“And she was going to Lausanne?”
“Ma foi, yes, I believe so; or was it to Ouchy?” He seemed overwhelmed with sudden doubt. “Lausanne or Ouchy? Up or down? Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not—” he dropped his voice—“not for five francs.”
I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue. But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, “if,” he added cunningly, “it was not Ouchy.” But he had seen her, that was sure—seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before. He had especially admired her; dame! he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, “diable, who could say?”
I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry. She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand. I resolved to inquire at all the hotels forthwith. It would take time and trouble, but it was essential. I must run her to ground if possible, fix her once more, or I should never again dare to look my employers in the face. I was ashamed to confess to Falfani that I had been outwitted and befooled. I would send him no more telegrams until I had something more satisfactory to say.
I was now upon the great bridge that spans the valley of the Flon and joins the old with the new quarter of Lausanne. The best hotels, the Gibbon, Richemont, Falcon, Grand Pont, and several more, stood within easy reach, and I soon exhausted this branch of the inquiry. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address—Eugene Falloon, Rue Pre Fleuri—where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus. He was a long, lean, hungry-looking fellow, clumsily made, with an enormous head and misshapen hands and feet; but he was no fool this Falloon, and his local knowledge proved exceedingly useful.
On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news.
“Ah, but, monsieur, I know much better now. I recollect exactly. The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy.”