On the face of it, his father’s death was exceedingly suspicious. He had left his home in the country and gone to town upon pretence. Why? That a woman was connected with his journey was now apparent. Hugh had ascertained certain facts which he had resolved to withhold from everybody.
But why should the notorious Sparrow, the King of the Underworld, interest himself so actively on his behalf as to travel up there to Perthshire, after making those secret, but elaborate, arrangements for safety? The whole affair was a mystery, complete and insoluble.
It was early morning, after they had rambled for several hours in the moonlight, when Hugh bade his well-beloved farewell.
They had returned through the park and were at a gate quite close to the castle when they halted. It had crossed Hugh’s mind that they might be seen by one of the keepers, and he had mentioned this to Dorise.
“What matter?” she replied. “They do not know you, and probably will not recognize me.”
So after promising Hugh to remain discreet, she told him they were returning to London in a few days.
“Look here!” he said suddenly. “We must meet again very soon, darling. I daresay I may venture out at night, therefore why not let us make an appointment—say, for Tuesday week. Where shall we meet? At midnight at the first seat on the right on entering the part at the Marble Arch? You remember, we met there once before—about a year ago.”
“Yes. I know the spot,” the girl replied. “I remember what a cold, wet night it was, too!” and she laughed at the recollection. “Very well. I will contrive to be there. That night we are due at a dance at the Gordons’ in Grosvenor Gardens. But I’ll manage to be there somehow—if only for five minutes.”
“Good,” he exclaimed, again kissing her fondly. “Now I must make all speed to Kensington and there go once more into hiding. When—oh, when will this wearying life be over!”
“You have a friend, as I have, in the mysterious white cavalier,” she said. “I wonder who he really is?”
“The Sparrow—without a doubt—the famous ‘Il Passero’ for whom the police of Europe are ever searching, the man who at one moment lives in affluence and the highest respectability in a house somewhere near Piccadilly, and at another is tearing over the French, Spanish, or Italian roads in his powerful car directing all sorts of crooked business. It’s a strange world in which I find myself, Dorise, I assure you! Good-bye, darling—good-bye!” and he took her in a final embrace. “Good-bye—till Tuesday week.”
Then stepping on to the grass, where his feet fell noiselessly, he disappeared in the dark shadow of the great avenue of beeches.
THE ESCROCS OF LONDON
For ten weary days Hugh Henfrey had lived in the close, frowsy-smelling house in Abingdon Road, Kensington, a small, old-fashioned place, once a residence of well-to-do persons, but now sadly out of repair.