The bristly-haired little man of twenty names and as many individualities pondered for a moment. It was evident that he was both apprehensive and amazed at the suggestion the pretty young French girl had placed before him.
When one finds a betrayer, then in order to fix his guilt it becomes necessary to discover the motive.
The Sparrow was in a quandary. Seldom was he in such a perturbed state of mind. He and his accomplices could always defy the police. It was not the first time in his career, however, that he had found a traitor in his camp. If Howell was really a traitor, then he would pay dearly for it. Three times within the last ten years there had been traitors in the great criminal organization. One was a Dutchman; the second was a Greek; and the third a Swiss. Each died—for dead men tell no tales.
The Sparrow ordered some cafe noir from his housekeeper and produced a particularly seductive brand of liqueur, which mademoiselle took—together with a cigarette.
Then she left, he giving her the parting injunction:
“It is probable that you will go to Marseilles and meet young Henfrey. I will think it all over. You will have a note from me at the Grand Hotel before noon to-morrow.”
THE INQUISITIVE MR. SHRIMPTON
An hour later Hugh stood in The Sparrow’s room, and related his exciting adventure in Marseilles and on the high road.
“H’m!” remarked the man with the gloved hand. “A very pretty piece of business. The police endeavoured to mislead you, and you, by a very fortunate circumstance, suspected. That cigarette, my dear young friend, stood you in very good stead. It was fortunate that I gave it to you.”
“By this time the driver of the car has, of course, recovered and told his story,” Hugh remarked.
“And by this time the police probably know that you have come to Paris,” remarked The Sparrow. “Now, Mr. Henfrey, only an hour ago I learnt something which has altered my plans entirely. There is a traitor somewhere—somebody has given you away.”
“At present I have not decided. But we must all be wary and watchful,” was The Sparrow’s reply. “In any case, it is a happy circumstance that you saw through the ruse of the police to get you to Cette. First the Madrid police were put upon your track, and then, as you eluded them, the Marseilles police were given timely information—a clever trap,” he laughed. “I admire it. But at Marseilles they are even more shrewd than in Paris. Maillot, the chef de la Surete at Marseilles, is a really capable official. I know him well. A year ago he dined with me at the Palais de la Bouillabaisse. I pretended that I had been the victim of a great theft, and he accepted my invitation. He little dreamed that I was Il Passero, for whom he had been spreading the net for years!”