“Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her. If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. I had resolved he should not find us, but where else should we go? Farther afield, if necessary to the very end of the world. Lord Blackadder, we might be sure, would hunt high and low to recover his lost heir, sparing no expense, neglecting no means.
“It was, however, essential to elude his agents, who were so near at hand and likely to press me close. That was another reason for drawing my sister to me. I had hit upon a cunning device, as I thought it, to confuse and deceive my pursuers, to throw them on to a false scent, lead them to follow a red herring, while the fox, free of the hunt, took another line.”
“There should be two Richmonds in the field! That was my grand idea. Two sets, two parties, each of them consisting of one lady, one maid, and one baby, exactly similar and indistinguishable. When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry. Run it to the death, while the party got clear away.
“I had made a nice calculation. Fuentellato was at no great distance from Parma, on the main line of railway. If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday.
“This was exactly what happened. My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. I had taken up my quarters in this hotel because it was so near the station, but I thought it prudent that Henriette should lodge somewhere else, the farther the better, and she went to a small place, the Hotel Pierre Fatio, at the other end of the town.
“It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come.
“We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help. It was soon done. You can buy anything in Geneva. There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required—the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment. Philpotts and Victorine, my sister’s maid, were also made up on a similar pattern, and a second baby was built up as a dummy that would have deceived any one.