At last, just before eleven, he saw Lisette’s smart figure in a heavy travelling coat crossing the courtyard, and a few moments later she was shown into his room.
“You’re late!” the old man said, as soon as the door was closed. “I feared that something had gone wrong! Why did you leave Madrid? What has happened?” he asked eagerly.
“Happened!” she echoed in French. “Why, very nearly a disaster! Someone has given us away—at least, Monsieur Henfrey was given away to the police!”
“Not arrested?” he asked breathlessly.
“No. We all three managed to get away—but only just in time! I had a wire to-night from Monsieur Tresham, telling me guardedly that within an hour or so after we left Madrid the police called at my hotel—and at Henfrey’s.”
“Who can have done that?” asked The Sparrow, his eyes narrowing in anger, his gloved hand clenched.
“Your enemy—and mine!” was the girl’s reply. “Franklyn is in Switzerland. Monsieur Henfrey is in Marseilles—at the Louvre et Paix—and I am here.”
“Then we have a secret enemy—eh?”
“Yes—and he is not very far to seek. Monsieur Howell has done this!”
“Howell! He would never do such a thing, my dear mademoiselle,” replied the gloved man, smiling.
“Oh! wouldn’t he? I would not trust either Benton or Howell!”
“I think you are mistaken, mademoiselle. They have never shown much friendship towards each other.”
“They are close friends as far as concerns the Henfrey affair,” declared mademoiselle. “I happen to know that it was Howell who prepared the old man’s will. It is in his handwriting, and his manservant, Cooke, is one of the witnesses.”
“What? You know about that will, Lisette? Tell me everything.”
“Howell himself let it out to me. They were careful that you should not know. At the time I was in London with Franklyn and Benton over the jewels of that ship-owner’s wife, I forget her name—the affair in Carlton House Terrace.”
“Yes. I recollect. A very neat piece of business.”
“Well—Howell told me how he had prepared the will, and how Benton, who was staying with old Mr. Henfrey away in the country, got him to put his signature to it by pretending it to be for the purchase of a house at Eltham, in Kent. The house was, indeed, purchased at Benton’s suggestion, but the signature was to a will which Howell’s man, Cooke, and a friend of his, named Saunders, afterwards witnessed, and which has now been proved—the will by which the young man is compelled to marry Benton’s adopted daughter before he inherits his father’s estates.”
“You actually know this?”
“Howell told me so with his own lips.”
“Then why is young Henfrey being made the victim?” asked The Sparrow shrewdly. “Why, indeed, have you not revealed this to me before?”
“Because I had no proof before that Howell is our enemy. He has now given us away. He has some motive. What is it?”