“The 2.15?” The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face. “I have an idea you are right, sir. You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier. I could easily make a mistake between them.”
“It is my firm belief,” I said, utterly disgusted with the fellow, “my firm belief that you have made a mistake all through. You never saw the ladies at all, either of you.” I turned upon the conductor with a fierce scowl. “You are a rank humbug; you have taken my money under false pretences. I’ve a precious good mind to report you to your superiors, and insist upon your refunding the money. You’ve swindled me out of it, thief and liar that you are.”
“Come, come, don’t speak so freely. My superiors will always listen first to one of their own employes, and it will be awkward if I charge you with obstructing an official and making false charges against him.”
Mine is a hasty temper; I am constrained to confess to a fault which often stood in my way especially in my particular business. The conductor’s insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Without another word I rushed at him, caught him by the throat, and shook him violently, throwing him to the ground and beating his head upon it savagely.
Help must have come to him very speedily and to good purpose, for I soon found myself in custody, two colossal gendarmes holding me tight on each side. I was quickly removed like any malefactor to the lock-up in the town above, and was thus for the moment effectively precluded from continuing my pursuit.
Law and order are not to be lightly trifled with in Switzerland, least of all in the Canton de Vaud. I had been taken in the very act of committing a savage assault upon an official in the execution of his duty, which is true to the extent that every Swiss official conceives it to be his duty to outrage the feelings and tyrannize over inoffensive strangers.
The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. I was not permitted to answer the charge against me, but was at once consigned to a cell, having been first searched and despoiled of all my possessions. Among them was my knife and a pocket revolver I generally carried, also my purse, my wallet with all my private papers, and my handbag. Both wallet and handbag were locked; they demanded the keys, thinking I had them hidden on my person, but I said they could find them for themselves, the truth being the locks were on a patent plan and could be opened with the fingers by any one who knew. This secret I chose to retain.
When alone in my gloomy prison, with leisure to reflect more calmly on my painful position, I realized what an ass I had been, and I vented my wrath chiefly on myself. But it was idle to repine. My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it.