“But the question I ask is of greatest importance to me in my own inquiries,” Hugh persisted.
“I am here to discover the identity of Mademoiselle’s assailant,” Ogier asserted. “And I will not brook your interference.”
“Mademoiselle has been shot, and it is for you to discover who fired at her,” snapped the young Englishman. “I consider that I have just as much right to put a question to this man as you have, that is”—he added with sarcasm—“that is, of course, if you don’t suspect him of shooting his mistress.”
“Well, I certainly do not suspect that,” the Frenchman said. “But, to tell you candidly, your story of the affair strikes me as a very improbable one.”
“Ah!” laughed Hugh, “I thought so! You suspect me—eh? Very well. Where is the weapon?”
“Perhaps you have hidden it,” suggested the other meaningly. “We shall, no doubt, find it somewhere.”
“I hope you will, and that will lead to the arrest of the guilty person,” Hugh laughed. Then he was about to put further questions to the man Cataldi when Doctor Leneveu entered the room.
“How is she?” demanded Hugh breathlessly.
The countenance of the fussy little doctor fell.
“Monsieur,” he said in a low earnest voice, “I much fear that Mademoiselle will not recover. My colleague Duponteil concurs with that view. We have done our best, but neither of us entertain any hope that she will live!” Then turning to Ogier, the doctor exclaimed: “This is an amazing affair—especially in face of what is whispered concerning the unfortunate lady. What do you make of it?”
The officer of the Surete knit his brows, and with frankness replied:
“At present I am entirely mystified—entirely mystified!”
WHAT THE DOSSIER CONTAINED
Walter Brock was awakened at four o’clock that morning by Hugh touching him upon the shoulder.
He started up in bed and staring at his friend’s pale, haggard face exclaimed:
“Good Heavens!—why, what’s the matter?”
“Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo has been shot!” the other replied in a hard voice.
“Shot!” gasped Brock, startled. “What do you mean?”
Briefly Hugh who had only just entered the hotel, explained the curious circumstances—how, just at the moment she had been about to reveal the secret of his father’s death she was shot.
“Most extraordinary!” declared his friend. “Surely, we have not been followed here by someone who is determined to prevent you from knowing the truth!”
“It seems much like it, Walter,” replied the younger man very seriously. “There must be some strong motive or no person would dare to shoot her right before my eyes.”
“Agreed. Somebody who is concerned in your father’s death has adopted this desperate measure in order to prevent Mademoiselle from telling you the truth.”