Part 5 out of 6
for you about a quarter of an hour afterwards. I thought nobody knew
you were down here."
"For me!" gasped Henfrey, instantly alarmed.
"Yes, I answered the 'phone. It was a girl's voice!"
"A girl! Who?"
"I don't know who she was. She wouldn't give her name," Louise
replied. "She asked if we were Shapley, and I replied. Then she asked
for you. I told her that you were out in the car and asked her name.
But she said it didn't matter at all, and rang off."
"I wonder who she was?" remarked Hugh, much puzzled and, at the same
time, greatly alarmed. He scented danger. The fact in itself showed
that somebody knew the secret of his hiding-place, and, if they did,
then the police were bound to discover him sooner or later.
Half an hour afterwards he took Mrs. Bond aside, and pointed out the
peril in which he was placed. His hostess, on her part, grew alarmed,
for though Hugh was unaware of it, she had no desire to meet the
police. That little affair in Paris was by no means forgotten.
"It is certainly rather curious," the woman admitted. "Evidently it is
known by somebody that you are staying with me. Don't you think it
would be wiser to leave?"
Hugh hesitated. He wished to take Benton's advice, and told his
hostess so. With this she agreed, yet she was inwardly highly nervous
at the situation. Any police inquiry at Shapley would certainly be
most unwelcome to her, and she blamed herself for agreeing to Benton's
proposal that Hugh should stay there.
"Benton will be back to-morrow," Hugh said. "Do you think it safe for
me to remain here till then?" he added anxiously.
"I hardly know what to think," replied the woman. She herself had a
haunting dread of recognition as Molly Maxwell. She had crossed and
recrossed the Atlantic, carefully covering her tracks, and she did not
intend to be cornered at last.
After dinner, Hugh, still greatly perturbed at the mysterious
telephone call, played billiards with Louise. About a quarter to
eleven, however, Mrs. Bond was called to the telephone and, closing
the door, listened to an urgent message.
It was from Benton, who spoke from London--a few quick, cryptic, but
reassuring words--and when the woman left the room three minutes later
all her anxiety as to the police had apparently passed.
She joined the young couple and watched their game. Louise handled her
cue well, and very nearly beat her opponent. Afterwards, when Louise
went out, Mrs. Bond closed the door swiftly, and said:
"I've been thinking over that little matter, Mr. Henfrey. I really
don't think there is much cause for alarm. Charles will be back
to-morrow, and we can consult him."
Hugh shrugged his shoulders. He was much puzzled.
"The fact is, Mrs. Bond, I'm tired of being hunted like this!" he
said. "This eternal fear of arrest has got upon my nerves to such an
extent that I feel if they want to bring me for trial--well, they can.
I'm innocent--therefore, how can they prove me guilty?"
"Oh! you mustn't let it obsess you," the woman urged. "Mr. Benton has
told me all about the unfortunate affair, and I greatly sympathize
with you. Of course, to court the publicity of a trial would be fatal.
What would your poor father think, I wonder, if he were still alive?"
"He's dead," said the young man in a low, hoarse voice; "but
Mademoiselle Ferad knows the secret of his death."
"He died suddenly--did he not?"
"Yes. He was murdered, Mrs. Bond. I'm certain of it. My father was
"Murdered?" she echoed. "What did the doctors say?"
"They arrived at no definite conclusion," was Hugh's response. "He
left home and went up to London on some secret and mysterious errand.
Later, he was found lying upon the pavement in a dying condition. He
never recovered consciousness, but sank a few hours afterwards. His
death is one of the many unsolved mysteries of London."
"The police believe that you went to the Villa Amette and murdered
Mademoiselle out of revenge."
"Let them prove it!" said the young fellow defiantly. "Let them prove
"Prove what?" asked Louise, as she suddenly reopened the door, greatly
to the woman's consternation.
"Oh! Only somebody--that Spicer woman over at Godalming--has been
saying some wicked and nasty things about Mr. Henfrey," replied Mrs.
Bond. "Personally, I should be annoyed. Really those gossiping people
are simply intolerable."
"What have they been saying, Hugh?" asked the girl.
"Oh, it's really nothing," laughed Henfrey. "I apologize. I was put
out a moment ago, but I now see the absurdity of it. Forgive me,
The girl looked from Mrs. Bond to her guest in amazement.
"What is there to forgive?" she asked.
"The fact that I was in the very act of losing my temper. That's all."
Presently, when Louise was ascending the stairs with Mrs. Bond, the
"Why was Hugh so put out? What has Mrs. Spicer been saying about him?"
"Only that he was a shirker during the war. And, naturally, he is
"He has a right to be. He did splendidly. His record shows that,"
declared the girl.
"I urged him to take no notice of the insults. The Spicer woman has a
very venomous tongue, my dear! She is a vicar's widow!"
And then they separated to their respective rooms.
Half an hour later Hugh Henfrey retired, but he found sleep
impossible; so he got up and sat at the open window, gazing across to
the dim outlines of the Surrey hills, picturesque and undulating
beneath the stars.
Who could have called him on the telephone? It was a woman, but the
voice might have been that of a female telephone operator. Or yet--it
might have been that of Dorise! She knew that he was at Shapley and
looked it up in the telephone directory. If that were the explanation,
then she certainly would not give away the secret of his hiding-place.
Still he was haunted by a great dread the whole of that night. The
Sparrow had told him he had acted foolishly in leaving his place of
concealment in Kensington. The Sparrow was his firm friend, and in
future he intended to obey the little old man's orders implicitly--as
so many others did.
Next morning he came down to breakfast before the ladies, and beside
his plate he found a letter--addressed to him openly. He had not
received one addressed in his real name for many months. Sight of it
caused his heart to bound in anxiety, but when he read it he stood
rooted to the spot.
Those lines which he read staggered him; the room seemed to revolve,
and he re-read them, scarce believing his own eyes.
He realized in that instant that a great blow had fallen upon him, and
that all was now hopeless. The sunshine of his life, had in that
single instant, been blotted out!
THE MAN WITH MANY NAMES
At the moment he had read the letter Mrs. Bond entered the room.
"Hallo! You're down early," she remarked. "And already had your
letters, I see! They don't generally come so early. The postman has to
walk over from Puttenham."
Then she took up her own and carelessly placed them aside. They
consisted mostly of circulars and the accounts of Guildford tradesmen.
"Yes," he said, "I was down early. Lately I've acquired the habit of
"An excellent habit in a young man," she laughed. "All men who achieve
success are early risers--so a Cabinet Minister said the other day.
And really, I believe it."
"An hour in the early morning is worth three after dinner. That is why
Cabinet Ministers entertain people at breakfast nowadays instead of at
dinner. In the morning the brain is fresh and active--a fact recently
discovered in our post-war days," Hugh said.
Then, as his hostess turned to the hot-plate upon the sideboard,
lifting the covers to see what her cook had provided, he re-scanned
the letter which had been openly addressed to him. It was from Dorise:
"I refuse to be deceived any longer, I have discovered that you are
now a fellow-guest with the girl Louise, to whom you introduced
me. And yet you arranged to meet me at Farnham, believing that I
was not aware of your close friendship with her! I have believed
in you up to the present, but the scales have now fallen from my
eyes. I thought you loved me too well to deceive me--as you are
doing. Hard things are being said about you--but you can rest
content that I shall reveal nothing that I happen to know. What I
do know, however, has changed my thoughts concerning you. I
believed you to be the victim of circumstance. Now I know you have
deceived me, and that I, myself, am the victim. I need only add
that someone else--whom I know not--knows of your hiding-place,
for, by a roundabout way, I heard of it, and hence, I address this
letter to you.--DORISE."
Hugh Henfrey stood staggered. There was no mistaking the meaning of
that letter now that he had read it a second time.
Dorise doubted him! And what answer could he give her? Any explanation
must, to her, be but a lame excuse.
Hugh ate his breakfast sullenly. To Louise, who put in a late
appearance, and helped herself off the hot-plate, he said cheerfully:
"How lazy you are!"
"It's not laziness, Hugh," replied the girl. "The maid was so late
with my tea--and--well, to tell the truth, I upset a whole new box of
powder on my dressing-table and had to clean up the mess."
"More haste--less speed," laughed Hugh. "It is always the same in the
When the girl sat down at the table Hugh had brightened up. Still the
load upon his shoulders was a heavy one. He was ever obsessed by the
mystery of his father's death, combined with that extraordinary will
by which it was decreed that if he married Louise he would acquire his
Louise was certainly very good-looking, and quite charming. He
admitted that as he gazed across at her fresh figure on the opposite
side of the table. He, of course, was in ignorance of the fact that
Benton, who had adopted her, was a clever and unscrupulous adventurer,
whose accomplice was the handsome woman who was his hostess.
Naturally, he never dreamed that that quiet and respectable house,
high on the beautiful Surrey hills, was the abode of a woman for whom
the police of Europe were everywhere searching.
His thoughts all through breakfast were of The Sparrow--the great
criminal, who was his friend. Hence, after they rose, he strolled into
the morning-room with his hostess, and said:
"I'll have to go to town again this morning. I have an urgent letter.
Can Mead take me?"
"Certainly," was the woman's reply. "I have to make a call at
Worplesdon this afternoon, and Louise is going with me. But Mead can
be back before then to take us."
So half an hour later Hugh was driving up the steep High Street of
Guildford on his way to London.
He alighted in Piccadilly, at the end of Half Moon Street, soon after
eleven, and, dismissing Mead, made his way to Ellerston Street to the
house of Mr. George Peters.
He rang the bell at the old-fashioned mansion, and a few moments later
the door was opened by the manservant he had previously seen.
In an instant the servant recognized the visitor.
"Mr. Peters will not be in for a quarter of an hour," he said. "Would
you care to wait, sir?"
"Yes," Hugh replied. "I want to see him very urgently."
"Will you come in? Mr. Peters has left instructions that you might
probably call; Mr. Henfrey, is it not?"
"Yes," replied Hugh. The man seemed to possess a memory like that of a
Young Henfrey was ushered into a small but cosy little room, which, in
the light of day, he saw was well-furnished and upholstered. The door
closed, and he waited.
A few moments after he distinctly heard a man's voice, which he at
once recognized as that of The Sparrow.
The servant had told him that Mr. Peters was absent, yet he recognized
his voice--a rather high-pitched, musical one.
"Mr. Henfrey is waiting," he heard the servant say.
"Right! I hope you told him I was out," The Sparrow replied.
Then there was silence.
Hugh stood there very much puzzled. The room was cosy and well-
furnished, but the light was somewhat dim, while the atmosphere was
decidedly murky, as it is in any house in Mayfair. One cannot obtain
brightness and light in a West End house, where one's vista is bounded
by bricks and mortar. The dukes in their great town mansions are no
better off for light and air than the hard-working and worthy wage-
earners of Walworth, Deptford, or Peckham. The air in the working-
class districts of London is not one whit worse than it is in Mayfair
or in Belgravia.
Hugh stood before an old coloured print representing the hobby-horse
school--the days of the "bone-shakers"--and studied it. He awaited Il
Passero and the advice which he had promised to give.
His ears were strained. That house was curiously quiet and forbidding.
The White Cavalier, whom he had believed to be the notorious Sparrow,
had been proved to be one of his assistants. He had now met the real,
elusive adventurer, who controlled half the criminal adventurers in
Europe, and had found in him a most genial friend. He was there to
seek his advice and to act upon it.
As he reflected, he realized that without the aid of The Sparrow he
would have long ago been in the hands of the police. So widespread was
the organization which The Sparrow controlled that it mattered not in
what capital he might be, the paternal hand of protection was placed
upon him--in Genoa, in Brussels, in London--anywhere.
It seemed that when The Sparrow protected any criminal the fugitive
was safe. He had been sent to Mrs. Mason in Kensington, and he had
left her room against The Sparrow's will.
Hence his peril of arrest. It was that point which he wished to
discuss with the great arch-criminal of Europe.
That house was one of mystery. The servant had told him that he was
expected. Why? What did The Sparrow suspect?
The whole atmosphere of that old-fashioned place was mysterious and
apprehensive. And yet its owner had succeeded in extricating him from
that very perilous position at Monte Carlo!
Suddenly, as he stood there, he heard voices again. They were raised
One voice he recognized as that of The Sparrow.
"Well, I tell you my view is still the same," he exclaimed. "What you
have told me does not alter it, however much you may ridicule me!"
"Then you know the truth--eh?"
"I really didn't say so, my dear Howell. But I have my suspicions--
"Which you will, in due course, impart to young Henfrey, I suppose?"
"I shall do nothing of the sort," was The Sparrow's reply. "The lad is
in serious peril. I happen to know that."
"Then why don't you warn him at once?"
"That's my affair!" snapped the gentleman known in Mayfair as Mr.
"IF Henfrey is here, then I'd like to meet him," Howell said.
It seemed as though the pair were in a room on the opposite side of
the passage, and yet, though Hugh stood at some distance away, he
could hear the words quite distinctly. At this he was much surprised.
He did not, however, know that in that house in Ellerston Street there
had been constructed a curious system of ventilation of the rooms by
which a conversation taking place in a distant apartment could be
heard in certain other rooms.
The fact was that The Sparrow received a good many queer visitors, and
some of their whispered conversations while they awaited him were
often full of interest.
The house was, in more than one way, a curiosity. It had a secret exit
through a mews at the rear--now converted into a garage--and several
other mysterious contrivances which were unsuspected by visitors.
"It would hardly do for him to know what we know, Mr. Peters--eh?"
Hugh heard Howell say a moment later. It was the habit of The
Sparrow's accomplices to address their great director--the brain of
criminal Europe--by the name under which they inquired for him. The
Sparrow had twenty names--one for every city in which he had a cosy
/pied-a-terre/. In Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, Marseilles, Vienna, Hamburg,
Budapest, Stockholm and on the Riviera, he was, in all the cities,
known by a different name. Yet each was so distinct, and each
individuality so well kept up, that he snapped his fingers at the
police and pitied them their red tape, ignorance, and lack of
Truly, Il Passero, the cosmopolitan of many names and half a dozen
nationalities, had brought criminality to a fine art.
Hugh, standing there breathless, listened to every word. Who was this
"Hush!" cried The Sparrow suddenly. "What a fool I am! I quite forgot
to close the ventilator in the room to which the young fellow has been
shown! I hope he hasn't overheard! I had Evans and Janson in there an
hour ago, and they were discussing me, as I expected they would! It
was a good job that I took the precaution of opening the ventilator,
because I learned a good deal that I had never suspected. It has
placed me on my guard. I'll go and get young Henfrey. But," he added,
"be extremely careful. Disclose nothing you know concerning the
"I shall be discreet, never fear," replied his visitor.
A moment later The Sparrow entered the room where Henfrey was, and
greeted him warmly. Then he ushered him down the passage to the room
wherein stood his mysterious visitor.
The room was such a distance away that Hugh was surprised that he
could have heard so distinctly. But, after all, it was an uncanny
experience to be associated with that man of mystery, whose very name
was uttered by his accomplices with bated breath.
"My friend, Mr. George Howell," said The Sparrow, introducing the
slim, wiry-looking, middle-aged man, who was alert and clean-shaven,
and plainly but well dressed--a man whom the casual acquaintance would
take to be a solicitor of a fair practice. He bore the stamp of
suburbia all over him, and his accent was peculiarly that of London.
His bearing was that of high respectability. The diamond scarf-pin was
his only ornament--a fine one, which sparkled even in that dull London
light. He was a square-shouldered man, with peculiarly shrewd, rather
narrow eyes, and dark, bushy eyebrows.
"Glad to meet you, Mr. Henfrey," he replied, with a gay, rather
nonchalant air. "My friend Mr. Peters has been speaking about you. Had
a rather anxious time, I hear."
Henfrey looked at the stranger inquisitively, and then glanced at The
"Mr. Howell is quite safe," declared the man with the gloved hand. "He
is one of Us. So you may speak without fear."
"Well," replied the young man, "the fact is, I've had a very
apprehensive time. I'm here to seek Mr. Peters' kind advice, for
without him I'm sure I'd have been arrested and perhaps convicted long
"Oh! A bit of bad luck--eh? Nearly found out, have you been? Ah! All
of us have our narrow escapes. I've had many in my time," and he
"So have all of us," laughed the bristly-haired man. "But tell me,
Henfrey, why have you come to see me so quickly?"
"Because they know where I'm in hiding!"
"They know? Who knows?"
"Miss Ranscomb knows my whereabouts and has written to me in my real
name and addressed the letter to Shapley."
"Well, what of that?" he asked. "I told her."
"She tells me that my present hiding-place is known!"
"Not known to the police? /Impossible/!" gasped the black-gloved man.
"I take it that such is a fact."
"Why, Molly is there!" cried the man Howell. "If the police suspect
that Henfrey is at Shapley, then they'll visit the place and have a
"Why?" asked Hugh in ignorance.
"Nothing. I never discuss other people's private affairs, Mr.
Henfrey," Howell answered very quietly.
Hugh was surprised at the familiar mention of "Molly," and the
declaration that if the Manor were searched the police would have "a
"This is very interesting," declared The Sparrow. "What did Miss
Ranscomb say in her letter?"
For a second Hugh hesitated; then, drawing it from his pocket, he gave
it to the gloved man to read.
Hugh knew that The Sparrow was withholding certain truths from him,
yet had he not already proved himself his best and only friend? Brock
was a good friend, but unable to assist him.
The Sparrow's strongly marked face changed as he read Dorise's angry
"H'm!" he grunted. "I will see her. We must discover why she has sent
you this warning. Come back again this evening. But be very careful
where you go in the meantime."
Thus dismissed, Hugh walked along Ellerston Street into Curzon Street
towards Piccadilly, not knowing where to go to spend the intervening
The instant he had gone, however, The Sparrow turned to his companion,
"I wonder if Lisette has revealed anything?"
"By Jove!" remarked The Sparrow, for once suddenly perturbed. /"I
never thought of that!"/
CLOSING THE NET
"Well--recollect how much the girl knows!" Howell remarked as he stood
before The Sparrow in the latter's room.
"I have not forgotten," said the other. "The whole circumstances of
old Henfrey's death are not known to me. That it was an unfortunate
affair has long ago been proved."
"Yvonne was the culprit, of course," said Howell. "That was apparent
from the first."
"I suppose she was," remarked The Sparrow reflectively. "But that
attempt upon her life puzzles me."
"Who could have greater motive in killing her out of revenge than the
dead man's son?"
"Agreed. But I am convinced that the lad is innocent. Therefore I gave
him our protection."
"I was travelling abroad at the time, you recollect. When I learnt of
the affair through Franklyn about a week afterwards I was amazed. The
loss of Yvonne to us is a serious one."
"Very--I agree. She had done some excellent work--the affair in the
Rue Royale, for instance."
"And the clever ruse by which she got those emeralds of the Roumanian
princess. The Vienna police are still searching for her--after three
years," laughed the companion of the chief of the international
organization, whose word was law in the criminal underworld of Europe.
"Knowing what you did regarding the knowledge of old Mr. Henfrey's
death possessed by Lisette, I have been surprised that you placed her
beneath your protection."
"If she had been arrested she might have told some very unpleasant
truths, in order to save herself," The Sparrow remarked, "so I chose
the latter evil."
"Young Henfrey met her. I wonder whether she told him anything?"
"No. I questioned her. She was discreet, it seems. Or at least, she
declares that she was."
"That's a good feature. But, speaking frankly, have you any idea of
the identity of the person--man or woman--who attempted to kill
Yvonne?" asked Howell.
"I have a suspicion--a pretty shrewd suspicion," replied the little
His companion was silent.
"And you don't offer to confide in me your suspicions--eh?"
"It is wiser to obtain proof before making any allegations," answered
The Sparrow, smiling.
"You will still protect Lisette?" Howell asked. "I agree that, like
Yvonne, she has been of great use to us in many ways. Beauty and wit
are always assets in our rather ticklish branch of commerce. Where is
"At the moment, she's in Madrid," The Sparrow replied. "There is a
little affair there--the jewels of a Belgian's wife--a fellow who,
successfully posing as a German during the occupation of Brussels,
made a big fortune by profiteering in leather. They are in Madrid for
six months, in order to escape unwelcome inquiries by the Government
in Brussels. They have a villa just outside the city, and I have sent
Lisette there with certain instructions."
"Who is with her?"
"Nobody yet. Franklyn will go in due course."
Howell's thin lips relaxed into a curious smile.
"Franklyn is in love with Lisette," he remarked.
"That is why I am sending them together to execute the little
mission," The Sparrow said. "Lisette was here a fortnight ago, and I
mapped out for her a plan. I went myself to Madrid not long ago, in
order to survey the situation."
"The game is worth the candle, I suppose--eh?"
"Yes. If we get the lot Van Groot, in Amsterdam, will give at least
fifteen thousand for them. Moulaert bought most of them from old
Leplae in the Rue de la Paix. There are some beautiful rubies among
them. I saw Madame wearing some of the jewels at the Palace Hotel, in
Madrid, while they were staying there before their villa was ready.
Moulaert, with his wife and two friends from the Belgian Legation,
dined at a table next to mine, little dreaming with what purpose I ate
my meal alone."
Truly, the intuition and cleverness of The Sparrow were wonderful. He
never moved without fully considering every phase of the consequences.
Unlike most adventurers, he drank hardly anything. Half a glass of dry
sherry at eleven in the morning, the same at luncheon, and one glass
of claret for his dinner.
Yet often at restaurants he would order champagne, choice vintage
clarets, and liqueurs--when occasion demanded. He would offer them to
his friends, but just sip them himself, having previously arranged
with the waiter to miss filling his glass.
Of the peril of drink "Mr. Peters" was constantly lecturing the great
circle of his friends.
Each year--on the 26th of February to be exact--there was held a
dinner at a well-known restaurant in the West End--the annual dinner
of a club known as "The Wonder Wizards." It was supposed to be a
circle of professional conjurers.
This dinner was usually attended by fifty guests of both sexes, all
well-dressed and prosperous, and of several nationalities. It was
presided over by a Mr. Charles Williams.
Now, to tell the truth, the guests believed him to be The Sparrow; but
in reality Mr. Williams was the tall White Cavalier whom Hugh had
believed to be the great leader, until he had gone to Mayfair and met
the impelling personality whom the police had for so long failed to
The situation was indeed humorous. It was The Sparrow's fancy to hold
the reunion at a public restaurant instead of at a private house.
Under the very nose of Scotland Yard the deputy of the notorious
Sparrow entertained the chiefs of the great criminal octopus. There
were speeches, but from them the waiters learned nothing. It was
simply a club of conjurers. None suspected that the guests were those
who conjured fortunes out of the pockets of the unsuspecting. And
while the chairman--believed by those who attended to be The Sparrow
himself--sat there, the bristly-haired, rather insignificant-looking
little man occupied a seat in a far-off corner, from where he
scrutinized his guests very closely, and smiled at the excellent
manner in which his deputy performed the duties of chairman.
Because it was a club of conjurers, and because the conjurers
displayed their new tricks and illusions, after an excellent dinner
the waiters were excluded and the doors locked after the coffee.
It was then that the bogus Sparrow addressed those present, and gave
certain instructions which were later on carried into every corner of
Europe. Each member had his speciality, and each group its district
and its sanctuary, in case of a hue-and-cry. Every crime that could be
committed was committed by them--everything save murder.
The tall, thin man whom everyone believed to be The Sparrow never
failed to impress upon his hearers, after the doors were carefully
locked, that however they might attack and rob the rich, human life
It was the real Sparrow's order. He abominated the thought of taking
human life, hence when old Mr. Henfrey had been foully done to death
in the West End he had at once set to work to discover the actual
criminal. This he had failed to do. And afterwards there had followed
the attempted assassination of Yvonne Ferad, known as Mademoiselle of
The two men stood discussing the young French girl, Lisette, whom Hugh
had met when in hiding in the Via della Maddalena in Genoa.
"I only hope; that she has not told young Henfrey anything," Howell
said, with distinct apprehension.
"No," laughed The Sparrow. "She came to me and told me how she had met
him in Genoa and discovered to her amazement that he was old Henfrey's
"How curious that the pair should meet by accident," remarked Howell.
"I tell you that Benton is not playing a straight game. That
iniquitous will which the old man left he surely must have signed
under some misapprehension. Perhaps he thought he was applying for a
life policy--or something of that short. Signatures to wills have been
procured under many pretexts by scoundrelly relatives and unscrupulous
"I know. And the witnesses have placed their signatures afterward,"
remarked The Sparrow thoughtfully. "But in this case all seems above
board--at least so far as the will is concerned. Benton was old
Henfrey's bosom friend. Henfrey was very taken with Louise, and I know
that he was desirous Hugh should marry her."
"And if he did, Hugh would acquire the old man's fortune, and Benton
would step in and seize it--as is his intention."
"Undoubtedly. All we can do is to keep Hugh and Louise apart. The
latter is in entire ignorance of the true profession of her adopted
father, and she'd be horrified if she knew that Molly was simply a
clever adventuress, who is very much wanted in Paris and in Brussels,"
said the gloved man.
"A good job that she knows nothing," said Howell. "But it would be a
revelation to her if the police descended upon Shapley Manor--wouldn't
"Yes. That is why I must see Dorise Ranscomb and ascertain from her
exactly what she has heard. I know the police tracked Hugh to London,
and for that reason he went with Benton down into Surrey--out of the
frying-pan into the fire."
"Well, before we can go farther, it seems that we should ascertain who
shot Yvonne," Howell suggested. "It was a most dastardly thing, and
whoever did it ought to be punished."
"He ought. But I'm as much in the dark as you are, Howell; but, as I
have already said, I entertain strong suspicions."
"I'll suggest one name--Benton?"
The Sparrow shook his head.
"The manservant, Giulio Cataldi?" Howell ventured. "I never liked that
sly old Italian."
"What motive could the old fellow have had?"
"Robbery, probably. We have no idea what were Yvonne's winnings that
night--or of the money she had in her bag."
"Yes, we do know," was The Sparrow's reply. "According to the police
report, Yvonne, on her return home, went to her room, carrying her
bag, which she placed upon her dressing-table. Then, after removing
her cloak and hat, she went downstairs again and out on to the
veranda. A few minutes later the young man was announced. High words
were heard by old Cataldi, and then a shot."
"And Yvonne's bag?"
"It was found where she had left it. In it were three thousand eight
hundred francs, all in notes."
"Yet Franklyn told me that he had heard how Yvonne won quite a large
sum that night."
"She might have done so--and have lost the greater part of it," The
"On the other hand, what more feasible than that the old manservant,
watching her place it there, abstracted the bulk of the money--a large
sum, no doubt--and afterwards, in order to conceal his crime, shot his
mistress in such circumstances as to place the onus of the crime upon
her midnight visitor?"
"That the affair was very cleverly planned there is no doubt," said
The Sparrow. "There is a distinct intention to fasten the guilt upon
young Henfrey, because he alone would have a motive for revenge for
the death of his father. Of that fact the man or woman who fired the
shot was most certainly aware. How could Cataldi have known of it?"
"I certainly believe the Italian robbed his mistress and afterwards
attempted to murder her," Howell insisted.
"He might rob his mistress, certainly. He might even have robbed her
of considerable sums systematically," The Sparrow assented. "The maids
told the police that Mademoiselle's habit was to leave her bag with
her winnings upon the dressing-table while she went downstairs and
took a glass of wine."
"Exactly. She did so every evening. Her habits were regular. Yet she
never knew the extent of her winnings at the tables before she counted
them. And she never did so until the following morning. That is what
Franklyn told me in Venice when we met a month afterwards."
"He learnt that from me," The Sparrow said with a smile. "No," he went
on; "though old Cataldi could well have robbed his mistress, just as
the maids could have done, and Yvonne would have been none the wiser,
yet I do not think he would attempt to conceal his crime by shooting
her, because by so doing he cut off all future supplies. If he were a
thief he would not be such a fool. Therefore you may rest assured,
Howell, that the hand that fired the shot was that of some person who
desired to close Yvonne's mouth."
"She might have held some secret concerning old Cataldi. Or, on his
part, he might have cherished some grievance against her. Italians are
usually very vindictive," replied the visitor. "On the other hand, it
would be to Benton's advantage that the truth concerning old Henfrey's
death was suppressed. Yvonne was about to tell the young man something
--perhaps confess the truth, who knows?--when the shot was fired."
"Well, my dear Howell, you have your opinion and I have mine," laughed
The Sparrow. "The latter I shall keep to myself--until my theory is
Thereupon Howell took a cigar that his host offered him, and while he
slowly lit it, The Sparrow crossed to the telephone.
He quickly found Lady Ranscomb's number in the directory, and a few
moments later was talking to the butler, of whom he inquired for Miss
"Tell her," he added, "that a friend of Mr. Henfrey's wishes to speak
In a few moments The Sparrow heard the girl's voice.
"Yes?" she inquired. "Who is speaking?"
"A friend of Mr. Henfrey," was the reply of the man with the gloved
hand. "You will probably guess who it is."
He heard a little nervous laugh, and then:
"Oh, yes. I--I have an idea, but I can't talk to you over the 'phone.
I've got somebody who's just called. Mother is out--and----" Then she
lowered her voice, evidently not desirous of being heard in the
adjoining room. "Well, I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean? Does it concern Mr. Henfrey?"
"Yes. It does. There's a man here to see me from Scotland Yard! What
shall I do?"
The Sparrow gasped at the girl's announcement.
Next second he recovered himself.
"A man from Scotland Yard!" he echoed. "Why has he called?"
"He knows that Mr. Henfrey is living at Shapley, in Surrey. And he has
been asking whether I am acquainted with you."
WHAT LISETTE KNEW
A fortnight had gone by.
Ten o'clock in the morning in the Puerta del Sol, that great plaza in
Madrid--the fine square which, like the similarly-named gates at
Toledo and Segovia, commands a view of the rising sun, as does the
ancient Temple of Abu Simbel on the Nile.
Hugh Henfrey--a smart, lithe figure in blue serge--had been lounging
for ten minutes before the long facade of the Ministerio de la
Gobernacion (or Ministry of the Interior) smoking a cigarette and
looking eagerly across the great square. The two soldiers on sentry at
the door, suspicious of all foreigners in the days of Bolshevism and
revolution, had eyed him narrowly. But he appeared to be inoffensive,
so they had passed him by as a harmless lounger.
Five minutes later a smartly-dressed girl, with short skirt, silk
stockings, and a pretty hat, came along the pavement, and Hugh sprang
forward to greet her.
It was Lisette, the girl whom he had met when in hiding in that back
street in Genoa.
"Well?" he exclaimed. "So here we are! The Sparrow sent me to you."
"Yes. I had a telegram from him four days ago ordering me to meet you.
Strange things are happening--it seems!"
"How?" asked the young Englishman, in ignorance of the great
conspiracy or of what was taking place. "Since I saw you last,
mademoiselle, I have been moving about rapidly, and always in danger
"So have I. But I am here at The Sparrow's orders--on a little
business which I hope to bring off successfully on any evening. I have
an English friend with me--a Mr. Franklyn."
"I left London suddenly. I saw The Sparrow in the evening, and next
morning, at eleven o'clock, without even a bag, I left London for
Madrid with a very useful passport."
"You are here because Madrid is safer for you than London, I suppose?"
said the girl in broken English.
"That is so. A certain Mr. Howell, a friend of The Sparrow's suggested
that I should come here," Hugh explained. "Ever since we met in Italy
I have been in close hiding until, by some means, my whereabouts
became known, and I had to fly."
The smartly-dressed girl walked slowly at his side and, for some
moments, remained silent.
"Ah! So you have met Hamilton Shaw--alias Howell?" she remarked at
last in a changed voice. "He certainly is not your friend."
"Not my friend! Why? I've only met him lately."
"You say that the police knew of your hiding-place," said
mademoiselle, speaking in French, as it was easier for her. "Would you
be surprised if Howell had revealed your secret?"
"Howell!" gasped Hugh. "Yes, I certainly would. He is a close friend
of The Sparrow!"
"That may be. But that does not prove that he is any friend of yours.
If you came here at Howell's suggestion--then, Mr. Henfrey, I should
advise you to leave Madrid at once. I say this because I have a
suspicion that he intends both of us to fall into a trap!"
"But why? I don't understand."
"I can give you no explanation," said the girl. "Now I know that
Hamilton Shaw sent you here, I can, I think, discern his motive. I
myself will see Mr. Franklyn at once, and shall leave Madrid as soon
as possible. And I advise you, Mr. Henfrey, to do the same."
"Surely you don't suspect that it was this Mr. Howell who gave me away
to Scotland Yard!" exclaimed Hugh, surprised, but at the same time
recollecting that The Sparrow had been alarmed at the detective's
visit to Dorise. He knew that Benton and Mrs. Bond had suddenly
disappeared from Shapley, but the reason he could only guess. He had,
of course, no proof that Benton and Molly were members of the great
criminal organization. He only knew that Benton had been his late
father's closest friend.
He discussed the situation with the girl jewel-thief as they walked
along the busy Carrera de San Jeronimo wherein are the best shops in
Madrid, to the great Plaza de Canovas in the leafy Prado.
Again he tried to extract from her what she knew concerning his
father's death. But she would tell him nothing.
"I am not permitted to say anything, Mr. Henfrey. I can only regret
it," she said quietly. "Mr. Franklyn is at the Ritz opposite. I should
like you to meet him."
And she took him across to the elegant hotel opposite the Neptune
fountain, where, in a private sitting-room on the second floor, she
introduced him to a rather elderly, aristocratic-looking Englishman,
whom none would take to be one of the most expert jewel-thieves in
When the door was closed and they were alone, mademoiselle suddenly
revealed to her friend what Hugh had said concerning Howell's
suggestion that he should travel to Madrid.
Franklyn's face changed. He was instantly apprehensive.
"Then we certainly are not safe here any longer. Howell probably
intends to play us false! We shall know from The Sparrow the reason we
are here, and, for aught we know, the police are watching and will
arrest us red-handed. No," he added, "we must leave this place--all
three of us--as soon as possible. You, Lisette, had better go to Paris
and explain matters to The Sparrow, while I shall fade away to
Switzerland. And you, Mr. Henfrey? Where will you go?"
"To France," was Hugh's reply, on the spur of the moment. "I can get
"Yes. Go by way of Barcelona. It is quickest," said the Englishman.
"The express leaves just after three o'clock."
Then, after he had thanked Hugh for his timely warning, the latter
walked out more than ever mystified at the attitude of The Sparrow's
It did not seem possible that Howell should have told Scotland Yard
that he was hiding at Shapley; yet it was quite evident that both
mademoiselle and her companion were equally in fear of the man Howell,
whose real name was Hamilton Shaw. The theory seemed to him a thin
one, for Howell was The Sparrow's intimate friend.
Yet, mademoiselle, while they had been discussing the situation, had
denounced him as their enemy, declaring that The Sparrow himself
should be warned of him.
That afternoon Hugh, having only been in Madrid twelve hours, left
again on the long, dusty railway journey across Spain to Zaragoza and
down the valley of the Ebro to the Mediterranean. After crossing the
French frontier, he broke the journey at the old-world town of Nimes
for a couple of days, and then went on to Marseilles, where he took up
his quarters in the big Louvre et Paix Hotel, still utterly mystified,
and still not daring to write to Dorise.
It was as well that he left Madrid, for, just as Lisette and Franklyn
had suspected, the police called at his hotel--an obscure one near the
station--only two hours after his departure. Then, finding him gone,
they sought both mademoiselle and Franklyn, only to find that they
also had fled.
/Someone had given away their secret!/
On arrival at Marseilles in the evening Hugh ate his dinner alone in
the hotel, and then strolled up the well-lit Cannebiere, with its many
smart shops and gay cafes--that street which, to many thousands on
their way to the Near or Far East, is their last glimpse of European
life. He was entirely at a loose end.
Unnoticed behind him there walked an undersized little Frenchman, an
alert, business-like man of about forty-five, who had awaited him
outside his hotel, and who leisurely followed him up the broad, main
street of that busy city.
He was well-dressed, possessing a pair of shrewd, searching eyes, and
a moustache carefully trimmed. His appearance was that of a prosperous
French tradesman--one of thousands one meets in the city of
As Hugh idled along, gazing into some of the shop windows as he lazily
smoked his cigarette, the under-sized stranger kept very careful watch
upon his movements. He evidently intended that he should not escape
observation. Hugh paused at a tobacconist's and bought some stamps,
but as he came out of the shop, the watcher drew back suddenly and in
such a manner as to reveal to anyone who might have observed him that
he was no tyro in the art of surveillance.
Walking a little farther along, Hugh came to the corner of the broad
Rue de Rome, where he entered a crowded cafe in which an orchestra was
He had taken a corner seat in the window, had ordered his coffee, and
was glancing at the /Petit Parisien/, which he had taken from his
pocket, when another man entered, gazed around in search of a seat
and, noticing one at Hugh's table, crossed, lifted his hat, and took
the vacant chair.
He was the stranger who had followed him from the Louvre et Paix.
The young Englishman, all unsuspecting, glanced at the newcomer, and
then resumed his paper, while the keen-eyed little man took a long,
thin cigar which the waiter brought, lit it carefully, and sipped his
coffee, his interest apparently centred in the music.
Suddenly a tall, dark-haired woman, who had been sitting near by with
a man who seemed to be her husband, rose and left. A moment before she
had exchanged glances with the watcher, who, apparently at her
bidding, rose and followed her.
All this seemed quite unnoticed by Hugh, immersed as he was in his
Outside the man and woman met. They held hurried consultation. The
woman told him something which evidently caused him sudden surprise.
"I will call on you at eleven to-morrow morning, madame," he said.
"No. I will meet you at the Reserve. I will lunch there at twelve. You
will lunch with me?"
"Very well," he answered. "/Au revoir/," and he returned to his seat
in the cafe, while she disappeared without returning to her companion.
The mysterious watcher resumed his coffee, for he had only been absent
for a few moments, and the waiter had not cleared it away.
Hugh took out his cigarette-case and, suddenly finding himself without
a match, made the opportunity for which the mysterious stranger had
He struck one and handed it to his /vis-a-vis/, bowing with his
Then they naturally dropped into conversation.
"Ah! m'sieur is English!" exclaimed the shrewd-eyed little man. "Here,
in Marseilles, we have many English who pass to and fro from the
boats. I suppose, m'sieur is going East?" he suggested affably.
"No," replied Hugh, speaking in French, "I have some business here--
that is all." He was highly suspicious of all strangers, and the more
so of anyone who endeavoured to get into conversation with him.
"You know Marseilles--of course?" asked the stranger, sharply
"I have been here several times before. I find the city always gay and
"Not so bright as before the war," declared the little man, smoking at
his ease. "There have been many changes lately."
Hugh Henfrey could not make the fellow out. Yet many times before he
had been addressed by strangers who seemed to question him out of
curiosity, and for no apparent reason. This man was one of them, no
The man, who had accompanied the woman whom the stranger had followed
out, rose, exchanged a significant glance with the little man, and
walked out. That the three were in accord seemed quite apparent,
though Hugh was still unsuspicious.
He chatted merrily with the stranger for nearly half an hour, and then
rose and left the cafe. When quite close to the hotel the stranger
overtook him, and halting, asked in a low voice, in very good English:
"I believe you are Mr. Henfrey--are you not?"
"Why do you ask that?" inquired Hugh, much surprised. "My name is
"Yes," laughed the man. "That is, I know, the name you have given at
the hotel. But your real name is Henfrey."
Hugh started. The stranger, noticing his alarm, hastened to reassure
FRIEND OR ENEMY?
"You need not worry," said the stranger to Hugh. "I am not your enemy,
but a friend. I warn you that Marseilles is unsafe for you. Get away
as soon as possible. The Spanish police have learnt that you have come
here," he went on as he strolled at his side.
Hugh was amazed.
"How did you know my identity?" he asked eagerly.
"I was instructed to watch for your arrival--and to warn you."
"Who instructed you?"
"A friend of yours--and mine--The Sparrow."
"Has he been here?"
"No. He spoke to me on the telephone from Paris."
"What were his instructions?"
"That you were to go at once--to-night--by car to the Hotel de Paris,
at Cette. A car and driver awaits you at the Garage Beauvau, in the
Rue Beauvau. I have arranged everything at The Sparrow's orders. You
are one of Us, I understand," and the man laughed lightly.
"But my bag?" exclaimed Hugh.
"Go to the hotel, pay your bill, and take your bag to the station
cloak-room. Then go and get the car, pick up your bag, and get out on
the road to Cette as soon as ever you can. Your driver will ask no
questions, and will remain silent. He has his orders from The
"Does The Sparrow ever come to Marseilles?" Hugh asked.
"Yes, sometimes--when anything really big brings him here. I have,
however, only seen him once, five years ago. He was at your hotel, and
the police were so hot upon his track that only by dint of great
promptitude and courage he escaped by getting out of the window of his
room and descending by means of the rain-water pipe. It was one of the
narrowest escapes he has ever had."
As the words left the man's mouth, they were passing a well-lit
brasserie. A tall, cadaverous man passed them and Hugh had a suspicion
that they exchanged glances of recognition.
Was his pretended friend an agent of the police?
For a few seconds he debated within himself how he should act. To
refuse to do as he was bid might be to bring instant arrest upon
himself. If the stranger were actually a detective--which he certainly
did not appear to be--then the ruse was to get him on the road to
Cette because the legal formalities were not yet complete for his
arrest as a British subject.
Yet he knew all about The Sparrow, and his attitude was not in the
Hugh could not make up his mind whether the stranger was an associate
of the famous Sparrow, or whether he was very cleverly inveigling him
into the net.
It was only that exchange of glances with the passer-by which had
aroused Hugh's suspicions.
But that significant look caused him to hesitate to accept the
mysterious stranger as his friend.
True, he had accepted as friends numbers of other unknown persons
since that fateful night at Monte Carlo. Yet in this case, he felt, by
intuition, that all was not plain sailing.
"Very well," he said, at last. "I esteem it a very great favour that
you should have interested yourself on behalf of one who is an entire
stranger to you, and I heartily thank you for warning me of my danger.
When I see The Sparrow I shall tell him how cleverly you approached
me, and how perfect were your arrangements for my escape."
"I require no thanks or reward, Mr. Henfrey," replied the man
politely. "My one desire is to get you safely out of Marseilles."
And with that the stranger lifted his hat and left him.
Hugh went about fifty yards farther along the broad, well-lit street
full of life and movement, for the main streets of Marseilles are
alive both day and night.
By some intuition--why, he knew not--he suspected that affable little
man who had posed as his friend. Was it possible that, believing the
notorious Sparrow to be his friend, he had at haphazard invented the
story, and posed as one of The Sparrow's gang?
If so, it was certainly a very clever and ingenious subterfuge.
He was undecided how to act. He did not wish to give offence to his
friend, the king of the underworld, and yet he felt a distinct
suspicion of the man who had so cleverly approached him, and who had
openly declared himself to be a crook.
That strange glance he had exchanged with the passer-by beneath the
rays of the street-lamp had been mysterious and significant. If the
passer-by had been a crook, like himself, the sign of recognition
would be one of salutation. But the expression upon his alleged
friend's face was one of triumph. That made all the difference, and to
Hugh, with his observation quickened as it had been in those months of
living with daily dread of arrest, it had caused him to be seized with
strong and distinct suspicions.
He felt in his hip pocket and found that his revolver, an American
Smith-Wesson, was there. He had a dislike of automatic pistols, as he
had once had a very narrow escape. He had been teaching a girl to
shoot with a revolver, when, believing that she had discharged the
whole magazine, he was examining the weapon and pulled the trigger,
narrowly escaping shooting her dead.
For a few seconds he stood upon the broad pavement. Then he drew out
his cigarette-case. In it were four cigarettes, two of which The
Sparrow had given him when in London.
"Yes," he muttered to himself. "Somebody must have given me away at
Shapley, and now they have followed me! I will act for myself, and
take the risks."
Then he walked boldly on, crossed the road, and entered the big Hotel
de Louvre et Paix. To appear unconcerned he had a drink at the bar,
and ascending in the lift, called the floor-waiter, asked for his
bill, and packed his bag.
"Ah!" he said to himself. "If I could only get to know where The
Sparrow is and ask him the truth! He may be at that address in Paris
which he gave me."
After a little delay the bill was brought and he paid it. Then in a
taxi he drove to the station where he deposited his bag in the cloak-
Close by the /consigne/ a woman was standing. He glanced at her, when,
to his surprise, he saw that she was the same woman who had been
sitting in the cafe with a male companion.
Was she, he wondered, in league with his so-called friend? And if so,
what was intended.
Sight of that woman lounging there, however, decided him. She was, no
doubt, awaiting his coming.
He walked out of the great railway terminus, and, inquiring the way to
the Rue Beauvau, soon found the garage where a powerful open car was
awaiting him in the roadway outside.
A smart driver in a dark overcoat came forward, and apparently
recognizing Hugh from a description that had been given to him,
touched his cap, and asked in French:
"Where does m'sieur wish to go?"
"To the station to fetch my coat and bag," replied the young
Englishman, peering into the driver's face. He was a clean-shaven man
of about forty, broad-shouldered and stalwart. Was it possible that
the car had been hired by the police, and the driver was himself a
"Very well, m'sieur," the man answered politely. And Hugh having
entered, he drove up the Boulevard de la Liberte to the Gare St.
As he approached the /consigne/, he looked along the platform, and
there, sure enough, was the same woman on the watch, though she
pretended to be without the slightest interest in his movements.
Hugh put on his coat, and, carrying his bag, placed it in the car.
"You have your orders?" asked Hugh.
"Yes, m'sieur. We are to go to Cette with all speed. Is not that so?"
"Yes," was Hugh's reply. "I will come up beside you. I prefer it. We
shall have a long, dark ride to-night."
"Ah! but the roads are good," was the man's reply. "I came from Cette
yesterday," he added, as he mounted to his seat and the passenger got
up beside him.
Hugh sat there very thoughtful as the car sped out of the city of
noise and bustle. The man's remark that he had come from Cette on the
previous day gave colour to the idea that no net had been spread, but
that the stranger was acting at the orders of the ubiquitous Sparrow.
Indeed, were it not for the strange glance the undersized little man
had given to the passer-by, he would have been convinced that he was
actually once again under the protection of the all-powerful ruler of
the criminal underworld.
As it was, he remained suspicious. He did not like that woman who had
watched so patiently his coming and going at the station.
With strong headlights glaring--for the night was extremely dark and a
strong wind was blowing--they were soon out on the broad highway which
leads first across the plain and then beside the sea, and again across
the lowlands to old-world Arles.
It was midnight before they got to the village of Lancon, an obscure
little place in total darkness.
But on the way the driver, who had told Hugh that his name was Henri
Aramon, and who insinuated that he was one of The Sparrow's
associates, became most affable and talkative. Over those miles of
dark roads, unfamiliar to Hugh, they travelled at high speed, for
Henri had from the first showed himself to be an expert driver, not
only in the unceasing traffic of the main streets of Marseilles, but
also on the dark, much-worn roads leading out of the city. The roads
around Marseilles have never been outstanding for their excellence,
and after the war they were indeed execrable.
"This is Lancon," the driver remarked, as they sped through the dark
little town. "We now go on to Salon, where we have a direct road
across the plain they call the Crau into Arles. From there the road to
Cette is quite good and straight. The road we are now on is the
worst," he added.
Hugh was undecided. Was the man who was driving him so rapidly out of
the danger zone his friend--or his enemy?
He sat there for over an hour unable to decide.
"This is an outlandish part of France," he remarked to the driver
"Yes. But after Salon it is more desolate."
"And is there no railway near?"
"After Salon, yes. It runs parallel with the road about two miles to
the north--the railway between Arles and Aix-en-Provence."
"So if we get a breakdown, which I hope we shall not, we are not far
from a railway?" Hugh remarked, as through the night the heavy car
tore along that open desolate road.
As he sat there he thought of Dorise, wondering what had happened--and
of Louise. If he had obeyed his father's wishes and married the latter
all the trouble would have been avoided, he thought. Yet he loved
Dorise--loved her with his whole soul.
And she doubted him.
Poor fellow! Hustled from pillar to post, and compelled to resort to
every ruse in order to avoid arrest for a crime which he did not
commit, yet about which he could not establish his innocence, he very
often despaired. At that moment he felt somehow--how he could not
explain--that he was in a very tight corner. He felt confident after
two hours of reflection that he was being driven over these roads that
night in order that the police should gain time to execute some legal
formality for his arrest.
Why had not the police of Marseilles arrested him? There was some
subtle motive for sending him to Cette.
He had not had time to send a telegram to Mr. Peters in London, or to
Monsieur Gautier, the name by which The Sparrow told him he was known
at his flat in the Rue des Petits Champs, in the centre of Paris. He
longed to be able to communicate with his all-powerful friend, but
there had been no opportunity.
Suddenly the car began to pass through banks of mist, which are usual
at night over the low marshes around the mouths of the Rhone. It was
about half-past two in the morning. They had passed through the long
dark streets of Salon, and were already five or six miles on the broad
straight road which runs across the marshes through St. Martin-de-Crau
Of a sudden Hugh declared that he must have a cigarette, and producing
his case handed one to the driver and took one himself. Then he lit
the man's, and afterwards his own.
"It is cold here on the marshes, monsieur," remarked the driver, his
cigarette between his lips. "This mist, too, is puzzling. But it is
nearly always like this at night. That is why nobody lives about
"Is it quite deserted?"
"Yes, except for a few shepherds, and they live up north at the foot
of the hills."
For some ten minutes or so they kept on, but Hugh had suddenly become
very watchful of the driver.
Presently the man exclaimed in French:
"I do not feel very well!"
"What is the matter?" asked Hugh in alarm. "You must not be taken ill
here--so far from anywhere!"
But the man was evidently unwell, for he pulled up the car.
"Oh! my head!" he cried, putting both hands to his brow as the
cigarette dropped from his lips. "My head! It seems as if it will
burst! And--and I can't see! Everything is going round--round! Where--
/where am I/?"
"You are all right, my friend. Get into the back of the car and rest.
You will be yourself very quickly."
And he half dragged the man from his seat and placed him in the back
of the car, where he fell inert and unconscious.
The cigarette which The Sparrow had given to Hugh only to be used in
case of urgent necessity had certainly done its work. The man, whether
friend or enemy, would now remain unconscious for many hours.
Hugh, having settled him in the bottom of the car, placed a rug over
him. Then, mounting to the driver's place, he turned the car and drove
as rapidly as he dared back over the roads to Salon.
Time after time, he wondered whether he had been misled; whether,
after all, the man who had driven him was actually acting under The
Sparrow's orders. If so, then he had committed a fatal error!
However, the die was cast. He had acted upon his own initiative, and
if a net had actually been spread to catch him he had successfully
broken through it. He laughed as he thought of the police at Cette
awaiting his arrival, and their consternation when hour after hour
passed without news of the car from Marseilles.
At Salon he passed half way through the town to cross roads where he
had noticed in passing a sign-board which indicated the road to
Avignon--the broad high road from Marseilles to Paris.
Already he had made up his mind how to act. He would get to Avignon,
and thence by express to Paris. The /rapides/ from Marseilles and the
Riviera all stopped at the ancient city of the Popes.
Therefore, being a good motor driver, Hugh started away down the long
road which led through the valley to Orgon, and thence direct to
Avignon, which came into sight about seven o'clock in the morning.
Before entering the old city of walls and castles Hugh turned into a
side road about two miles distant, drove the car to the end, and
opening a gate succeeded in getting it some little distance into a
wood, where it was well concealed from anyone passing along the road.
Then, descending and ascertaining that the driver was sleeping
comfortably from the effects of the strong narcotic, he took his bag
and walked into the town.
At the railway station he found the through express from Ventimiglia--
the Italian frontier--to Paris would be due in twenty minutes,
therefore he purchased a first-class ticket for Paris, and in a short
time was taking his morning coffee in the /wagon-restaurant/ on his
way to the French capital.
THE MAN CATALDI
On the day that Hugh was travelling in hot haste to Paris, Charles
Benton arrived in Nice early in the afternoon.
Leaving the station it was apparent he knew his way about the town,
for passing down the Avenue de la Gare, with its row of high
eucalyptus trees, to the Place Massena, he plunged into the narrow,
rather evil-smelling streets of the old quarter.
Before a house in the Rue Rossette he paused, and ascending to a flat
on the third floor, rang the bell. The door was slowly opened by an
elderly, rather shabbily-attired Italian.
It was Yvonne's late servant at the Villa Amette, Giulio Cataldi.
The old man drew back on recognizing his visitor.
"Well, Cataldi!" exclaimed the well-dressed adventurer cheerily. "I'm
quite a stranger--am I not? I was in Nice, and I could not leave
without calling to see you."
The old man, with ill-grace scarcely concealed, invited him into his
shabby room, saying:
"Well, Signor Benton, I never thought to see you again."
"Perhaps you didn't want to--eh? After that little affair in Brussels.
But I assure you it was not my fault. Mademoiselle Yvonne made the
"And nearly let us all into the hands of the police--including The
Sparrow himself!" growled the old fellow.
"Ah! But all that has long blown over. Now," he went on, after he had
offered the old man a cigar. "Now the real reason I've called is to
ask you about this nasty affair concerning Mademoiselle Yvonne. You
were there that night. What do you know about it?"
"Nothing," the old fellow declared promptly. "Since that night I've
earned an honest living. I'm a waiter in a cafe in the Avenue de la
"A most excellent decision," laughed the well-dressed man. "It is not
everyone who can afford to be honest in these hard times. I wish I
could be, but I find it impossible. Now, tell me, Giulio, what do you
know about the affair at the Villa Amette? The boy, Henfrey, went
there to demand of Mademoiselle how his father died. She refused to
tell him, angry words arose--and he shot her. Now, isn't that your
theory--the same as that held by the police?"
The old man looked straight into his visitor's face for a few moments.
Then he replied quite calmly:
"I know nothing, Signor Benton--and I don't want to know anything.
I've told the police all I know. Indeed, when they began to inquire
into my antecedents I was not very reassured, I can tell you."
"I should think not," laughed Benton. "Still, they never suspected you
to be the man wanted for the Morel affair--an unfortunate matter that
"Yes," sighed the old fellow. "Please do not mention it," and he
turned away to the window as though to conceal his guilty countenance.
"You mean that you /know/ something--but you won't tell it!" Benton
"I know nothing," was the old fellow's stubborn reply.
"But you know that the young fellow, Henfrey, is guilty!" exclaimed
Benton. "Come! you were there at the time! You heard high words
between them--didn't you?"
"I have already made my statement to the police," declared the old
Italian. "What else I know I shall keep to myself."
"But I'm interested in ascertaining whether Henfrey is innocent or
guilty. Only two persons can tell us that--Mademoiselle, who is, alas!
in a hopeless mental state, and yourself. You know--but you refuse to
incriminate the guilty person. Why don't you tell the truth? You know
that Henfrey shot her!"
"I tell you I know nothing," retorted the old man. "Why do you come
here and disturb me?" he added peevishly.
"Because I want to know the truth," Benton answered. "And I mean to!"
"Go away!" snapped the wilful old fellow. "I've done with you all--all
the crowd of you!"
"Ah!" laughed Benton. "Then you forget the little matter of the man
Morel--eh? That is not forgotten by the police, remember!"
"And if you said a word to them, Signor Benton, then you would
implicate yourself," the old man growled. Seeing hostility in the
Englishman's attitude he instantly resented it.
"Probably. But as I have no intention of giving you away, my dear
Giulio, I do not think we need discuss it. What I am anxious to do is
to establish the guilt--or the innocence--of Hugh Henfrey," he went
"No doubt. You have reason for establishing his guilt--eh?"
"No. Reasons for establishing his innocence."
"For your own ends, Signor Benton," was the shrewd old man's reply.
"At one time there was a suspicion that you yourself had fired at
"What!" gasped the old man, his countenance changing instantly. "Who
says that?" he asked angrily.
"The police were suspicious, I believe. And as far as I can gather
they are not yet altogether satisfied."
"Ah!" growled the old Italian in a changed voice. "They will have to
"Well, they declare that the shot was fired by either one or the other
of you," Benton said, much surprised at the curious effect the
allegation had upon the old fellow.
"So they think that if the Signorino Henfrey is innocent I am guilty
of the murderous attack--eh?"
"But they are seeking to arrest the signorino!" remarked the Italian.
"Yes. That is why I am here--to establish his innocence."
"And if I were to tell you that he was innocent I should condemn
myself!" laughed the crafty old man.
"Look here, Giulio," said Benton. "I confess that I have long ago
regretted the shabby manner in which I treated you when we were all in
Brussels, and I hope you will allow me to make some little amend."
Then, taking from his pocket-book several hundred-franc notes, he
doubled them up and placed them on the table.
"Ah!" said the old man. "I see! You want to /buy/ my secret! No, take
your money!" he cried, pushing it back towards him contemptuously. "I
want none of it."
"Because you are now earning an honest living," Benton sneered.
"Yes--and Il Passero knows it!" was Cataldi's bold reply.
"Then you refuse to tell me anything you know concerning the events of
that night at the Villa Amette?"
"Yes," he snapped. "Take your money, and leave me in peace!"
"And I have come all the way from England to see you," remarked the
"Be extremely careful. You have enemies, so have I. They are the same
as those who denounced the signorino to the police--as they will no
doubt, before long, denounce you!" said the old man.
"Bah! You always were a pessimist, Giulio," Benton laughed. "I do not
fear any enemies--I assure you. The Sparrow takes good care that we
are prevented from falling into any traps the police may set," he
added after a moment's pause.
The old waiter shook his head dubiously.
"One day there may be a slip--and it will cost you all very dearly,"
"You are in a bad mood, Giulio--like all those who exist by being
honest," Benton laughed, though he was extremely annoyed at his
failure to learn anything from the old fellow.
Was it possible that the suspicions which both Molly and he had
entertained were true--namely, that the old man had attempted to kill
his mistress? After all, the hue-and-cry had been raised by the police
merely because Hugh Henfrey had fled and successfully escaped.
Benton, after grumbling because the old man would make no statement,
and again hinting at the fact that he might be the culprit, left with
very ill grace, his long journey from London having been in vain.
If Henfrey was to be free to marry Louise, then his innocence must
first be proved. Charles Benton had for many weeks realized that his
chance of securing old Mr. Henfrey's great fortune was slowly slipping
from him. Once Hugh had married Louise and settled the money upon her,
then the rest would be easy. He had many times discussed it with
Molly, and they were both agreed upon a vile, despicable plot which
would result in the young man's sudden end and the diversion of his
The whole plot against old Mr. Henfrey was truly one of the most
elaborate and amazing ones ever conceived by criminal minds.
Charles Benton was a little too well known in Nice, hence he took care
to leave the place by an early train, and went on to Cannes, where he
was a little less known. As an international crook he had spent
several seasons at Nice and Monte Carlo, but had seldom gone to
Cannes, as it was too aristocratic and too slow for an /escroc/ like
Arrived at Cannes he put up at the Hotel Beau Site, and that night ate
an expensive dinner in the restaurant at the Casino. Then, next day,
he took the /train-de-luxe/ direct for Calais, and went on to London,
all unconscious of the sensational events which were then happening.
On arrival in London he found a telegram lying upon his table among
some letters. It was signed "Shaw," and urged him to meet him "at the
usual place" at seven o'clock in the evening. "I know you are away,
but I'll look in each night at seven," it concluded.
It was just six o'clock, therefore Benton washed and changed, and just
before seven o'clock entered a little cafe off Wardour Street,
patronized mostly by foreigners. At one of the tables, sitting alone,
was a wiry-looking, middle-aged man--Mr. Howell, The Sparrow's friend.
"Well?" asked Howell, when a few minutes later they were walking along
Wardour Street together. "How did you get on in Nice?"
"Had my journey for nothing."
"Wouldn't the old man tell anything?" asked Howell eagerly.
"Not a word," Benton replied. "But my firm opinion is that he himself
tried to kill Yvonne--that he shot her."
"Do you really agree with me?" gasped Howell excitedly. "Of course,
there has, all along, been a certain amount of suspicion against him.
The police were once on the point of arresting him. I happen to know
"Well, my belief is that young Henfrey is innocent. I never thought so
"Then we must prove Cataldi guilty, and Henfrey can marry Louise,"
Howell said. "But the reason I wanted to get in touch with you is that
the police went to Shapley."
"To Shapley!" gasped Benton.
"Yes. They went there the night you left London. Evidently somebody
has given you away!"
"Given me away! Who in the devil's name can it be? If I get to know
who the traitor is I--I'll--by gad, I'll kill him. I swear I will!"
"Who knows? Some secret enemy of yours--no doubt. Molly has been
arrested and has been up at Bow Street. They also arrested Louise, but
there being no charge against her, she has been released. I've sent
her up to Cambridge--to old Mrs. Curtis. I thought she'd be quite
quiet and safe there for a time."
"But Molly arrested! What's the charge?"
"Theft. An extradition warrant from Paris. That jeweller's affair in
the Rue St. Honore, eighteen months ago."
"Well, I hope they won't bring forward other charges, or it will go
infernally bad with her. What has The Sparrow done?"
"He's abroad somewhere--but I've had five hundred pounds from an
unknown source to pay for her defence. I saw the solicitors.
Brigthorne, the well-known barrister, appeared for her."
"But all this is very serious, my dear Howell," Benton declared, much
"Of course it is. You can't marry the girl to young Henfrey until he
is proved innocent, and that cannot be until the guilt is fixed upon
the crafty old Giulio."
"Exactly. That's what we must do. But with Molly arrested we shall be
compelled to be very careful," said Benton, as they turned toward
Piccadilly Circus. "I don't see how we dare move until Molly is either
free or convicted. If she knew our game she might give us away.
Remember that if we bring off the Henfrey affair Molly has to have a
share in the spoils. But if she happens to be in a French prison she
won't get much chance--eh?"
"If she goes it will be ten years, without a doubt," Howell remarked.
"Yes. And in the meantime much can happen--eh?" laughed Benton.
"Lots. But one reassuring fact is that, as far as old Henfrey's fate
is concerned, Mademoiselle's lips are closed. Whoever shot her did us
a very good turn."
"Of course. But I agree we must fix the guilt upon old Cataldi. He
almost as good as admitted it by his face when I taxed him with it.
Why not give him away to the Nice police?"
"No, not yet. Certainly not," exclaimed Howell.
"It's a pity The Sparrow does not know about the Henfrey business. He
might help us. Dare we tell him? What do you think?"
"Tell him! Good Heavens! No! Surely you are fully aware how he always
sets his face against any attempt upon human life, and no one who has
taken life has ever had his forgiveness," said Howell. "The Sparrow is
our master--a fine and marvellous mind which has no equal in Europe.
If he had gone into politics he could have been the greatest statesman
of the age. But he is Il Passero, the man who directs affairs of every
kind, and the man at the helm of every great enterprise. Yet his one
fixed motto is that life shall not be taken."
"But in old Henfrey's case we acted upon our own initiative," remarked
"Yes. Yours was a wonderfully well-conceived idea. And all worked
without a hitch until young Henfrey's visit to Monte Carlo, and his
affection for that girl Ranscomb."
"We are weaning him away from her," Benton said. "At last the girl's
suspicions are excited, and there is just that little disagreement
which, broadening, leads to the open breach. Oh! my dear Howell, how
could you and I live if it were not for that silly infection called
love? In our profession love is all-conquering. Without it we could
make no progress, no smart coups, no conquests of women who afterwards
shed out to us money which at the assizes they would designate by the
ugly word 'blackmail.'"
"Ah! Charles. You were always a philosopher," laughed his companion--
the man who was a bosom friend of The Sparrow. "But it carries us no
nearer. We must, at all costs, fix the hand that shot Yvonne."
"Giulio shot her--without a doubt!" was Benton's quick reply.
They were standing together on the kerb outside the Tube station at
Piccadilly Circus as Benton uttered the words.
"Well, my dear fellow, then let us prove it," said Howell. "But not
yet, remember. We must first see how it goes with Molly. She must be
watched carefully. Of course, I agree that Giulio Cataldi shot Yvonne.
Later we will prove that fact, but the worst of it is that the French
police are hot on the track of young Henfrey."
"How do you know that?" asked his companion quickly.
"Well," he answered, after a second's hesitation, "I heard so two days
Then Howell, pleading an urgent meeting with a mutual friend, also a
crook like themselves, grasped the other's hand, and they parted.
At ten o'clock on the morning that Hugh Henfrey left Avignon for
Paris, The Sparrow stood at the window of his cozy little flat in the
Rue des Petits Champs, where he was known to his elderly housekeeper--
a worthy old soul from Yvetot, in the north--as Guillaume Gautier.
The house was one of those great old ones built in the days of the
First Empire, with a narrow entrance and square courtyard into which
the stage coaches with postilions rumbled before the days of the
P.L.M. and aircraft. In the Napoleonic days it had been the residence
of the Dukes de Vizelle, but in modern times it had been converted
into a series of very commodious flats.
The Sparrow, sprightly and alert, stood, after taking his /cafe au
lait/, looking down into the courtyard. He had been reading through
several letters and telegrams which had caused him some perturbation.
"They are playing me false!" he muttered, as he gazed out of the
window. "I'm certain of it--quite certain! But, Gad! If they do I'll
be even with them! Who could have given Henfrey away in London--/and
He paced the length of the room, his teeth hard set and his hands
"I thought they were all loyal after what I have done for them--after
the fortunes I have put into their pockets. Fancy! One of them a well-
known member of Parliament--another a director of one of the soundest
insurance companies! Nobody suspects the really great crooks. It is
only the little clumsy muddlers whom the police catch and the judge
makes examples of!"
Then crossing back to the window, he said aloud:
"Lisette ought to be here! She was due in from Toulouse at nine
o'clock. I hope nothing further has happened. One thing is
satisfactory--young Henfrey is safe."
As a matter of fact, the girl had spoken to The Sparrow from her hotel
in Toulouse late on the previous night, and told him that her "friend
Hugh" was in Marseilles.
Even to the master criminal the whole problem was increasingly
complicated. He could not prove the innocence of young Henfrey,
because of the mysterious, sinister influence being brought to bear
against him. He had interested himself in aiding the young fellow to
evade arrest, because he had no desire that there should be a trial in
which he and his associates might be implicated.
The Sparrow hated trials of any sort. With him silence was golden, and
very wisely he would pay any sum rather than court publicity.
Half an hour went past, but the girl he expected did not put in an
Monsieur Gautier--the man with the gloved hand--was believed by his
old housekeeper to be a rich and somewhat eccentric bachelor, who was
interested in old clocks and antique silver, and who travelled
extensively in order to purchase fine specimens. Indeed it was by that
description he was registered in the archives of the Surete, with the
observation that notwithstanding his foreign name he was an Englishman
of highest standing.
It was never dreamed that the bristly-haired alert little man, who was
so often seen in the salerooms of Paris when antique silver was being
sold, was the notorious Sparrow.
Lisette's failure to arrive considerably disturbed him. He hoped that
nothing had happened to her. Time after time, he walked to the window
and looked out eagerly for her to cross the courtyard. In those rooms
he sometimes lived for weeks in safe obscurity, his neighbours
regarding him as a man of the greatest integrity, though a trifle
eccentric in his habits.
At last, just before eleven, he saw Lisette's smart figure in a heavy
travelling coat crossing the courtyard, and a few moments later she
was shown into his room.
"You're late!" the old man said, as soon as the door was closed. "I
feared that something had gone wrong! Why did you leave Madrid? What
has happened?" he asked eagerly.
"Happened!" she echoed in French. "Why, very nearly a disaster!
Someone has given us away--at least, Monsieur Henfrey was given away
to the police!"
"Not arrested?" he asked breathlessly.
"No. We all three managed to get away--but only just in time! I had a
wire to-night from Monsieur Tresham, telling me guardedly that within
an hour or so after we left Madrid the police called at my hotel--and
"Who can have done that?" asked The Sparrow, his eyes narrowing in
anger, his gloved hand clenched.
"Your enemy--and mine!" was the girl's reply. "Franklyn is in
Switzerland. Monsieur Henfrey is in Marseilles--at the Louvre et Paix
--and I am here."
"Then we have a secret enemy--eh?"
"Yes--and he is not very far to seek. Monsieur Howell has done this!"
"Howell! He would never do such a thing, my dear mademoiselle,"
replied the gloved man, smiling.
"Oh! wouldn't he? I would not trust either Benton or Howell!"
"I think you are mistaken, mademoiselle. They have never shown much
friendship towards each other."
"They are close friends as far as concerns the Henfrey affair,"
declared mademoiselle. "I happen to know that it was Howell who
prepared the old man's will. It is in his handwriting, and his
manservant, Cooke, is one of the witnesses."
"What? /You know about that will, Lisette?/ Tell me everything."
"Howell himself let it out to me. They were careful that you should
not know. At the time I was in London with Franklyn and Benton over
the jewels of that ship-owner's wife, I forget her name--the affair in
Carlton House Terrace."
"Yes. I recollect. A very neat piece of business."
"Well--Howell told me how he had prepared the will, and how Benton,
who was staying with old Mr. Henfrey away in the country, got him to
put his signature to it by pretending it to be for the purchase of a
house at Eltham, in Kent. The house was, indeed, purchased at Benton's
suggestion, but the signature was to a will which Howell's man, Cooke,
and a friend of his, named Saunders, afterwards witnessed, and which
has now been proved--the will by which the young man is compelled to
marry Benton's adopted daughter before he inherits his father's
"You actually know this?"
"Howell told me so with his own lips."
"Then why is young Henfrey being made the victim?" asked The Sparrow
shrewdly. "Why, indeed, have you not revealed this to me before?"
"Because I had no proof before that Howell is /our/ enemy. He has now
given us away. He has some motive. What is it?"
The bristly-haired little man of twenty names and as many
individualities pondered for a moment. It was evident that he was both
apprehensive and amazed at the suggestion the pretty young French girl
had placed before him.
When one finds a betrayer, then in order to fix his guilt it becomes
necessary to discover the motive.
The Sparrow was in a quandary. Seldom was he in such a perturbed state
of mind. He and his accomplices could always defy the police. It was
not the first time in his career, however, that he had found a traitor
in his camp. If Howell was really a traitor, then he would pay dearly
for it. Three times within the last ten years there had been traitors
in the great criminal organization. One was a Dutchman; the second was
a Greek; and the third a Swiss. Each died--for dead men tell no tales.
The Sparrow ordered some /cafe noir/ from his housekeeper and produced
a particularly seductive brand of liqueur, which mademoiselle took--
together with a cigarette.
Then she left, he giving her the parting injunction:
"It is probable that you will go to Marseilles and meet young Henfrey.
I will think it all over. You will have a note from me at the Grand
Hotel before noon to-morrow."
THE INQUISITIVE MR. SHRIMPTON
An hour later Hugh stood in The Sparrow's room, and related his
exciting adventure in Marseilles and on the high road.
"H'm!" remarked the man with the gloved hand. "A very pretty piece of
business. The police endeavoured to mislead you, and you, by a very