“True, m’sieur. She keeps herself apart. She is a mysterious person—the most remarkable in all the Principality. We, at the Bureau, have heard all sorts of curious stories concerning her—once it was rumoured that she was the daughter of a reigning European sovereign. Then we take all the reports with the proverbial grain of salt. That Mademoiselle is a woman of outstanding intellect and courage, as well as of great beauty, cannot be denied. Therefore I tell you that I am intensely interested in this attempt upon her life.”
“And so am I,” Hugh said. “I have a strong reason to be.”
“Cannot you tell me that reason?” inquired the officer of the Surete, still looking at him very shrewdly. “Why fence with me?”
Henfrey hesitated. Then he replied:
“It is a purely personal matter.”
“And yet, you have said that you were not acquainted with Mademoiselle!” remarked Ogier suspiciously.
“That is quite true. The first time I have spoken to her was this evening, a few minutes before the attempt was made upon her life.”
“Then your theory is that while you stood in conversation with her somebody crept along the veranda and shot her—eh?”
Ogier smiled sarcastically, and turning to his colleague, ordered him to search the room. The inspector evidently suspected the young Englishman of having shot Mademoiselle, and the search was in order to try and discover the weapon.
Meanwhile the brown-bearded officer called the Italian manservant, who gave his name as Giulio Cataldi, and who stated that he had been in Mademoiselle Ferad’s service a little over five years.
“Have you ever seen this Englishman before?” Ogier asked, indicating Hugh.
“Never, until to-night, m’sieur,” was the reply. “He called about twenty minutes after Mademoiselle’s return from the Rooms.”
“Has Mademoiselle quarrelled with anybody of late?”
“Not to my knowledge, m’sieur. She is of a very quiet and even disposition.”
“Is there anyone you know who might possess a motive to shoot her?” asked Ogier. “The crime has not been committed with a motive of robbery, but either out of jealousy or revenge.”
“I know of nobody,” declared the highly respectable Italian, whose moustache was tinged with grey. He shrugged his shoulders and showed his palms as he spoke.
“Mademoiselle arrived here two months ago, I believe?” queried the police official.
“Yes, m’sieur. She spent the autumn in Paris, and during the summer she was at Deauville. She also went to London for a brief time, I believe.”
“Did she ever live in London?” asked Hugh eagerly, interrupting Ogier’s interrogation.
“Yes—once. She had a furnished house on the Cromwell Road for about six months.”
“How long ago?” asked Henfrey.
“Please allow me to make my inquiries, monsieur!” exclaimed the detective angrily.