“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 Europe.