“Don’t mind me,” I shouted to him. “I must go on, I can’t help myself. It’s for you to take it up now. She’s in the restaurant. You’ll easily know her, in a long ulster, with her maid and the child. You can’t miss her. By the Lord, she is standing at the door! Get away with you, don’t let her see you talking with me. She must not know we are acting in common, and I do hope she hasn’t noticed. Be off, I tell you, only let me hear of you; wire to Lucerne what you’re doing. Address telegraph-office. Send me a second message at Goeschenen. I shall get one or both. Say where I may answer and where I can join you.”
The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot. I had failed, myself, but I hoped that with my lead he would get on to the scent and keep to it. Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. I should be guided by his wire if I got it.
For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler’s intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side. If the Colonel knew that another man was on his friend’s track, he would surely have left the train at once so as to go to her assistance. But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler’s existence.
I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l’Echelle came with the Colonel to release me.
“You shall pay for this,” I cried hotly.
“As for you, l’Echelle, it shall cost you your place, and I’ll take the law of you, Colonel Annesley; I’ll get damages and you shall answer for your illegal action.”
“Pfui!” retorted the Colonel. “The mischief you can do is nothing to what you might have done. We can stand the racket. I’ve bested you for the present—that’s the chief thing, anyway. You can’t persecute the poor lady any more.”
“Poor lady! Do you know who she is or was, anyway?”
“Of course I do,” he answered bold as brass.
“Did she let on? Told you, herself? My word! She’s got a nerve. I wonder she’d own to it after all she’s done.”
“Silence!” he shouted, in a great taking. “If you dare to utter a single word against that lady, I’ll break every bone in your body.”
“I’m saying nothing—it’s not me, it’s all the world. It was in the papers, you must have read them, the most awful story, such—such depravity there never was—such treachery, such gross misconduct.”