Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo
William Le Queux
Part 1 out of 6
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MADEMOISELLE OF MONTE CARLO
WILLIAM LE QUEUX
MADEMOISELLE OF MONTE CARLO
THE SUICIDE'S CHAIR
"Yes! I'm not mistaken at all! /It's the same woman!/" whispered the
tall, good-looking young Englishman in a well-cut navy suit as he
stood with his friend, a man some ten years older than himself, at one
of the roulette tables at Monte Carlo, the first on the right on
entering the room--that one known to habitual gamblers as "The
"Are you quite certain?" asked his friend.
"Positive. I should know her again anywhere."
"She's very handsome. And look, too, by Jove!--how she is winning!"
"Yes. But let's get away. She might recognize me," exclaimed the
younger man anxiously. "Ah! If I could only induce her to disclose
what she knows about my poor father's mysterious end then we might
clear up the mystery."
"I'm afraid, if all we hear is true about her, Mademoiselle of Monte
Carlo will never do that," was the other's reply as they moved away
together down the long saloon towards the trente-et-quarante room.
"/Messieurs! Faites vos jeux/," the croupiers were crying in their
strident, monotonous voices, inviting players to stake their counters
of cent-sous, their louis, or their hundred or five hundred franc
notes upon the spin of the red and black wheel. It was the month of
March, the height of the Riviera season, the fetes of Mi-Careme were
in full swing. That afternoon the rooms were overcrowded, and the
tense atmosphere of gambling was laden with the combined odours of
perspiration and perfume.
Around each table were crowds four or five deep behind those fortunate
enough to obtain seats, all eager and anxious to try their fortune
upon the rouge or noir, or upon one of the thirty-six numbers, the
columns, or the transversales. There was but little chatter. The
hundreds of well-dressed idlers escaping the winter were too intent
upon the game. But above the click of the plaques, blue and red of
different sizes, as they were raked into the bank by the croupiers,
and the clatter of counters as the lucky players were paid with deft
hands, there rose ever and anon:
"/Messieurs! Faites vos jeux!/"
Here English duchesses rubbed shoulders with the most notorious women
in Europe, and men who at home in England were good churchmen and
exemplary fathers of families, laughed merrily with the most
gorgeously attired cocottes from Paris, or the stars of the film world
or the variety stage. Upon that wide polished floor of the splendidly
decorated Rooms, with their beautiful mural paintings and heavy gilt
ornamentation, the world and the half-world were upon equal footing.
Into that stifling atmosphere--for the Administration of the Bains de
Mer of Monaco seem as afraid of fresh air as of purity propaganda--the
glorious afternoon sunlight struggled through the curtained windows,
while over each table, in addition to the electric light, oil-lamps
shaded green with a billiard-table effect cast a dull, ghastly
illumination upon the eager countenances of the players. Most of those
who go to Monte Carlo wonder at the antiquated mode of illumination.
It is, however, in consequence of an attempted raid upon the tables
one night, when some adventurers cut the electric-light main, and in
the darkness grabbed all they could get from the bank.
The two English visitors, both men of refinement and culture, who had
watched the tall, very handsome woman in black, to whom the older man
had referred as Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, wandered through the
trente-et-quarante rooms where all was silence, and counters,
representing gold, were being staked with a twelve-thousand franc
Those rooms beyond are the haunt of the professional gambler, the man
or woman who has been seized by the demon of speculation, just as
others have been seized by that of drugs or drink. Curiously enough
women are more prone to gamble than men, and the Administration of the
Etablissement will tell you that when a woman of any nationality
starts to gamble she will become reckless until her last throw with
Those who know Monte Carlo, those who have been habitues for twenty
years--as the present writer has been--know too well, and have seen
too often, the deadly influence of the tables upon the lighter side of
woman's nature. The smart woman from Paris, Vienna, or Rome never
loses her head. She gambles always discreetly. The fashionable
cocottes seldom lose much. They gamble at the tables discreetly and
make eyes at men if they win, or if they lose. If the latter they
generally obtain a "loan" from somebody. What matter? When one is at
"Monty" one is not in a Wesleyan chapel. English men and women when
they go to the Riviera leave their morals at home with their silk hats
and Sunday gowns. And it is strange to see the perfectly respectable
Englishwoman admiring the same daring costumes of the French pseudo-
"countesses" at which they have held up their hands in horror when
they have seen them pictured in the papers wearing those latest
"creations" of the Place Vendome.
Yes. It is a hypocritical world, and nowhere is canting hypocrisy more
apparent than inside the Casino at Monte Carlo.
While the two Englishmen were strolling over the polished parquet of
the elegant world-famous /salles-de-jeu/ "Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo"
was experiencing quite an extraordinary run of luck.
But "Mademoiselle," as the croupiers always called her, was usually
lucky. She was an experienced, and therefore a careful player. When
she staked a maximum it was not without very careful calculation upon
the chances. Mademoiselle was well known to the Administration. Often
her winnings were sensational, hence she served as an advertisement to
the Casino, for her success always induced the uninitiated and unwary
to stake heavily, and usually with disastrous results.
The green-covered gaming table, at which she was sitting next to the
end croupier on the left-hand side, was crowded. She sat in what is
known at Monte as "the Suicide's Chair," for during the past eight
years ten men and women had sat in that fatal chair and had afterwards
ended their lives abruptly, and been buried in secret in the Suicide's
The croupiers at that table are ever watchful of the visitor who, all
unawares, occupies that fatal chair. But Mademoiselle, who knew of it,
always laughed the superstition to scorn. She habitually sat in that
Indeed, that afternoon she was winning--and very considerably too. She
had won four maximums /en plein/ within the last half-hour, and the
crowd around the table noting her good fortune were now following her.
It was easy for any novice in the Rooms to see that the handsome,
dark-eyed woman was a practised player. Time after time she let the
coups pass. The croupiers' invitation to play did not interest her.
She simply toyed with her big gold-chain purse, or fingered her dozen
piles or so of plaques in a manner quite disinterested.
She heard the croupier announce the winning number and saw the rakes
at work dragging in the stakes to swell the bank. But she only smiled,
and now and then shrugged her shoulders.
Whether she won or lost, or whether she did not risk a stake, she
simply smiled and elevated her shoulders, muttering something to
Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo was, truth to tell, a sphinx to the staff
of the Casino. She looked about thirty, but probably she was older.
For five years she had been there each season and gambled heavily with
unvarying success. Always well but quietly dressed, her nationality
was as obscure as her past. To the staff she was always polite, and
she pressed hundred-franc notes into many a palm in the Rooms. But who
she was or what were her antecedents nobody in the Principality of
Monaco could ever tell.
The whole Cote d'Azur from Hyeres to Ventimiglia knew of her. She was
one of the famous characters of Monte Carlo, just as famous, indeed,
as old Mr. Drewett, the Englishman who lost his big fortune at the
tables, and who was pensioned off by the Administration on condition
that he never gamble at the Casino again. For fifteen years he lived
in Nice upon the meagre pittance until suddenly another fortune was
left him, whereupon he promptly paid up the whole of his pension and
started at the tables again. In a month, however, he had lost his
second fortune. Such is gambling in the little country ruled over by
As the two Englishmen slipped past the end table unseen on their way
out into the big atrium with its many columns--the hall in which
players go out to cool themselves, or collect their determination for
a final flutter--Mademoiselle had just won the maximum upon the number
four, as well as the column, and the croupier was in the act of
pushing towards her a big pile of counters each representing a
The eager excited throng around the table looked across at her with
envy. But her handsome countenance was quite expressionless. She
simply thrust the counters into the big gold-chain purse at her side,
glanced at the white-gloved fingers which were soiled by handling the
counters, and then counting out twenty-five, each representing a
louis, gave them to the croupier, exclaiming:
Next moment a dozen persons followed her play, staking their cent-sous
and louis upon the spot where she had asked the croupier at the end of
the table to place her stake.
"/Messieurs! Faites vos jeux!/" came the strident cry again.
Then a few seconds later the croupier cried:
"/Rien ne vas plus!/"
The red and black wheel was already spinning, and the little ivory
ball sent by the croupier's hand in the opposite direction was
clicking quickly over the numbered spaces.
Six hundred or more eyes of men and women, fevered by the gambling
mania, watched the result. Slowly it lost its impetus, and after
spinning about unevenly it made a final jump and fell with a loud
"/Zer-r-o!/" cried the croupier.
And a moment later Mademoiselle had pushed before her at the end of
the croupier's rake another pile of counters, while all those who had
followed the remarkable woman's play were also paid.
"Mademoiselle is in good form to-day," remarked one ugly old
Frenchwoman who had been a well-known figure at the tables for the
past ten years, and who played carefully and lived by gambling. She
was one of those queer, mysterious old creatures who enter the Rooms
each morning as soon as they are open, secure the best seats, occupy
them all the luncheon hour pretending to play, and then sell them to
wealthy gamblers for a consideration--two or three louis--perhaps--and
then at once go to their ease in their own obscure abode.
The public who go to Monte know little of its strange mysteries, or of
the odd people who pick up livings there in all sorts of queer ways.
"Ah!" exclaimed a man who overheard her. "Mademoiselle has wonderful
luck! She won seventy-five thousand francs at the /Cercle Prive/ last
night. She won /en plein/ five times running. /Dieu!/ Such luck! And
it never causes her the slightest excitement."
"The lady must be very rich!" remarked an American woman sitting next
to the old Frenchwoman, and who knew French well.
"Rich! Of course! She must have won several million francs from the
Administration. They don't like to see her here. But I suppose her
success attracts others to play. The gambling fever is as infectious
as the influenza," declared the old Frenchwoman. "Everyone tries to
discover who she is, and where she came from five years ago. But
nobody has yet found out. Even Monsieur Bernard, the chief of the
Surveillance, does not know," she went on in a whisper. "He is a
friend of mine, and I asked him one day. She came from Paris, he told
me. She may be American, she may be Belgian, or she may be English.
She speaks English and French so well that nobody can tell her true
"And she makes money at the tables," said the American woman in the
well-cut coat and skirt and small hat. She came from Chelsea, Mass.,
and it was her first visit to what her pious father had always
referred to as the plague spot of Europe.
"Money!" exclaimed the old woman. "Money! /Dieu!/ She has losses, it
is true, but oh!--what she wins! I only wish I had ten per cent of it.
I should then be rich. Mine is a poor game, madame--waiting for
someone to buy my seat instead of standing the whole afternoon. You
see, there is only one row of chairs all around. So if a smart woman
wants to play, some man always buys her a chair--and that is how I
live. Ah! madame, life is a great game here in the Principality."
Meanwhile young Hugh Henfrey, who had travelled from London to the
Riviera and identified the mysterious mademoiselle, had passed with
his friend, Walter Brock, through the atrium and out into the
As they turned upon the broad gravelled terrace in front of the great
white facade of the Casino amid the palms, the giant geraniums and
mimosa, the sapphire Mediterranean stretched before them. Below,
beyond the railway line which is the one blemish to the picturesque
scene, out upon the point in the sea the constant pop-pop showed that
the tir-aux-pigeons was in progress; while up and down the terrace,
enjoying the quiet silence of the warm winter sunshine with the blue
hills of the Italian coast to the left, strolled a gay, irresponsible
crowd--the cosmopolitans of the world: politicians, financiers,
merchants, princes, authors, and artists--the crowd which puts off its
morals as easily as it discards its fur coats and its silk hats, and
which lives only for gaiety and without thought of the morrow.
"Let's sit down," suggested Hugh wearily. "I'm sure that she's the
same woman--absolutely certain!"
"You are quite confident you have made no mistake--eh?"
"Quite, my dear Walter. I'd know that woman among ten thousand. I only
know that her surname is Ferad. Her Christian name I do not know."
"And you suspect that she knows the secret of your father's death?"
"I'm confident that she does," replied the good-looking young
Englishman. "But it is a secret she will, I fear, never reveal, unless
--unless I compel her."
"And how can you compel her?" asked the elder of the two men, whose
dark hair was slightly tinged with grey. "It is difficult to compel a
woman to do anything," he added.
"I mean to know the truth!" cried Hugh Henfrey fiercely, a look of
determination in his eyes. "That woman knows the true story of my
father's death, and I'll make her reveal it. By gad--I will! I mean
"Don't be rash, Hugh," urged the other.
"Rash!" he cried. "It's true that when my father died so suddenly I
had an amazing surprise. My father was a very curious man. I always
thought him to be on the verge of bankruptcy and that the Manor and
the land might be sold up any day. When old Charman, the solicitor,
read the will, I found that my father had a quarter of a million lying
at the bank, and that he had left it all to me--provided I married
"Well, why not marry her?" queried Brock lazily. "You're always so
mysterious, my dear Hugh."
"Why!--because I love Dorise Ranscomb. But Louise interests me, and
I'm worried on her account because of that infernal fellow Charles
Benton. Louise poses as his adopted daughter. Benton is a bachelor of
forty-five, and, according to his story, he adopted Louise when she
was a child and put her to school. Her parentage is a mystery. After
leaving school she at first went to live with a Mrs. Sheldon, a young
widow, in an expensive suite in Queen Anne's Mansions, Westminster.
After that she has travelled about with friends and has, I believe,
been abroad quite a lot. I've nothing against Louise, except--well,
except for the strange uncanny influence which that man Benton has
over her. I hate the fellow!"
"I see! And as you cannot yet reach Woodthorpe and your father's
fortune, except by marrying Louise--which you don't intend to do--what
are you going to do now?"
"First, I intend that this woman they call 'Mademoiselle of Monte
Carlo,' the lucky woman who is a decoy of the Administration of the
Bains de Mer, shall tell me the true circumstance of my father's
death. If I know them--then my hand will be strengthened."
"Meanwhile you love Lady Ranscomb's daughter, you say?"
"Yes. I love Dorise with all my heart. She, of course, knows nothing
of the conditions of the will."
There was a silence of some moments, interrupted only by the pop-pop
of the pigeon-shots below.
Away across the white balustrade of the broad magnificent terrace the
calm sapphire sea was deepening as the winter afternoon drew in. An
engine whistled--that of the flower train which daily travels express
from Cannes to Boulogne faster than the passenger train-deluxe, and
bearing mimosa, carnations, and violets from the Cote d'Azur to Covent
Garden, and to the florists' shops in England.
"You've never told me the exact circumstances of your father's death,
Hugh," remarked Brock at last.
"Exact circumstances? Ah! That's what I want to know. Only that woman
knows the secret," answered the young man. "All I know is that the
poor old guv'-nor was called up to London by an urgent letter. We had
a shooting party at Woodthorpe and he left me in charge, saying that
he had some business in London and might return on the following night
--or he might be away a week. Days passed and he did not return.
Several letters came for him which I kept in the library. I was
surprised that he neither wrote nor returned, when, suddenly, ten days
later, we had a telegram from the London police informing me that my
father was lying in St. George's Hospital. I dashed up to town, but
when I arrived I found him dead. At the inquest, evidence was given to
show that at half-past two in the morning a constable going along
Albemarle Street found him in evening dress lying huddled up in a
doorway. Thinking him intoxicated, he tried to rouse him, but could
not. A doctor who was called pronounced that he was suffering from
some sort of poisoning. He was taken to St. George's Hospital in an
ambulance, but he never recovered. The post-mortem investigation
showed a small scratch on the palm of the hand. That scratch had been
produced by a pin or a needle which had been infected by one of the
newly discovered poisons which, administered secretly, give a post-
mortem appearance of death from heart disease."
"Then your father was murdered--eh?" exclaimed the elder man.
"Most certainly he was. And that woman is aware of the whole
circumstances and of the identity of the assassin."
"How do you know that?"
"By a letter I afterwards opened--one that had been addressed to him
at Woodthorpe in his absence. It was anonymous, written in bad
English, in an illiterate hand, warning him to 'beware of that woman
you know--Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo.' It bore the French stamp and
the postmark of Tours."
"I never knew all this," Brock said. "You are quite right, Hugh! The
whole affair is a tangled mystery. But the first point we must
establish before we commence to investigate is--who is Mademoiselle of
CONCERNS A GUILTY SECRET
Just after seven o'clock that same evening young Henfrey and his
friend Brock met in the small lounge of the Hotel des Palmiers, a
rather obscure little establishment in the Avenue de la Costa, behind
the Gardens, much frequented by the habitues of the Rooms who know
Monte Carlo and prefer the little place to life at the Paris, the
Hermitage, and the Riviera Palace, or the Gallia, up at Beausoleil.
The Palmiers was a place where one met a merry cosmopolitan crowd, but
where the cocotte in her bright plumage was absent--an advantage which
only the male habitue of Monte Carlo can fully realize. The eternal
feminine is always so very much in evidence around the Casino, and the
most smartly dressed woman whom one might easily take for the wife of
an eminent politician or financier will deplore her bad luck and beg
for "a little loan."
"Well," said Hugh as his friend came down from his room to the lounge,
"I suppose we ought to be going--eh? Dorise said half-past seven, and
we'll just get across to the Metropole in time. Lady Ranscomb is
always awfully punctual at home, and I expect she carries out her
The two men put on light overcoats over their dinner-jackets and
strolled in the warm dusk across the Gardens and up the Galerie, with
its expensive little shops, past the original Ciro's to the Metropole.
In the big hall they were greeted by a well-preserved, grey-haired
Englishwoman, Lady Ranscomb, the widow of old Sir Richard Ranscomb,
who had been one of the greatest engineers and contractors of modern
times. He had begun life as a small jerry-builder at Golder's Green,
and had ended it a millionaire and a knight. Lady Ranscomb was seated
at a little wicker table with her daughter Dorise, a dainty, fair-
haired girl with intense blue eyes, who was wearing a rather daring
jazzing gown of pale-blue, the scantiness of which a year or two
before would have been voted quite beyond the pale for a lady, and yet
in our broad-minded to-day, the day of undressing on the stage and in
the home, it was nothing more than "smart."
Mother and daughter greeted the two men enthusiastically, and at Lady
Ranscomb's orders the waiter brought them small glasses of an
"We've been all day motoring up to the Col di Tenda. Sospel is
lovely!" declared Dorise's mother. "Have you ever been there?" she
asked of Brock, who was an habitue of the Riviera.
"Once and only once. I motored from Nice across to Turin," was his
reply. "Yes. It is truly a lovely run there. The Alps are gorgeous. I
like San Dalmazzo and the chestnut groves there," he added. "But the
frontiers are annoying. All those restrictions. Nevertheless, the run
to Turin is one of the finest I know."
Presently they rose, and all four walked into the crowded /salle-a-
manger/, where the chatter was in every European language, and the gay
crowd were gossiping mostly of their luck or their bad fortune at the
/tapis vert/. At Monte Carlo the talk is always of the run of
sequences, the many times the zero-trois has turned up, and of how
little one ever wins /en plein/ on thirty-six.
To those who visit "Charley's Mount" for the first time all this is as
Yiddish, but soon he or she, when initiated into the games of roulette
and trente-et-quarante, quickly gets bitten by the fever and enters
into the spirit of the discussions. They produce their "records"--
printed cards in red and black numbers with which they have carefully
pricked off the winning numbers with a pin as they have turned up.
The quartette enjoyed a costly but exquisite dinner, chatting and
laughing the while.
Both men were friends of Lady Ranscomb and frequent visitors to her
fine house in Mount Street. Hugh's father, a country landowner, had
known Sir Richard for many years, while Walter Brock had made the
acquaintance of Lady Ranscomb a couple of years ago in connexion with
some charity in which she had been interested.
Both were also good friends of Dorise. Both were excellent dancers,
and Lady Ranscomb often allowed them to take her daughter to the
Grafton, Ciro's, or the Embassy. Lady Ranscomb was Hugh's old friend,
and he and Dorise having been thrown together a good deal ever since
the girl returned from Versailles after finishing her education, it
was hardly surprising that the pair should have fallen in love with
As they sat opposite each other that night, the young fellow gazed
into her wonderful blue eyes, yet, alas! with a sinking heart. How
could they ever marry?
He had about six hundred a year--only just sufficient to live upon in
these days. His father had never put him to anything since he left
Brasenose, and now on his death he had found that, in order to recover
the estate, it was necessary for him to marry Louise Lambert, a girl
for whom he had never had a spark of affection. Louise was good-
looking, it was true, but could he sacrifice his happiness; could he
ever cut himself adrift from Dorise for mercenary motives--in order to
get back what was surely by right his inheritance?
Yet, after all, as he again met Dorise's calm, wide-open eyes, the
grim truth arose in his mind, as it ever did, that Lady Ranscomb, even
though she had been so kind to him, would never allow her only
daughter to marry a man who was not rich. Had not Dorise told him of
the sly hints her mother had recently given her regarding a certain
very wealthy man named George Sherrard, an eligible bachelor who lived
in one of the most expensive flats in Park Lane, and who was being
generally sought after by mothers with marriageable daughters. In many
cases mothers--and especially young, good-looking widows with
daughters "on their hands"--are too prone to try and get rid of them
"because my daughter makes me look so old," as they whisper to their
intimates of their own age.
After dinner all four strolled across to the Casino, presenting their
yellow cards of admission--the monthly cards granted to those who are
approved by the smug-looking, black-coated committee of inspection,
who judge by one's appearance whether one had money to lose.
Dorise soon detached herself from her mother and strolled up the Rooms
with Hugh, Lady Ranscomb and Brock following.
None of them intended to play, but they were strolling prior to going
to the opera which was beneath the same roof, and for which Lady
Ranscomb had tickets.
Suddenly Dorise exclaimed:
"Look over there--at that table in the corner. There's that remarkable
woman they call 'Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo'!"
Hugh started, and glancing in the direction she indicated saw the
handsome woman seated at the table staking her counters quite
unconcernedly and entirely absorbed in the game. She was wearing a
dead black dress cut slightly low in the neck, but half-bare
shoulders, with a string of magnificent Chinese jade beads of that
pale apple green so prized by connoisseurs.
Her eyes were fixed upon the revolving wheel, for upon the number
sixteen she had just thrown a couple of thousand franc counters. The
ball dropped with a sudden click, the croupier announced that number
five had won, and at once raked in the two thousand francs among
Mademoiselle shrugged her shoulders and smiled faintly. Yvonne Ferad
was a born gambler. To her losses came as easily as gains. The
Administration knew that--and they also knew how at the little pigeon-
hole where counters were exchanged for cheques she came often and
handed over big sums in exchange for drafts upon certain banks, both
in Paris and in London.
Yet they never worried. Her lucky play attracted others who usually
lost. Once, a year before, a Frenchman who occupied a seat next to her
daily for a month lost over a quarter of a million sterling, and one
night threw himself under the Paris /rapide/ at the long bridge over
the Var. But on hearing of it the next day from a croupier
Mademoiselle merely shrugged her shoulders, and said:
"I warned him to return to Paris. The fool! It is only what I
Hugh looked only once across at the mysterious woman whom Dorise had
indicated, and then drew her away. As a matter of fact he had no
intention that mademoiselle should notice him.
"What do you know of her?" he asked in a casual way when they were on
the other side of the great saloon.
"Well, a Frenchman I met in the hotel the day before yesterday told me
all sorts of queer stories about her," replied the girl. "She's
apparently a most weird person, and she has uncanny good luck at the
tables. He said that she had won a large fortune during the last
couple of years or so."
Hugh made no remark as to the reason of his visit to the Riviera, for,
indeed, he had arrived only the day previously, and she had welcomed
him joyously. Little did she dream that her lover had come out from
London to see that woman who was declared to be so notorious.
"I noticed her playing this afternoon," Hugh said a moment later in a
quiet reflective tone. "What do the gossips really say about her,
Dorise? All this is interesting. But there are so many interesting
"Well, the man who told me about her was sitting with me outside the
Cafe de Paris when she passed across the Place to the Casino. That
caused him to make the remarks. He said that her past was obscure.
Some people say that she was a Danish opera singer, others declare
that she was the daughter of a humble tobacconist in Marseilles, and
others assert that she is English. But all agree that she is a clever
and very dangerous woman."
"Why dangerous?" inquired Hugh in surprise.
"Ah! That I don't know. The man who told me merely hinted at her past
career, and added that she was quite a respectable person nowadays in
her affluence. But--well----" added the girl with a laugh, "I suppose
people gossip about everyone in this place."
"Who was your informant?" asked her lover, much interested.
"His name is Courtin. I believe he is an official of one of the
departments of the Ministry of Justice in Paris. At least somebody
said so yesterday."
"Ah! Then he probably knew more about her than he told you, I expect."
"No doubt, for he warned my mother and myself against making her
acquaintance," said the girl. "He said she was a most undesirable
At that moment Lady Ranscomb and Walter Brock joined them, whereupon
the former exclaimed to her daughter:
"Did you see that woman over there?--still playing--the woman in black
and the jade beads, against whom Monsieur Courtin warned us?"
"Yes, mother, I noticed her. I've just been telling Hugh about her."
"A mysterious person--eh?" laughed Hugh with well-affected
indifference. "But one never knows who's who in Monte Carlo."
"Well, Mademoiselle is apparently something of a mystery," remarked
Brock. "I've seen her here before several times. Once, about two years
ago, I heard that she was mixed up in a very celebrated criminal case,
but exactly what it was the man who told me could not recollect. She
is, however, one of the handsomest women in the Rooms."
"And one of the wealthiest--if report be true," said Lady Ranscomb.
"She fascinates me," Dorise declared. "If Monsieur Courtin had not
warned us I should most probably have spoken to her."
"Oh, my dear, you must do no such thing!" cried her mother, horrified.
"It was extremely kind of monsieur to give us the hint. He has
probably seen how unconventional you are, Dorise."
And then, as they strolled on into the farther room, the conversation
"So they've heard about Mademoiselle, it seems!" remarked Brock to his
friend as they walked back to the Palmiers together in the moonlight
after having seen Lady Ranscomb and her daughter to their hotel.
"Yes," growled the other. "I wish we could get hold of that Monsieur
Courtin. He might tell us a bit about her."
"I doubt if he would. These French officials are always close as
"At any rate, I will try and make his acquaintance at the Metropole
to-morrow," Hugh said. "There's no harm in trying."
Next morning he called again at the Metropole before the ladies were
about, but to his chagrin, he learnt from the blue-and-gold concierge
that Monsieur Courtin, of the Ministry of Justice, had left at ten-
fifteen o'clock on the previous night by the /rapide/ for Paris. He
had been recalled urgently, and a special /coupe-lit/ had been
reserved for him from Ventimiglia.
That day Hugh Henfrey wandered about the well-kept palm-lined gardens
with their great beds of geraniums, carnations and roses. Brock had
accepted the invitation of a bald-headed London stock-broker he knew
to motor over to lunch and tennis at the Beau Site, at Cannes, while
Dorise and her mother had gone with some people to lunch at the
Reserve at Beaulieu, one of the best and yet least pretentious
restaurants in all Europe, only equalled perhaps by Capsa's, in
"Ah! If she would only tell!" Hugh muttered fiercely to himself as he
walked alone and self-absorbed. His footsteps led him out of Monte
Carlo and up the winding road which runs to La Turbie, above the
beautiful bay. Ever and anon powerful cars climbing the hill smothered
him in white dust, yet he heeded them not. He was too full of thought.
"Ah!" he kept on repeating to himself. "If she would only tell the
truth--if she would only tell!"
Hugh Henfrey had not travelled to Monte Carlo without much careful
reflection and many hours of wakefulness. He intended to clear up the
mystery of his father's death--and more, the reason of that strange
incomprehensible will which was intended to wed him to Louise.
At four o'clock that afternoon he entered the Rooms to gain another
surreptitious look at Mademoiselle. Yes! She was there, still playing
on as imperturbably as ever, with that half-suppressed sinister smile
always upon her full red lips.
Sight of her aroused his fury. Was that smile really intended for
himself? People said she was a sphinx, but he drew his breath, and
when outside the Casino again in the warm sunshine he halted upon the
broad red-carpeted steps and beneath his breath said in a hard,
"Gad! She shall tell me! She shall! I'll compel her to speak--to tell
me the truth--or--or----!"
That evening he wrote a note to Dorise explaining to her that he was
not feeling very well and excusing himself from going round to the
hotel. This he sent by hand to the Metropole.
Brock did not turn up at dinner. Indeed, he did not expect his friend
back till late. So he ate his meal alone, and then went out to the
Cafe de Paris, where for an hour he sat upon the /terrasse/ smoking
and listening to the weird music of the red-coated orchestra of
All the evening, indeed, he idled, chatting with men and women he
knew. /Carmen/ was being given at the Opera opposite, but though he
loved music he had no heart to go. The one thought obsessing him was
of the handsome and fascinating woman who was such a mystery to all.
At eleven o'clock he returned to the cafe and took a seat on the
/terrasse/ in a dark corner, in such a position that he could see
anyone who entered or left the Casino. For half an hour he watched the
people passing to and fro. At last, in a long jade-green coat,
Mademoiselle emerged alone, and, crossing the gardens, made her way
leisurely home on foot, as was her habit. Monte Carlo is not a large
place, therefore there is little use for taxis.
When she was out of sight, he called the waiter to bring him a liqueur
of old cognac, which he sipped, and then lit another cigarette. When
he had finished it he drained the little glass, and rising, strolled
in the direction the woman of mystery had taken.
A walk of ten minutes brought him to the iron gates of a great white
villa, over the high walls of which climbing roses and geraniums and
jasmine ran riot. The night air was heavy with their perfume. He
opened the side gate and walked up the gravelled drive to the terrace
whereon stood the house, commanding a wonderful view of the moon-lit
Mediterranean and the far-off mountains of Italy.
His ring at the door was answered by a staid elderly Italian
"I believe Mademoiselle is at home," Hugh said in French. "I desire to
see her, and also to apologize for the lateness of the hour. My visit
is one of urgency."
"Mademoiselle sees nobody except by appointment," was the man's polite
but firm reply.
"I think she will see me if you give her this card," answered Hugh in
a strained, unusual voice.
The man took it hesitatingly, glanced at it, placed it upon a silver
salver, and, leaving the visitor standing on the mat, passed through
the glass swing-doors into the house.
For some moments the servant did not reappear.
Hugh, standing there, entertained just a faint suspicion that he heard
a woman's shrill exclamation of surprise. And that sound emboldened
At last, after an age it seemed, the man returned, saying:
"Mademoiselle will see you, Monsieur. Please come this way."
He left his hat and stick and followed the man along a corridor richly
carpeted in red to a door on the opposite side of the house, which the
servant threw open and announced the visitor.
Mademoiselle had risen to receive him. Her countenance was, Hugh saw,
blanched almost to the lips. Her black dress caused her pallor to be
"Well, sir? Pray what do you mean by resorting to this ruse in order
to see me? Who are you?" she demanded.
Hugh was silent for a moment. Then in a hard voice he said:
"I am the son of the dead man whose card is in your hands,
Mademoiselle! And I am here to ask you a few questions!"
The handsome woman smiled sarcastically and shrugged her half-bare
shoulders, her fingers trembling with her jade beads.
"Oh! Your father is dead--is he?" she asked with an air of
"Yes. /He is dead/," Hugh said meaningly, as he glanced around the
luxurious little room with its soft rose-shaded lights and pale-blue
and gold decorations. On her right as she stood were long French
windows which opened on to a balcony. One of the windows stood ajar,
and it was apparent that when he had called she had been seated in the
long wicker chair outside enjoying the balmy moonlight after the
stifling atmosphere of the Rooms.
"And, Mademoiselle," he went on, "I happen to be aware that you knew
my father, and--that you are cognizant of certain facts concerning his
"I!" she cried, raising her voice in sudden indignation. "What on
earth do you mean?" She spoke in perfect English, though he had
hitherto spoken in French.
"I mean, Mademoiselle, that I intend to know the truth," said Hugh,
fixing his eyes determinedly upon hers. "I am here to learn it from
"You must be mad!" cried the woman. "I know nothing of the affair. You
"Do you, then, deny that you have ever met a man named Charles
Benton?" demanded the young fellow, raising his voice. "Perhaps,
however, that is a bitter memory, Mademoiselle--eh?"
The strikingly handsome woman pursed her lips. There was a strange
look in her eyes. For several moments she did not speak. It was clear
that the sudden appearance of the dead man's son had utterly unnerved
her. What could he know concerning Charles Benton? How much of the
affair did he suspect?
"I have met many people, Mr.--er--Mr. Henfrey," she replied quietly at
last. "I may have met somebody named Benton."
"Ah! I see," the young man said. "It is a memory that you do not wish
to recall any more than that of my dead father."
"Your father was a good man. Benton was not."
"Ah! Then you admit knowing both of them, Mademoiselle," cried Hugh
"Yes. I--well--I may as well admit it! Why, indeed, should I seek to
hide the truth--/from you/," she said in a changed voice. "Pardon me.
I was very upset at receiving the card. Pardon me--will you not?"
"I will not, unless you tell me the truth concerning my father's death
and his iniquitous will left concerning myself. I am here to ascertain
that, Mademoiselle," he said in a hard voice.
"And if I tell you--what then?" she asked with knit brows.
"If you tell me, then I am prepared to promise you on oath secrecy
concerning yourself--provided you allow me to punish those who are
responsible. Remember, my father died by foul means. /And you know
The woman faced him boldly, but she was very pale.
"So that is a promise?" she asked. "You will protect me--you will be
silent regarding me--you swear to be so--if--if I tell you something.
I repeat that your father was a good man. I held him in the highest
esteem, and--and--after all--it is but right that you, his son, should
know the truth."
"Thank you Mademoiselle. I will protect you if you will only reveal to
me the devilish plot which resulted in his untimely end," Hugh assured
Again she knit her brows and reflected for a few moments. Then in a
low, intense, unnatural voice she said:
"Listen, Mr. Henfrey. I feel that, after all, my conscience would be
relieved if I revealed to you the truth. First--well, it is no use
denying the fact that your father was not exactly the man you and his
friends believed him to be. He led a strange dual existence, and I
will disclose to you one or two facts concerning his untimely end
which will show you how cleverly devised and how cunning was the
At that instant Hugh was startled by a bright flash outside the half-
open window, a loud report, followed by a woman's shrill shriek of
Then, next moment, ere he could rush forward to save her,
Mademoiselle, with the truth upon her lips unuttered, staggered and
fell back heavily upon the carpet!
IN THE NIGHT
Hugh Henfrey, startled by the sudden shot, shouted for assistance, and
then threw himself upon his knees beside the prostrate woman.
From a bullet wound over the right ear blood was slowly oozing and
trickling over her white cheek.
"Help! Help!" he shouted loudly. "Mademoiselle has been shot from
In a few seconds the elderly manservant burst into the room in a state
of intense excitement.
"Quick!" cried Hugh. "Telephone for a doctor at once. I fear your
mistress is dying!"
Henfrey had placed his hand upon Mademoiselle's heart, but could
detect no movement. While the servant dashed to the telephone, he
listened for her breathing, but could hear nothing. From the wall he
tore down a small circular mirror and held it against her mouth. There
was no clouding.
There was every apparent sign that the small blue wound had proved
"Inform the police also!" Hugh shouted to the elderly Italian who was
at the telephone in the adjoining room. "The murderer must be found!"
By this time four female servants had entered the room where their
mistress was lying huddled and motionless. All of them were in
/deshabille/. Then all became excitement and confusion. Hugh left them
to unloosen her clothing and hastened out upon the veranda whereon the
assassin must have stood when firing the shot.
Outside in the brilliant Riviera moonlight the scent of a wealth of
flowers greeted his nostrils. It was almost bright as day. From the
veranda spread a wide, fairy-like view of the many lights of Monte
Carlo and La Condamine, with the sea beyond shimmering in the
The veranda, he saw, led by several steps down into the beautiful
garden, while beyond, a distance of a hundred yards, was the main gate
leading to the roadway. The assassin, after taking careful aim and
firing, had, no doubt, slipped along, and out of the gate.
But why had Mademoiselle been shot just at the moment when she was
about to reveal the secret of his lamented father's death?
He descended to the garden, where he examined the bushes which cast
their dark shadows. But all was silence. The assassin had escaped!
Then he hurried out into the road, but again all was silence. The only
hope of discovering the identity of the criminal was by means of the
police vigilance. Truth to tell, however, the police of Monte Carlo
are never over anxious to arrest a criminal, because Monte Carlo
attracts the higher criminal class of both sexes from all over Europe.
If the police of the Principality were constantly making arrests it
would be bad advertisement for the Rooms. Hence, though the Monte
Carlo police are extremely vigilant and an expert body of officers,
they prefer to watch and to give information to the bureaux of police
of other countries, so that arrests invariably take place beyond the
frontiers of the Principality of Monaco.
It was not long before Doctor Leneveu, a short, stout, bald-headed
little man, well known to habitues of the Rooms, among whom he had a
large practice, entered the house of Mademoiselle and was greeted by
Hugh. The latter briefly explained the tragic circumstances, whereupon
the little doctor at once became fussy and excited.
Having ordered everyone out of the room except Henfrey, he bent and
made an examination of the prostrate woman.
"Ah! m'sieur," he said, "the unfortunate lady has certainly been shot
at close quarters. The wound is, I tell you at once, extremely
dangerous," he added, after a searching investigation. "But she is
still alive," he declared. "Yes--she is still breathing."
"Still alive!" gasped Henfrey. "That's excellent! I--I feared that she
"No. She still breathes," the doctor replied. "But, tell me exactly
what has occurred. First, however, we will get them to remove her
upstairs. I will telephone to my colleague Duponteil, and we will
endeavour to extract the bullet."
"But will she recover, doctor?" asked Hugh eagerly in French. "What do
The little man became serious and shook his head gravely.
"Ah! m'sieur, that I cannot say," was his reply. "She is in a very
grave state--very! And the brain may be affected."
Hugh held his breath. /Surely Yvonne Ferad was not to die with the
secret upon her lips!/
At the doctor's orders the servants were about to remove their
mistress to her room when two well-dressed men of official aspect
entered. They were officers of the Bureau of Police.
"Stop!" cried the elder, who was the one in authority, a tall,
lantern-jawed man with a dark brown beard and yellow teeth. "Do not
touch that lady! What has happened here?"
Hugh came forward, and in his best French explained the circumstances
of the tragedy--how Mademoiselle had been shot in his presence by an
"The assassin, whoever he was, stood out yonder--upon the veranda--but
I never saw him," he added. "It was all over in a second--and he has
"And pray who are you?" demanded the police officer bluntly. "Please
Hugh was rather nonplussed. The question required explanation, no
doubt. It would, he saw, appear very curious that he should visit
Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo at that late hour.
"I--well, I called upon Mademoiselle because I wished to obtain some
important information from her."
"What information? Rather late for a call, surely?"
The young Englishman hesitated. Then, with true British grit, he
assumed an attitude of boldness, and asked:
"Am I compelled to answer that question?"
"I am Charles Ogier, chief inspector of the Surete of Monaco, and I
press for a reply," answered the other firmly.
"And I, Hugh Henfrey, a British subject, at present decline to satisfy
you," was the young man's bold response.
"Is the lady still alive?" inquired the inspector of Doctor Leneveu.
"Yes. I have ordered her to be taken up to her room--of course, when
m'sieur the inspector gives permission."
Ogier looked at the deathly countenance with the closed eyes, and
noted that the wound in the skull had been bound up with a cotton
handkerchief belonging to one of the maids. Mademoiselle's dark well-
dressed hair had become unbound and was straying across her face,
while her handsome gown had been torn in the attempt to unloosen her
"Yes," said the police officer; "they had better take her upstairs. We
will remain here and make inquiries. This is a very queer affair--to
say the least," he added, glancing suspiciously at Henfrey.
While the servants carried their unconscious mistress tenderly
upstairs, the fussy little doctor went to the telephone to call Doctor
Duponteil, the principal surgeon of Monaco. He had hesitated whether
to take the victim to the hospital, but had decided that the operation
could be done just as effectively upstairs. So, after speaking to
Duponteil, he also spoke to the sister at the hospital, asking her to
send up two nurses immediately to the Villa Amette.
In the meantime Inspector Ogier was closely questioning the young
Like everyone in Monte Carlo he knew the mysterious Mademoiselle by
sight. More than once the suspicions of the police had been aroused
against her. Indeed, in the archives of the Prefecture there reposed a
bulky dossier containing reports of her doings and those of her
friends. Yet there had never been anything which would warrant the
authorities to forbid her from remaining in the Principality.
This tragedy, therefore, greatly interested Ogier and his colleague.
Both of them had spent many years in the service of the Paris Surete
under the great Goron before being appointed to the responsible
positions in the detective service of Monaco.
"Then you knew the lady?" Ogier asked of the young man who was
naturally much upset over the startling affair, and the more so
because the secret of his father's mysterious death had been filched
from him by the hand of some unknown assassin.
"No, I did not know her personally," Henfrey replied somewhat lamely.
"I came to call upon her, and she received me."
"Why did you call at this hour? Could you not have called in the
"Mademoiselle was in the Rooms until late," he said.
"Ah! Then you followed her home--eh?"
"Yes," he admitted.
The police officer pursed his lips and raised his eyes significantly
at his colleague.
"And what was actually happening when the shot was fired? Describe it
to me, please," he demanded.
"I was standing just here"--and he crossed the room and stood upon the
spot where he had been--"Mademoiselle was over there beside the
window. I had my back to the window. She was about to tell me
something--to answer a question I had put to her--when someone from
outside shot her through the open glass door."
"And you did not see her assailant?"
"I saw nothing. The shot startled me, and, seeing her staggering, I
rushed to her. In the meantime the assailant--whoever he was--
The brown-bearded man smiled dubiously. As he stood beneath the
electric light Hugh saw doubt written largely upon his countenance. He
instantly realized that Ogier disbelieved his story.
After all it was a very lame one. He would not fully admit the reason
of his visit.
"But tell me, m'sieur," exclaimed the police officer. "It seems
extraordinary that any person should creep along this veranda." And he
walked out and looked about in the moonlight. "If the culprit wished
to shoot Mademoiselle in secret, then he would surely not have done so
in your presence. He might easily have shot her as she was on her way
home. The road is lonely up here."
"I agree, monsieur," replied the Englishman. "The whole affair is, to
me, a complete mystery. I saw nobody. But it was plain to me that when
I called Mademoiselle was seated out upon the veranda. Look at her
chair--and the cushions! It was very hot and close in the Rooms
to-night, and probably she was enjoying the moonlight before retiring
"Quite possibly," he agreed. "But that does not alter the fact that
the assassin ran considerable risk in coming along the veranda in the
full moonlight and firing through the open door. Are you quite certain
that Mademoiselle's assailant was outside--and not inside?" he asked,
with a queer expression upon his aquiline face.
Hugh saw that he was hinting at his suspicion that he himself had shot
"Quite certain," he assured him. "Why do you ask?"
"I have my own reasons," replied the police officer with a hard laugh.
"Now, tell me what do you know about Mademoiselle Ferad?"
"Then why did you call upon her?"
"I have told you. I desired some information, and she was about to
give it to me when the weapon was fired by an unknown hand."
"Yes. Unknown to me. It might be known to Mademoiselle."
"And what was this information you so urgently desired?"
"Some important information. I travelled from London to Monte Carlo in
order to obtain it."
"Ah! Then you had a motive in coming here--some strong motive, I take
"Yes. A very strong motive. I wanted her to clear up certain
mysterious happenings in England."
Ogier was instantly alert.
"What happenings?" he asked, for he recollected the big dossier and
the suspicions extending over four or five years concerning the real
identity and mode of life of the handsome, sphinx-like woman Yvonne
Hugh Henfrey was silent for a few moments. Then he said:
"Happenings in London that--well, that I do not wish to recall."
Ogier again looked him straight in the face.
"I suggest, M'sieur Henfrey"--for Hugh had given him his name--"I
suggest that you have been attracted by Mademoiselle as so many other
men have been. She seems to exercise a fatal influence upon some
"I know," Hugh said. "I have heard lots of things about her. Her
success at the tables is constant and uncanny. Even the Administration
are interested in her winnings, and are often filled with wonder."
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Did she ever live in London?" asked Hugh eagerly, interrupting
"Yes--once. She had a furnished house on the Cromwell Road for about
"How long ago?" asked Henfrey.
"Please allow me to make my inquiries, monsieur!" exclaimed the
"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
"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
"Good Heavens!--why, what's the matter?"
"Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo has been shot!" the other replied in a
"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
"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."
"That's exactly my opinion, my dear Walter. If it was a crime for
gain, or through motives of either jealousy or revenge, Mademoiselle
would certainly have been attacked on her way home. The road is quite
deserted towards the crest of the hill."
"What do the police say?"
"They do not appear to trouble to track Mademoiselle's assailant. They
say they will wait until daylight before searching for footprints on
the gravel outside."
"Ah! They are not very fond of making arrests within the Principality.
It's such a bad advertisement for the Rooms. The Administration like
to show a clean sheet as regards serious crime. Our friends here leave
it to the French or Italian police to deal with the criminals so that
the Principality shall prove itself the most honest State in Europe,"
"The police, I believe, suspect me of shooting her," said Hugh
"That's very awkward. Why?"
"Well--they don't know the true reason I went to see her, or they
would never believe me to be guilty of a crime so much against my own
Brock, who was still sitting up in bed in his pale blue silk pyjamas,
reflected a few moments.
"Well, Hugh," he said at last, "after all it is only natural that they
should believe that you had a hand in the matter. Even though she told
you the truth, it is quite within reason that you should have suddenly
become incensed against her for the part she must have played in your
father's mysterious death, and in a frenzy of anger you shot her."
Hugh drew a long breath, and his eyebrows narrowed.
"By Jove! I had never regarded it in that light before!" he gasped.
"But what about the weapon?"
"You might easily have hidden it before the arrival of the police. You
admit that you went out on the veranda. Therefore if they do chance to
find the weapon in the garden then their suspicions will, no doubt, be
considerably increased. It's a pity, old man, that you didn't make a
clean breast of the motive of your visit."
"I now see my horrible mistake," Henfrey admitted. "I thought myself
wise to preserve silence, to know nothing, and now I see quite plainly
that I have only brought suspicion unduly upon myself. The police,
however, know Yvonne Ferad to be a somewhat mysterious person."
"Which renders the situation only worse," Brock said. Then, after a
pause, he added: "Now that you have declined to tell the police why
you visited the Villa Amette and have, in a way, defied them, it will
be best to maintain that attitude. Tell them nothing, no matter what
"I intend to pursue that course. But the worst of it is, Walter, that
the doctors hold out no hope of Mademoiselle's recovery. I saw
Duponteil half an hour ago, and he told me that he could give me no
encouraging information. The bullet has been extracted, but she is
hovering between life and death. I suppose it will be in the papers
to-morrow, and Dorise and her mother will know of my nocturnal visit
to the house of a notorious woman."
"Don't let that worry you, my dear chap. Here, they keep the news of
all tragedies out of the papers, because shooting affairs may be
thought by the public to be due to losses at the Rooms. Recollect that
of all the suicides here--the dozens upon dozens of poor ruined
gamesters who are yearly laid to rest in the Suicides' Cemetery--not a
single report has appeared in any newspaper. So I think you may remain
assured that Lady Ranscomb and her daughter will not learn anything."
"I sincerely hope they won't, otherwise it will go very hard with me,"
Hugh said in a low, intense voice. "Ah! What a night it has been for
"And if Mademoiselle dies the assailant, whoever he was, will be
guilty of wilful murder; while you, on your part, will never know the
truth concerning your father's death," remarked the elder man, running
his fingers through his hair.
"Yes. That is the position of this moment. But further, I am suspected
of the crime!"
Brock dressed while his friend sat upon the edge of the bed, pale-
faced and agitated. Suppose that the assailant had flung his pistol
into the bushes, and the police eventually discovered it? Then, no
doubt, he would be put across the frontier to be arrested by the
police of the Department of the Alpes Maritimes.
Truly, the situation was most serious.
Together the two men strolled out into the early morning air and sat
upon a seat on the terrace of the Casino watching the sun as it rose
over the tideless sea.
For nearly an hour they sat discussing the affair; then they ascended
the white, dusty road to the beautiful Villa Amette, the home of the
Old Giulio Cataldi opened the door.
"Alas! m'sieur, Mademoiselle is just the same," he replied in response
to Hugh's eager inquiry. "The police have gone, but Doctor Leneveu is
"Have the police searched the garden?" inquired Hugh eagerly.
"Yes, m'sieur. They made a thorough examination, but have discovered
no marks of footprints except those of yourself, myself, and a
tradesman's lad who brought up a parcel late last night."
"Then they found no weapon?" asked the young Englishman.
"No, m'sieur. There is no clue whatever to the assailant."
"Curious that there should be no footmarks," remarked Brock. "Yet they
found yours, Hugh."
"Yes. The man must surely have left some trace outside!"
"One would certainly have thought so," Brock said. "I wonder if we may
go into the room where the tragedy happened?" he asked of the servant.
"Certainly, m'sieur," was the courteous reply, and he conducted them
both into the apartment wherein Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo had been
"Did you accompany Mademoiselle when she went to London, Giulio?"
asked young Henfrey of the old Italian, after he had described to
Brock exactly what had occurred.
"Yes, m'sieur," he replied. "I was at Cromwell Road for a short time.
But I do not care for London, so Mademoiselle sent me back here to
look after the Villa because old Jean, the concierge, had been taken
to the hospital."
"When in London you knew some of Mademoiselle's friends, I suppose?"
"A few--only a few," was the Italian's reply.
"Did you ever know a certain Mr. Benton?"
The old fellow shook his head blankly.
"Not to my knowledge, m'sieur," he replied. "Mademoiselle had really
very few friends in London. There was a Mrs. Matthews and her husband,
Americans whom she met here in Monte Carlo, and Sir George Cave-
Knight, who died a few weeks ago."
"Do you remember an elderly gentleman named Henfrey calling?" asked
Old Cataldi reflected for a moment, and then answered:
"The name sounds familiar to me, m'sieur, but in what connexion I
cannot recollect. That is your name, is it not?" he asked, remembering
the card he had taken to his mistress.
"Yes," Hugh replied. "I have reason to believe that my late father was
acquainted with your mistress, and that he called upon her in London."
"I believe that a gentleman named Henfrey did call, because when I
glanced at the card you gave me last night the name struck me as
familiar," the servant said. "But whether he actually called, or
whether someone at table mentioned his name I really cannot
"Ah! That's a pity," exclaimed Hugh with a sigh. "As a matter of fact
it was in order to make certain inquiries regarding my late father
that I called upon Mademoiselle last night."
Giulio Cataldi turned in pretence of rearranging a chair, but in
reality to avert his face from the young man's gaze--a fact which Hugh
did not fail to notice.
Had he really told the truth when he declared that he could not
recollect his father calling?
"How long were you in London with Mademoiselle?" asked Henfrey.
"About six weeks--not longer."
Was it because of some untoward occurrence that the old Italian did
not like London, Hugh wondered.
"And you are quite sure that you do not recollect my father calling
upon your mistress?"
"As I have said, m'sieur, I do not remember. Yet I recall the name, as
it is a rather unusual one."
"And you have never heard of Mr. Benton?"
Cataldi shook his head.
"Well," Hugh went on, "tell me whether you entertain any suspicions of
anyone who might be tempted to kill your mistress. Mademoiselle has
enemies, has she not?"
"Who knows?" exclaimed the man with the grey moustache and small,
black furtive eyes.
"Everyone has enemies of one sort or another," Walter remarked. "And
no doubt Mademoiselle has. It is for us to discover the enemy who shot
"Ah! yes, it is, m'sieur," exclaimed the servant. "The poor Signorina!
I do hope that the police will discover who tried to kill her."
"For aught we know the attempt upon the lady's life may prove
successful after all," said Hugh despairingly. "The doctors hold out
no hope of her recovery."
"None. A third doctor has been in consultation--Doctor Bazin, from
Beaulieu. He only left a quarter of an hour ago. He told me that the
poor Signorina cannot possibly live! Ah! messieurs, how terrible all
this is--/povera Signorina/! She was always so kind and considerate to
us all." And the old man's voice trembled with emotion.
Walter Brock gazed around the luxurious room and at the long open
window through which streamed the bright morning sun, with the perfume
of the flowers outside. What was the mystery concerning Mademoiselle
Yvonne? What foundation had the gossips for those constant whisperings
which had rendered the handsome woman so notorious?
True, the story of the death of Hugh's father was an unusually strange
one, curious in every particular--and stranger still that the secret
was held by this beautiful, but mysterious, woman who lived in such
luxury, and who gambled so recklessly and with invariable good
As they walked back to the town Hugh's heart sank within him.
"She will die," he muttered bitterly to himself. "She'll die, and I
shall never learn the truth of the poor guv'nor's sad end, or the
reason why I am being forced to marry Louise Lambert."
"It's an iniquitous will, Hugh!" declared his friend. "And it's
infernally hard on you that just at the very moment when you could
have learnt the truth that shot was fired."
"Do you think the woman had any hand in my father's death?" Hugh
asked. "Do you think that she had repented, and was about to try and
atone for what she had done by confessing the whole affair?"
"Yes. That is just the view I take," answered Brock. "Of course, we
have no idea what part she played in the business. But my idea is that
she alone knows the reason why this marriage with Louise is being
forced upon you."
"In that case, then, it seems more than likely that I've been followed
here to Monte Carlo, and my movements watched. But why has she been
shot? Why did not her enemies shoot me? They could have done so twenty
times during the past few days. Perhaps the shot which hit her was
really intended for me?"
"I don't think so. There is a monetary motive behind your marriage
with Louise. If you died, your enemy would gain nothing. That seems
"But who can be my secret enemy?" asked the young man in dismay.
"Mademoiselle alone knows that, and it was undoubtedly her intention
to warn you."
"Yes. But if she dies I shall remain in ignorance," he declared in a
hard voice. "The whole affair is so tangled that I can see nothing
clearly--only that my refusal to marry Louise will mean ruin to me--
and I shall lose Dorise in the bargain!"
Walter Brock, older and more experienced, was equally mystified. The
pessimistic attitude of the three doctors who had attended the injured
woman was, indeed, far from reassuring. The injury to the head caused
by the assailant's bullet was, they declared, most dangerous. Indeed,
the three medical men marvelled that she still lived.
The two men walked through the palm-lined garden, bright with flowers,
back to their hotel, wondering whether news of the tragedy had yet got
abroad. But they heard nothing of it, and it seemed true, as Walter
Brock had declared, that the police make haste to suppress any tragic
happenings in the Principality.
Though they were unconscious of it, a middle-aged, well-dressed
Frenchman had, during their absence from the hotel, been making
diligent inquiries regarding them of the night concierge and some of
The concierge had recognized the visitor as Armand Buisson, of the
police bureau at Nice. It seemed as though the French police were
unduly inquisitive concerning the well-conducted young Englishman and
Now, as a matter of fact, half an hour after Hugh had left the Villa
Amette, Ogier had telegraphed to Buisson in Nice, and the latter had
come along the Corniche road in a fast car to make his own inquiries
and observations upon the pair of Englishmen. Ogier strongly suspected
Henfrey of firing the shot, but was, nevertheless, determined to
remain inactive and leave the matter to the Prefecture of the
Department of Alpes Maritimes. Hence the reason that the well-dressed
Frenchman lounged in the hall of the hotel pretending to read the
"Phare du Littoral."
Just before noon Hugh went to the telephone in the hotel and inquired
of Cataldi the progress of his mistress.
"She is just the same, m'sieur," came the voice in broken English.
"/Santa Madonna!/ How terrible it all is! Doctor Leneveu has left, and
Doctor Duponteil is now here."
"Have the police been again?"
"No, m'sieur. Nobody has been," was the reply.
So Hugh rang off and crossed the hall, little dreaming that the well-
dressed Frenchman had been highly interested in his questions.
Half an hour later he went along to the Metropole, where he had an
engagement to lunch with Dorise and her mother.
When they met, however, Lady Ranscomb exclaimed:
"Why, Hugh, you look very pale. What's the matter?"
"Oh, nothing," he laughed forcedly. "I'm not very bright to-day. I
think it was the sirocco of yesterday that has upset me a little,
Then, while they were seated at table, Dorise suddenly exclaimed:
"Oh! do you know, mother, that young French lady over yonder, Madame
Jacomet, has just told me something. There's a whisper that the
mysterious woman, Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, was shot during the
night by a discarded lover!"
"Shot!" exclaimed Lady Ranscomb. "Dear me! How very dreadful. What
"I don't know. Madame Jacomet was told by her husband, who heard it in
Ciro's this morning."
"How terrible!" remarked Hugh, striving to remain calm.
"Yes. But women of her class invariably come to a bad end," remarked
the widow. "How pleased I am, Dorise, that you never spoke to her.
She's a most dreadful person, they say."
"Well, she evidently knows how to win money at the tables, mother,"
said the girl, lifting her clear blue eyes to those of her lover.
"Yes. But I wonder what the scandal is all about?" said the widow of
the great engineer.
"Oh! don't trouble to inquire Lady Ranscomb," Hugh hastened to remark.
"One hears scandal on every hand in Monte Carlo."
"Yes. I suppose so," replied the elder woman, and then the subject was
So the ugly affair was being rumoured. It caused Hugh a good deal of
apprehension, for he feared that his name would be associated with
that of the mysterious Mademoiselle. Evidently one or other of the
servants at the Villa Amette had been indiscreet.
At that moment, in his private room at the bureau of police down in
Monaco, Superintendent Ogier was carefully perusing a dossier of
official papers which had been brought to him by the archivist.
Between his thin lips was a long, thin, Swiss cigar--his favorite
smoke--and with his gold-rimmed pince-nez poised upon his aquiline
nose he was reading a document which would certainly have been of
considerable interest to Hugh Henfrey and his friend Walter Brock
could they have seen it.
Upon the pale yellow paper were many lines of typewriting in French--a
carbon copy evidently.
It was headed: "Republique Francaise. Department of Herault.
Prefecture of Police. Bureau of the Director of Police. Reference
Number 20197.B.," and was dated nearly a year before.
"Copy of an 'information' in the archives of the Prefecture of the
Department of Herault concerning the woman Marie Mignot, or
Leullier, now passing under the name of Yvonne Ferad and living at
the Villa Amette at Monte Carlo.
"The woman in question was born in 1884 at Number 45 Rue des
Etuves, in Montpellier, and was the daughter of one Doctor Rigaud,
a noted toxicologist of the Faculty of Medicine, and curator of
the University Library. At the age of seventeen, after her
father's death, she became a school teacher at a small school in
the Rue Morceau, and at nineteen married Charles Leullier, a good-
looking young scoundrel who posed as being well off, but who was
afterwards proved to be an expert international thief, a member of
a gang of dangerous thieves who committed robberies in the
European express trains.
"This fact was unknown to the girl, therefore at first all went
smoothly, until the wife discovered the truth and left him. She
then joined the chorus of a revue at the Jardin de Paris, where
she met a well-to-do Englishman named Bryant. The pair went to
England, where she married him, and they resided in the county of
Northampton. Six months later Bryant died, leaving her a large sum
of money. In the meantime Leullier had been arrested by the
Italian police for a daring robbery with violence in a train
traveling between Milan and Turin and been sentenced to ten years
on the penal island of Gorgona. His wife, hearing of this from an
Englishman named Houghton, who, though she was unaware of it, was
following the same profession as her husband, returned to France.
She rented an apartment in Paris, and afterwards played at Monte
Carlo, where she won a considerable sum, with the proceeds of
which she purchased the Villa Amette, which she now occupies each
"Extracts of reports concerning Marie Leullier, alias Yvonne Ferad,
are herewith appended:
"Criminal Investigation Department, New Scotland Yard, London--to
the Prefecture of Police, Paris.
"Mademoiselle Yvonne Ferad rented a furnished house at Hove, near
Brighton, in June, 1918. Afterwards moved to Worthing and to
Exeter, and later took a house in the Cromwell Road, London, in
1919. She was accompanied by an Italian manservant named Cataldi.
Her conduct was suspicious, though she was undoubtedly possessed
of considerable means. She was often seen at the best restaurants
with various male acquaintances, more especially with a man named
Kenworthy. Her association with this person, and with another man
named Percy Stendall, was curious, as both men were habitual
criminals and had served several terms of penal servitude each.
Certain suspicions were aroused, and observation was kept, but
nothing tangible was discovered. It is agreed, however, that some
mystery surrounds this woman in question. She left London quite
suddenly, but left no debts behind."
"Information from the Borough Police Office, Worthing, to the
Prefecture of Police, Department of Herault.
"Mademoiselle Yvonne Ferad has been identified by the photograph
sent as having lived in Worthing in December, 1918. She rented a
small furnished house facing the sea, and was accompanied by an
Italian manservant and a French maid. Her movements were
distinctly mysterious. A serious fracas occurred at the house on
the evening of December 18th, 1918. A middle-aged gentleman, whose
name is unknown, called there about seven o'clock and a violent
quarrel ensued between the lady and her visitor, the latter being
very seriously assaulted by the Italian. The constable on duty was
called in, but the visitor refused to prosecute, and after having
his injuries attended to by a doctor left for London. Three days
later Mademoiselle disappeared from Worthing. It is believed by
the Chief Constable that the woman is of the criminal class."
Then Charles Ogier, inspector of the detective police of Monaco,
smiled, laid down his cigar, and took up another and even more
ON THE HOG'S BACK
Three days later. On a cold afternoon just as the wintry light was
fading a tall, dark, middle-aged, rather handsome man with black hair
and moustache, and wearing a well-cut, dark-grey overcoat and green
velour hat, alighted from the train at the wayside station of
Wanborough, in Surrey, and inquired of the porter the way to Shapley
"Shapley, sir? Why, take the road there yonder up the hill till you
get to the main road which runs along the Hog's Back from Guildford to
Farnborough. When you get on the main road, turn sharp to the left
past the old toll-gate, and you'll find the Manor on the left in among
a big clump of trees."
"About a mile, sir."
The stranger, the only passenger who had alighted, slipped sixpence
into the man's hand, buttoned his coat, and started out to walk in the
direction indicated, breasting the keen east wind.
He was well-set-up, and of athletic bearing. He took long strides as
with swinging gait he went up the hill. As he did so, he muttered to
"I was an infernal fool not to have come down in a car! I hate these
beastly muddy country roads. But Molly has the telephone--so I can
ring up for a car to fetch me--which is a consolation, after all."
And with his keen eyes set before him, he pressed forward up the steep
incline to where, for ten miles, ran the straight broad highway over
the high ridge known as the Hog's Back. The road is very popular with
motorists, for so high is it that on either side there stretches a
wide panorama of country, the view on the north being towards the
Thames Valley and London, while on the south Hindhead with the South
Downs in the blue distance show beyond.
Having reached the high road the stranger paused to take breath, and
incidentally to admire the magnificent view. Indeed, an expression of
admiration fell involuntarily from his lips. Then he went along for
another half-mile in the teeth of the cutting wind with the twilight
rapidly coming on, until he came to the clump of dark firs and
presently walked up a gravelled drive to a large, but somewhat
inartistic, Georgian house of red brick with long square windows. In
parts the ivy was trying to hide its terribly ugly architecture for
around the deep porch it grew thickly and spread around one corner of
A ring at the door brought a young manservant whom the caller
addressed as Arthur, and, wishing him good afternoon, asked if Mrs.
Bond were at home.
"Yes, sir," was the reply.
"Oh! good," said the caller. "Just tell her I'm here." And he
proceeded to remove his coat and to hang it up in the great flagged
hall with the air of one used to the house.
The Manor was a spacious, well-furnished place, full of good pictures
and much old oak furniture.
The servant passed along the corridor, and entering the drawing-room,
"Mr. Benton is here, ma'am."
"Oh! Mr. Benton! Show him in," cried his mistress enthusiastically.
"Show him in at once!"
Next moment the caller entered the fine, old-fashioned room, where a
well-preserved, fair-haired woman of about forty was taking her tea
alone and petting her Pekinese.
"Well, Charles? So you've discovered me here, eh?" she exclaimed,
jumping up and taking his hand.
"Yes, Molly. And you seem to have very comfortable quarters," laughed
Benton as he threw himself unceremoniously into a chintz-covered
"They are, I assure you."
"And I suppose you're quite a great lady in these parts--eh?--now that
you live at Shapley Manor. Where's Louise?"
"She went up to town this morning. She won't be back till after
dinner. She's with her old school-fellow--that girl Bertha Trench."
"Good. Then we can have a chat. I've several things to consult you
about and ask your opinion."
"Have some tea first," urged his good-looking hostess, pouring him
some into a Crown Derby cup.
"Well," he commenced. "I think you've done quite well to take this
place, as you've done, for three years. You are now safely out of the
way. The Paris Surete are making very diligent inquiries, but the
Surrey Constabulary will never identify you with the lady of the Rue
Racine. So you are quite safe here."
"Are you sure of that, Charles?" she asked, fixing her big grey eyes
"Certain. It was the wisest course to get back here to England,
although you had to take a very round-about journey."
"Yes. I got to Switzerland, then to Italy, and from Genoa took an
Anchor Line steamer across to New York. After that I came over to
Liverpool, and in the meantime I had become Mrs. Bond. Louise, of
course, thought we were travelling for pleasure. I had to explain my
change of name by telling her that I did not wish my divorced husband
to know that I was back in England."
"And the girl believed it, of course," he laughed.
"Of course. She believes anything I tell her," said the clever,
unscrupulous woman for whom the Paris police were in active search,
whose real name was Molly Maxwell, and whose amazing career was well
known to the French police.
Only recently a sum of a quarter of a million francs had fallen into
her hands, and with it she now rented Shapley Manor and had set up as
a country lady. Benton gazed around the fine old room with its Adams
ceiling and its Georgian furniture, and reflected how different were
Molly's present surroundings from that stuffy little flat /au
troisieme/ in the Rue Racine.
"Yes," he said. "You had a very narrow escape, Molly. I dared not come
near you, but I knew that you'd look after the girl."
"Of course. I always look after her as though she were my own child."
Benton's lip curled as he sipped his China tea, and said:
"Because so much depends upon her--eh? I'm glad you view the situation
from a fair and proper stand-point. We're now out for a big thing,
therefore we must not allow any little hitch to prevent us from
bringing it off successfully."
"I quite agree, Charles. Our great asset is Louise. But she must be
innocent of it all. She must know absolutely nothing."
"True. If she had an inkling that we were forcing her to marry Hugh
she would fiercely resent it. She's a girl of spirit, after all."
"My dear Charles, I know that," laughed the woman. "Ever since she
came home from school I've noticed how independent she is. She
certainly has a will of her own. But she likes Hugh, and we must
encourage it. Recollect that a fortune is at stake."
"I have not overlooked that," the man said. "But of late I've come to
fear that we are treading upon thin ice. I don't like the look of
affairs at the present moment. Young Henfrey is head over ears in love
with that girl Dorise Ranscomb, and--"
"Bah! It's only a flirtation, my dear Charles," laughed the woman.
"When just a little pressure is put upon the boy, and a sly hint to
Lady Ranscomb, then the affair will soon be off, and he'll fall into
Louise's arms. She's really very fond of him."
"She may be, but he takes no notice of her. She told me so the other
day. He's gone to the Riviera--followed Dorise, I suppose," Benton
"Yvonne wrote me a few days ago to say that he was there with a friend
of his named Walter Brock. Who's he?"
"Oh! a naval lieutenant-commander who served in the war and was
invalided out after the Battle of Jutland. He got the D.S.O. over the
Falklands affair, and has now some post at the Admiralty. He was in
command of a torpedo boat which sank a German cruiser, and was
afterwards blown up."
"They are both out at Monte Carlo, Yvonne says. And Henfrey is with
Dorise daily," remarked the woman.
"Yvonne is always apprehensive lest young Henfrey should learn the
secret of the old fellow's end," said Benton. "But I don't see how the
truth of the--well, rather ugly affair can ever come out, except by an
indiscretion by one or other of us."
"And that is scarcely likely, Charles, is it?" his hostess laughed as
she pushed across to him a big silver box of cigarettes and then
reclined lazily among her cushions.
"No. It would certainly be a very sensational affair if the newspapers
got hold of the facts, my dear Molly. But don't let us anticipate such
a thing. Fortunately Louise, in her girlish innocence, knows nothing.
Old Henfrey left his money to his son upon certain conditions, one of
which is that Hugh shall marry Louise. And that marriage must, at all
hazards, take place. After that, we care for nothing."
The handsome woman who was rolling a cigarette between her well-
manicured fingers hesitated. Her countenance assumed a strange look as
she reflected. She was far too clever to express any off-hand opinion.
She had outwitted the police of Paris, Brussels, and Rome in turn. Her
whole career had been a criminal one, punctuated by periods of
pretended high respectability--while the funds to support it had
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