I caught a curious shadow flitting across my comrade Tiler’s face at this speech. He evidently did not approve of my lord’s attitude. Why?
I met his eye as soon as I could, and, in answer to my inquiring glance, he came over to me and whispered:
“Don’t you see? He,” jerking his finger toward the Colonel, “wants us to waste as much time as possible, while my lady slips through our fingers and gets farther and farther on her road.”
“Where is she?”
“Ah, where? No longer here, anyway.”
The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station. It had gone on, quite unobserved by any of us during the fracas, and it flashed upon me at once that the incident had been planned for this very purpose of occupying our attention while she stole off.
“But, one moment, Ludovic, that train was going to Macon and Paris. My lady was travelling the other way—this way. You came with her yourself. Why should she run back again?”
“Ah! Why does a woman do anything, and particularly this one? Still there was a reason, a good one. She must have caught sight of my lord, and knew that she was caught.”
“That’s plausible enough, but I don’t understand it. She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?”
“She only came because I’d tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip,” said Tiler.
“May be. But it don’t seem to fit. Anyway, we’ve got to find her once more. It ought not to be difficult. She’s not the sort to hide herself easily, with all her belongings, the nurse and the baby and all the rest. But hold on, my lord is speaking.”
“Find out, one of you,” he said briefly, “when the next train goes to Aix. I mean to push this through to the bitter end. You will be careful, sergeant, to bring your prisoner along with you.”
“Merci bien! I do not want you or any one else to teach me my duty,” replied the gendarme, very stiffly. It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side.
“A prisoner, am I?” cried the Colonel, gaily. “Not much. But I shall make no difficulties. I am willing enough to go with you. When is it to be?”
“Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22,” Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way. Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him. The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l’Echelle followed him. I was a little doubtful of that slippery gentleman; although I had bought him, as I thought, the night before, I never felt sure of him. He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer. My lord had paid him five hundred francs. Was the money thrown away, and his intention now to go back on his bargain?