FIRSTCHAPTER THESUICIDE’SCHAIR “Yes!I’mnotmistakenatall!It’sthesamewoman!”whisperedthetall,goodlookingyoungEnglishmaninawell-cutnavysuitashestoodwithhisfriend,a man some ten years older than himself, at one of the roulette tables at Monte Carlo, the first on the right on entering the room—that one known to habitual gamblersas“TheSuicide’sTable.” “Areyouquitecertain?”askedhisfriend. “Positive.Ishouldknowheragainanywhere.” “She’sveryhandsome.Andlook,too,byJove!—howsheiswinning!” “Yes. But let’s get away. She might recognize me,” exclaimed the younger mananxiously.“Ah!IfIcouldonlyinducehertodisclosewhatsheknowsabout mypoorfather’smysteriousendthenwemightclearupthemystery.” “I’mafraid,ifallwehearistrueabouther,MademoiselleofMonteCarlowill neverdothat,”wastheother’sreplyastheymovedawaytogetherdownthelong saloontowardsthetrente-et-quaranteroom. “Messieurs! Faites vos jeux,” the croupiers were crying in their strident, monotonous voices, inviting players to stake their counters of cent-sous, their louis,ortheirhundredorfivehundredfrancnotesuponthespinoftheredand black wheel. It was the month of March, the height of the Riviera season, the fetes of Mi-Careme were in full swing. That afternoon the rooms were overcrowded, and the tense atmosphere of gambling was laden with the combinedodoursofperspirationandperfume. Around each table were crowds four or five deep behind those fortunate enoughtoobtainseats,alleagerandanxioustotrytheirfortuneupontherouge ornoir,orupononeofthethirty-sixnumbers,thecolumns,orthetransversales. There was but little chatter. The hundreds of well-dressed idlers escaping the winterweretoointentuponthegame.Butabovetheclickoftheplaques,blue andredofdifferentsizes,astheywererakedintothebankbythecroupiers,and theclatterofcountersastheluckyplayerswerepaidwithdefthands,thererose everandanon: “Messieurs!Faitesvosjeux!”
HereEnglishduchessesrubbedshoulderswiththemostnotoriouswomenin Europe,andmenwhoathomeinEnglandweregoodchurchmenandexemplary fathers of families, laughed merrily with the most gorgeously attired cocottes from Paris, or the stars of the film world or the variety stage. Upon that wide polished floor of the splendidly decorated Rooms, with their beautiful mural paintingsandheavygiltornamentation,theworldandthehalf-worldwereupon equalfooting. Intothatstiflingatmosphere—fortheAdministrationoftheBainsdeMerof Monaco seem as afraid of fresh air as of purity propaganda—the glorious afternoon sunlight struggled through the curtained windows, while over each table,inadditiontotheelectriclight,oil-lampsshadedgreenwithabilliard-table effect cast a dull, ghastly illumination upon the eager countenances of the players.MostofthosewhogotoMonteCarlowonderattheantiquatedmodeof illumination.Itis,however,inconsequenceofanattemptedraiduponthetables onenight,whensomeadventurerscuttheelectric-lightmain,andinthedarkness grabbedalltheycouldgetfromthebank. The two English visitors, both men of refinement and culture, who had watched the tall, very handsome woman in black, to whom the older man had referred as Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, wandered through the trente-etquarante rooms where all was silence, and counters, representing gold, were beingstakedwithatwelve-thousandfrancmaximum. Those rooms beyond are the haunt of the professional gambler, the man or woman who has been seized by the demon of speculation, just as others have beenseizedbythatofdrugsordrink.Curiouslyenoughwomenaremoreprone to gamble than men, and the Administration of the Etablissement will tell you thatwhenawomanofanynationalitystartstogambleshewillbecomereckless untilherlastthrowwiththedevil. ThosewhoknowMonteCarlo,thosewhohavebeenhabituesfortwentyyears —as the presentwriter hasbeen—knowtoo well, andhaveseen toooften,the deadlyinfluenceofthetablesuponthelightersideofwoman’snature.Thesmart womanfromParis,Vienna,orRomeneverlosesherhead.Shegamblesalways discreetly.Thefashionablecocottesseldomlosemuch.Theygambleatthetables discreetly and make eyes at men if they win, or if they lose. If the latter they generallyobtaina“loan”fromsomebody.Whatmatter?Whenoneisat“Monty” oneisnotinaWesleyanchapel.Englishmenandwomenwhentheygotothe RivieraleavetheirmoralsathomewiththeirsilkhatsandSundaygowns.Andit is strange to see the perfectly respectable Englishwoman admiring the same daringcostumesoftheFrenchpseudo-“countesses”atwhichtheyhaveheldup
theirhandsinhorrorwhentheyhaveseenthempicturedinthepaperswearing thoselatest“creations”ofthePlaceVendome. Yes. It is a hypocritical world, and nowhere is canting hypocrisy more apparentthaninsidetheCasinoatMonteCarlo. While the two Englishmen were strolling over the polished parquet of the elegant world-famous salles-de-jeu “Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo” was experiencingquiteanextraordinaryrunofluck. But “Mademoiselle,” as the croupiers always called her, was usually lucky. She was an experienced, and therefore a careful player. When she staked a maximum it was not without very careful calculation upon the chances. MademoisellewaswellknowntotheAdministration.Oftenherwinningswere sensational,hencesheservedasanadvertisementtotheCasino,forhersuccess always induced the uninitiated and unwary to stake heavily, and usually with disastrousresults. The green-covered gaming table, at which she was sitting next to the end croupierontheleft-handside,wascrowded.ShesatinwhatisknownatMonte as“theSuicide’sChair,”forduringthepasteightyearstenmenandwomenhad sat in that fatal chair and had afterwards ended their lives abruptly, and been buriedinsecretintheSuicide’sCemetery. Thecroupiersatthattableareeverwatchfulofthevisitorwho,allunawares, occupiesthatfatalchair.ButMademoiselle,whoknewofit,alwayslaughedthe superstitiontoscorn.Shehabituallysatinthatchair—andwon. Indeed,thatafternoonshewaswinning—andveryconsiderablytoo.Shehad wonfourmaximumsenpleinwithinthelasthalf-hour,andthecrowdaroundthe tablenotinghergoodfortunewerenowfollowingher. ItwaseasyforanynoviceintheRoomstoseethatthehandsome,dark-eyed woman was a practised player. Time after time she let the coups pass. The croupiers’invitationtoplaydidnotinteresther.Shesimplytoyedwithherbig gold-chainpurse,orfingeredherdozenpilesorsoofplaquesinamannerquite disinterested. She heard the croupier announce the winning number and saw the rakes at workdragginginthestakestoswellthebank.Butsheonlysmiled,andnowand thenshruggedhershoulders. Whether she won or lost, or whether she did not risk a stake, she simply smiledandelevatedhershoulders,mutteringsomethingtoherself. Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo was, truth to tell, a sphinx to the staff of the
Casino.Shelookedaboutthirty,butprobablyshewasolder.Forfiveyearsshe had been there each season and gambled heavily with unvarying success. Alwayswellbutquietlydressed,hernationalitywasasobscureasherpast.To thestaffshewasalwayspolite,andshepressedhundred-francnotesintomanya palmin theRooms. Butwho shewasorwhatwereherantecedentsnobodyin thePrincipalityofMonacocouldevertell. ThewholeCoted’AzurfromHyerestoVentimigliaknewofher.Shewasone of the famous characters of Monte Carlo, just as famous, indeed, as old Mr. Drewett, the Englishman who lost his big fortune at the tables, and who was pensioned off by the Administration on condition that he never gamble at the Casinoagain.ForfifteenyearshelivedinNiceuponthemeagrepittanceuntil suddenly another fortune was left him, whereupon he promptly paid up the wholeofhispensionandstartedatthetablesagain.Inamonth,however,hehad lost his second fortune. Such is gambling in the little country ruled over by PrinceRouge-et-Noir. AsthetwoEnglishmenslippedpasttheendtableunseenontheirwayoutinto thebigatriumwithitsmanycolumns—thehallinwhichplayersgoouttocool themselves,orcollecttheirdeterminationforafinalflutter—Mademoisellehad just won the maximum upon the number four, as well as the column, and the croupier was in the act of pushing towards her a big pile of counters each representingathousandfrancs. Theeagerexcitedthrongaroundthetablelookedacrossatherwithenvy.But her handsome countenance was quite expressionless. She simply thrust the counters into the big gold-chain purse at her side, glanced at the white-gloved fingers which were soiled by handling the counters, and then counting out twenty-five,eachrepresentingalouis,gavethemtothecroupier,exclaiming: “Zero-trois!” Nextmomentadozenpersonsfollowedherplay,stakingtheircent-sousand louisuponthespotwhereshehadaskedthecroupierattheendofthetableto placeherstake. “Messieurs!Faitesvosjeux!”camethestridentcryagain. Thenafewsecondslaterthecroupiercried: “Riennevasplus!” Theredandblackwheelwasalreadyspinning,andthelittleivoryballsentby the croupier’s hand in the opposite direction was clicking quickly over the numberedspaces.
Sixhundredormoreeyesofmenandwomen,feveredbythegamblingmania, watchedtheresult.Slowlyitlostitsimpetus,andafterspinningaboutunevenly itmadeafinaljumpandfellwithaloudclick. “Zer-r-o!”criedthecroupier. And a moment later Mademoiselle had pushed before her at the end of the croupier’s rake another pile of counters, while all those who had followed the remarkablewoman’splaywerealsopaid. “Mademoiselleisingoodformto-day,”remarkedoneuglyoldFrenchwoman whohadbeenawell-knownfigureatthetablesforthepasttenyears,andwho playedcarefullyandlivedbygambling.Shewasoneofthosequeer,mysterious old creatures who enter the Rooms each morning as soon as they are open, securethebestseats,occupythemalltheluncheonhourpretendingtoplay,and then sell them to wealthy gamblers for a consideration—two or three louis— perhaps—andthenatoncegototheireaseintheirownobscureabode. ThepublicwhogotoMonteknowlittleofitsstrangemysteries,oroftheodd peoplewhopickuplivingsthereinallsortsofqueerways. “Ah!” exclaimed a man who overheard her. “Mademoiselle has wonderful luck! She won seventy-five thousand francs at the CerclePrive last night. She wonenpleinfivetimes running.Dieu!Suchluck!Anditnevercausesherthe slightestexcitement.” “Theladymustbeveryrich!”remarkedanAmericanwomansittingnextto theoldFrenchwoman,andwhoknewFrenchwell. “Rich! Of course! She must have won several million francs from the Administration. They don’t like to see her here. But I suppose her success attracts others to play. The gambling fever is as infectious as the influenza,” declared the old Frenchwoman. “Everyone tries to discover who she is, and where she came from five years ago. But nobody has yet found out. Even MonsieurBernard,thechiefoftheSurveillance,doesnotknow,”shewentonin a whisper. “He is a friend of mine, and I asked him one day. She came from Paris, he told me. She may be American, she may be Belgian, or she may be English. She speaks English and French so well that nobody can tell her true nationality.” “Andshemakesmoneyatthetables,”saidtheAmericanwomaninthewellcutcoatandskirtandsmallhat.ShecamefromChelsea,Mass.,anditwasher firstvisittowhather piousfatherhadalwaysreferredtoastheplaguespotof Europe. “Money!”exclaimedtheoldwoman.“Money!Dieu!Shehaslosses,itistrue,
but oh!—what she wins! I only wish I had ten per cent of it. I should then be rich. Mine is a poor game, madame—waiting for someone to buy my seat insteadofstandingthewholeafternoon.Yousee,thereisonlyonerowofchairs all around. So if a smart woman wants to play, some man always buys her a chair—and that is how I live. Ah! madame, life is a great game here in the Principality.” Meanwhile young Hugh Henfrey, who had travelled from London to the Rivieraandidentifiedthemysteriousmademoiselle,hadpassedwithhisfriend, WalterBrock,throughtheatriumandoutintotheafternoonsunshine. As they turned upon the broad gravelled terrace in front of the great white facade of the Casino amid the palms, the giant geraniums and mimosa, the sapphire Mediterranean stretched before them. Below, beyond the railway line whichistheoneblemishtothepicturesquescene,outuponthepointinthesea theconstantpop-popshowedthatthetir-aux-pigeonswasinprogress;whileup and down the terrace, enjoying the quiet silence of the warm winter sunshine with the blue hills of the Italian coast to the left, strolled a gay, irresponsible crowd—the cosmopolitans of the world: politicians, financiers, merchants, princes,authors,andartists—thecrowdwhichputsoffitsmoralsaseasilyasit discards its fur coats and its silk hats, a hrewd.Heissucharealladies’man,” laughedLisette,usingsomeoftheargotoftheMontmartre. “Yes. Do you recollect that American, Lindsay—with whom you had somethingtodo?” “Oh, yes, I remember. I was in London and we went out to dinner together quitealot.Manfieldwaswithmeandwegotfromhisdispatch-boxthepapers concerningthatoilwellatBaku.ThecompanywasstartedlateroninChicago, andonlytwomonthsagoIreceivedmydividend.” “Teddy Manfield is a very good friend,” declared the man with the gloved hand.“Birthandeducationalwayscount,eveninthesedays.Toanyex-service man I hold out my hand as the unit who saved us from becoming a German colony.Butdoothers?Imakewaruponthosewhohaveprofitedbywar.Ihave neverattackedthosewhohaveremainedhonestduringthegreatstruggle.Inthe case of dog-eat-dog I place myself on the side of the worker and the misled
patriot—notonlyinBritain,butinallthecountriesoftheAllies.Ifmembersof theAlliedGovernmentsareprofiteerswhatcantheman-in-the-streetexpectof the poor little scraping-up tradesman oppressed by taxation and bewildered by waste?Butthere!”headded,“Iamnopolitician!Myonlyobjectistosolvethe mysteryofwhoshotpoorMademoiselleYvonne.” Theprettydecoyofthegreatassociationofescrocssmokedanothercigarette, and gazed into the young man’s face. Sometimes she shuddered when she reflecteduponallsheknewconcerninghisfather’sunfortunateend,andofthe cleverly concocted will by which he was to marry Louise Lambert, and afterwardsenjoybutashortcareer. FatehadmadeLisettewhatshewas—achildoffortune.Herownlifewould, ifwritten,formastrangeandsensationalnarrative.Forshehadbeenimplicated inanumberofgreatrobberieswhichhadstartledtheworld. SheknewmuchofthetruthoftheHenfreyaffair,andshehadnowdecidedto assistHughtovanquishthosewhoseintentionsweredistinctlyevil. Atlastsheroseandwishedthembonsoir. “IshallleavetheGaredeLyonatelevenfifty-eightto-morrow,andgodirect toMadameOdette’sinNice,”shesaid. “Yes. Remain there. If I want you I will let you know,” answered The Sparrow. Andthenshedescendedthestairsandwalkedtoherhotel. Next evening Hugh and The Sparrow, both dressed quite differently, left by theRivieratrain-de-luxe.AsTheSparrowlaythatnightinthewagon-lithetried to sleep, but the roar and rattle of the train prevented it. Therefore he calmly thoughtoutacompleteanddeliberateplan. FromoneofhisfriendsinLondonhehadhadsecretwarningthatthepolice, onthedayheleftCharingCross,haddescendeduponShapleyManorandhad arrestedMrs.BondunderawarrantappliedforbytheFrenchpolice,andhealso knewthatherextraditionfortrialinParishadbeengranted. That there was a traitor in the camp was proved, but happily Hugh Henfrey hadescapedjustintime. ForhimselfTheSparrowcaredlittle.Heseemedtobeimmunefromarrest,so cleverlydidhedisguisehistrueidentity;yetnowthatsomepersonhadrevealed his secrets, what more likely than the person, whoever it was, would also give him away for the sake of the big reward which he knew was offered for his apprehension.
Before leaving Paris that evening he had dispatched a telegram, a reply to whichwashandedhiminthetrainwhenitstoppedatLyonsearlynextmorning. Thisdecidedhim.HesentanothertelegramandthenreturnedtowhereHugh waslyinghalfawake.WhentheystoppedatMarseilles,bothmenwerecareful nottoleavethetrain,butcontinuedinit,arrivingatthegreatstationofNicein theearlyafternoon. Theylefttheirbagsatasmallhoteljustoutsidethestation,andtakingacab, theydroveawayintotheoldtown.AfterwardstheyproceededonfoottotheRue Rossetti,wheretheyclimbedtotheflatoccupiedbyoldGiulioCataldi. Theoldfellowwasout,buttheelderlyItalianwomanwhokepthouseforhim saidsheexpectedhimbackatanymoment.Hewasduetocomeoffdutyatthe cafewherehewasemployed. So Hugh and his companion waited, examining the poorly-furnished little room. Now The Sparrow entertained a strong suspicion that Cataldi knew more of thetragedyattheVillaAmettethananyoneelse.Indeed,oflate,ithadmorethan oncecrossedhismindthathemightbetheactualculprit. Atlastthedooropenedandtheoldmanentered,surprisedtofindhimselfin thepresenceofthemastercriminal,TheSparrow,whomhehadonlymetonce before. Hegreetedhisvisitorsrathertimidly. AfterashortchatTheSparrow,whohadofferedtheoldmanacigarettefrom acheapplatedcasemuchworn,begantomakecertaininquiries. “This is a very serious and confidential affair, Cataldi,” he said. “I want to knowtheabsolutetruth—andImusthaveit.” “I know it is serious, signore,” replied the old man, much perturbed by the unexpected visit of the king of the underworld, the elusive Sparrow of whom everyonespokeinawe.“ButIonlyknowoneortwofacts.IrecognizeSignor Henfrey.” “Ah! Then you know me!” exclaimed Hugh. “You recognized me on that nightattheVillaAmette,whenyouopenedthedoortome.” “Ido,signore.Irecollecteverything.Itisallphotographeduponmymemory. Poor Mademoiselle! You questioned her—as a gentleman would—and you demandedtoknowaboutyourfather’sdeath.Sheprevaricated—and——” “Thenyouoverheardit?”saidHugh. “Yes,Ilistened.WasInotMademoiselle’sservant?Onthatnightshehadwon
quitealargesumattheRooms,andshehadgivenme—ah!shewasalwaysmost generous—five hundred francs—twenty pounds in your English money. And theywereacceptableinthesedaysofhighprices.Iheardmuch.Iwasinterested. MademoisellewasmymistresswhomIhadservedfaithfully.” “You wondered why this young Englishman should call upon her at that hour?”saidTheSparrow. “Idid.Sheneverreceivedvisitorsafterherfiveo’clocktea.Itwasthehabitat theVillaAmettetolunchatoneo’clock,Englishteaatfiveo’clock,anddinner at eight—when the Rooms were slack save for the tourists from seven till ten. Strange! The tourists always think they can win while the gambling world has gonetoitsmeals!Theygetseats,itistrue,buttheyalwayslose.” “Yes,” replied The Sparrow. “It is a strange fact that the greatest losses are sustainedbytheplayerswhentheRoomsaremostempty.Nobodyhasyetever beenabletoaccountforit.” “And yet it is so,” declared old Cataldi. “I have watched it day by day. But poorMademoiselle!Whatcanwedotosolvethemystery?” “WereyounotwithMademoiselleandMr.Bentonwhenyoubothbroughtoff thatgreatcoupintheAvenueLouise,inBrussels?”askedTheSparrow. “Yes,signore,”saidtheoldman.“ButIdonotwishtospeakofitnow.” “Quite naturally. I quite appreciate it. Since Mademoiselle’s—er—accident youhave,Isuppose,beenleadinganhonestlife?” “Yes.Ihavetriedtodoso.AtpresentIamacafewaiter.” “AndyoucantellmenothingfurtherregardingtheaffairattheVillaAmette?” askedTheSparrow,eyeinghimnarrowly. “Iregret,signore,Icantellyounothingfurther,”repliedthestaid,rathersadlookingoldman;“nothing.”Andhesighed. “Why?”askedthemanwhosetentacleswere,likeanoctopus,uponahundred schemes, and as many criminal coups in Europe. He sought a solution of the problem,butnothingappearedforthcoming. Hehadstrainedeveryeffort,buthecouldascertainnothing. ThatCataldiknewthekeytothewholeproblemTheSparrowfeltassured.Yet whydidnottheoldfellowtellthetruth? AtlastTheSparrowroseandleft,andHughfollowedhim.Bothwerebitterly disappointed.Theoldmanrefusedtosaymorethanthathewasignorantofthe wholeaffair.
Cataldi’sattitudeannoyedthemastercriminal. ForthreedaysheremainedinNicewithHugh,atgreatriskofrecognitionand arrest. On the fourth day they went together in a hired car along the winding road acrosstheVartoCannes. Atabigwhitevillaalittledistanceoutsidetheprettywintertownofflowers andpalms,theyhalted.Thehouse,whichwasontheFrejusroad,wasoncethe residenceofaRussianprince. WithTheSparrowHughwasusheredintoabig,sunnyroomoverlookingthe beautifulgardenwhereclimbinggeraniumsranriotwithcarnationsandviolets, andforsomeminutestheywaited.Fromthewindowsspreadawideviewofthe calmsapphiresea. Thensuddenlythedooropened.
TWENTY-NINTHCHAPTER THESTORYOFMADEMOISELLE Both men turned and before them they saw the plainly dressed figure of a beautifulwoman,andbehindheranelderly,grey-facedman. ForafewsecondsthewomanstaredatTheSparrowblankly.Thensheturned hergazeuponHugh. Her lips parted. Suddenly she gave vent to a loud cry, almost of pain, and placingbothhandstoherhead,gasped: “Dieu!” ItwasYvonneFerad.Andthecrywasoneofrecognition. Hughdashedforwardwiththedoctor,forshewasonthepointofcollapseat recognizing them. But in a few seconds she recovered herself, though she was deathlypaleandmuchagitated. “Yvonne!” exclaimed The Sparrow in a low, kindly voice. “Then you know whowereallyare?Yourreasonhasreturned?” “Yes,”sheansweredinFrench.“Irememberwhoyouare.Ah!But—butitis all so strange!” she cried wildly. “I—I—I can’t think! At last! Yes. I know. I recollect!You!”AndshestaredatHugh.“You—youareMonsieurHenfrey!” “Thatisso,mademoiselle.” “Ah, messieurs,” remarked the elderly doctor, who was standing behind his patient. “She recognized you both—after all! The sudden shock at seeing you has accomplished what we have failed all these months to accomplish. It is efficaciousonlyinsomefewcases.Inthisitissuccessful.Butbecareful.Ibeg of you not to overtax poor mademoiselle’s brain with many questions. I will leaveyou.” Andhewithdrew,closingthedoorsoftlyafterhim. ForafewminutesTheSparrowspoketoMademoiselleofMonteCarloabout generalthings. “I have been very ill,” she said in a low, tremulous voice. “I could think of nothing since my accident, until now—and now”—and she gazed around her withanewinterestuponherhandsomecountenance—“andnowIremember!—
butitallseemstoohazyandindistinct.” “Yourecollectthings—eh?”askedTheSparrowinakindlyvoice,placinghis handuponhershoulderandlookingintohertiredeyes. “Yes. I remember. All the past is slowly returning to me. It seems ages and agessinceIlastmetyou,Mr.—Mr.Peters,”andshelaughedlightly.“Peters— thatisthename?” “Itis,mademoiselle,”helaughed.“Anditisahappyeventthat,byseeingus unexpectedly,yourmemoryhasreturned.ButthereasonMr.Henfreyishereis to resume that conversation which was so suddenly interrupted at the Villa Amette.” Mademoiselle was silent for some moments. Her face was averted, for she wasgazingoutofthewindowtothedistantsea. “DoyouwishmetorevealtoMonsieurHenfreythe—thesecretofhisfather’s death?”sheaskedofTheSparrow. “Certainly.Youwereabouttodosowhen—whentheaccidenthappened.” “Yes.But—but,oh!—howcanItellhimtheactualtruthwhen—when,alas!I amsoguilty?”criedthewoman,muchdistressed. “No, no, mademoiselle,” said Hugh, placing his hand tenderly upon her shoulder. “Calm yourself. You did not kill my father. Of that I am quite convinced.Donotdistressyourself,buttellmeallthatyouknow.” “Mr.Petersknowssomethingoftheaffair,Ibelieve,”shesaidslowly.“Buthe never planned it. The whole plot was concocted by Benton.” Then, turning to Hugh, Mademoiselle said almost in her natural tone, though slightly highpitchedandnervous: “Benton,theblackguard,wasyourfather’sfriendatWoodthorpe.Withaman namedHowell,knownalsoasShaw,hepreparedawillwhichyourfathersigned unconsciously,andwhichprovidedthatintheeventofhisdeathyoushouldbe cutofffromalmosteverybenefitifyoudidnotmarryLouiseLambert,Benton’s adopteddaughter.” “ButwhoisLouiseactually?”askedHughinterrupting. “The real daughter of Benton, who has made pretence of adopting her. Of courseLouiseisunawareofthatfact,”Yvonnereplied. Hughwasmuchsurprisedatthis.ButhenowsawthereasonwhyMrs.Bond wassosolicitousofthepoorgirl’swelfare. “NowIhappenedtobeinLondon,andononeofyourfather’svisitstotown, Benton, his friend, introduced us. Naturally I had no knowledge of the plot
whichBentonandHowellhadformed,andfindingyourfatheraveryagreeable gentleman,IinvitedhimtothefurnishedflatIhadtakenatQueen’sGate.Iwent to the theatre with him on two occasions, Benton accompanying us, and then your father returned to the country. One day, about two months later Howell happenedtobeinLondon,andpresumablytheydecidedthattheplotwasripe for execution, for they asked me to write to Mr. Henfrey at Woodthorpe, and suggestthatheshouldcometoLondon,haveanearlysupperwithus,andgotoa big charity ball at the Albert Hall. In due course I received a wire from Mr. Henfrey, whocametoLondon,hadsupperwithme,BentonandHowellbeing also present, while Howell’s small closed car, which he always drove himself, waswaitingoutsidetotakeustotheball.” Then she paused and drew a long breath, as though the recollection of that nighthorrifiedher—asindeeditdid. “AftersupperIroseandlefttheroomtospeaktomyservantforamoment, when,justasIre-entered,IsawHowell,whowasstandingbehindMr.Henfrey’s chair,suddenlybend,placehisleftarmaroundyourfather’sneck,andwithhis righthandpressonthenapeoftheneckjustabovehiscollar.‘Here!’yourfather cried out, thinking it was a joke, ‘what’s the game?’ But the last word was scarcelyaudible,forhecollapsedacrossthetable.Istoodthereaghast.Howell, suddenly noticing me, told me roughly to clear out, as I was not wanted. I demandedtoknowwhathadhappened,butIwastoldthatitdidnotconcernme. My idea was that Mr. Henfrey had been drugged, for he was still alive and apparently dazed. I afterwards heard, however, that Howell had pressed the needleofahypodermicsyringecontaininganewlydiscoveredanduntraceable poisonwhichhehadobtainedinsecretfromacertainchemistinFrankfort,who makesaspecialityofsuchthings.” “Andwhathappenedthen?”askedHugh,aghastandastoundedatthestory. “BentonandHowellsentmeoutoftheroom.Theywaitedforoveranhour. Then Howell went down to the car. Afterwards, when all was clear, they half carried poor Mr. Henfrey downstairs, placed him in the car, and drove away. NextdayIheardthatmyguesthadbeenfoundbyaconstableinadoorwayin Albemarle Street. The officer, who first thought he was intoxicated, later took himtoSt.George’sHospital,wherehedied.Afterwardsascratchwasfoundon the palm of his hand, and the doctors believed it had been caused by a pin infectedwithsomepoison.Thetruthwas,however,thathishandwasscratched inopeningabottleofchampagneatsupper.Thedoctorsneversuspectedthetiny punctureinthehairatthenapeoftheneck,andtheyneverdiscoveredit.” “I knew nothing of the affair,” declared The Sparrow, his face clouded by
anger.“ThenHowellwastheactualmurderer?” “He was,” Yvonne replied. “I saw him press the needle into Mr. Henfrey’s neck,whileBentonstoodby,readytoseizethevictimifheresisted.Bentonand HowellhadagreedtokillMr.Henfrey,compelhissontomarryLouise,andthen getHugh outoftheworldbyoneorotheroftheirdevilishschemes. Ah!”she sighed,lookingsadlybeforeher.“Iseeitallnow—everything.” “ThenitwasarrangedthatafterIhadmarriedLouiseIshouldalsomeetwith anunexpectedend?” “Yes. One that should discredit you in the eyes of your wife and your own friends—an end probably like your father’s. A secret visit to London, and a mysteriousdeath,”Mademoisellereplied. She spoke quite calmly and rationally. The shock of suddenly encountering the two persons who had been uppermost in her thoughts before those terrible injuries to her brain had balanced it again. Though the pains in her head were excruciating,assheexplained,yetshecouldnowthink,andsherememberedall thebitternessofthepast. “You, M’sieur Henfrey, are the son of my dead friend. You have been the victim of a great and dastardly conspiracy,” she said. “But I ask your forgiveness,forIassureyouthatwhenIinvitedyourfatherupfromWoodthorpe Ihadnoideawhateverofwhatthoseassassinsintended.” “Benton is already under arrest for another affair,” broke in The Sparrow quietly.“IheardsofromLondonyesterday.” “Ah! And I hope that Howell will also be punished for his crime,” the handsomewomancried.“ThoughIhavebeenathief,aswindler,andadecoy— ah! yes, I admit it all—I have never committed the crime of murder. I know, messieurs,” she went on—“I know that I am a social outcast, the mysterious MademoiselleofMonteCarlo,theycallme!ButIhavesuffered.Ihaveindeed in these past months paid my debt to Society, and of you, Mr. Henfrey, I beg forgiveness.” “Iforgiveyou,Mademoiselle,”Hughreplied,graspingherslim,whitehand. “Mademoisellewill,Ihope,meetMissRanscomb,Mr.Henfrey’sfiancee,and tellherthewholetruth,”saidTheSparrow. “That I certainly will,” Yvonne replied. “Now that I can think I shall be allowedtoleavethisplace—eh?” “Of course. I will see after that,” said the man known as Mr. Peters. “You mustreturntotheVillaAmette—foryouarestillMademoiselleofMonteCarlo,
remember!Leaveitalltome.”Andhelaughedhappily. “Butwearenonearerthesolutionofthemysteryastowhoattemptedtokill you,Mademoiselle,”Hughremarked. “Therecanbebutoneperson.OldCataldiknowswhoitis,”sheanswered. “Cataldi? Then why has he not told me? I questioned him closely only the otherday,”saidTheSparrow. “Forcertainreasons,”Mademoisellereplied.“Hedarenottellthetruth!” “Why?”askedHugh. “Because—well——”andsheturnedtoTheSparrow.“Youwillrecollectthe affairwebroughtoffinBrusselsatthathouseoftheBelgianbaronesscloseto theBoisdelaCambre.Aservantwasshotdead.GiulioCataldishothiminselfdefence.ButHowellknowsofit.” “Well?”askedTheSparrow. “HowellwasinMonteCarloonthenightoftheattemptuponme.Imethim intheCasinohalfanhourbeforeIlefttowalkhome.Henodoubtrecognized Mr.Henfrey,whowasalsothere,asthesonofthemanwhomhehadmurdered, watchedhim,andfollowedhimuptomyvilla.HesuspectedthatMr.Henfrey’s objectwastofacemeanddemandanexplanation.” “Doyoureallythinkso?”gaspedHugh. “OfthatIfeelpositive.OnlyCataldicanproveit.” “WhyCataldi?”inquiredHugh. “See him again and tell him what I have revealed to you,” answered MademoiselleofMonteCarlo. “WhowasitwhowarnedmeagainstyoubythatletterpostedinTours?” “ItwaspartofHowell’sscheme,nodoubt.Ihavenoideaoftheidentityofthe writerofanyanonymousletter.ButHowell,nodoubt,sawthatifheridhimself ofmeitwouldbetohisgreatadvantage.” “ThenCataldiwillnotspeakthetruthbecausehefearsHowell?”remarkedthe notoriouschiefofEurope’sunderworld. “Exactly.NowthatIcanthink,Icanpiecethewholepuzzletogether.Itisall quiteplain.DoyounotrecollectHowell’scuriousriflefashionedintheformof awalking-stick?WhenIhaltedtospeaktoMadameBerangeronthestepsofthe CasinoasIcameoutthatnight,hepassedmecarryingthatstick.Indeed,heis seldomwithoutit.BymeansofthatdisguisedrifleIwasshot!” “ButyouspeakofCataldi.Howcanheknow?”
“When I entered the house I told him quickly that I believed Howell was followingme.Iorderedhimtowatch.Thisnodoubthedid.Hehaseverbeen faithfultome.” “BuywhyshouldHowellhaveattemptedtofixhisguiltuponMr.Henfrey?” askedTheSparrow.“Indoingsohewasdefeatinghisownaims.IfMr.Henfrey weresenttoprisonhecouldnotmarry LouiseLambert,andifhehadmarried Louise he would have benefited Howell! Therefore the whole plot was nullified.” “Exactly,m’sieur.Howellattemptedtokillmeinordertopreservehissecret, fearing that if I told Mr. Henfrey the truth he would inform the police of the circumstancesofhisfather’sassassination.Inmakingtheattempthedefeatedhis ownends—afactwhichheonlyrealizedwhentoolate!”
CONCLUSION Theforegoingisperhapsoneofthemostremarkablestoriesoftheunderworld ofEurope. Its details are set down in full in three big portfolios in the archives of the SureteinParis—wherethepresentwriterhashadaccesstothem. In that bald official narrative which is docketed under the heading “No. 23489/263—Henfrey” there is no mention of the love affair between Dorise RanscombandHughHenfreyofWoodthorpe. ButthetruefactsarethatwithinthreedaysofMademoiselle’srecoveryofher mentalbalance,oldGiulioCataldimadeaswornstatementtothepoliceatNice, andinconsequencetwogendarmesoftheDepartmentofSeineetOisewentone night to a small hotel at Provins, where they arrested the Englishman, Shaw, aliasHowell,whohadgonethereinwhathethoughtwassafehiding. The arrest took place at midnight, but Howell, on being cornered in his bedroom,showedfight,andraisinganautomaticpistol,whichhehadunderhis pillow, shot and wounded one of the gendarmes. Whereupon his companion drewhisrevolverinself-defenceandshottheEnglishmandead. Benton,afewmonthslater,wassentencedtoforcedlabourforfifteenyears, while his accomplice, Molly Bond, received a sentence of ten years. Only one case—thatofjewelrobbery—was,however,provedagainsther. Dorise,aboutsixweeksafterMademoiselleYvonne’sexplanation,metherin London, and there she and Hugh became reconciled. Her jealousy of Louise Lambertdisappearedwhensheknewtheactualtruth,andsheadmiredherlover all the more for his generosity in promising, when the Probate Court had set aside the false will, that he would settle a comfortable income upon the poor innocentgirl. This,indeed,hedid. The Sparrow has never since been traced, though Scotland Yard and the Surete have searched everywhere for him. But he is far too clever. The writer believes he is now living in obscurity, but perfectly happy, in a little village
outsideBarcelona.Helovesthesunshine. AsforHugh,heisnowhappilymarriedtoDorise,andastheProbateCourt hasdecidedthatWoodthorpeandthesubstantialincomearehis,heisenjoying allhisfather’swealth. YvonneFeradisstillMademoiselleofMonteCarlo.Shestilllivesonthehill inthepicturesqueVillaAmette,andisstillknowntothehabituesoftheRooms as—MademoiselleofMonteCarlo. OnmostnightsinspringshecanbeseenattheRooms,andthosewhoknow the truth tell the queer story which I have in the foregoing pages attempted to relate.