--at
orders of The Sparrow, she said.
Before Hugh left Ravecca had given him eighty pounds in English notes,
saying that he acted at Il Passero's orders, for Hugh would no doubt
need the money, and it would be most dangerous for him to write to his
At first Henfrey protested, but, as his funds were nearly exhausted,
he had accepted the money.
As he left the station in Brussels on that bright spring morning and
crossed the busy Place, he was wondering to what hotel he should go.
He had left his scanty luggage in the /consigne/, intending to go out
on foot and search for some cheap and obscure hotel, there being many
such in the vicinity of the station. After half an hour he chose a
small and apparently clean little place in a narrow street off the
Place de Brouckere, and there, later on, he carried his handbag. Then,
after a wash, he set out for the Central Post Office in the Place de
He had not gone far along the busy boulevard when he was startled to
hear his name uttered from behind, and, turning, encountered a short,
thick-set little man wearing a brown overcoat.
The man, noticing the effect his words had upon him, smiled
reassuringly, and said in broken English: "It is all right! I am not a
police officer, Monsieur Henfrey. Cross the road and walk down that
street yonder. I will follow in a few moments."
And then the man walked on, leaving Hugh alone.
Much surprised, Hugh did as he was bid, and a few minutes later the
Belgian met him again.
"It is very dangerous for us to be seen together," he said quickly,
scarcely pausing as he walked. "Do not go near the Post Office, but go
straight to 14 Rue Beyaert, first floor. I shall be there awaiting
you. I have a message for you from a friend. You will find the street
close to the Porte de Hal."
And the man continued on his way, leaving Hugh in wonder. He had been
on the point of turning from the boulevard into the Place de la
Monnaie to obtain Dorise's long looked for letter. Indeed, he had been
hastening his footsteps full of keen apprehension when the stranger
had accosted him.
But in accordance with the man's suggestion, he turned back towards
the station, where he entered a taxi and drove across the city to the
corner of Rue Beyaert, a highly respectable thoroughfare. He
experienced no difficulty in finding the house indicated, and on
ascending the stairs, found the stranger awaiting him.
"Ah!" he cried. "Come in! I am glad that I discovered you! I have been
awaiting your arrival from Italy for the past fortnight. It is indeed
fortunate that I found you in time to warn you not to go to the Poste
Restante." He spoke in French, and had shown his visitor into a small
but well furnished room.
"Why?" asked Hugh. "Is there danger in that quarter?"
"Yes, Monsieur Henfrey. The French police have, by some unknown means,
discovered that you were coming here, and a strict watch is being kept
for anyone calling for letters addressed to Godfrey Brown."
"But how could they know?" asked Hugh.
"Ah! That is the mystery! Perhaps your lady friend has been
indiscreet. She was told in strict confidence, and was warned that
your safety was in her hands."
"Surely, Dorise would be most careful not to betray me!" cried the
"Well, somebody undoubtedly has."
"I presume you are one of Il Passero's friends?" Hugh said with a
"Yes. Hence I am your friend," was the reply.
"Have you heard of late how Mademoiselle Yvonne is progressing?"
The man, who told his visitor his name was Jules Vervoort, shook his
"She is no better. I heard last week that the doctors have said that
she will never recover her mental balance."
"What! Is she demented?"
"Yes. The report I had was that she recognized nobody, except at
intervals she knows her Italian manservant and calls him by name. I
was ordered to tell you this."
"Ordered by Il Passero--eh?"
The man Vervoort nodded in the affirmative. Then he went on to warn
his visitor that the Brussels police were on the eager watch for his
arrival. "It is fortunate that you were not recognized when you came
this morning," he said. "I had secret warning and was at the station,
but I dared not approach you. You passed under the very nose of two
detectives, but luckily for you, their attention had been diverted to
a woman who is a well-known pickpocket. I followed you to your hotel
and then waited for you to go to the Poste Restante."
"But I want my letters," said Hugh.
"Naturally, but it is far too dangerous to go near there. You, of
course, want news of your lady friend. That you will have by special
messenger very soon. Therefore remain patient."
"Why are all these precautions being taken to prevent my arrest?" Hugh
asked. "I confess I don't understand it."
"Neither do I. But when Il Passero commands we all obey."
"You are, I presume, his agent in Brussels?"
"His friend--not his agent," Vervoort replied with a smile.
"Do you know Mademoiselle Lisette?" Hugh asked. "She was with me in
"Yes. We have met. A very clever little person. Il Passero thinks very
highly of her. She has been educated in the higher schools, and is
perhaps one of our cleverest decoys."
Hugh Henfrey paused.
"Now look here, Monsieur Vervoort," he exclaimed at last, "I'm very
much in the dark about all this curious business. Lisette knows a lot
concerning Mademoiselle Yvonne."
"Admitted. She acted once as her maid, I believe, in some big affair.
But I don't know much about it."
"Well, you know what happened at the Villa Amette that night? Have you
any idea of the identity of the person who shot poor Mademoiselle--the
lady they call Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo?"
"Not in the least," was the reply. "All I know is that Il Passero has
some very keen and personal interest in the affair. He has sent
further orders to you. It is imperative, he says, that you should get
away from Brussels. The police are too keen here."
"Where shall I go?"
"I suggest that you go at once to Malines. Go to Madame Maupoil, 208
Rue de Stassart, opposite the Military Hospital. It is far too
dangerous for you to remain here in Brussels. I have already written
that you are coming. Her house is one of the sanctuaries of the
friends of Il Passero. Remember the name and address."
"The Sparrow seems to be ubiquitous," Hugh remarked.
"He is. No really great robbery can be accomplished unless he plans
and finances it."
"I cannot think why he takes so keen an interest in me."
"He often does in persons who are quite ignorant of his existence."
"That is my own case. I never heard of him until I was in Genoa, a
fugitive," said Hugh. "But you told me I shall receive a message from
Miss Ranscomb by special messenger. When?"
"When you are in Malines."
"But all this is very strange. Will the mysterious messenger call upon
Miss Ranscomb in London?"
"Of course. Il Passero has several messengers who travel to and fro in
secret. Mademoiselle Lisette was once one of them. She has travelled
many times the length and breadth of Europe. But nowadays she is an
indicator--and a very clever one indeed," he added with a laugh.
"I suppose I had better get away to Malines without delay?" Hugh
"Yes. Go to your hotel, pay them for your room and get your valise. I
shall be waiting for you at noon in a car in the Rue Gretry, close to
the Palais d'Ete. Then we can slip away to Malines. Have you
sufficient money? If not, I can give you some. Il Passero has ordered
me to do so."
"Thanks," replied Hugh. "I have enough for the present. My only desire
is to be back again in London."
"Ah! I am afraid that is not possible for some time to come."
"But I shall hear from Miss Ranscomb?"
"Oh, yes. The messenger will come to you in Malines."
"Who is the messenger?"
"Of that I have no knowledge," was Vervoort's reply. He seemed a very
refined man, and was no doubt an extremely clever crook. He said
little of himself, but sufficient to cause Hugh to realize that his
was one of the master minds of underground Europe.
The young Englishman was naturally eager to further penetrate the veil
of mystery surrounding Mademoiselle Yvonne, but he learned little or
nothing. Vervoort either knew nothing, or else refused to disclose
what he knew. Which, Hugh could not exactly decide.
Therefore, in accordance with the Belgian's instructions, he left the
house and at noon carried his valise to the Rue Gretry, where he found
his friend awaiting him in a closed car, which quickly moved off out
of the city by the Laeken road. Travelling by way of Vilvorde they
were within an hour in old-world Malines, famous for its magnificent
cathedral and its musical carillon. Crossing the Louvain Canal and
entering by the Porte de Bruxelles, they were soon in an inartistic
cobbled street under the shadow of St. Rombold, and a few minutes
later Hugh was introduced to a short, stout Belgian woman, Madame
Maupoil. The place was meagrely furnished, but scrupulously clean. The
floor of the room to which Hugh was shown shone with beeswax, and the
walls were whitewashed.
"I hope monsieur will make himself quite comfortable," madame said, a
broad smile of welcome upon her round face.
"You will be comfortable enough under madame's care," Vervoort assured
him. "She has had some well-known guests before now."
"True, monsieur. More than one of them have been world-famous and--
well--believed to be perfectly honest and upright."
"Yes," laughed Vervoort. "Do you remember the English ex-member of
"Ah! He was with me nearly four months when supposed to be in South
America. There was a warrant out for him on account of some great
financial frauds--all of which was, of course, hushed up. But he
stayed here in strict concealment and his friends managed to get the
warrant withdrawn. He was known to Il Passero, and the latter aided
him--in return for certain facilities regarding the English police."
"What do you think of the English police, madame?" Hugh asked. The fat
woman grinned expressively and shrugged her broad shoulders.
"Since the war they have been effete as regards serious crime. At
least, that is what Il Passero told me when he was here a month ago."
"Someone is coming here to meet Monsieur Henfrey," Vervoort said. "Who
"I don't know. I only received word of it the day before yesterday. A
messenger from London, I believe."
"Well, each day I become more and more mystified," Hugh declared. "Why
Il Passero, whom I do not know, should take all this interest in me, I
"Il Passero very often assists those against whom a false charge is
laid," the woman remarked. "There is no better friend when one is in
trouble, for so clever and ubiquitous is he, and so many friends in
high quarters does he possess, that he can usually work his will. His
is the master-mind, and we obey without question."
THE STRANGER IN BOND STREET
As Dorise walked up Bond Street, smartly dressed, next afternoon, on
her way to her dressmaker's, she was followed by a well-dressed young
girl in black, dark-eyed, with well-cut, refined features, and
apparently a lady.
From Piccadilly the stranger had followed Dorise unseen, until at the
corner of Maddox Street she overtook her, and smiling, uttered her
"Yes," responded Doris in surprise. "But I regret--you have the
advantage of me?"
"Probably," replied the stranger. "Do you recollect the /bal blanc/ at
Nice and a certain white cavalier? I have a message from him to give
you in secret."
"Why in secret?" Dorise asked rather defiantly.
"Well--for certain reasons which I think you can guess," answered the
girl in black, as she strolled at Dorise's side.
"Why did not you call on me at home?"
"Because of your mother. She would probably have been a little
inquisitive. Let us go into some place--a tea-room--where we can
talk," she suggested. "I have come to see you concerning Mr. Henfrey."
"Where is he?" asked Dorise, in an instant anxious.
"Quite safe. He arrived in Malines yesterday--and is with friends."
"Has he had my letters?"
"Unfortunately, no. But do not let us talk here. Let's go in yonder,"
and she indicated the Laurel Tea Rooms, which, the hour being early,
they found, to their satisfaction, practically deserted.
At a table in the far corner they resumed their conversation.
"Why has he not received my letters?" asked Dorise. "It is nearly a
month ago since I first wrote."
"By some mysterious means the police got to know of your friend's
intended visit to Brussels to obtain his letters. Therefore, it was
too dangerous for him to go to the Poste Restante, or even to send
anyone there. The Brussels police were watching constantly. How they
have gained their knowledge is a complete mystery."
"Who sent you to me?"
"A friend of Mr. Henfrey. My instructions are to see you, and to
convey any message you may wish to send to Mr. Henfrey to him direct
"I'm sure it's awfully good of you," Dorise replied. "Does he know you
"Yes. But I have not met him. I am simply a messenger. In fact, I
travel far and wide for those who employ me."
"And who are they?"
"I regret, but they must remain nameless," said the girl, with a
Dorise was puzzled as to how the French police could have gained any
knowledge of Hugh's intentions. Then suddenly, she became horrified as
a forgotten fact flashed across her mind. She recollected how, early
in the grey morning, after her return from the ball at Nice, she had
written and addressed a letter to Hugh. On reflection, she had
realized that it was not sufficiently reassuring, so she had torn it
up and thrown it into the waste-paper basket instead of burning it.
She had, she remembered, addressed the envelope to Mr. Godfrey Brown,
at the Poste Restante in Brussels.
Was it possible that the torn fragments had fallen into the hands of
the police? She knew that they had been watching her closely. Her
surmise was, as a matter of fact, the correct one. Ogier had employed
the head chambermaid to give him the contents of Dorise's waste-paper
basket from time to time, hence the knowledge he had gained.
"Are you actually going to Malines?" asked Dorise of the girl.
"Yes. As your messenger," the other replied with a smile. "I am
leaving to-night. If you care to write him a letter, I will deliver
"Will you come with me over to the Empress Club, and I will write the
letter there?" Dorise suggested, still entirely mystified.
To this the stranger agreed, and they left the tea-shop and walked
together to the well-known ladies' club, where, while the mysterious
messenger sipped tea, Dorise sat down and wrote a long and
affectionate letter to her lover, urging him to exercise the greatest
caution and to get back to London as soon as he could.
When she had finished it, she placed it in an envelope.
"I would not address it," remarked the other girl. "It will be safer
blank, for I shall give it into his hand."
And ten minute later the mysterious girl departed, leaving Dorise to
reflect over the curious encounter.
So Hugh was in Malines. She went to the telephone, rang up Walter
Brock, and told him the reassuring news.
"In Malines?" he cried over the wire. "I wonder if I dare go there to
see him? What a dead-alive hole!"
Not until then did Dorise recollect that the girl had not given her
Hugh's address. She had, perhaps, purposely withheld it.
This fact she told Hugh's friend, who replied over the wire:
"Well, it is highly satisfactory news, in any case. We can only wait,
Miss Ranscomb. But this must relieve your mind, I feel sure."
"Yes, it does," admitted Dorise, and a few moments later she rang off.
That evening Il Passero's /chic/ messenger crossed from Dover to
Ostend, and next morning she called at Madame Maupoil's, in Malines,
where she delivered Dorise's note into Hugh's own hand. She was an
expert and hardened traveller.
Hugh eagerly devoured its contents, for it was the first communication
he had had from her since that fateful night at Monte Carlo. Then,
having thanked the girl again, and again, the latter said:
"If you wish to write back to Miss Ranscomb do so. I will address the
envelope, and as I am going to Cologne to-night I will post it on my
Hugh thanked her cordially, and while she sat chatting with Madame
Maupoil, sipping her /cafe au lait/, he sat down and wrote a long
letter to the girl he loved so deeply--a letter which reached its
destination four days later.
One morning about ten days afterwards, when the sun shone brightly
upon the fresh green of the Surrey hills, Mrs. Bond was sitting before
a fire in the pretty morning room at Shapley Manor, a room filled with
antique furniture and old blue china, reading an illustrated paper. At
the long, leaded window stood a tall, fair-faced girl in a smart navy-
suit. She was decidedly pretty, with large, soft grey eyes, dimpled
cheeks, and a small, well-formed mouth. She gazed abstractedly out of
the window over the beautiful panorama to where Hindhead rose abruptly
in the blue distance. The view from the moss-grown terrace at Shapley,
high upon the Hog's back, was surely one of the finest within a couple
of hundred miles of London.
Since Mrs. Bond's arrival there she had had many callers among the
/nouveau riche/, those persons who, having made money at the expense
of our gallant British soldiers, have now ousted half the county
families from their solid and responsible homes. Mrs. Bond, being
wealthy, had displayed her riches ostentatiously. She had subscribed
lavishly to charities both in Guildford and in Farnham, and hence,
among her callers there had been at least three magistrates and their
flat-footed wives, as well as a plethoric alderman, and half a dozen
insignificant persons possessing minor titles.
The display of wealth had always been one of Molly Maxwell's games. It
always paid. She knew that to succeed one must spend, and now, with
her recently acquired "fortune," she spent to a very considerable
"I do wish you'd go in the car to Guildford and exchange those library
books, Louise," exclaimed the handsome woman, suddenly looking up from
her paper. "We've got those horrid Brailsfords coming to lunch. I was
bound to ask them back."
"Can't you come, too?" asked the girl.
"No. I expect Mr. Benton this morning."
"I didn't know he was back from Paris. I'm so glad he's coming,"
replied the girl. "He'll stay all the afternoon, of course?"
"I hope so. Go at once and get back as soon as you can, dear. Choose
me some nice new books, won't you?"
Louise Lambert, Benton's adopted daughter, turned from the leaded
window. In the strong morning light she looked extremely charming, but
upon her countenance there was a deep, thoughtful expression, as
though she were entirely preoccupied.
"I've been thinking of Hugh Henfrey," the woman remarked suddenly. "I
wonder why he never writes to you?" she added, watching the girl's
Louise's cheeks reddened slightly, as she replied with affected
"If he doesn't care to write, I shall trouble no longer."
"He's still abroad, is he not? The last I heard of him was that he was
at Monte Carlo with that Ranscomb girl."
Mention of Dorise Ranscomb caused the girl's cheeks to colour more
"Yes," she said, "I heard that also."
"You don't seem to care very much, Louise," remarked the woman. "And
yet, he's such an awfully nice young fellow."
"You've said that dozens of times before," was Louise's abrupt reply.
"And I mean it. You could do a lot worse than to marry him, remember,
though he is a bit hard-up nowadays. But things with him will right
themselves before long."
"Why do you suggest that?" asked the girl resentfully.
"Well--because, my dear, I know that you are very fond of him," the
woman laughed. "Now, you can't deny it--can you?"
The girl, who had travelled so widely ever since she had left school,
drew a deep breath and, turning her head, gazed blankly out of the
What Mrs. Bond had said was her secret. She was very fond of Hugh.
They had not met very often, but he had attracted her--a fact of which
both Benton and his female accomplice were well aware.
"You don't reply," laughed the woman for whom the Paris Surete was
searching everywhere; "but your face betrays the truth, my dear. Don't
worry," she added in a tone of sympathy. "No doubt he'll write as soon
as he is back in England. Personally, I don't believe he really cares
a rap for the Ranscomb girl. It's only a matter of money--and Dorise
"I don't wish to hear anything about Mr. Henfrey's love affairs!"
cried the girl petulantly. "I tell you that they do not interest me."
"Because you are piqued that he does not write, child. Ah, dear, I
know!" she laughed, as the girl left the room.
A quarter of an hour later Louise was seated in the car, while Mead
drove her along the broad highway over the Hog's Back into Guildford.
The morning was delightful, the trees wore their spring green, and all
along in the fields, as they went over the high ridge, the larks were
singing gaily the music of a glad morning of the English spring, and
the view spread wide on either side.
Life in Surrey was, she found, much preferable to that on the
Continent. True, in the Rue Racine they had entertained a great deal,
and she had, during the war, met many very pleasant young English and
American officers; but the sudden journey to Switzerland, then on into
Italy, and across to New York, had been a whirl of excitement. Mrs.
Maxwell had changed her name several times, because she said that she
did not want her divorced husband, a ne'er-do-well, to know of her
whereabouts. He was for ever molesting her, she had told Louise, and
for that reason she had passed in different names.
The girl was in complete ignorance of the truth. She never dreamed
that the source of the woman's wealth was highly suspicious, or that
the constant travelling was in order to evade the police.
As she was driven along, she sat back reflecting. Truth to tell, she
was much in love with Hugh. Benton had first introduced him one night
at the Spa in Scarborough, and after that they had met several times
on the Esplanade, then again in London, and once in Paris. Yet while
she, on her part, became filled with admiration, he was, apparently,
quite unconscious of it.
At last she had heard of Hugh's infatuation for Dorise Ranscomb, the
daughter of the great engineer who had recently died, and indeed she
had met her once and been introduced to her.
Of the conditions of old Mr. Henfrey's will she was, of course, in
ignorance. The girl had no idea of the great plot which had been
formed by her foster father and his clever female friend.
The world is a strange one beneath the surface of things. Those who
passed the imposing gates of the beautiful old English manor-house
never dreamed that it sheltered one of the most notorious female
criminals in Europe. And the worshipful magistrates and their wives
who visited her would have received a rude shock had they but known.
But many modern adventuresses have been able to bamboozle the mighty.
Madame Humbert of Paris, in whose imagination were "The Humbert
Millions," used to entertain Ministers of State, aristocrats,
financiers, and others of lower degree, and show them the sealed-up
safe in which she declared reposed millions' worth of negotiable
securities which might not see the light of day until a certain date.
The avaricious, even shrewd, bankers advanced loans upon things they
had never seen, and the Humberts were the most sought-after family in
Paris until the bubble burst and they fled and were afterwards
arrested in Spain.
Molly Maxwell was a marvel of ingenuity, of criminal foresight, and of
amazing elusiveness. Louise, young and unsuspicious, looked upon her
as a mother. Benton she called "Uncle," and was always grateful to him
for all he did for her. She understood that they were cousins, and
that Benton advised Mrs. Maxwell in her disastrous matrimonial
Yet the life she had led ever since leaving school had been a truly
adventurous one. She had been in half the watering places of Europe,
and in most of its capitals, leading, with the woman who now called
herself Mrs. Bond, a most extravagant life at hotels of the first
The car at last ran into the station yard at Guildford, and at the
bookstall Louise exchanged her books with the courteous manager.
She was passing through the booking-office back to the car, when a
voice behind her called:
Turning, she found her "uncle," Charles Benton, who, wearing a light
overcoat and grey velour hat, grasped her hand.
"Well, dear," he exclaimed. "This is fortunate. Mead is here, I
"Yes, uncle," replied the girl, much gratified at meeting him.
"I was about to engage a taxi to take me up to the Manor, but now you
can take me there," said the rather handsome man. "How is Mrs. Bond?"
he asked, calling her by her new name.
"Quite well. She's expecting you to lunch. But she has some impossible
people there to-day--the Brailsfords, father, mother, and son. He made
his money in motor-cars during the war. They live over at Dorking in a
house with forty-nine bedrooms, and only fifteen years ago Mrs.
Brailsford used to do the housework herself. Now they're rolling in
money, but can't keep servants."
"Ah, my dear, it's the same everywhere," said Benton as he entered the
car after her. "I've just got back from Madrid. It is the same there.
The world is changing. Crooks prosper while white men starve. Honesty
spells ruin in these days."
They drove over the railway bridge and up the steep hill out of
Guildford seated side by side. Benton had been her "uncle" ever since
her childhood days, and a most kind and considerate one he had always
Sometimes when at school she did not see him for periods of a year or
more and she had no home to go to for holidays. Her foster-father was
abroad. Yet her school fees were paid regularly, her allowance had
been ample, and her clothes were always slightly better than those of
the other girls. Therefore, though she called him "uncle," she looked
upon Benton as her father and obeyed all his commands.
Just about noon the car swung into the gates of Shapley, and soon they
were indoors. Benton threw off his coat, and in an abrupt manner said
to the servant:
"I want to see Mrs. Bond at once."
Then, turning to Louise, he exclaimed:
"I want to see Molly privately. I have some urgent business to discuss
with her before your profiteer friends arrive."
"All right," replied the girl cheerily. "I'll leave you alone," and
she ascended the broad oak staircase, the steps of which were worn
thin by the tramp of many generations.
A few moments later Charles Benton stood in the morning-room, where
Mrs. Bond still sat before the welcome log fire.
"Back again, Charles!" she exclaimed, rising to greet him. "Well, how
"Not too well," was his reply as he closed the door. "I only got back
last night. Five days ago I saw The Sparrow at the Palace Hotel in
Madrid. He's doing all he can in young Henfrey's interests, but he is
not too hopeful."
"I can't make out," said the man, apparently much perturbed. "He wired
me to go to Madrid, and I went. But it seems that I've been on a
"That's very unsatisfactory," said the woman.
"It is, my dear Molly! From his attitude it seemed to me that he is
protecting Henfrey from some secret motive of his own--one that is not
at all in accordance with our plans."
"But he is surely acting in our interests!"
"Ah! I'm not so sure about that."
"You surprise me. He knows our intentions and approved of them!"
"His approval has, I think, been upset by the murderous attack upon
"But he surely will not act against us! If he does----"
"If he does--then we may as well throw up the sponge, Molly."
"We could give it all away to the police," remarked the woman.
"And by so doing give ourselves away!" answered Benton. "The Sparrow
has many friends in the police, recollect. Abroad, he distributes a
quantity of annual /douceurs/, and hence he is practically immune from
"I wish we were," laughed the handsome adventuress.
"Yes. We have only to dance to his tune," said he. "And the tune just
now is not one which is pleasing to us--eh?"
"You seem strangely apprehensive."
"I am. I believe that The Sparrow, while making pretence of supporting
our little affair, is in favour of Hugh's marriage with Dorise
The woman looked him straight in the face.
"He could never go back on his word!" she declared.
"The Sparrow is a curious combination of the crook--chivalrous and
philanthropic--as you already know."
"But surely, he wouldn't let us down?"
Benton paused. He was thinking deeply. A certain fact had suddenly
occurred to him.
"If he does, then we must, I suppose, do our best to expose him. I
happen to know that he has quarrelled with Henri Michaux, the under-
secretary of the Surete in Paris, who has declared that his payment is
not sufficient. Michaux is anxious to get even with him. A word from
us would result in The Sparrow's arrest."
"Excellent!" exclaimed Molly. "If we fail we can, after all, have our
revenge. But," she added, "would not he suspect us both, and, in turn,
give us away?"
"No. He will never suspect, my dear Molly. Leave it to me. Are we not
his dearest and most trusted friends?" and the man, who was as keenly
sought by the police of Europe, grinned sardonically and took a
cigarette from the big silver box on the little table at his elbow.
Week after week passed.
Spring was slowly developing into summer and the woods around
Blairglas, the fine estate in Perthshire which old Sir Richard
Ranscomb had left to his wife, were delightful.
Blairglas Castle, a grand old turreted pile, was perched on the edge
of a wooded glen through which flowed a picturesque burn well known to
tourists in Scotland. Once Blairglas Burn had been a mighty river
which had, in the bygone ages, worn its way deep through the grey
granite down to the broad Tay and onward to the sea. On the estate was
some excellent salmon-fishing, as well as grouse on Blairglas Moor,
and trout in Blairglas Loch. Here Lady Ranscomb entertained her
wealthy Society friends, and certainly she did so lavishly and well.
Twice each year she went up for the fishing and for the shooting. Old
Sir Richard, notwithstanding his gout, had been fond of sport, and for
that reason he had given a fabulous price for the place, which had
belonged to a certain Duke who, like others, had become impoverished
by excessive taxation and the death duties.
Built in the fifteenth century as a fortress, it was, for a time, the
home of James V. after his marriage with Mary of Guise. It was to
Blairglas that, after his defeat on Solway Moss, he retired,
subsequently dying of a broken heart. Twenty years later Darnley, the
elegant husband of Mary Stuart, had lived there, and on the level
bowling green he used to indulge in his favourite sport.
The grim old place, with its towers, its dimly-lit long stone
corridors, cyclopean ivy-clad walls, narrow windows, and great
panelled chambers, breathed an atmosphere of the long ago. So
extensive was it that only one wing--that which looked far down the
glen to the blue distant mountains--had been modernised; yet that, in
itself, was sufficiently spacious for the entertainment of large
One morning, early in June, Dorise, in a rough tweed suit and a pearl-
grey suede tam-o'shanter, carrying a mackintosh across her shoulder,
and accompanied by a tall, dark-haired, clean-shaven man of thirty-
two, with rather thick lips and bushy eyebrows, walked down through
the woods to the river. The man, who was in fishing clothes, sauntered
at her side, smoking a cigarette; while behind them came old Sandy
Murray, the grizzled, fair-bearded head keeper, carrying the salmon
rods, the gaff, creel, and luncheon basket.
"The spate is excellent for us," exclaimed George Sherrard. "We ought
to kill a salmon to-day, Dorise."
"I sincerely hope so," replied the girl; "but somehow I never have any
luck in these days."
"No, you really don't! But Marjorie killed a twelve-pounder last week,
your mother tells me."
"Yes. She went out with Murray every day for a whole fortnight, and
then on the day before she went back to town she landed a splendid
On arrival at the bank of the broad shallow Tay, Murray stepped
forward, and in his pleasant Perthshire accent suggested that a trial
might be made near the Ardcraig, a short walk to the left.
After fixing the rods and baiting them, the head keeper discreetly
withdrew, leaving the pair alone. In the servants' hall at Blairglas
it was quite understood that Miss Dorise and Mr. Sherrard were to
marry, and that the announcement would be made in due course.
"What a lovely day--and what a silent, delightful spot," Sherrard
remarked, as he filled his pipe preparatory to walking up-stream,
while the girl remained beside the dark pool where sport seemed
"Yes," she replied, inwardly wishing to get rid of her companion so as
to be left alone with her own thoughts. "I'll remain here for a little
and then go down-stream to the end of our water."
"Right oh!" he replied cheerily as he moved away.
Dorise breathed more freely when he had gone.
George Sherrard had arrived from London quite unexpectedly at nine
o'clock on the previous morning. She had been alone with her mother
after the last guest of a gay house-party had departed, when, unknown
to Dorise, Lady Ranscomb had telegraphed to her friend George to "run
up for a few days' fishing."
Lady Ranscomb's scheme was to throw the pair into each other's society
as much as possible. She petted George, flattered him, and in every
way tried to entertain him with one sole object, namely, to induce him
to propose to Dorise, and so get the girl "off her hands."
On the contrary, the girl's thoughts were for ever centred upon Hugh,
even though he remained under that dark cloud of suspicion. To her the
chief element in the affair was the mystery why her lover had gone on
that fateful night to the Villa Amette, the house of that notorious
Mademoiselle. What had really occurred?
Twice she had received letters from him brought to her by the
mysterious girl-messenger from Belgium. From them she knew how grey
and dull was his life, hiding there from those who were so intent upon
Indeed, within her blouse she carried his last letter which she had
received three weeks before when in London--a letter in which he
implored her not to misjudge him, and in which he promised that, as
soon as he dared to leave his hiding-place and meet her, he would
explain everything. In return, she had again written to him, but
though three weary weeks had passed, she had received no word in
reply. She could neither write by post, nor could she telegraph. It
was far too dangerous. In addition, his address had been purposely
withheld from her.
Walter Brock had tried to ascertain it. He had even seen the
mysterious messenger on her last visit to England, but she had refused
point-blank, declaring that she had been ordered to disclose nothing.
She was merely a messenger.
That her correspondence was still being watched by the police, Dorise
was quite well aware. Her maid, Duncan, had told her in confidence
quite recently that while crossing Berkeley Square one evening she had
been accosted by a good-looking young man who, having pressed his
attentions upon her, had prevailed upon her to meet him on the
He then took her to dinner to a restaurant in Soho, and to the
pictures afterwards. They had met half a dozen times, when he began to
cleverly question her concerning her mistress, asking whether she had
letters from her gentleman friends. At this Duncan had grown
suspicious, and she had not met the young fellow since.
That, in itself, showed her that the police were bent on discovering
and arresting Hugh.
The great mystery of it all was why Hugh should have gone deliberately
and clandestinely to the Villa Amette on the night of the tragic
Dorise was really an expert in casting a fly; also she excelled in
several branches of sport. She was a splendid tennis-player, she rode
well to hounds, and was very fair at golf. But that morning she had no
heart for fishing, and especially in such company. She despised George
Sherrard as a prig, fond of boasting of his means, and, indeed, so
terribly self-conscious was he that in many circles he was declared
impossible. Men disliked him for his swagger and conceit, and women
despised him for his superior attitude towards them.
For a full hour Dorise continued making casts, but in vain. She
changed her flies once or twice, until at last, by a careless throw,
she got her tackle hooked high in a willow, with the result that, in
endeavouring to extricate it, she broke off the hook. Then with an
exclamation of impatience, she wound up her line and threw her rod
upon the grass.
"Hallo, Dorise!" cried a voice. "No luck, eh?"
Sherrard had returned and had witnessed her outbreak of impatience.
"None!" she snapped, for the loss of her fly annoyed her. She knew
that she had been careless, because under old Murray's careful tuition
she had become quite expert with the rod, both with trout and salmon.
"Never mind," he said, "I've had similar luck. I've just got hooked up
in a root and lost a fly. Let's have lunch--shall we?"
Dorise was in no mood to lunch with her mother's visitor, but,
nevertheless, was compelled to be polite.
After washing their hands in the stream, they sat down together upon a
great, grey boulder that had been worn smooth by the action of the
water, and, taking out their sandwiches, began to eat them.
"Oh, I say!" exclaimed Sherrard suddenly, after they had been
gossiping for some time. "Have you heard from your friend Henfrey
"Not lately," replied the girl, a trifle resentful that he should
obtrude upon her private affairs.
"I only ask because--well, because there are some jolly queer stories
going about town of him."
"Queer stories!" she echoed quickly. "What are they? What do people
"Oh! They say lots of extraordinary things. I think your mother has
done very well to drop him."
"Has mother dropped him?" asked the girl in pretence of ignorance.
"She told me so last night, and I was extremely glad to hear it--
though he is your friend. It seems that he's hardly the kind of fellow
you should know, Dorise."
"Why do you say that?" his companion asked, her eyes flashing
"What! Haven't you heard?"
"The story that's going round the clubs. He's missing, and has been so
for quite a long time. You haven't seen him--have you?"
The girl was compelled to reply in the negative.
"But what do they say against him?" she demanded breathlessly.
"There's a lot of funny stories," was Sherrard's reply. "They say he's
hiding from the police because he attempted to murder a notorious
woman called Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo. Do you know about it?"
"It's a wicked lie!" blurted forth the girl. "Hugh never attempted to
kill the woman!"
Sherrard looked straight into her blue eyes, and asked:
"Then why was he in her room at midnight? They say the reason Henfrey
is hard-up is because he spent all he possessed upon the woman, and on
going there that night she laughed him to scorn and told him she had
grown fond of a rich Austrian banker. After mutual recriminations,
Henfrey, knowing the woman had ruined him, drew out a revolver and
"I tell you it's an abominable lie! Hugh is not an assassin!" cried
the girl fiercely.
"I merely repeat what I have heard on very good authority," replied
the smug-faced man with the thick red lips.
"And you have of course told my mother that--eh?"
"I didn't think it was any secret," he said. "Indeed, I think it most
fortunate we all know the truth. The police must get him one day--
For a few moments Dorise remained silent, her eyes fixed across the
broad river to the opposite bank.
"And if they do, he will most certainly clear himself, Mr. Sherrard,"
she said coldly.
"Ah! You still have great faith in him," he laughed airily. "Well--we
shall see," and he grinned.
"Yes, Mr. Sherrard. I still have faith in Mr. Henfrey. I know him well
enough to be certain that he is no assassin."
"Then I ask you, Dorise, why is he hiding?" said her companion. "If he
is innocent, what can he fear?"
"I know he is innocent."
"Of course. You must remain in that belief until he is found guilty."
"You already condemn him!" the girl cried in anger. "By what right do
you do this, I ask?"
"Well, common sense shows that he is in fear lest the truth should
come to light," was Sherrard's lame reply. "He escaped very cleverly
from Monte Carlo the moment he heard that the police suspected him,
but where is he now? Nobody knows. Haynes, of Scotland Yard, who made
the inquiries when my flat in Park Lane was broken into, tells me they
have had a description of him from the Paris police, and that a
general hue-and-cry has been circulated."
"But the woman is still alive, is she not?"
"Yes. She's a hopeless idiot, Haynes tells me. She had developed
homicidal mania as a result of the bullet wound in the head, and they
have had to send her to a private asylum at Cannes. She's there in
Dorise paused. Her anger had risen, and her cheeks were flushed. The
sandwich she was eating choked her, so she cast it into the river.
Then she rose abruptly, and looking very straight into the man's eyes,
"I consider, Mr. Sherrard, that you are absolutely horrid. Mr. Henfrey
is a friend of mine, and whatever gossip there is concerning him I
will not believe until I hear his story from his own lips."
"I merely tell you of the report from France to Scotland Yard," said
"You tell me this in order to prejudice me against Hugh--to--to----"
"Hugh! Whom you love--eh?" sneered Sherrard.
"Yes. I /do/ love him," the girl blurted forth. "I make no secret of
it. And if you like you can tell my mother that! You are very fond of
acting as her factotum!"
"It is to be regretted, Dorise, that you have fallen in love with a
fellow who is wanted by the police," he remarked with a sigh.
"At any rate, I love a genuine man," she retorted with bitter sarcasm.
"I know my mother's intention is that I shall marry you. But I tell
you here frankly--as I stand here--I would rather kill myself first!"
George Sherrard with his dark bushy brows and thick lips only laughed
at her indignation. This incensed her the more.
"Yes," she went on. "You may be amused at my distress. You have
laughed at the distress of other women, Mr. Sherrard. Do not think
that I am blind. I have watched you, and I know more concerning your
love affairs of the past than you ever dream. So please leave
Blairglas as soon as you can with decency excuse yourself, and keep
away from me in future."
"But really, Dorise----!" he cried, advancing towards her.
"I mean exactly what I say. Let me get back. When I go fishing I
prefer to go alone," the girl said.
"But what am I to say to Lady Ranscomb?"
"Tell her that I love Hugh," laughed the girl defiantly. "Tell her
that I intend to defeat all her clever intrigues and sly devices!"
His countenance now showed that he was angry. He and Lady Ranscomb
thoroughly understood each other. He admired the girl, and her mother
had assured him her affection for Hugh Henfrey was but a passing
fancy. This stubborn outburst was to him a complete revelation.
"I have no knowledge of any intrigue, Dorise," he said in that bland,
superior manner which always irritated her. She knew that a dozen
mothers with eligible feminine encumbrances were trying to angle him,
and that Lady Ranscomb was greatly envied by them. But to be the wife
of the self-conscious ass--well, as she has already bluntly told him,
she would die rather than become Mrs. George Sherrard.
"Intrigue!" the girl retorted. "Why, from first to last the whole
thing is a plot between my mother and yourself. Please give me credit
for just a little intelligence. First, I despise you as a coward.
During the war you crept into a little clerkship in the Home Office in
order to save your precious skin, while Hugh went to the front and
risked his life flying a 'bomber' over the enemy's lines. You were a
miserable stay-at-home, hiding in your little bolt-hole in Whitehall
when the Zepps came over, while Hugh Henfrey fought for his King and
for Britain. Now I am quite frank, Mr. Sherrard. That's why I despise
you!" and the girl's pale face showed two pink spots in the centre of
"Really," he said in that same superior tone which he so constantly
assumed. "I must say that you are the reverse of polite, Miss Dorise,"
and his colour heightened.
"I am! And I intend to be so!" she cried in a frenzy, for all her
affection for Hugh had in those moments been redoubled. Her lover was
accused and had no chance of self-defence. "Go back to my mother," she
went on. "Tell her every word I have said and embroider it as much as
you like. Then you can both put your wits together a little further.
But, remember, I shall exert my own woman's wits against yours. And as
soon as you feel it practicable, I hope you will leave Blairglas. And
further, if you have not left by noon to-morrow, I will tell my maid,
Duncan, the whole story of this sinister plot to part me from Hugh.
She will spread it, I assure you. Maids gossip--and to a purpose when
their mistresses will it so."
"Enough! Mr. Sherrard. I prefer to walk up to the Castle by myself.
Murray will bring up the rods. Please tell my mother what I say when
you get back," she added. "The night train from Perth to London leaves
at nine-forty to-night," she said with biting sarcasm.
Then turning, she began to ascend the steep path which led from the
river bank into a cornfield and through the wood, while the man stood
and bit his lip.
"H'm!" he growled beneath his breath. "We shall see!--yes, we shall
That night when Dorise, in a pretty, pale-blue evening gown, entered
the great, old panelled dining-room rather late for dinner, her mother
"How late you are, dear! Mr. Sherrard has had a telegram recalling him
to London. He has to catch the nine-something train from Perth."
"Have you?" she asked the man who was odious to her. "I'm so sorry I'm
late, but that Mackenzie girl called. They are getting up a bazaar for
the old people down in the village, and we have to help it, I suppose.
Oh! these bazaars, sales of work, and other little excuses for
extracting shillings from the pockets of everybody! They are most
"She called on me last week," said Lady Ranscomb. "Newte told her I
was not at home."
The old-fashioned butler, John Newte, a white-haired, rosy-faced man,
who had seen forty years' service with the ducal owner of Blairglas,
served the dinner in his own stately style. Sir Richard had been a
good master, but things had never been the same since the castle had
passed into its new owner's hands.
Dorise endeavoured to be quite affable to the smooth-haired man seated
before her, expressing regret that he was called away so suddenly,
while he, on his part, declared that it was "awful hard luck," as he
had been looking forward to a week's good sport on the river.
"Do come back, George," Lady Ranscomb urged. "Get your business over
and get back here for the weekend."
"I'll try," was Sherrard's half-hearted response, whereat Newte
entered to announce that the car was ready.
Then he bade mother and daughter adieu, and went out.
Dorise could see that her mother was considerably annoyed at her plans
being so abruptly frustrated.
"We must ask somebody else," she said, as they lingered over the
dessert. "Whom shall we ask?"
"I really don't care in the least, mother. I'm quite happy here alone.
It is a rest. We shall have to be back in town in a fortnight, I
"George could quite well have waited for a day or two," Lady Ranscomb
declared. "I went out to see the Muirs, at Forteviot, and when I got
back he told me he had just had a telegram telling him that it was
imperative he should be in town to-morrow morning. I tried to persuade
him to stay, but he declared it to be impossible."
"An appointment with a lady, perhaps," laughed Dorise mischievously.
"What next, my dear! You know he is over head and ears in love with
"Oh! That's quite enough, mother. You've told me that lots of times
before. But I tell you quite frankly his love leaves me quite cold."
"Ah! dear. That reply is, after all, but natural. You, of course,
won't confess the truth," her mother laughed.
"I do, mother. I'm heartily glad the fellow has gone. I hate his
supercilious manner, his superior tone, and his unctuous bearing. He's
simply odious! That's my opinion."
Her mother looked at her severely across the table.
"Please remember, Dorise, that George is my friend."
"I never forget that," said the girl meaningly, as she rose and left
Half an hour later, when she entered her bedroom, she found Duncan,
her maid, awaiting her.
"Oh! I've been waiting to see you this half hour, miss," she said. "I
couldn't get you alone. Just before eight o'clock, as I was about to
enter the park by the side gate near Bervie Farm, a gentleman
approached me and asked if my name was Duncan. I told him it was, and
then he gave me this to give to you in secret. He also gave me a pound
note, miss, to say nothing about it." And the prim lady's maid handed
her young mistress a small white envelope upon which her name was
Opening it, she found a plain visiting card which bore the words in a
"Would it be possible for you to meet me to-night at ten at the
spot where I have given this to your maid? Urgent.--SILVERADO."
Dorise held her breath. It was a message from the mysterious white
cavalier who had sought her out at the /bal blanc/ at Nice, and told
her of Hugh's peril!
Duncan was naturally curious owing to the effect the card had had upon
her mistress, but she was too well trained to make any comment.
Instead, she busied herself at the wardrobe, and a few moments
afterwards left the room.
Dorise stood before the long cheval glass, the card still in her hand.
What did it mean? Why was the mysterious white cavalier in Scotland?
At least she would now be able to see his face. It was past nine, and
the moon was already shining. She had still more than half an hour
before she went forth to meet the man of mystery.
She descended to the drawing-room, where her mother was reading, and
after playing over a couple of songs as a camouflage, she pretended to
be tired and announced her intention of retiring.
"We have to go into Edinburgh to-morrow morning," her mother remarked.
"So we should start pretty early. I've ordered the car for nine
"All right, mother. Good-night," said the girl as she closed the door.
Then hastening to her room she threw off her dinner gown, and putting
on a coat and skirt and the boots which she had worn when fishing that
morning, she went out by a door which led from the great old library,
with its thousands of brown-backed volumes, on to the broad terrace
which overlooked the glen, now a veritable fairyland beneath the light
of the moon.
Outside the silence was only broken by the ripple of the burn over its
pebbles deep below, and the cry of the night-bird upon the steep rock
whereon the historic old castle was built. By a path known to her she
descended swiftly, and away into the park by yet another path, used
almost exclusively by the servants and the postman, down to a gate
which led out into the high road to Perth by one of the farms on the
estate, the one known as the Bervie.
As she was about to pass through the small swing gate, she heard a
voice which she recognized exclaim:
"Miss Ranscomb! I have to apologize!" And from the dark shadow a
rather tall man emerged and barred her path.
"I daresay you will think this all very mysterious," he went on,
laughing lightly. "But I do hope I have not inconvenienced you. If so,
pray accept my deepest apologies. Will you?"
"Not at all," the girl replied, though somewhat taken aback by the
suddenness of the encounter. The man spoke slowly and with evident
refinement. His voice was the same she had heard at Nice on that
memorable night of gaiety. She recognized it instantly.
As he stood before her, his countenance became revealed in the
moonlight, and she saw a well-moulded, strongly-marked face, with a
pair of dark, penetrating eyes, set a little too close perhaps, but
denoting strong will and keen intelligence.
"Yes," he laughed. "Look at me well, Miss Ranscomb. I am the white
cavalier whom you last saw disguised by a black velvet mask. Look at
me again, because perhaps you may wish to recognize me later on."
"And you are still Mr. X--eh?" asked the girl, who had halted, and was
gazing upon his rather striking face.
"Still the same," he said, smiling. "Or you may call me Brown, Jones,
or Robinson--or any of the other saints' names if you prefer."
"You have been very kind to me. Surely I may know your real name?"
"No, Miss Ranscomb. For certain very important reasons I do not wish
to disclose it. Pardon me--will you not? I ask that favour of you."
"But will you not satisfy my curiosity?"
"At my personal risk? No. I do not think you would wish me to do that
--eh?" he asked in a tone of mild reproof.
Then he went on:
"I'm awfully sorry I could not approach you openly. In London I found
out that you were up here, so I thought it best to see you in secret.
You know why I have come to you, Miss Ranscomb--eh?"
"On behalf of Mr. Henfrey."
"Yes. He is still in hiding. It has been impossible--through force of
circumstances--for him to send you further messages."
"Where is he? I want to see him."
"Have patience, Miss Ranscomb, and I will arrange a meeting between
"But why do the police still search for him?"
"Because of an unfortunate fact. The lady, Mademoiselle Ferad, is now
confined to a private asylum at Cannes, but all the time she raves
furiously about Monsieur Henfrey. Hence the French police are
convinced that he shot her--and they are determined upon his arrest."
"But do you think he is guilty?"
"I know he is not. Yet by force of adverse circumstances, he is
compelled to conceal himself until such time that we can prove his
"Ah! But shall we ever be in a position to prove that?"
"I hope so. We must have patience--and still more patience," urged the
mysterious man as he stood in the full light of the brilliant moon. "I
have here a letter for you which Mr. Henfrey wrote a week ago. It only
came into my hands yesterday." And he gave her an envelope.
"Tell me something about this woman, Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo. Who
is she?" asked Dorise excitedly.
"Well--she is a person who was notorious at the Rooms, as you yourself
know. You have seen her."
"And tell me, why do you take such an interest in Hugh?" inquired the
girl, not without a note of suspicion in her voice.
"For reasons best known to myself, Miss Ranscomb. Reasons which are
"That's hardly a satisfactory reply."
"I fear I can give few satisfactory replies until we succeed in
ascertaining the truth of what occurred at the Villa Amette," he said.
"I must urge you, Miss Ranscomb, to remain patient, and--and not to
lose faith in the man who is wrongfully accused."
"But when can I see him?" asked Dorise eagerly.
"Soon. But you must be discreet--and you must ask no questions. Just
place yourself in my hands--that is, if you can trust me."
"I do, even though I am ignorant of your name."
"It is best that you remain in ignorance," was his reply. "Otherwise
perhaps you would hesitate to trust me."
But the tall, good-looking man only laughed, and then he said:
"My name really doesn't matter at present. Later, Miss Ranscomb, you
will no doubt know it. I am only acting in the interests of Henfrey."
Again she looked at him. His face was smiling, and yet was sphinx-like
in the moonlight. His voice was certainly that of the white cavalier
which she recollected so well, but his personality, so strongly
marked, was a little overbearing.
"I know you mistrust me," he went on. "If I were in your place I
certainly should do so. A thousand pities it is that I cannot tell you
who I am. But--well--I tell you in confidence that I dare not!"
"Dare not! Of what are you afraid?" inquired Dorise. The man she had
met under such romantic circumstances interested her keenly. He was
Hugh's go-between. Poor Hugh! She knew he was suffering severely in
his loneliness, and his incapability to clear himself of the terrible
stigma upon him.
"I'm afraid of several things," replied the white cavalier. "The
greatest fear I have is that you may not believe in me."
"I do believe in you," declared the girl.
"Excellent!" he replied enthusiastically. "Then let us get to business
--pardon me for putting it so. But I am, after all, a business man. I
am interested in a lot of different businesses, you see."
"Of what character?"
"No, Miss Ranscomb. That is another point upon which I regret that I
cannot satisfy your pardonable curiosity. Please allow your mind to
rest upon the one main point--that I am acting in the interests of the
man with--the man who is, I believe, your greatest and most intimate
"I understood that when we met in Nice."
"Good! Now I understand that your mother, Lady Ranscomb, is much
against your marriage with Hugh Henfrey. She has other views."
"Really! Who told you that?"
"I have ascertained it in the course of my inquiry."
Dorise paused, and then looking the man of mystery straight in the
"What do you really know about me?"
"Well," he laughed lightly. "A good deal. Now tell me when could you
be free to get away from your mother for a whole day?"
"I want to know. Just tell me the date. When are you returning to
"On Saturday week. I could get away--say--on Tuesday week."
"Very good. You would have to leave London by an early train in the
morning--if I fail to send a car for you, which I hope to do. And be
back again late at night."
"Why," he echoed. "Because I have a reason."
"I believe you will take me to meet Hugh--eh? Ah! How good you are!"
cried the girl in deep emotion. "I shall never be able to thank you
sufficiently for all you are doing. I--I have been longing all these
weeks to see him again--to hear his explanation why he went to the
woman's house at that hour--why----"
"He will tell you everything, no doubt," said her mysterious visitor.
"He will tell you everything except one fact."
"And what is that?" she asked breathlessly.
"One fact he will not tell you. But you will know it later. Hugh
Henfrey is a fine manly fellow, Miss Ranscomb. That is why I have done
my level best in his interest."
"But why should you?" she asked. "You are, after all, a stranger."
"True. But you will know the truth some day. Meanwhile, leave matters
as they are. Do not prejudge him, even if the police are convinced of
his guilt. Could you be at King's Cross station at ten o'clock on the
morning of Tuesday week? If so, I will meet you there."
"Yes," she replied. "But where are we going?"
"At present I have no idea. When one is escaping from the police one's
movements have to be ruled by circumstances from hour to hour. I will
do my best on that day to arrange a meeting between you," he added.
She thanked him very sincerely. He was still a mystery, but his face
and his whole bearing attracted her. He was her friend. She
recollected his words amid that gay revelry at Nice--words of
encouragement and sympathy. And he had travelled there, far north into
Perthshire, in order to carry the letter which she had thrust into her
pocket, yet still holding it in her clenched hand.
"I do wish you would tell me the motive of your extreme kindness
towards us both," Dorise urged. "I can't make it out at all. I am
"Well--so am I, Miss Ranscomb," replied the tall, elegant man who
spoke with such refinement, and was so shrewd and alert. "There are
certain facts--facts of which I have no knowledge. The affair at the
Villa Amette is still, to me, a most profound mystery."
"Why did Hugh go there at all? That is what I fail to understand," she
"Don't wonder any longer. He had, I know, an urgent and distinct
motive to call that night."
"But the woman! I hear she is a notorious adventuress."
"And the adventuress, Miss Ranscomb, often has, deep in her soul, the
heart of a pure woman," he said. "One must never judge by appearance
or gossip. What people may think is the curse of many of our lives. I
hope you do not misjudge Mr. Henfrey."
"I do not. But I am anxious to hear his explanation."
"You shall--and before long, too," he replied. "But I want you, if you
will, to answer a question. I do not put it from mere idle curiosity,
but it very closely concerns you both. Have you ever heard him speak
of a girl named Louise Lambert?"
"Louise Lambert? Why, yes! He introduced her to me once. She is, I
understand, the adopted daughter of a man named Benton, an intimate
friend of old Mr. Henfrey."
"Has he ever told you anything concerning her?"
"Nothing much. Why?"
"He has never told you the conditions of his father's will?"
"Never--except that he has been left very poorly off, though his
father died in affluent circumstances. What are the conditions?"
The mysterious stranger paused for a moment.
"Have you, of late, formed an acquaintance of a certain Mrs. Bond, a
"I met her recently in South Kensington, at the house of a friend of
my mother, Mrs. Binyon. Why?"
"How many times have you met her?"
"Two--or I think three. She came to tea with us the day before we came
"H'm! Your mother seems rather prone to make easy acquaintanceships--
eh? The Hardcastles were distinctly undesirable, were they not?--and
the Jameses also?"
"Why, what do you know about them?" asked the girl, much surprised, as
they were two families who had been discovered to be not what they
"Well," he laughed. "I happen to be aware of your mother's charm--
"You seem to know quite a bit about us," she remarked. "How is it?"
"Because I have made it my business to know, Miss Ranscomb," he
replied. "Further, I would urge upon you to have nothing to do with
"Why not? We found her most pleasant. She is the widow of a wealthy
man who died abroad about two years ago, and she lives somewhere down
"I know all about that," he answered in a curious tone. "But I repeat
my warning that Mrs. Bond is by no means a desirable acquaintance. I
tell you so for your own benefit."
Inwardly he was angry that the woman should have so cleverly made the
acquaintance of the girl. It showed him plainly that Benton and she
were working on a set and desperate plan, while the girl before him
was entirely ignorant of the plot.
"Now, Miss Ranscomb," he added, "I want you to please make me a
promise--namely, that you will say nothing to a single soul of what I
have said this evening--not even to your friend, Mr. Henfrey. I have
very strong reasons for this. Remember, I am acting in the interests
of you both, and secrecy is the essence of success."
"I understand. But you really mystify me. I know you are my friend,"
she said, "but why are you doing all this for our benefit?"
"In order that Hugh Henfrey may return to your side, and that hand in
hand you may be able to defeat your enemies."
"My enemies! Who are they?" asked the girl.
"One day, very soon, they must reveal themselves. When they do, and
you find yourself in difficulties, you have only to call upon me, and
I will further assist you. Advertise in the /Times/ newspaper at any
time for an appointment with 'Silverado.' Give me seven days, and I
will keep it."
"But do tell me your name!" she urged, as they moved together from the
pathway along the road in the direction of Perth. "I beg of you to do
"I have already begged a favour of you, Miss Ranscomb," he answered in
a soft, refined voice. "I ask you not to press your question. Suffice
it that I am your sincere friend."
"But when shall I see Hugh?" she cried, again halting. "I cannot bear
this terrible suspense any longer--indeed I can't! Can I go to him
"No!" cried a voice from the shadow of a bush close beside them as a
dark alert figure sprang forth into the light. "It is needless. I am
here, dearest!--/at last/!"
And next second she found herself clasped in her lover's strong
embrace, while the stranger, utterly taken aback, stood looking on,
THE NAMELESS MAN
"Who is this gentleman, Dorise?" asked Hugh, when a moment later the
girl and her companion had recovered from their surprise.
"I cannot introduce you," was her reply. "He refuses to give his
The tall man laughed, and said:
"I have already told you that my name is X."
Hugh regarded the stranger with distinct suspicion. It was curious
that he should discover them together, yet he made but little comment.
"We were just speaking about you, Mr. Henfrey," the tall man went on.
"I believed that you were still in Belgium."
"How did you know I was there?"
"Oh!--well, information concerning your hiding-place reached me," was
his enigmatical reply. "I am, however, glad you have been able to
return to England in safety. I was about to arrange a meeting between
you. But I advise you to be most careful."
"You seem to know a good deal concerning me," Hugh remarked
resentfully, looking at the stern, rather handsome face in the
"This is the gentleman who sought me out in Nice, and first told me of
your peril, Hugh. I recognize his voice, and have to thank him for a
good deal," the girl declared.
"Really, Miss Ranscomb, I require no thanks," the polite stranger
assured her. "If I have been able to render Mr. Henfrey a little
service it has been a pleasure to me. And now that you are together
again I will leave you."
"But who are you?" demanded Hugh, filled with curiosity.
"That matters not, now that you are back in England. Only I beseech of
you to be very careful," said the tall man. Then he added: "There are
pitfalls into which you may very easily fall--traps set by your
"Well, sir, I thank you sincerely for what you have done for Miss
Ranscomb during my absence," said the young man, much mystified at
finding Dorise strolling at that hour with a man of whose name even
she was ignorant. "I know I have enemies, and I shall certainly heed
"Your enemies must not know you are in England. If they do, they will
most certainly inform the police."
"I shall take care of that," was Hugh's reply. "I shall be compelled
to go into hiding again--but where, I do not know."
"Yes, you must certainly continue to lie low for a time," the man
urged. "I know how very dull it must have been for you through all
those weeks. But even that is better than the scandal of arrest and
"Ah! I know of what you are accused, Hugh!" cried the girl. "And I
also know you are innocent!"
"Mr. Henfrey is innocent," said the tall stranger. "But there must be
no publicity, hence his only chance of safety lies in strict
"It is difficult to conceal oneself in England," replied Hugh.
The stranger laughed, as he slowly answered:
"There are certain places where no questions are asked--if you know
where to look for them. But first, I am very interested to know how
you got over here."
"I went to Ostend, and for twenty pounds induced a Belgian fisherman
to put me ashore at night near Caister, in Norfolk. I went to London
at once, only to discover that Miss Ranscomb was at Blairglas--and
here I am. But I assure you it was an adventurous crossing, for the
weather was terrible--a gale blew nearly the whole time."
"You are here, it is true, Mr. Henfrey. But you mustn't remain here,"
the stranger declared. "Though I refuse to give you my name, I will
nevertheless try to render you further assistance. Go back to London
by the next train you can get, and then call upon Mrs. Mason, who
lives at a house called 'Heathcote,' in Abingdon Road, Kensington. She
is a friend of mine, and I will advise her by telegram that she will
have a visitor. Take apartments at her house, and remain there in
strict seclusion. Will you remember the address--shall I write it
"Thanks very much indeed," Hugh replied. "I shall remember it. Mrs.
Mason, 'Heathcote,' Abingdon Road, Kensington."
"That's it. Get there as soon as ever you can," urged the stranger.
"Recollect that your enemies are still in active search of you."
Hugh looked his mysterious friend full in the face.
"Look here!" he said, in a firm, hard voice. "Are you known as Il
"Pardon me," answered the stranger. "I refuse to satisfy your
curiosity as to who I may be. I am your friend--that is all that
"But the famous Passero--The Sparrow--is my unknown friend," he said,