The elderly doctor came away from the bed approaching Allerdyke.
“After hearing what Dr. Lydenberg tells me, and examining the body—a mere perfunctory examination as yet, you know—I have little doubt that this gentleman died of what is commonly called heart failure,” he said. “There will have to be an inquest, of course, and it may be advisable to make a post-mortem examination. You are a relative?”
“Cousin,” replied Allerdyke. He hesitated a moment, and then spoke bluntly. “You don’t think it’s been a case of poisoning, do you?” he said.
Dr. Orwin pursed his lips and regarded his questioner narrowly.
“Self-administered, do you mean?” he asked.
“Administered any way,” answered Allerdyke. “Self or otherwise.” He squared his shoulders and spoke determinedly. “I don’t understand about this heart-failure notion,” he went on. “I never heard him complain of his heart. He was a strong, active man—hearty and full of go. I want to know—everything.”
“There should certainly be an autopsy,” murmured Dr. Orwin. He turned and looked at his temporary colleague, who nodded as if in assent. Then he turned back to Allerdyke. “If you’ll leave us for a while, we will just make a further examination—then we’ll speak to you later.”
Allerdyke signified his assent with a curt nod of the head. Accompanied by the manager and Gaffney he left the room, and with him he carried the small hand-bag in which he had placed the dead man’s personal effects.
THE SHOE BUCKLE
Once outside the death-chamber, Allerdyke asked the manager to give him a bedroom with a sitting-room attached to it, and to put Gaffney in another room close by—he should be obliged, he said, to stay at the hotel until the inquest was over and arrangements had been made for his cousin’s funeral. The manager at once took him to a suite of three rooms at the end of the corridor which they were then in. Allerdyke took it at once, sent Gaffney down to bring up certain things from the car, and detained the manager for a moment’s conversation.
“I suppose you’d a fair lot of people come in last night from that Christiania boat?” he asked.
“Some fifteen or twenty,” answered the manager.
“Did you happen to see my cousin in conversation with any of them?” inquired Allerdyke.
The manager shrugged his shoulders. He was not definitely sure about that; he had a notion that he had seen Mr. James Allerdyke talking with some of the Perisco passengers, but the notion was vague.
“You know how it is,” he went on. “People come in—they stand about talking in the hall—groups, you know—they go from one to another. I think I saw him talking to that doctor who’s in there now with Dr. Orwin—the man with the big beard—and to a lady who came at the same time. There were several ladies in the party—the passengers were all about in the hall, and in the coffee-room, and so on. There are a lot of other people in the house, too, of course.”