“You are really marvellous, Mr. Peters,” remarked Hugh. “And I have to thank you for the way in which you have protected me time after time. Your organization is simply wonderful.”
The man with the black glove laughed.
“Nothing really wonderful,” he said. “Those who are innocent I protect, those who are traitors I condemn. And they never escape me. We have traitors at work now. It is for me to fix the identity. And in this you, Mr. Henfrey, must help me. Have you heard from Miss Ranscomb?”
“No. Not a word,” replied the young man. “I dare not write to her.”
“No, don’t. A man from Scotland Yard went to see her. So it is best to remain apart—my dear boy—even though that unfortunate misunderstanding concerning Louise Lambert has arisen between you.”
“But I am anxious to put it right,” the young fellow said. “Dorise misjudges me.”
“Ah! I know. But at present you must allow her to think ill of you. You must not court arrest. We now know that you have enemies who intend you to be the victim, while they reap the profit,” said The Sparrow kindly. “Leave matters to me and act at my suggestion.”
“That I certainly will,” Hugh replied. “You have never yet advised me wrongly.”
“Ah! I am not infallible,” laughed the master criminal.
Then he rose, and crossing to the telephone, he inquired for the Grand Hotel. After a few minutes he spoke to Mademoiselle Lisette, telling her that she need not go to Marseilles, and asking her to call upon him again at nine o’clock that night.
“Monsieur Hugh has returned from the south,” he added. “He is anxious to see you again.”
“Tres bien, m’sieur,” answered the smart Parisienne. “I will be there. But will you not dine with me—eh? At Vian’s at seven. You know the place.”
“Mademoiselle Lisette asks us to dine with her at Vian’s,” The Sparrow said, turning to Hugh.
“Yes, I shall be delighted,” replied the young man.
So The Sparrow accepted the girl’s invitation.
On that same morning, Dorise Ranscomb had, after breakfast, settled herself to write some letters. Her mother had gone to Warwickshire for the week-end, and she was alone with the maids.
The whole matter concerning Hugh puzzled her. She could not bring herself to a decision as to his innocence or his guilt.
As she sat writing in the morning-room, the maid announced that Mr. Shrimpton wished to see her.
She started at the name. It was the detective inspector from Scotland Yard who had called upon her on a previous occasion.
A few moments afterwards he was shown in, a tall figure in a rough tweed suit.
“I really must apologize, Miss Ranscomb, for disturbing you, but I have heard news of Mr. Henfrey. He has been in Marseilles. Have you heard from him?”
“Not a word,” the girl replied. “And, Mr. Shrimpton, I am growing very concerned. I really can’t think that he tried to kill the young Frenchwoman. Why should he?”