Far from it. I designed only to try the Hotel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable. I was chiefly anxious to regain touch and combine forces with Falfani.
There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hotel. I had not been fooled. I was told directly I asked at the bureau that a Mrs. Blair, accompanied by her maid and child, was staying in the house. Could I see her? If monsieur would send up his card, it should be given her on her return. She was not at home for the moment. (I knew that.) Would monsieur call again?
I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand. I secured a room at the Cornavin Hotel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once. With this idea I took the earliest opportunity of telegraphing to him as follows:
“Detained by unfortunate
contretemps at Lausanne, happily
surmounted, clue lost and regained. Desire your
cooeperation. Come instantly, Hotel Cornavin. She is here.
I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M. It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. Combined we could tie ourselves to our quarry, and never let her out of sight until our principals could take over and settle the business.
Then hailing a cab, I drove to a point close by where I had left Falloon, and found the situation entirely unchanged. No one had come out of the Hotel Pierre Fatio. Mrs. Blair was paying a very long call, and I could not understand it. All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me. The more I tortured my brain to consider how, the less I was able to fathom her intentions.
The time ran on, and I thought it would be prudent to return to my own hotel. Mrs. Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying. Falloon should stand his ground where he was, but I fully impressed upon him the importance of the duty entrusted to him.
I blessed my stars that I so decided. Mrs. Blair had not returned when the table d’hote bell rang at the Cornavin, but I had hardly swallowed the first spoonful of soup when Falloon appeared, hot and flurried, with very startling news.
“Elle se sauve. She is saving herself; she is running away,” he cried. “Already her carriage enters the station—without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere.”
I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. It was a clear case of bolt. There she was ahead of me, quite unmistakable, walking quickly, with her fine upright figure clad in the same pearl gray ulster she had worn in the tram-car. She passed through the open doors of the waiting-room on to the platform where the train was waiting with engine attached.