It was at dinner in the dining-car, under the eyes of her persecutor, that we arranged to give him the slip at Basle. It was cleverly accomplished, I think.
[Here the Colonel gives an account of all that happened between Basle and Brieg; and as the incidents have been already described by Falfani it is unnecessary to retell them, except to note that Annesley had quickly discovered the detective’s escape outside Goeschenen and lost no time in giving chase.]
As may be supposed I rejoiced greatly on reaching Brieg to find that Falfani had been bitterly disappointed. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne. He said he had lost “her,” the lady of course.
I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out. She certainly had not reached Brieg, for with my ally l’Echelle we searched the town for news of her that night and again next morning.
The situation was embarrassing. I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief.
One of us, l’Echelle or myself, continually watched him all that day, the third of this curious imbroglio into which I was plunged. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room.
When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed.
“I’ll appeal to the law, I’ll denounce you to the authorities, I’ll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment. You shall be arrested. I’ll be rid of you somehow, you shall not stay here, you shall leave Brieg.”
“With all my heart—when you do. Have I not told you that already? Where you go I go, where you stay I stay.”
“But it is most monstrous and abominable. I will not submit to it. You have no sort of right to act in this way. Why is it?”
“You can guess my reasons, surely. Only it is not for your beaux yeux; not because I like you. I loathe and detest you. You are a low, slimy spy, who richly deserves to be thrashed for bullying a lady.”
“I’ll have you to know, sir, that I am fully entitled to act as I am doing,” he said with a consequential air. “I am the representative of a court of law; I have great people at my back, people who will soon bring you to book. Wait a little, we shall see. You’ll sing a very poor song when you have to do with a nobleman. The Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder will arrive shortly. I hope this very afternoon. You can settle it with him, ah! How do you like that, eh?”