The party had certainly been seen at this very station. Two ladies, one tall, the other short, with a baby. They had gone no further then; they had not returned to the station since. So far good. But there was a second station, the Gare des Vollondes, at the opposite end of the city, from which ran the short line to Bouveret on the south shore of the lake, and I sent Falloon there to inquire, giving him a rendezvous an hour later at the Cafe de la Couronne on the Quai du Lac. Meanwhile I meant to take all the hotels in regular order, and began with those of the first class on the right bank, the Beau Rivage, the Russie, de la Paix, National, Des Bergues, and the rest. As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole.
Now my luck again greatly favoured me. Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction.
I recognized it instantly. It was the lady herself.
She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot. She looked hurriedly to right and left, as if seeking some loophole of escape.
At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. My lady made up her mind then and there, and as it paused she boarded it with one quick, agile spring.
With no less prompt decision I followed her, and we entered the car almost simultaneously.
There were only two seats vacant and, curiously enough, face to face. I took my place, not ill pleased, for she had already seen me, and I was anxious to know how my sudden reappearance would affect her. It was clear she did not relish it, or she would not have turned tail at our unexpected meeting.
I had not long to wait. She chose her line at once, and without hesitation addressed me, smiling and unabashed. Her self-possession, I had almost said her effrontery, took me quite aback.
“Surely I am not mistaken?” she began quite coolly. “Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?”
I stammered a halting affirmative.
“I am afraid you must have thought me very rude. I ran off without a word, didn’t I? The truth was my child had been suddenly taken ill and the nurse had to leave the train hurriedly. She had only just time to catch me and prevent me from going on. I am sorry. I should have liked to say good-bye.”
“Make no apologies, I beg,” I hastened to say courteously. But in my heart I trembled. What could this mean? Some fresh trick? She was so desperately full of guile!
“But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake,” she continued. “Do you make a long stay at Geneva?”