“Ah! And I hope that Howell will also be punished for his crime,” the handsome woman cried. “Though I have been a thief, a swindler, and a decoy—ah! yes, I admit it all—I have never committed the crime of murder. I know, messieurs,” she went on—“I know that I am a social outcast, the mysterious Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, they call me! But I have suffered. I have indeed in these past months paid my debt to Society, and of you, Mr. Henfrey, I beg forgiveness.”
“I forgive you, Mademoiselle,” Hugh replied, grasping her slim, white hand.
“Mademoiselle will, I hope, meet Miss Ranscomb, Mr. Henfrey’s fiancee, and tell her the whole truth,” said The Sparrow.
“That I certainly will,” Yvonne replied. “Now that I can think I shall be allowed to leave this place—eh?”
“Of course. I will see after that,” said the man known as Mr. Peters. “You must return to the Villa Amette—for you are still Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, remember! Leave it all to me.” And he laughed happily.
“But we are no nearer the solution of the mystery as to who attempted to kill you, Mademoiselle,” Hugh remarked.
“There can be but one person. Old Cataldi knows who it is,” she answered.
“Cataldi? Then why has he not told me? I questioned him closely only the other day,” said The Sparrow.
“For certain reasons,” Mademoiselle replied. “He dare not tell the truth!”
“Why?” asked Hugh.
“Because—well——” and she turned to The Sparrow. “You will recollect the affair we brought off in Brussels at that house of the Belgian baroness close to the Bois de la Cambre. A servant was shot dead. Giulio Cataldi shot him in self-defence. But Howell knows of it.”
“Well?” asked The Sparrow.
“Howell was in Monte Carlo on the night of the attempt upon me. I met him in the Casino half an hour before I left to walk home. He no doubt recognized Mr. Henfrey, who was also there, as the son of the man whom he had murdered, watched him, and followed him up to my villa. He suspected that Mr. Henfrey’s object was to face me and demand an explanation.”
“Do you really think so?” gasped Hugh.
“Of that I feel positive. Only Cataldi can prove it.”
“Why Cataldi?” inquired Hugh.
“See him again and tell him what I have revealed to you,” answered Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo.
“Who was it who warned me against you by that letter posted in Tours?”
“It was part of Howell’s scheme, no doubt. I have no idea of the identity of the writer of any anonymous letter. But Howell, no doubt, saw that if he rid himself of me it would be to his great advantage.”
“Then Cataldi will not speak the truth because he fears Howell?” remarked the notorious chief of Europe’s underworld.
“Exactly. Now that I can think, I can piece the whole puzzle together. It is all quite plain. Do you not recollect Howell’s curious rifle fashioned in the form of a walking-stick? When I halted to speak to Madame Beranger on the steps of the Casino as I came out that night, he passed me carrying that stick. Indeed, he is seldom without it. By means of that disguised rifle I was shot!”