“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 bristly-haired man.
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 Lisette now?”
“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.