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 blunder.”
“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 Gare.”
“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 was.”
“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 said.
“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!”