Part 4 out of 6
"and I have a suspicion that you and he are identical!"
"I have a motive in not disclosing my identity," was the man's reply
in a curious tone. "Get to Mrs. Mason's as quickly as you can. Perhaps
one day soon we may meet again. Till then, I wish both of you the best
of luck. /Au revoir/!"
And, raising his hat, he turned abruptly, and, leaving them, set off
up the high road which led to Perth.
"But, listen, sir--one moment!" cried Hugh, as he turned away.
Nevertheless the stranger heeded not, and a few seconds later his
figure was lost in the shadow of the high hedgerow.
"Well," said Hugh, a few moments later, "all this is most amazing. I
feel certain that he is either the mysterious Sparrow himself, or one
of his chief accomplices."
"The Sparrow? Who is he--dear?" asked Dorise, her hand upon her
"Let's sit down somewhere, and I will tell you," he said. Then, re-
entering the park by the small iron gate, Dorise led him to a fallen
tree where, as they sat together, he related all he had been told
concerning the notorious head of a criminal gang known to his
confederates, and the underworld of Europe generally, as Il Passero,
or The Sparrow.
"How very remarkable!" exclaimed Dorise, when he had finished, and
she, in turn, had told him of the encounter at the White Ball at Nice,
and the coming and going of the messenger from Malines. "I wonder if
he really is the notorious Sparrow?"
"I feel convinced he is," declared Hugh. "He sent me a message in
secret to Malines a fortnight ago forbidding me to attempt to leave
Belgium, because he considered the danger too great. He was, no doubt,
much surprised to-night when he found me here."
"He certainly was quite as surprised as myself," the girl replied,
happy beyond expression that her lover was once again at her side.
In his strong arms he held her in a long, tight embrace, kissing her
upon the lips in a frenzy of satisfaction--long, sweet kisses which
she reciprocated with a whole-heartedness that told him of her
devotion. There, in the shadow, he whispered to her his love,
repeating what he had told her in London, and again in Monte Carlo.
Suddenly he put a question to her:
"Do you really believe I am innocent of the charge against me,
"I do, Hugh," she answered frankly.
"Ah! Thank you for those words," he said, in a broken voice. "I feared
that you might think because of my flight that I was guilty."
"I know you are not. Mother, of course, says all sorts of nasty things
--that you must have done something very wrong--and all that."
"My escape certainly gives colour to the belief that I am in fear of
arrest. And so I am. Yet I swear that I never attempted to harm the
lady at the Villa Amette."
"But why did you go there at all, dear?" the girl asked. "You surely
knew the unenviable reputation borne by that woman!"
"I know it quite well," he said. "I expected to meet an adventuress--
but, on the contrary, I met a real good woman!"
"I don't understand you, Hugh," she said.
"No, darling. You, of course, cannot understand!" he exclaimed. "I
admit that I followed her home, and I demanded an interview."
"Because I was determined she should divulge to me a secret of her
"One that concerns my whole future."
"Cannot you tell me what it is?" she asked, looking into his face,
which in the moonlight she saw was much changed, for it was unusually
pale and haggard.
"I--well--at the present moment I am myself mystified, darling. Hence
I cannot explain the truth," he replied. "Will you trust me if I
promise to tell you the whole facts as soon as I have learnt them? One
day I hope I shall know all, yet----"
He drew a deep breath.
"The poor unfortunate lady has lost her reason as the result of the
attempt upon her life. Therefore, after all, I may never be in a
position to know the truth which died upon her lips."
For nearly two hours the pair remained together. Often she was locked
in her lover's arms, heedless of everything save her unbounded joy at
his return, and of the fierce, passionate caresses he bestowed upon
her. Truly, that was a night of supreme delight as they held each
other's hands, and their lips met time after time in ecstasy.
He inquired about George Sherrard, but she said little. She hesitated
to tell him of the incident while fishing that morning, but merely
"Oh! He was up here for two or three days, but had to go back to
London on business. And I was very glad."
"Of course, dearest, your mother still presses you to marry him."
"Yes," laughed the girl. "But she will continue to press. She's
constantly singing his praises until I'm utterly sick of hearing of
all his good qualities."
Hugh sighed, and replied:
"All men who are rich are possessed of good qualities in the
estimation of the world. The poor and hard-up are the despised. But,
after all, Dorise," he added, in a changed voice, "you have not
forgotten what you told me at Monte Carlo--that you love me?"
"I repeat it, Hugh!" declared the girl, deeply in earnest, her hand
stealing into his. "I love only you!--/you/!"
Then again he took her in his arms, and imprinted a fierce, passionate
kiss upon her ready lips.
"I suppose we must part again," he sighed. "I am compelled to keep
away from you because no doubt a watch has been set upon you, and upon
your correspondence. Up to the present, I have been able, by the good
grace of unknown friends, to slip through the meshes of the net spread
for me. But how long this will continue, I know not."
"Oh! do be careful, Hugh, won't you?" urged the girl, as they sat side
by side. The only sound was the rippling of the burn deep down in the
glen, and the distant barking of a shepherd's dog.
"Yes. I'll get away into the wilds of Kensington--to Abingdon Road.
One is safer in a London suburb than in a desert, no doubt. West
London is a good hiding-place."
"Recollect the name. Mason, wasn't it? And she lives at 'Heathcote.'"
"That was it. But do not communicate with me, otherwise my place of
concealment will most certainly be discovered."
"But can't I see you, Hugh?" implored the girl. "Must we again be
"Yes. It seems so, according to our mysterious friend, whom I believe
most firmly to be the notorious thief known by the Italian sobriquet
of Il Passero--The Sparrow."
"Do you think he is a thief?" asked the girl.
"Yes. I am convinced that your friend is none other than the
picturesque and romantic criminal whose octopus hand is upon almost
every great theft in Europe, and whom the police always fail to catch,
so elusive and clever is he."
She gave him further details of their first meeting at Nice.
"Exactly. That is one of his methods--secrecy and generosity are his
two traits. He and his accomplices rob the wealthy, and assist those
wrongly accused. It must be he--or one of his assistants. Otherwise he
would not know of the secret hiding-place for those after whom a hue-
and-cry has been raised."
He recollected at that moment the girl who had been his fellow-guest
in Genoa--the dainty mademoiselle who evidently had some secret
knowledge of his father's death, and yet refused to divulge a single
Ever since that memorable night at the Villa Amette, he had existed in
a mist of suspicion and uncertainty. Yet, after all, he cared little
for anything so long as Dorise still believed in his innocence, and
she still loved him. His one great object was to clear up the mystery
of his father's tragic end, and thus defeat the clever plot of those
whose intention it, apparently, was to marry him to Louise Lambert.
On every hand there was mystification. The one woman--notorious as she
was--who knew the truth had been rendered mentally incompetent by an
assassin's bullet, while he, himself, was accused of the crime.
Hugh Henfrey would have long ago confessed to Dorise the whole facts
concerning his father's death, but his delicacy prevented him. He
honoured his dead father, and was averse to telling the girl he loved
that he had been found in a curious state in a West End street late at
night. He was loyal to his poor father's memory, and, until he knew
the actual truth, he did not intend that Dorise should be in a
position to misconstrue the facts, or to misjudge.
On the face of it, his father's death was exceedingly suspicious. He
had left his home in the country and gone to town upon pretence. Why?
That a woman was connected with his journey was now apparent. Hugh had
ascertained certain facts which he had resolved to withhold from
But why should the notorious Sparrow, the King of the Underworld,
interest himself so actively on his behalf as to travel up there to
Perthshire, after making those secret, but elaborate, arrangements for
safety? The whole affair was a mystery, complete and insoluble.
It was early morning, after they had rambled for several hours in the
moonlight, when Hugh bade his well-beloved farewell.
They had returned through the park and were at a gate quite close to
the castle when they halted. It had crossed Hugh's mind that they
might be seen by one of the keepers, and he had mentioned this to
"What matter?" she replied. "They do not know you, and probably will
not recognize me."
So after promising Hugh to remain discreet, she told him they were
returning to London in a few days.
"Look here!" he said suddenly. "We must meet again very soon, darling.
I daresay I may venture out at night, therefore why not let us make an
appointment--say, for Tuesday week. Where shall we meet? At midnight
at the first seat on the right on entering the part at the Marble
Arch? You remember, we met there once before--about a year ago."
"Yes. I know the spot," the girl replied. "I remember what a cold, wet
night it was, too!" and she laughed at the recollection. "Very well. I
will contrive to be there. That night we are due at a dance at the
Gordons' in Grosvenor Gardens. But I'll manage to be there somehow--if
only for five minutes."
"Good," he exclaimed, again kissing her fondly. "Now I must make all
speed to Kensington and there go once more into hiding. When--oh, when
will this wearying life be over!"
"You have a friend, as I have, in the mysterious white cavalier," she
said. "I wonder who he really is?"
"The Sparrow--without a doubt--the famous 'Il Passero' for whom the
police of Europe are ever searching, the man who at one moment lives
in affluence and the highest respectability in a house somewhere near
Piccadilly, and at another is tearing over the French, Spanish, or
Italian roads in his powerful car directing all sorts of crooked
business. It's a strange world in which I find myself, Dorise, I
assure you! Good-bye, darling--good-bye!" and he took her in a final
embrace. "Good-bye--till Tuesday week."
Then stepping on to the grass, where his feet fell noiselessly, he
disappeared in the dark shadow of the great avenue of beeches.
THE ESCROCS OF LONDON
For ten weary days Hugh Henfrey had lived in the close, frowsy-
smelling house in Abingdon Road, Kensington, a small, old-fashioned
place, once a residence of well-to-do persons, but now sadly out of
Its occupier was a worthy, and somewhat wizened, widow named Mason,
who was supposed to be the relict of an army surgeon who had been
killed at the Battle of the Marne. She was about sixty, and suffered
badly from asthma. Her house was too large for one maid, a stout,
matronly person called Emily, hence the place was not kept as clean as
it ought to have been, and the cuisine left much to be desired.
Still, it appeared to be a safe harbour of refuge for certain strange
persons who came there, men who looked more or less decent members of
society, but whose talk and whose slang was certainly that of crooks.
That house in the back street of old-world Kensington, a place built
before Victoria ascended the throne, was undoubtedly on a par with the
flat of the Reveccas in Genoa, and the thieves' sanctuary in the
shadow of the cathedral at Malines.
Adversity brings with it queer company, and Hugh had found himself
among a mixed society of men who had been gentlemen and had taken up
the criminal life as an up-to-date profession. They all spoke of The
Sparrow with awe; and they all wondered what his next great coup would
Hugh became more than ever satisfied that Il Passero was one of the
greatest and most astute criminals who have graced the annals of our
Everyone sang his praise. The queer visitors who lodged there for a
day, a couple of days, or more; the guests who came suddenly, and who
disappeared just as quickly, were one and all loud in their admiration
of Il Passero, though Hugh could discover nobody who had actually seen
the arch-thief in the flesh.
On the Tuesday night Hugh had had a frugal and badly-cooked meal with
three mysterious men who had arrived as Mrs. Mason's guests during the
day. After supper the widow rose and left the room, whereupon the
trio, all well-dressed men-about-town, began to chatter openly about a
little "deal" in diamonds in which they had been interested. The
"deal" in question had been reported in the newspapers on the previous
morning, namely, how a Dutch diamond dealer's office in Hatton Garden
had been broken into, the safe cut open by the most scientific means,
and a very valuable parcel of stones extracted.
"Harry Austen has gone down to Surrey to stay with Molly."
"Molly? Why, I thought she was in Paris!"
"She was--but she went to America for a trip and she finds it more
pleasant to live down in Surrey just now," replied the other with a
grin. "She has Charlie's girl living with her."
"H'm!" grunted the third man. "Not quite the sort of companion Charlie
might choose for his daughter--eh?"
Hugh took but little notice of the conversation. It was drawing near
the time when he would go forth to meet Dorise at their trysting
place. In anxiety he went into the adjoining room, and there smoked
alone until just past eleven o'clock, when he put on his hat and went
forth into the dark, deserted street.
Opposite High Street Kensington Station he jumped upon a bus, and at
five minutes to midnight alighted at the Marble Arch. On entering the
park he quickly found the seat he had indicated as their meeting
place, and sat down to wait.
The home-going theatre traffic behind him in the Bayswater Road had
nearly ceased as the church clocks chimed the midnight hour. In the
semi-darkness of the park dark figures were moving, lovers with
midnight trysts like his own. In the long, well-lit road behind him
motors full of gaily-dressed women flashed homeward from suppers or
theatres, while from the open windows of a ballroom in a great
mansion, the house of an iron magnate, came the distant strains of
Time dragged along. He strained his eyes down the dark pathway, but
could see no approaching figure. Had she at the last moment been
prevented from coming? He knew how difficult it was for her to slip
away at night, for Lady Ranscomb was always so full of engagements,
and Dorise was compelled to go everywhere with her.
At last he saw a female figure in the distance, as she turned into the
park from the Marble Arch, and springing to his feet, he went forward
to meet her. At first he was not certain that it was Dorise, but as he
approached nearer he recognized her gait.
A few seconds later he confronted her and grasped her warmly by the
hand. The black cloak she was wearing revealed a handsome jade-
coloured evening gown, while her shoes were not those one would wear
for promenading in the park.
"Welcome at last, darling!" he cried. "I was wondering if you could
get away, after all!"
"I had a little difficulty," she laughed. "I'm at a dance at the
Gordons' in Grosvenor Gardens, but I managed to slip out, find a taxi,
and run along here. I fear I can't stay long, or they will miss me."
"Even five minutes with you is bliss to me, darling," he said,
grasping her ungloved hand and raising it to his lips.
"Ah! Hugh. If you could only return to us, instead of living under
this awful cloud of suspicion!" the girl cried. "Every day, and every
night, I think of you, dear, and wonder how you are dragging out your
days in obscurity down in Kensington. Twice this week I drove along
the Earl's Court Road, quite close to you."
"Oh! life is a bit dull, certainly," he replied cheerfully. "But I
have papers and books--and I can look out of the window on to the
"But you go out for a ramble at night?"
"Oh! yes," he replied. "Last night I set out at one o'clock and walked
up to Hampstead Heath, as far as Jack Straw's Castle and back. The
night was perfect. Really, Londoners who sleep heavily all night lose
the best part of their lives. London is only beautiful in the night
hours and at early dawn. I often watch the sun rise from the Thames
Embankment. I have a favourite seat--just beyond Scotland Yard. I've
become quite a night-bird these days. I sleep when the sun shines, and
with a sandwich box and a flask I go long tramps at night, just as
others do who, like myself, are concealing their identity."
"But when will all this end?" queried the girl, as together they
strolled in the direction of Bayswater, passing many whispering
couples sitting on seats. London lovers enjoy the park at all hours of
"It will only end when I am able to discover the truth," he said
vaguely. "Meanwhile I am not disheartened, darling, because--because I
know that you believe in me--that you still trust me."
"That man whom I saw in Nice dressed as a cavalier, and who again came
to me in Scotland, is a mystery," she said. "Do you really believe he
is the person you suspect?"
"I do. I still believe he is the notorious and defiant criminal 'Il
Passero'--the most daring and ingenious thief of the present century."
"But he is evidently your friend."
"Yes. That is the great mystery of it all. I cannot discern his
"Is it a sinister one, do you think?"
"No. I do not believe so. I have heard of The Sparrow's fame from the
lips of many criminals, but none has uttered a single word against
him. He is, I hear, fierce, bitter, and relentless towards those who
are his enemies. To his friends, however, he is staunchly loyal. That
is what is said of him."
"But, Hugh, I wish you would be more frank with me," the girl said.
"There are several things you are hiding from me."
"I admit it, darling," he blurted forth, holding her hand in the
darkness as they walked. The ecstasy and the bliss of that moment held
him almost without words. She was as life to him. He pursued that
soul-deadening evasion, and lived that grey, sordid life among men and
women escaping from justice solely for her sake. If he married Louise
Lambert and then cast off the matrimonial shackles he would recover
his patrimony and be well-off.
To many men the temptation would have proved too great. The
inheritance of his father's fortune was so very easy. Louise was a
pretty girl, well educated, bright, vivacious, and thoroughly up to
date. Yet somehow, he always mistrusted Benton, though his father,
perhaps blinded in his years, had reckoned him his best and most
sincere friend. There are many unscrupulous men who pose as dear,
devoted friends of those who they know are doomed by disease to die--
men who hope to be left executors with attaching emoluments, and men
who have some deep game to play either by swindling the orphans, or by
advancing one of their own kith and kin in the social scale.
Old Mr. Henfrey, a genuine country landowner of the good old school, a
man who lived in tweeds and leggings, and who rode regularly to hounds
and enjoyed his days across the stubble, was one of the unsuspicious.
Charles Benton he had first met long ago in the Hotel de Russie in
Rome while he was wintering there. Benton was merry, and, apparently,
a gentleman. He talked of his days at Harrow, and afterwards at
Cambridge, of being sent down because of a big "rag" in the
Gladstonian days, and of his life since as a fairly well-off bachelor
with rooms in London.
Thus a close intimacy had sprung up between them, and Hugh had
naturally regarded his father's friend with entire confidence.
"You admit that you are not telling me the whole truth, Hugh,"
remarked the girl after a long pause. "It is hardly fair of you, is
"Ah! darling, you do not know my position," he hastened to explain as
he gripped her little hand more tightly in his own. "I only wish I
could learn the truth myself so as to make complete explanation. But
at present all is doubt and uncertainty. Won't you trust me, Dorise?"
"Trust you!" she echoed. "Why, of course I will! You surely know that,
The young man was again silent for some moments. Then he exclaimed:
"Yet, after all, I can see no ray of hope."
"Hope of our marriage, Dorise," he said hoarsely. "How can I, without
money, ever hope to make you my wife?"
"But you will have your father's estate in due course, won't you?" she
asked quite innocently. "You always plead poverty. You are so like a
"Ah! Dorise, I am really poor. You don't understand--/you can't/!"
"But I do," she said. "You may have debts. Every man has them--
tailor's bills, restaurant bills, betting debts, jewellery debts. Oh!
I know. I've heard all about these things from another. Well, if you
have them, you'll be able to settle them out of your father's estate
all in due course."
"And if he has left me nothing?"
"Nothing!" exclaimed the handsome girl at his side. "What do you
"Well----" he said very slowly. "At present I have nothing--that's
all. That is why at Monte Carlo I suggested that--that----"
He did not conclude the sentence.
"I remember. You said that I had better marry George Sherrard--that
thick-lipped ass. You said that because you are hard-up?"
"Yes. I am hard-up. Very hard-up. At present I am existing in an
obscure lodging practically upon the charity of a man upon whom, so
far as I can ascertain, I have no claim whatsoever."
"The notorious thief?"
Hugh nodded, and said:
"That fact in itself mystifies me. I can see no motive. I am entirely
innocent of the crime attributed to me, and if Mademoiselle were in
her right mind she would instantly clear me of this terrible charge."
"But why did you go to her home that night, Hugh?"
"As I have already told you, I went to demand a reply to a single
question I put to her," he said. "But please do no let us discuss the
affair further. The whole circumstances are painful to me--more
painful than you can possibly imagine. One day--and I hope it will be
soon--you will fully realize what all this has cost me."
The girl drew a long breath.
"I know, Hugh," she said. "I know, dear--and I do trust you."
They halted, and he bent and impressed upon her lips a fierce caress.
So entirely absorbed in each other were the pair that they failed to
notice the slim figure of a man who had followed the girl at some
distance. Indeed, the individual in question had been lurking outside
the house in Grosvenor Gardens, and had watched Dorise leave. At the
end of the street a taxi was drawn up at the kerb awaiting him. Dorise
had hailed the man, but his reply was a surly "Engaged."
Then, walking about a couple of hundred yards, she had found another,
and entering it, had driven to the Marble Arch. But the first taxi had
followed the second one, and in it was the well-set-up man who was
silently watching her in the park as she walked with her lover towards
the Victoria Gate.
"What can I say to you in reply to your words of hope, darling?"
exclaimed Hugh as he walked beside her. "I know full well how much all
this must puzzle you. Have you seen Brock?"
"Oh! yes. I saw him two days ago. He called upon mother and had tea. I
managed to get five minutes alone with him, and I asked if he had
heard from you. He replied that he had not. He's much worried about
"Is he, dear old chap? I only wish I dared write to him, and give him
"I told him that you were back in London. But I did not give him your
address. You told me to disclose nothing."
"Quite right, Dorise," he said. "If, as I hope one day to do, I can
ever clear myself and combat my secret enemies, then there will be
revealed to you a state of things of which you little dream. To-day I
confess I am under a cloud. In the to-morrow I hope and pray that I
may be able to expose the guilty and throw a new light upon those who
have conspired to secure my downfall."
They had halted in the dark path, and again their lips met in fond
caress. Behind them was the silent watcher, the tall man who had
followed Dorise when she had made her secret exit from the house
wherein the gay dance was till in progress.
An empty seat was near, and with one accord the lovers sank upon it,
Hugh still holding the girl's soft hand.
"I must really go," she said. "Mother will miss me, no doubt."
"And George Sherrard, too?" asked her companion bitterly.
"He may, of course."
"Ah! Then he is with you to-night?"
"Yes. Unfortunately, he is. Ah! Hugh! How I hate his exquisite and
superior manners. But he is such a close friend of mother's that I can
never escape him."
"And he still pesters you with his attentions, of course," remarked
Hugh in a hard voice.
"Oh! yes, he is always pretending to be in love with me."
"Love!" echoed Hugh. "Can such a man ever love a woman? Never, Dorise.
He does not love you as I love you--with my whole heart and my whole
"Of course the fellow cannot," she replied. "But, for mother's sake, I
have to suffer his presence."
"At least you are frank, darling," he laughed.
"I only tell you the truth, dear. Mother thinks she can induce me to
marry him because he is so rich, but I repeat that I have no intention
whatever of doing so. I love you, Hugh--and only you."
Again he took her in his strong arms and pressed her to him, still
being watched by the mysterious individual who had followed Dorise.
"Ah! my darling, these are, indeed, moments of supreme happiness,"
Hugh exclaimed as he held her tightly in his arms. "I wonder when we
dare meet again?"
"Soon, dear--very soon, I hope. Let us make another appointment," she
said. "On Friday week mother is going to spend the night with Mrs.
Deane down at Ascot. I shall make excuse to stay at home."
"Right. Friday week at the same place and time," he said cheerily.
"I'll have to go now," she said regretfully. "I only wish I could stay
longer, but I must get back at once. If mother misses me she'll have a
So he walked with her out of the Victoria Gate into the Bayswater Road
and put her into an empty taxi which was passing back to Oxford
Then, when he had pressed her hand and wished her adieu, he continued,
towards Notting Hill Gate, and thence returned to Kensington.
But, though he was ignorant of the fact, the rather lank figure which
had been waiting outside the house in Grosvenor Gardens now followed
him almost as noiselessly as a shadow. Never once did the watcher lose
sight of him until he saw him enter the house in Abingdon Road with
Then, when the door had closed, the mysterious watcher passed by and
scrutinized the number, after which he hastened back to Kensington
High Street, where he found a belated taxi in which he drove away.
ON THE SURREY HILLS
On the following morning, about twelve o'clock, Emily, Mrs. Mason's
stout maid-of-all-work, showed a tall, well-dressed man into Hugh's
frowsy little sitting-room where he sat reading.
He sprang to his feet when he recognized his visitor to be Charles
"Well my boy!" cried his visitor cheerily. "So I've found you at last!
We all thought you were on the Continent, lying low somewhere."
"So I have been," replied the young man faintly. "You've heard of that
affair at Monte Carlo?"
"Of course. And you are suspected--wanted by the police? That's why
I'm here," Benton replied. "This place isn't safe for you. You must
get away from it at once," he added, lowering his voice.
"Why isn't it safe?"
"Because at Scotland Yard they know you are somewhere in Kensington,
and they're hunting high and low for you."
"How do you know?"
"Because Harpur, one of the assistant Commissioners of Police,
happened to be in the club yesterday, and we chatted. So I pumped him
as to the suspected person from Monte Carlo, and he declared that you
were known to be in this district, and your arrest was only a matter
of time. So you must clear out at once."
"Where to?" asked Hugh blankly.
"Well, there's a lady you met once or twice with me, Mrs. Bond. She
will be delighted to put you up for a few weeks. She has a charming
house down in Surrey--a place called Shapley Manor."
"She might learn the truth and give me away," remarked Hugh dubiously.
"She won't. Recollect, Hugh, that I was your father's friend, and am
yours. What advice I give you is for your own good. You can't stay
The name of The Sparrow was upon Hugh's lips, and he was about to tell
Benton of that mysterious person's efforts on his behalf, but, on
reflection, he saw that he had no right to expose The Sparrow's
existence to others. The very house in which they were was one of the
bolt-holes of the wonderfully organized gang of crooks which Il
"How did you know that I was here?" asked Hugh suddenly in curiosity.
"That I'm not at liberty to say. It was not a friend of yours, but
rather an enemy who told me--hence I tell you that you run the gravest
risk in remaining here a moment longer. As soon as I heard you were
here, I telephoned to Mrs. Bond, and she has very generously asked us
both to stay with her," Benton went on. "If you agree, I'll get a car
now, without delay, and we'll run down into Surrey together," he
Hugh glanced at the tall, well-dressed man of whom his father had
thought so highly. Charles Benton, in spite of his hair tuning grey,
was a handsome man, and moved in a very good circle of society. Nobody
knew his source of income, and nobody cared. In these days clothes
make the gentleman, and a knighthood a lady.
Like many others, old Mr. Henfrey had been sadly deceived by Charles
Benton, and had taken him into his family as a friend. Other men had
done the same. His geniality, his handsome, open face, and his
plausible manner, proved the open sesame to many doors of the wealthy,
and the latter were robbed in various ways, yet never dreaming that
Benton was the instigator of it all. He never committed a theft
himself. He gave the information--and others did the dirty work.
"You recollect Mrs. Bond," said Benton. "But I believe Maxwell, her
first husband, was alive then, wasn't he?"
"I have a faint recollection of meeting a Mrs. Maxwell in Paris--at
lunch at the Pre Catalan--was it not?"
"Yes, of course. About six years ago. That's quite right!" laughed
Benton. "Well, Maxwell died and she married again--a Colonel Bond. He
was killed in Mesopotamia, and now she's living up on the Hog's Back,
beyond Guildford, on the road to Farnham."
Hugh again reflected. He had come to Abingdon Road at the suggestion
of the mysterious White Cavalier. Ought he to leave the place without
first consulting him? Yet he had no knowledge of the whereabouts of
the man of mystery whom he firmly believed was none other than the
elusive Sparrow. Besides, was not Benton, his father's closest friend,
warning him of his peril?
The latter thought decided him.
"I'm sure it's awfully good of Mrs. Bond whom I know so slightly to
invite me to stay with her."
"Nothing, my dear boy. She's a very old friend of mine. I once did her
a rather good turn when Maxwell was alive, and she's never forgotten
it. She's one of the best women in the world, I assure you," Benton
declared. "I'll run along to a garage I know in Knightsbridge and get
a car to take us down to Shapley. It's right out in the country, and
as long as you keep clear of the town of Guildford--where the police
are unusually wary under one of the shrewdest chief constables in
England--then you needn't have much fear. Pack up your traps, Hugh,
and I'll call for you at the end of the road in half an hour."
"Yes. But I'll want a dress suit and lots of other things if I'm going
to stay at a country house," the young man demurred.
"Rot! You can get all you want in Aldershot, Farnham or Portsmouth.
Come just as you are. Mrs. Bond will make all allowances."
"And probably have her suspicions aroused at the same time?"
"No, she won't. This is a sudden trip into the country. I told her you
had been taken unwell--a nervous breakdown--and that the doctor had
ordered you complete rest at once."
"I wish I had stayed in Monte Carlo and faced the charge against me,"
declared Hugh fervently. "Being hunted from pillar to post like this
is so absolutely nerve-racking."
"Why did you go to that woman's house, Hugh?" Benton asked. "What
business had you that led you to call at that hour upon such a
Hugh remained silent. He saw that to tell Benton the truth would be to
reopen the whole question of the will and of Louise.
So he merely shrugged his shoulders.
"Won't you tell me what really happened at the Villa Amette, Hugh?"
asked the elder man persuasively. "I've seen Brock, but he apparently
"Of course he does not. I was alone," was Hugh's answer. "The least
said about that night of horror the better, Benton."
So his father's friend left the house, while Hugh sought Mrs. Mason,
settled his bill with her, packed his meagre wardrobe into a suit-
case, and half an hour later entered the heavy old limousine which he
found at the end of the road.
They took the main Portsmouth road, by way of Kingston, Cobham and
Ripley, until in the cold grey afternoon they descended the steep hill
through Guildford High Street, and crossing the bridge, instead of
continuing along the road to Portsmouth, bore to the right, past the
station, and up the steep wide road over that long hill, the Hog's
Back, whence a great misty panorama was spread out on either side of
the long, high-up ridge which in the sunshine gives such a wonderful
view to motorists on their way out of London southward.
Presently the car turned into the gravelled drive, and Hugh found
himself at Shapley.
In the chintz-hung, old-world morning-room, lit by the last rays of
the declining sun, for the sky had suddenly cleared, Mrs. Bond
entered, loud-voiced and merry.
"Why, Mr. Henfrey! I'm so awfully pleased to see you. Charles
telephoned to me that you were a bit out of sorts. So you must stay
with me for a little while--both of you. It's very healthy up here on
the Surrey hills, and you'll soon be quite right again."
"I'm sure, Mrs. Bond, it is most hospitable of you," Hugh said.
"London in these after the war days is quite impossible. I always long
for the country. Certainly your house is delightful," he added,
"It's one of the nicest houses in the whole county of Surrey, my boy,"
Benton declared enthusiastically. "Mrs. Bond was awfully lucky in
securing it. The family are unfortunately ruined, as so many others
are by excessive taxation and high prices, and she just stepped in at
the psychological moment."
"Well, I really don't know how to thank you sufficiently, Mrs. Bond,"
Hugh declared. "It is really extremely good of you."
"Remember, Mr. Henfrey, we are not strangers," exclaimed the handsome
woman. "Do you recollect when we met in Paris, and afterwards in
Biarritz, and then that night at the Carlton?"
"I recollect perfectly well. We met before the war, when one could
really enjoy oneself contentedly."
"Since then I have been travelling a great deal," said the woman.
"I've been in Italy, the South of Spain, the Azores, and over to the
States. I got back only a few months ago."
And so after a chat Hugh was shown to his room, a pretty apartment,
from the diamond-paned windows of which spread out a lovely view
across to Godalming and Hindhead, with the South Downs in the blue far
"Now you must make yourselves at home, both of you," the handsome
woman urged as they came down into the drawing-room after a wash.
Tea was served, and over it much chatter about people and places. Mrs.
Bond was, like her friend Benton, a thorough-going cosmopolitan. Hugh
had no idea of her real reputation, or of her remarkable adventures.
Neither had he any idea that Molly Maxwell was wanted by the Paris
Surete, just as he himself was wanted.
"Isn't this a charming place?" remarked Benton as, an hour later, they
strolled on the long terrace smoking cigarettes before dinner. "Mrs.
Bond was indeed fortunate in finding it."
"Beautiful!" declared Hugh in genuine admiration. Since that memorable
night in Monte Carlo he had been living in frowsy surroundings,
concealed in thieves' hiding-places, eating coarse food, and hearing
the slang of the underworld of Europe.
It had been exciting, yet he had been drawn into it against his will--
just because he had feared for Dorise's sake, to face the music after
that mysterious shot had been fired at the Villa Amette.
Mrs. Bond was most courteous to her guests, and as Hugh and Benton
strolled up and down the terrace in the fast growing darkness, the
elder man remarked:
"You'll be quite safe here, you know, Hugh. Don't worry. I'm truly
sorry that you have landed yourself into this hole, but--well, for the
life of me I can't see what led you to seek out that woman, Yvonne
Ferad. Why ever did you go there?"
"I--I had reasons--private reasons of my own," he replied.
"That's vague enough. We all have private reasons for doing silly
things, and it seems that you did an exceptionally silly thing. I hear
that Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, after the doctors operated upon her
brain, has now become a hopeless idiot."
"So I've been told. It is all so very sad--so horrible. Though people
have denounced her as an adventuress, yet I know that at heart she is
a real good woman."
"Is she? How do you know?" asked Benton quickly, for instantly he was
on the alert.
"I know. And that is all."
"But tell me, Hugh--tell me in confidence, my boy--what led you to
seek her that night. You must have followed her from the Casino and
have seen her enter the Villa. Then you rang at the door and asked to
"Yes, I did."
"I had my own reasons."
"Can't you tell them to me, Hugh?" asked the tall man in a strange,
low voice. "Remember, I am an old friend of your father. And I am
still your best friend."
Hugh pursued his walk in silence.
"No," he said at last, "I prefer not to discuss the affair. That night
is one full of painful memories."
"Very well," answered Benton shortly. "If you don't want to tell me,
Hugh, I quite understand. That's enough. Have another cigarette," and
he handed the young fellow his heavy gold case.
A week passed. Hugh Henfrey and Charles Benton greatly enjoyed their
stay at Shapley Manor. With their hostess they motored almost daily to
many points of interest in the neighbourhood, never, by the way,
descending into the town of Guildford, where the police were so
unusually alert and shrewd.
More than once when alone with Benton, Hugh felt impelled to refer to
the mysterious death of his father, but it was a very painful subject.
The last time Hugh had referred to it, about a month before his visit
to Monte Carlo, Benton had been greatly upset, and had begged the
young man not to mention the tragic affair.
Constantly, however, Benton, on his part, would put cunning questions
to him concerning Yvonne Ferad, as to what he knew concerning her, and
how he had managed to escape over the frontier into Italy.
Late one night as they sat together in the billiard-room after their
final game, Benton, removing the cigar from his lips, exclaimed:
"Oh! I quite forgot to tell you, Mrs. Bond has been awfully good to
Louise. She took her from Paris with her and they went quite a long
tour, first to Spain and other places, and then to New York and back."
"Has she?" exclaimed Hugh in surprise. Only once before had Benton
mentioned Louise's name, then he had casually remarked that she was on
a visit to some friends in Yorkshire.
"Yes. She's making her home with Mrs. Bond for the present. She
returns here to-morrow."
As he said this, he watched the young man's face. It was sphinx-like.
"Oh! That's jolly!" he replied, with well assumed satisfaction. "It
seems such an age since we last met--nearly a year before my father's
death, I believe."
In his heart he had no great liking for the girl, although she was
bright, vivacious and extremely good company.
Next afternoon the pair met in the hall after the car had brought her
from Guildford station.
"Hallo, Hugh!" she cried as she grasped his hand. "Uncle wrote and
told me you were here! How jolly, isn't it? Why--you seem to have
grown older," she laughed.
"And you younger," he replied, bending over her hand gallantly. "I
hear you've been all over the world of late!"
"Yes. Wasn't it awfully good of Mrs. Bond? I had a ripping time. I
enjoyed New York ever so much. I find this place a bit dull after
Paris though, so I'm often away with friends."
And he followed her into the big morning-room where Mrs. Bond, alias
Molly Maxwell, was awaiting her.
That afternoon there had been several callers; a retired admiral and
his wife, and two county magistrates with their womenfolk, for since
her residence at Shapley Mrs. Bond had been received in a good many
smart houses, especially by the /nouveau riche/ who abound in that
neighbourhood. But the callers had left and they were now alone.
As Louise sat opposite the woman who had taken her under her charge,
Hugh gazed at her furtively and saw that there was no comparison
between her and the girl he loved so deeply.
How strange it was, he thought. If he asked her to be his wife and
they married, he would at once become a wealthy man and inherit all
his father's possessions. True, she was very sweet and possessed more
than the ordinary /chic/ and good taste in dress. Yet he felt that he
could never fulfil his dead father's curious desire.
He could never marry her--/never/!
THE MAN WITH THE BLACK GLOVE
On his way out of London, Hugh had made excuse and stopped the car at
a post office in Putney, whence he sent an express note to Dorise,
telling her his change of address. He though it wiser not to post it.
Hence it was on the morning following Louise's arrival at Shapley, he
received a letter from Dorise, enclosing one she had received under
cover for him. He had told Dorise to address him as "Mr. Carlton
It was on dark-blue paper, such as is usually associated with the law
or officialdom. Written in a neat, educated hand, it read:
"DEAR MR. HENFREY,--I hear that you have left Abingdon Road, and am
greatly interested to know the reason. You will, no doubt,
recognize me as the friend who sent a car for you at Monte Carlo.
Please call at the above address at the earliest possible moment.
Be careful that you are not watched. Say nothing to anybody,
wherever you may be. Better call about ten-thirty P.M., and ask
for me. Have no fear. I am still your friend,
The address given was 14, Ellerston Street, Mayfair.
Hugh knew the street, which turned off Curzon Street, a short
thoroughfare, but very exclusive. Some smart society folk lived there.
But who was George Peters? Was it not The Sparrow who had sent him the
car with the facetious chauffeur to that spot in Monte Carlo? Perhaps
the writer was the White Cavalier!
During the morning Hugh strolled down the hill and through the woods
with Louise. The latter was dressed in a neat country kit, a tweed
suit, a suede tam-o'-shanter, and carried a stout ash-plant as a
walking-stick. They were out together until luncheon time.
Meanwhile, Benton sat with his hostess, and had a long confidential
"You see, Molly," he said, as he smoked lazily, "I thought it an
excellent plan to bring them together, and to let them have an
opportunity of really knowing each other. It's no doubt true that he's
over head and ears in love with the Ranscomb girl, but Lady Ranscomb
has set her mind on having Sherrard as her son-in-law. She's a clever
woman, Lady Ranscomb, and of course, in her eyes, Hugh is for ever
beneath a cloud. That he went to the woman's house at night is quite
"Well, if I know anything of young men, Charles, I don't think you'll
ever induce that boy to marry Louise," remarked the handsome
adventuress whom nobody suspected.
"Then if he doesn't, we'll just turn him over to Scotland Yard. We
haven't any further use for him," said Benton savagely. "It's the
money we want."
"And I fear we shall go on wanting it, my dear Charles," declared the
woman, who was so well versed in the ways of men. "Louise likes him.
She has told me so. But he only tolerates her--that's all! He's
obsessed by the mystery of old Henfrey's death."
"I wonder if that was the reason he went that night to see Yvonne?"
exclaimed Benton in a changed voice, as the idea suddenly occurred to
him. "I wonder if--if he suspected something, and went boldly and
"Ah! I wonder!" echoed the woman. "But Yvonne would surely tell him
nothing. It would implicate her far too deeply if she did. Yvonne is a
very shrewd person. She isn't likely to have told the old man's son
"No, you're right, Molly," replied the man. "You're quite right! I
don't think we have much to fear on that score. We've got Hugh with
us, and if he again turns antagonistic the end is quite easy--just an
anonymous line to the police."
"We don't want to do that if there is any other way," the woman said.
"I don't see any other way," replied the adventurer. "If he won't
marry Louise, then the money passes out of our reach."
"I don't like The Sparrow taking such a deep interest in his welfare,"
growled the woman beneath her breath.
"And I don't like the fact that Yvonne is still alive. If she were
dead--then we should have nothing to fear--nothing!" Benton said
"But who fired the shot if Hugh didn't?" asked Mrs. Bond.
"Personally, I think he did. He discovered something--something we
don't yet know--and he went to the Villa Amette and shot her in
revenge for the old man's death. That's my firm belief."
"Then why has The Sparrow taken all these elaborate precautions?"
"Because he's afraid himself of the truth coming out," said Benton.
"He certainly has looked after Hugh very well. I had some trouble to
persuade the lad to come down here, for he evidently believes that The
Sparrow is his best friend."
"He may find him his enemy one day," laughed the woman. And then they
rose and strolled out into the grounds, across the lawn down to the
When at half-past seven they sat down to dinner, Hugh suddenly
remarked that he found it imperative to go to London that evening, and
asked Mrs. Bond if he might have the car.
Benton looked up at him quickly, but said nothing before Louise.
"Certainly; Mead shall take you," was the woman's reply, though she
was greatly surprised at the sudden request. Both she and Benton
instantly foresaw that his intention was to visit Dorise in secret.
For what other reason could he wish to run the risk of returning to
"When do you wish to start?" asked his hostess.
"Oh! about nine--if I may," was the young man's reply.
"Will you be back to-night?" asked the girl who, in a pretty pink
dinner frock, sat opposite him.
"Yes. But it won't be till late, I expect," he replied.
"Remember, to-morrow we are going for a run to Bournemouth and back,"
said the girl. "Mrs. Bond has kindly arranged it, and I daresay she
will come, too."
"I don't know yet, dear," replied Mrs. Bond. The truth was that she
intended that the young couple should spend the day alone together.
Benton was filled with curiosity.
As soon as the meal was over, and the two ladies had left the room, he
poured out a glass of port and turning to the young fellow, remarked:
"Don't you think it's a bit dangerous to go to town, Hugh?"
"It may be, but I must take the risk," was the other's reply.
"What are you going up for?" asked Benton bluntly.
"To see somebody--important," was his vague answer. And though the
elder man tried time after time to get something more definite from
him, he remained silent. Had not his unknown friend urged him to say
nothing to anybody wherever he might be?
So at nine Mead drove up the car to the door, and Hugh, slipping on
his light overcoat, bade his hostess good-night, thanked her for
allowing him the use of the limousine, and promised to be back soon
"Good-night, Hugh!" cried Louise from the other end of the fine old
hall. And a moment later the car drove away in the darkness.
Along the Hog's Back they went, and down into Guildford. Then up the
long steep High Street, past the ancient, overhanging clock at the
Guildhall, and out again on the long straight road to Ripley and
As soon as they were beyond Guildford, he knocked at the window, and
afterwards mounted beside Mead. He hated to be in a car alone, for he
himself was a good driver and used always to drive his father's old
"I'll go to the Berkeley Hotel," he said to the man. "Drop me there,
and pick me up outside there at twelve, will you?"
The man promised to do so, and then they chatted as they continued on
their way to London. Mead, a Guildfordian, knew every inch of the
road. Before entering Mrs. Bond's service he had, for a month, driven
a lorry for a local firm of builders, and went constantly to and from
They arrived at the corner of St. James's Street at half-past ten.
Hugh gave Mead five shillings to get his evening meal, and said:
"Be back here at midnight, Mead. I expect I'll be through my business
long before that. But it's a clear night, and we shall have a splendid
"Very well, sir. Thank you," replied his hostess's chauffeur.
Hugh Henfrey, instead of entering the smart Society hotel, turned up
the street, and, walking quickly, found himself ten minutes later in
Ellerston Street before a spacious house, upon the pale-green door of
which was marked in Roman numerals the number fourteen.
By the light of the street lamp he saw it was an old Georgian town
house. In the ironwork were two-foot-scrapers, relics of a time long
before macadam or wood paving.
The house, high and inartistic, was a relic of the days of the
dandies, when country squires had their town houses, and before labour
found itself in London drawing-rooms. Consumed by curiosity, Hugh
pressed the electric button marked "visitors," and a few moments later
a smart young footman opened the door.
"Mr. George Peters?" inquired Hugh. "I have an appointment."
"What name, sir?" the young, narrow-eyed man asked.
"Oh, yes, sir! Mr. Peters is expecting you," he said. And at once he
conducted him along the narrow hall to a room beyond.
The house was beautifully appointed. Everywhere was taste and luxury.
Even in the hall there were portraits by old Spanish masters and many
rare English sporting prints.
The room into which he was shown was a long apartment furnished in the
style of the Georgian era. The genuine Adams ceiling, mantelpiece, and
dead white walls, with the faintly faded carpet of old rose and light-
blue, were all in keeping. The lights, too, were shaded, and over all
was an old-world atmosphere of quiet and dignified repose.
The room was empty, and Hugh crossed to examine a beautiful little
marble statuette of a girl bather, with her arms raised and about to
dive. It was, no doubt, a gem of the art of sculpture, mounted upon a
pedestal of dark-green marble which revolved.
The whole conception was delightful, and the girl's laughing face was
most perfect in its portraiture.
Of a sudden the door reopened, and he was met by a stout, rather
wizened old gentleman with white bristly hair and closely cropped
moustache, a man whose ruddy face showed good living, and who moved
with the brisk alertness of a man twenty years his junior.
"Ah! here you are, Mr. Henfrey!" he exclaimed warmly, as he offered
his visitor his hand. Upon the latter was a well-worn black glove--
evidently to hide either some disease or deformity. "I was wondering
if you received my letter safely?"
"Yes," replied Hugh, glancing at the shrewd little man whose gloved
right hand attracted him.
"Sit down," the other said, as he closed the door. "I'm very anxious
to have a little chat with you."
Hugh took the arm-chair which Mr. Peters indicated. Somehow he viewed
the man with suspicion. His eyes were small and piercing, and his face
with its broad brow and narrow chin was almost triangular. He was a
man of considerable personality, without a doubt. His voice was high
pitched and rather petulant.
"Now," he said. "I was surprised to learn that you had left your safe
asylum in Kensington. Not only was I surprised--but I confess, I was
"I take it that I have to thank you for making those arrangements for
my escape from Monte Carlo?" remarked Hugh, looking him straight in
"No thanks are needed, my dear Mr. Henfrey," replied the elder man.
"So long as you are free, what matters? But I do not wish you to
deliberately run risks which are so easily avoided. Why did you leave
"I was advised to do so by a friend."
"Not by Miss Ranscomb, I am sure."
"No, by a Mr. Benton, whom I know."
The old man's eyebrows narrowed for a second.
"Benton?" he echoed. "Charles Benton--is he?"
"Yes. As he was a friend of my late father I naturally trust him."
Mr. Peters paused.
"Oh, naturally," he said a second later. "But where are you living
Hugh told him that he was the guest of Mrs. Bond of Shapley Manor,
whereupon Mr. Peters sniffed sharply, and rising, obtained a box of
good cigars from a cupboard near the fireplace.
"You went there at Benton's suggestion?"
"Yes, I did."
Mr. Peters gave a grunt of undisguised dissatisfaction, as he curled
himself in his chair and examined carefully the young man before him.
"Now, Mr. Henfrey," he said at last. "I am very sorry for you. I
happen to know something of your present position, and the great
difficulty in which you are to-day placed by the clever roguery of
others. Will you please describe to me accurately exactly what
occurred on that fateful night at the Villa Amette? If I am to assist
you further it is necessary for you to tell me everything--remember,
Hugh paused and looked the stranger straight in the face.
"I thought you knew all about it," he said.
"I know a little--not all. I want to know everything. Why did you
venture there at all? You did not know the lady. It was surely a very
unusual hour to pay a call?" said the little man, his shrewd eyes
fixed upon his visitor.
"Well, Mr. Peters, the fact is that my father died in very suspicious
circumstances, and I was led to believe the Mademoiselle was cognizant
of the truth."
The other man frowned slightly.
"And so you went there with the purpose of getting the truth from
her?" he remarked, with a grunt.
Hugh nodded in the affirmative.
"What did she tell you?"
"Nothing. She was about to tell me something when the shot was fired
by someone on the veranda outside."
"H'm! Then the natural surmise would be that you, suspecting that
woman of causing your father's death, shot her because she refused to
tell you anything?"
"I repeat she was about to disclose the circumstances--to divulge her
secret, when she was struck down."
"You have no suspicion of anyone? You don't think that her manservant
--I forget the fellow's name--fired the shot? Remember, he was not in
the room at the time!"
"I feel confident that he did not. He was far too distressed at the
terrible affair," said Hugh. "The outrage must have been committed by
someone to whom the preservation of the secret of my father's end was
of most vital importance."
"Agreed," replied the man with the black glove. "The problem we have
to solve is who was responsible for your father's death."
"Yes," said Hugh. "If that shot had not been fired I should have known
"You think, then, that Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo would have told you
the truth?" asked the bristly-haired man with a mysterious smile.
"Yes. She would."
"Well, Mr. Henfrey, I think I am not of your opinion."
"You think possibly she would have implicated herself if she had told
me the truth?"
"I do. But the chief reason I asked you to call and see me to-night is
to learn for what reason you have been induced to go on a visit to
this Mrs. Bond."
"Because Benton suggested it. He told me that Scotland Yard knew of my
presence in Kensington, making further residence there dangerous."
"H'm!" And the man with the black glove paused again.
"You don't like Benton, do you?"
"I have no real reason to dislike him. He has always been very
friendly towards me--as he was to my late father. The only thing which
causes me to hold aloof from him as much as I can is the strange
clause in my father's will."
"Strange clause?" echoed the old man. "What clause?"
"My father, in his will, cut me off every benefit he could unless I
married Benton's adopted daughter, Louise. If I marry her, then I
obtain a quarter of a million. I at first thought of disputing the
will, but Mr. Charman, our family solicitor, says that it is perfectly
in order. The will was made in Paris two years before his death. He
went over there on some financial business."
"Was Benton with him?" asked Mr. Peters.
"No. Benton went to New York about two months before."
"H'm! And how soon after your father's return did he come home?"
"I think it was about three months. He was in America five months
altogether, I believe."
The old man, still curled in his chair, smoked his cigar in silence.
Apparently he was thinking deeply.
"So Benton has induced you to go down to Shapley in order that you may
be near his adopted daughter, in the hope that you will marry her! In
the meantime you are deeply in love with Lady Ranscomb's daughter. I
know her--a truly charming girl. I congratulate you," he added, as
though speaking to himself. "But the situation is indeed a very
"For me it is terrible. I am living under a cloud, and in constant
fear of arrest. What can be done?"
"I fear nothing much can be done at present," said the old man,
shaking his head gravely. "I quite realize that you are victim of
certain enemies who intend to get hold of your father's fortune. It is
for us to combat them--if we can."
"Then you will continue to help me?" asked Hugh eagerly, looking into
the mysterious face of the old fellow who wore the black glove.
"I promise you my aid," he replied, putting out his gloved hand as
Then, as Hugh took it, he looked straight into those keen eyes, and
"You have asked me many questions, sir, and I have replied to them
all. May I ask one of you--my friend?"
"Certainly," replied the older man.
"Then am I correct in assuming that you are actually the person of
whom I have heard so much up and down Europe--the man of whom certain
men and women speak with admiration, and with bated breath--the man
known in certain circles as--as /Il Passero/?"
The countenance of the little man with the bristly white hair and the
black glove relaxed into a smile, as, still holding Hugh's hand in
friendship, he replied:
"Yes. It is true. Some know me as 'The Sparrow!'"
Hugh Henfrey was at last face to face with the most notorious criminal
The black-gloved hand of the wizened, bristly-haired old man was the
hand that controlled a great organization spread all over Europe--an
organization which only knew Il Passero by repute, but had never seen
him in the flesh.
Yet there he was, a discreet, rather petulant old gentleman, who lived
at ease in an exclusive West End street, and was entirely unsuspected!
When "Mr. Peters" admitted his identity, Hugh drew a long breath. He
was staggered. He was profuse in his thanks, but "The Sparrow" merely
"It is true that I and certain of my friends make war upon Society--
and more especially upon those who have profiteered upon those brave
fellows who laid down their lives for us in the war. Whatever you have
heard concerning me I hope you will forgive, Mr. Henfrey. At least I
am the friend of those who are in distress, or who are wrongly judged
--as you are to-day."
"I have heard many strange things concerning you from those who have
never met you," Hugh said frankly. "But nothing to your detriment.
Everyone speaks of you, sir, as a gallant sportsman, possessed of an
almost uncanny cleverness in outwitting the authorities."
"Oh, well!" laughed the shrewd old man. "By the exercise of a little
wit, and the possession of a little knowledge of the /personnel/ of
the police, one can usually outwit them. Curious as you may think it,
a very high official at Scotland Yard dined with me here only last
night. As I am known as a student of criminology, and reputed to be
the author of a book upon that subject, he discussed with me the
latest crime problem with which he had been called upon to deal--the
mysterious murder of a young girl upon the beach on the north-east
coast. His frankness rather amused me. It was, indeed, a quaint
situation," he laughed.
"But does he not recognize you, or suspect?" asked Hugh.
"Why should he? I have never been through the hands of the police in
my life. Hence I have never been photographed, nor have my finger
prints been taken. I merely organize--that is all."
"Your organization is most wonderful, Mr.--er--Mr. Peters," declared
the young man. "Since my flight I have had opportunity of learning
something concerning it. And frankly, I am utterly astounded."
The old man's face again relaxed into a sphinx-like smile.
"When I order, I am obeyed," he said in a curious tone. "I ordered
your rescue from that ugly situation in Monte Carlo. You and Miss
Ranscomb no doubt believed the tall man who went to the ball at Nice
as a cavalier to be myself. He did not tell you anything to the
contrary, because I only reveal my identity to persons whom I can
trust, and then only in cases of extreme necessity."
"Then I take it, sir, that you trust me, and that my case is one of
"It is," was The Sparrow's reply. "At present I can see no solution of
the problem. It will be best, perhaps, for you to remain where you are
for the present," he added. He did not tell the young man of his
knowledge of Benton and his hostess.
"But I am very desirous of seeing Miss Ranscomb," Hugh said. "Is there
any way possible by which I can meet her without running too great a
The Sparrow reflected in silence for some moments.
"To-day is Wednesday," he remarked slowly at last. "Miss Ranscomb is
in London. That I happen to know. Well, go to the Bush Hotel, in
Farnham, on Friday afternoon and have tea. She will probably motor
there and take tea with you."
"Will she?" cried Hugh eagerly. "Will you arrange it? You are, indeed,
a good Samaritan!"
The little old man smiled.
"I quite understand that this enforced parting under such
circumstances is most unfortunate for you both," he said. "But I have
done, and will continue to do, all I can in your interest."
"I can't quite make you out, Mr. Peters," said the young man. "Why
should you evince such a paternal interest in me?"
The Sparrow did not at once reply. A strange expression played about
"Have I not already answered that question twice?" he asked. "Rest
assured, Mr. Henfrey, that I have your interests very much at heart."
"You have some reason for that, I'm sure."
"Well--yes, I have a reason--a reason which is my own affair." And he
rose to wish his visitor "good-night."
"I'll not forget to let Miss Ranscomb know that you will be at
Farnham. She will, no doubt, manage to get her mother's car for the
afternoon," he said. "Good-night!" and with his gloved fingers he took
the young man's outstretched hand.
The instant he heard the front door close he crossed to the telephone,
and asking for a number, told the person who answered it to come round
and see him without a moment's delay.
Thus, while Hugh Henfrey was seated beside Mead as Mrs. Bond's car
went swiftly towards Kensington, a thin, rather wiry-looking man of
middle age entered The Sparrow's room.
The latter sprang to his feet quickly at sight of his visitor.
"Ah! Howell! I'm glad you've come. Benton and Molly Maxwell are
deceiving us. They mean mischief!"
The man he addressed as Howell looked aghast.
"Mischief?" he echoed. "In what way?"
"I've not yet arrived at a full conclusion. But we must be on the
alert and ready to act whenever the time is ripe. You know what they
did over that little affair in Marseilles not so very long ago?
They'll repeat, if we're not very careful. That girl of Benton's they
are using as a decoy--and she's a dangerous one."
"For old Henfrey's son."
The Sparrow's visitor gave vent to a low whistle.
"They intend to get old Henfrey's money?"
"Yes--and they will if we are not very wary," declared the little,
bristly-haired old gentleman known as The Sparrow. "The boy has been
entirely entrapped. They made one /faux pas/, and it is upon that we
may--if we are careful--get the better of them. I don't like the
situation at all. They have a distinctly evil design against the boy."
"Benton and Molly are a combination pretty hard to beat," remarked Mr.
Howell. "But I thought they were friends of ours."
"True. They were. But after the little affair in Marseilles I don't
trust them," replied The Sparrow. "When anyone makes a slip, either by
design or sheer carelessness, or perhaps by reason of inordinate
avarice, then I always have to safeguard myself. I suspect--and my
suspicion usually proves correct."
His midnight visitor drew a long breath.
"What we all say of you is that The Sparrow is gifted with an extra
sense," he said.
The little old man with the gloved hand smiled contentedly.
"I really don't know why," he said. "But I scent danger long before
others have any suspicion of it. If I did not, you would, many of you
who are my friends, have been in prison long ago."
"But you have such a marvellous memory."
"Memory!" he echoed. "Quite wrong. I keep everything filed. I work
yonder at my desk all day. See this old wardrobe," and he crossed to a
long, genuine Jacobean wardrobe which stood in a corner and, unlocking
it, opened the carved doors. "There you see all my plans arranged and
docketed. I can tell you what has been attempted to-night. Whether the
coup is successful I do not yet know."
Within were shelves containing many bundles of papers, each tied with
pink tape in legal fashion. He took out a small, black-covered index
book and, after consulting it, drew out a file of papers from the
These he brought to his table, and opened.
"Ah, yes!" he said, knitting his brows as he read a document beneath
the green-shaded electric lamp. "You know Franklyn, don't you?"
"Yes. Well, he's in the Tatra, in Hungary. He and Matthews are with
three Austrian friends of ours, and to-night they are at the Castle of
Szombat, belonging to Count Zsolcza, the millionaire banker of Vienna.
The Countess has some very valuable jewels, which were indicated to me
several months ago by her discharged lady's maid--through another
channel, of course. I hope that before dawn the jewels will be no
longer at Szombat, for the Count is an old scoundrel who cornered the
people's food in Austria just before the Armistice and is directly
responsible for an enormous amount of suffering. The Countess was a
cafe singer in Budapest. Her name was Anna Torna."
Mr. Howell sat open-mouthed. He was a crook and the bosom friend of
the great Passero. Like all others who knew him, he held the master
criminal in awe and admiration. The Sparrow, whatever he was, never
did a mean action and never took advantage of youth or inexperience.
To his finger-tips he was a sportsman, whose chief delight in life was
to outwit and puzzle the police of Europe. In the underworld he was
believed to be fabulously wealthy, as no doubt he was. To the outside
world he was a very rich old gentleman, who contributed generously to
charities, kept two fine cars, and, as well as his town house, had a
pretty place down in Gloucestershire, and usually rented a grouse moor
in Scotland, where he entertained Mr. Howell and several other of his
intimate friends who were in the same profitable profession as
himself, and in whose "business" he held a controlling interest.
In Paris, Rome, Madrid, or Brussels, he was well known as an idler who
stayed at the best hotels and patronized the most expensive
restaurants, while his villa on the Riviera he had purchased from a
Roumanian prince who had ruined himself by gambling. His gloved hand--
gloved because of a natural deformity--was the hand which controlled
most of the greater robberies, for his war upon society was constantly
"Is Franklyn coming straight back?" asked Howell.
"That is the plan. He should leave Vienna to-morrow night," said The
Sparrow, again consulting the papers. "And he comes home with all
speed. But first he travels to Brussels, and afterwards to The Hague,
where he will hand over Anna Torna's jewels to old Van Ort, and
they'll be cut out of all recognition by the following day. Franklyn
will then cross from the Hook to Harwich. He will wire me his
departure from Vienna. He's bought a car for the job, and will have to
abandon it somewhere outside of Vienna, for, as in most of our games,
time is the essence of the contract," and the old fellow laughed
"I thought Franklyn worked with Molly," said Mr. Howell.
"So he does. I want him back, for I've a delicate mission for him,"
replied the sphinx-like man known as The Sparrow.
Mr. Howell, at the invitation of the arch-criminal, helped himself to
a drink. Then The Sparrow said:
"You are due to leave London the day after to-morrow on that little
business in Madrid. You must remain in town. I may want you."
"Very well. But Tresham is already there. I had a letter from him from
the Palace Hotel yesterday."
"I will recall him by wire to-morrow. Our plans are complete. The
Marquis's picture will still hang in his house until we are ready for
it. It is the best specimen of Antonio del Rincon, and will fetch a
big price in New York--when we have time to go and get it," he
"Is Franklyn to help the Maxwell woman again?" asked Mr. Howell, who
was known as an expert valuer of antiques and articles of worth, and
who had an office in St. James's. He only dealt in collectors' pieces,
and in the trade bore an unblemished reputation, on account of his
expert knowledge and his sound financial condition. He bought old
masters and pieces of antique silver now and then, but none suspected
that the genuine purchases at big prices were only made in order to
blind his friends as to the actual nature of his business.
Indeed, to his office came many an art gem stolen from its owner on
the Continent and smuggled over by devious ways known only to The
Sparrow and his associates. And just as ingeniously the stolen
property was sent across to America, so well camouflaged that the
United States Customs officers were deceived. With pictures it was
their usual method to coat the genuine picture with a certain varnish,
over which one of the organization, an old artist living in Chelsea,
would paint a modern and quite passable picture and add a new canvas
Then, on its arrival in America, the new picture was easily cleaned
off, the back removed, and lo! it was an old master once more ready
for purchase at a high price by American collectors.
Truly, the gloved hand of The Sparrow was a master hand. He had
brought well-financed and well-organized theft to a fine art. His
"indicators," both male and female, were everywhere, and cosmopolitan
as he was himself, and a wealthy man, he was able to direct--and
finance--all sorts of coups, from a barefaced jewel theft to the
forgery of American banknotes.
And yet, so strange and mysterious a personality was he that not
twenty persons in the whole criminal world had ever met him in the
flesh. The tall, good-looking man whom Dorise knew as the White
Cavalier was one of four other men who posed in his stead when
Scotland Yard, the Surete in Paris, the Pubblica Sicurezza in Rome,
and the Detective Department of the New York police knew, quite
naturally, of the existence of the elusive Sparrow, but none of them
had been able to trace him.
Why? Because he was only the brains of the great, widespread criminal
organization. He remained in smug respectability, while others beneath
his hand carried out his orders--they were the servants, well-paid
too, and he was the master.
No more widespread nor more wonderful criminal combine had ever been
organized than that headed by The Sparrow, the little old man whom
Londoners believed to be Cockney, yet Italians believed to be pure-
bred Tuscan, while in Paris he was a true Parisian who could speak the
argot of the Montmartre without a trace of English accent.
As a politician, as a City man, as a professional man, The Sparrow,
whose real name was as obscure as his personality, would have made his
mark. If a lawyer, he would have secured the honour of a knighthood--
or of a baronetcy, and more than probable he would have entered
The Sparrow was a philosopher, and a thorough-going Englishman to
boot. Though none knew it, he was able by his unique knowledge of the
underworld of Europe to give information--as he did anonymously to the
War Office--of certain trusted persons who were, at the moment of the
outbreak of war, betraying Britain's secrets.
The Department of Military Operations was, by means of the anonymous
information, able to quash a gigantic German plot against us; but they
had been unable to discover either the true source of their
information or the identity of their informant.
"I'd better be off. It's late!" said Mr. Howell, after they had been
in close conversation for nearly half an hour.
"Yes; I suppose you must go," The Sparrow remarked, rising. "I must
get Franklyn back. He must get to the bottom of this curious affair. I
fell that I am being bamboozled by Benton and Molly Maxwell. The boy
is innocent--he is their victim," he added; "but if I can save him, by
gad! I will! Yet it will be difficult. There is much trouble ahead, I
anticipate, and it is up to us, Howell, to combat it!"
"Perhaps Franklyn can assist us?"
"Perhaps. I shall not, however, know before he gets back here from his
adventures in Hungary. But I tell you, Howell, I am greatly concerned
about the lad. He has fallen into the hands of a bad crowd--a very bad
THE MAN WHO KNEW
Late on Thursday night Dorise and her mother were driving home from
Lady Strathbayne's, in Grosvenor Square, where they had been dining.
It was a bright starlight night, and the myriad lamps of the London
traffic flashed past the windows as Dorise sat back in silence.
She was tired. The dinner had been followed by a small dance, and she
had greatly enjoyed it. For once, George Sherrard, her mother's
friend, had not accompanied them. As a matter of fact, Lady
Strathbayne disliked the man, hence he had not been invited.
Suddenly Lady Ranscomb exclaimed:
"I heard about Hugh Henfrey this evening."
"From whom?" asked her daughter, instantly aroused.
"From that man who took me in to dinner. I think his name was Bowden."
"Oh! That stout, red-faced man. I don't know him."
"Neither do I. He was, however, very pleasant, and seems to have
travelled a lot," replied her mother. "He told me that your precious
friend, Henfrey, is back, and is staying down in Surrey as guest of
some woman named Bond."
Dorise sat staggered. Then her lover's secret was out! If his
whereabouts were known in Society, then the police would quickly get
upon his track! She felt she must warn him instantly of his peril.
"How did he know, I wonder?" she asked anxiously.
"Oh! I suppose he's heard. He seemed to know all about the fellow. It
appears that at last he's become engaged."
"Engaged? Hugh engaged?"
"Yes, to a girl named Louise Lambert. She's the adopted daughter of a
man named Benton, who was, by the way, a great friend of old Mr.
Hugh engaged to Louise Lambert! Dorise sat bewildered.
"I--I don't believe it!" she blurted forth at last.
"Ah, my dear. You mean you don't want to believe it--because you are
in love with him!" said her mother as the car rushed homeward. "Now
put all this silly girlish nonsense aside. The fellow is under a
cloud, and no good. I tell you frankly I will never have him as my
son-in-law. How he has escaped the police is a marvel; but if the man
Bowden knows where he is, Scotland Yard will, no doubt, soon hear."
The girl remained silent. Could it be possible that, after all, Hugh
had asked Louise Lambert to be his wife? She had known of her, and had
met her with Hugh, but he had always assured her that they were merely
friends. Yet it appeared that he was now living in concealment under
the same roof as she!
Lady Ranscomb, clever woman of the world as she was, watched her
daughter's face in the fleeting lights as they sped homeward, and saw
what a crushing blow the announcement had dealt her.
"I don't believe it," the girl cried.
She had received word in secret--presumably from the White Cavalier--
to meet Hugh at the Bush Hotel at Farnham on the following afternoon,
but this secret news held her in doubt and despair.
Lady Ranscomb dropped the subject, and began to speak of other things
--of a visit to the flying-ground at Hendon on the following day, and
of an invitation they had received to spend the following week with a
friend at Cowes.
On arrival home Dorise went at once to her room, where her maid
After the distracted girl had thrown off her cloak, her maid unhooked
her dress, whereupon Dorise dismissed her to bed.
"I want to read, so go to bed," she said in a petulant voice which
rather surprised the neat muslin-aproned maid.
"Very well, miss. Good-night," the latter replied meekly.
But as soon as the door was closed Dorise flung herself upon the
chintz-covered couch and wept bitterly as though her heart would
She had met Louise Lambert--it was Hugh who had introduced them.
George Sherrard had several times told her of the friendship between
the pair, and one night at the Haymarket Theatre she had seen them
together in a box. On another occasion she had met them at Ciro's, and
they had been together at the Embassy, at Ranelagh, and yet again she
had seen them lunching together one Sunday at the Metropole at
All this had aroused suspicion and jealousy in her mind. It was all
very well for Hugh to disclaim anything further than pure friendship,
but now that Gossip was casting her hydra-headed venom upon their
affairs, it was surely time to act.
Hugh would be awaiting her at Farnham next afternoon.
She crossed to the window and looked at the bright stars. In war time
she used to see the long beams of searchlights playing to and fro. But
now all was peace in London, and the world-war half forgotten.
Within herself arose a great struggle. Hugh was accused of a crime--an
accusation of which he could not clear himself. He had been hunted
across Europe by the police and had, up to the present, been
successful in slipping through their fingers.
But why did he visit that notorious woman at that hour of the night?
What could have been the secret bond between them?
The woman had narrowly escaped death presumably on account of his
murderous attack upon her, while he had cleverly evaded arrest, until,
at the present moment, his whereabouts was known only to a dinner-
table gossip, and he was staying in the same house as the girl, love
for whom he had always so vehemently disclaimed.
Poor Dorise spent a sleepless night. She lay awake thinking--and yet
At breakfast her mother looked at her and, with satisfaction, saw that
she had gained a point nearer her object.
Dorise went into Bond Street shopping at eleven o'clock, still
undecided whether to face Hugh or not. The shopping was a fiasco. She
bought only a bunch of flowers.
But in her walk she made a resolve not to make further excuse. She
would not ask her mother for the car, and Hugh, by waiting alone,
should be left guessing.
On returning home, her mother told her of George's acceptance of an
invitation to lunch.
"There's a matinee at the Lyric, and he's taking us there," she added.
"But, dear," she went on, "you look ever so pale! What is worrying
you? I hope you are not fretting over that good-for-nothing waster,
Henfrey! Personally, I'm glad to be rid of a fellow who is wanted by
the police for a very serious crime. Do brighten up, dear. This is not
"I--well, mother, I--I don't know what to do," the girl confessed.
"Do! Take my advice, darling. Think no more of the fellow. He's no use
to you--or to me."
"But, mother dear--"
"No, Dorise, no more need be said!" interrupted Lady Ranscomb
severely. "You surely would not be so idiotic as to throw in your lot
with a man who is certainly a criminal."
"A criminal! Why do you denounce him, mother?"
"Well, he stands self-condemned. He has been in hiding ever since that
night at Monte Carlo. If he were innocent, he would surely, for your
sake, come forward and clear himself. Are you mad, Dorise--or are you
The girl remained silent. Her mother's argument was certainly a very
sound one. Had Hugh deceived her?
Her lover's attitude was certainly that of a guilty man. She could not
disguise from herself the fact that he was fleeing from justice, and
that he was unable to give an explanation why he went to the house of
Mademoiselle at all.
Yvonne Ferad, the only person who could tell the truth, was a hopeless
idiot because of the murderous attack. Hence, the onus of clearing
himself rested upon Hugh.
She loved him, but could she really trust him in face of the fact that
he was concealed comfortably beneath the same roof as Louise Lambert?
She recalled that once, when they had met at Newquay in Cornwall over
a tete-a-tete lunch, he had said, in reply to her banter, that Louise
was a darling! That he was awfully fond of her, that she had the most
wonderful eyes, and that she was always alert and full of a keen sense
Such a compliment Hugh had never paid to her. The recollection of it
She wondered what sort of woman was the person named Bond. Then she
decided that she had acted wisely in not going to Farnham. Why should
she? If Hugh was with the girl he admired, then he might return with
Her only fear was lest he should be arrested. If his place of
concealment were spoken of over a West End dinner-table, then it could
not be long before detectives arrested him for the affair at the Villa
On that afternoon Hugh had borrowed Mrs. Bond's car upon a rather lame
pretext, and had pulled up in the square, inartistic yard before the
Bush--the old coaching house, popular before the new road over the
Hog's Back was made, and when the coaches had to ascend that steep
hill out of Guildford, now known as The Mount. For miles the old road
is now grass-grown and forms a most delightful walk, with magnificent
views from the Thames Valley to the South Downs. The days of the
coaches have, alas! passed, and the new road, with its tangle of
telegraph wires, is beloved by every motorist and motor-cyclist who
spins westward in Surrey.
Hugh waited anxiously in the little lounge which overlooks the
courtyard. He went into the garden, and afterwards stood in impatience
beneath the archway from which the street is approached. Later, he
strolled along the road over which he knew Dorise must come. But all
to no avail.
There was no sign of her.
Until six o'clock he waited, when, in blank despair, he mounted beside
Mead again and drove back to Shapley Manor. It was curious that Dorise
had not come to meet him, but he attributed it to The Sparrow's
inability to convey a message to her. She might have gone out of town
with her mother, he thought. Or, perhaps, at the last moment, she had
been unable to get away.
On his return to Shapley he found Louise and Mrs. Bond sitting
together in the charming, old-world drawing-room. A log fire was
"Did you have a nice run, Hugh?" asked the girl, clasping her hands
behind her head and looking up at him as he stood upon the pale-blue
"Quite," he replied. "I went around Hindhead down to Frensham Ponds
and back through Farnham--quite a pleasant run."
"Mr. Benton has had to go to town," said his hostess. "Almost as soon
as you had gone he was rung up, and he had to get a taxi out from
Guildford. He'll be back to-morrow."
"Oh, yes--and, by the way, Hugh," exclaimed Louise, "there was a call