At first I was very humble, very apologetic. I acknowledged my error, and promised to do anything in my power to indemnify my victim. I offered him any money in reason, I would pay any sum they might fix, pay down on the nail and give my bond for the rest.
My gaolers scouted the proposal indignantly. Did I think justice was to be bought in Switzerland? It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. Besides—money is all powerful in this venal country—how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? what could I produce in cash on the nail? My bond would not be worth the paper it was written on.
No, no, there was no chance for me; nothing could save me. I must go before the correctional police and pay in person for my offence. I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more. Such a brutal assault as mine would be avenged handsomely.
Now I changed my tactics. I began to bluster. I was a British subject and claimed to be treated with proper respect. I appealed to the British Consul; I insisted upon seeing him. When they laughed at me, saying that he would not interfere with the course of justice on behalf of such an unknown vagabond, I told them roundly that I was travelling under the special protection of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, the illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne. Let them bring me my wallet. I would show them my passport bearing the Royal Arms and the signature of one of H.M. Secretaries of State. All of us in the employ of Messrs. Becke invariably carried Foreign Office passports as the best credentials we could produce if we were caught in any tight place.
The greeting of so great a personage to his trusty and well beloved Ludovic Tiler had a very marked effect upon my captors. It was enhanced by the sight of a parcel of crisp Bank of England notes lying snugly in the pocket of the wallet, which I had opened, but without betraying the secret of the spring. When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release. I was promised dinner from a restaurant hard by, and was permitted to send a brief telegram to Falfani, to the effect that I was detained at Lausanne by unforeseen circumstances, but no more. Then bedding was brought in, on which, after a night in the train, I managed to sleep soundly enough until quite late next morning.
I had summoned Eugene Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened. He was prompt and practical, and proceeded to perform the commissions I gave him with all despatch. I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke’s have friends and correspondents in every city of the world. He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice. I had been warned that I might expect to be examined that very day, but that several were likely to elapse before the final disposal of my case.