The landlord turned to his wife with an expressive gesture.
“Ask her,” he answered. “She looks after all that—I’m not so much in the office.”
“He came at seven o’clock last night,” said the landlady. “I was in the office, and I booked him and gave him his room—27.”
“Was he alone?”
“Quite alone. He’d the suit-case that’s upstairs in the room now, and an overcoat and an umbrella.”
“Of course,” said the chief, “he gave you some name—some address?”
“He gave the name and address of Frank Herman, Walthamstow,” replied the landlady, opening a ledger which she had brought into the room. “There you are—that’s his writing.”
The chief drew the book to him, glanced at the entry, and closed the book again, keeping a finger in it.
“Well, what was seen of him during the evening!” he asked.
“Nothing much,” replied the landlady. “He had his supper in the coffee-room—a couple of chops and coffee. He was reading the papers in the smoking-room until about half-past ten; I saw him myself going upstairs between that and eleven. As I didn’t see him about next morning and as his breakfast wasn’t booked, I asked where he was, and the chambermaid said there was a card on his door saying that he wasn’t to be called till eleven.”
“Where is that card?” asked the chief.
“It’s here in this envelope,” answered the landlady, who seemed to be much more alert and much sharper of intellect than her husband. “I took care of it when we found out what had happened. I suppose you’ll take charge of it?”
“If you please,” answered the chief. He took the envelope, looked inside it to make sure that the card was there, and turned to the landlady again.
“Yes?” he said. “When you found out what had happened. Now, who did find out what had happened?”
“Well,” answered the landlady, “the chambermaid came down soon after eleven, and said she couldn’t get 27 to answer her knock. Of course, I understood that he wanted to catch the Rotterdam boat which sailed about noon, so I sent my husband up. And as he couldn’t get any answer—”
“I went in with the chambermaid’s key,” broke in the landlord, “and there he was—just as you’ve seen him—dead. And if you ask me, he was cold, too—been dead some time, in my opinion.”
“The surgeon said several hours—six or seven,” remarked the inspector in an aside to the chief. “Thought he’d been dead since four o’clock.”
“No signs of anything in the room, I suppose?” asked the chief. “Nothing disturbed, eh?”
“Nothing!” replied the landlord stolidly. “The room was as you’d expect to find it; tidy enough. And nothing touched—as the police that were called in at first can testify. They can swear as his money was all right and his watch and chain all right—there’d been no robbery. And,” he added with resentful emphasis, “I don’t care what you nor nobody says!—’tain’t no case of murder, this! It’s suicide, that’s what it is. I don’t want my house to get the name and character of a murder place! I can’t help it if a quiet-looking, apparently respectable young fellow comes and suicides himself in my house—there’s nobody can avoid that, as I know of, but when it comes to murder—”