“I thought you knew all about it,” he said.
“I know a little—not all. I want to know everything. Why did you venture there at all? You did not know the lady. It was surely a very unusual hour to pay a call?” said the little man, his shrewd eyes fixed upon his visitor.
“Well, Mr. Peters, the fact is that my father died in very suspicious circumstances, and I was led to believe the Mademoiselle was cognizant of the truth.”
The other man frowned slightly.
“And so you went there with the purpose of getting the truth from her?” he remarked, with a grunt.
Hugh nodded in the affirmative.
“What did she tell you?”
“Nothing. She was about to tell me something when the shot was fired by someone on the veranda outside.”
“H’m! Then the natural surmise would be that you, suspecting that woman of causing your father’s death, shot her because she refused to tell you anything?”
“I repeat she was about to disclose the circumstances—to divulge her secret, when she was struck down.”
“You have no suspicion of anyone? You don’t think that her manservant—I forget the fellow’s name—fired the shot? Remember, he was not in the room at the time!”
“I feel confident that he did not. He was far too distressed at the terrible affair,” said Hugh. “The outrage must have been committed by someone to whom the preservation of the secret of my father’s end was of most vital importance.”
“Agreed,” replied the man with the black glove. “The problem we have to solve is who was responsible for your father’s death.”
“Yes,” said Hugh. “If that shot had not been fired I should have known the truth.”
“You think, then, that Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo would have told you the truth?” asked the bristly-haired man with a mysterious smile.
“Yes. She would.”
“Well, Mr. Henfrey, I think I am not of your opinion.”
“You think possibly she would have implicated herself if she had told me the truth?”
“I do. But the chief reason I asked you to call and see me to-night is to learn for what reason you have been induced to go on a visit to this Mrs. Bond.”
“Because Benton suggested it. He told me that Scotland Yard knew of my presence in Kensington, making further residence there dangerous.”
“H’m!” And the man with the black glove paused again.
“You don’t like Benton, do you?”
“I have no real reason to dislike him. He has always been very friendly towards me—as he was to my late father. The only thing which causes me to hold aloof from him as much as I can is the strange clause in my father’s will.”
“Strange clause?” echoed the old man. “What clause?”
“My father, in his will, cut me off every benefit he could unless I married Benton’s adopted daughter, Louise. If I marry her, then I obtain a quarter of a million. I at first thought of disputing the will, but Mr. Charman, our family solicitor, says that it is perfectly in order. The will was made in Paris two years before his death. He went over there on some financial business.”