“No, not at all,” replied Miss Bellingham (which was grossly untrue; he was interrupting me most intolerably); “we were going to the British Museum and just looked in here on our way.”
“Ha,” said Mr. Jellicoe, “now, I happen to be going to the Museum too, to see Doctor Norbury. I suppose that is another coincidence?”
“Certainly it is,” Miss Bellingham replied; and then she asked: “Shall we walk there together?” and the old curmudgeon actually said “yes”—confound him!
We returned to the Gray’s Inn Road, where, as there was now room for us to walk abreast, I proceeded to indemnify myself for the lawyer’s unwelcome company by leading the conversation back to the subject of the missing man.
“Was there anything, Mr. Jellicoe, in Mr. John Bellingham’s state of health that would make it probable that he might die suddenly?”
The lawyer looked at me suspiciously for a few moments and then remarked:
“You seem to be greatly interested in John Bellingham and his affairs.”
“I am. My friends are deeply concerned in them, and the case itself is of more than common interest from a professional point of view.”
“And what is the bearing of this particular question?”
“Surely it is obvious,” said I. “If a missing man is known to have suffered from some affection, such as heart disease, aneurism, or arterial degeneration, likely to produce sudden death, that fact will surely be highly material to the question as to whether he is probably dead or alive.”
“No doubt you are right,” said Mr. Jellicoe. “I have little knowledge of medical affairs, but doubtless you are right. As to the question itself, I am Mr. Bellingham’s lawyer, not his doctor. His health is a matter that lies outside my jurisdiction. But you heard my evidence in Court, to the effect that the testator appeared, to my untutored observation, to be a healthy man. I can say no more now.”
“If the question is of any importance,” said Miss Bellingham, “I wonder they did not call his doctor and settle it definitely. My own impression is that he was—or is—rather a strong and sound man. He certainly recovered very quickly and completely after his accident.”
“What accident was that?” I asked.
“Oh, hasn’t my father told you? It occurred while he was staying with us. He slipped from a high kerb and broke one of the bones of the left ankle—somebody’s fracture—”
“Yes, that was the name—Pott’s fracture; and he broke both his knee-caps as well. Sir Morgan Bennet had to perform an operation, or he would have been a cripple for life. As it was, he was about again in a few weeks, apparently none the worse excepting for a slight weakness of the left ankle.”
“Could he walk upstairs?” I asked.
“Oh, yes; and play golf and ride a bicycle.”
“You are sure he broke both knee-caps?”