Maitland apparently so regarded it, for he replied quickly: “I hope you will not think me officious, or unmindful of your right to dictate in a matter so peculiarly your own affair. My only desire is to help you. Mr. Browne’s departure would still further complicate a case already far to difficult of solution. My legal training has given me some little experience in these matters, and I only wish that you may have the benefit thereof. It is now nearly three-quarters of an hour since your father’s death, and, I assure you, time at this particular juncture may be of the utmost importance. Not a moment should be wasted in needless discussion. If you will consent to despatch a servant to the police station I will, in due time, explain to you why I have taken the liberty of being so insistent on this point.”
He had hardly ceased speaking before Gwen rang for a servant. She hurriedly told him what had transpired and sent him to the nearest police station. As this was but a few rods away and the messenger was fleet of foot, an officer was soon upon the scene. “We were able,” he said to us generally as he entered the room, “to catch Medical Examiner Ferris by ’phone at his home in F— Street, and he will be here directly. In the meantime I have been sent along merely to see that the body is not moved before his examination and that everything in the room remains exactly as it was at the time of the old gentleman’s death. Did I not understand,” he said to Maitland in an undertone, “that there is a suspicion of foul play?”
“Yes,” replied George, “that is one explanation which certainly will have to be considered.”
“I thought I heard the Cap’n say ‘murder’ when he ’phoned in town for some specials. They’re for detective work on this case, I reckon. Hello! That sounds like the Doctor’s rig.”
A moment later the bell rang and Dr. Ferris entered the room.
“Ah, Doctor,” he said extending his hand to me, “what have we here?”
Before I could answer he had noticed Maitland and advanced to shake hands with him.
“Is this indeed so serious as I have been told?” he asked, after his greeting.
“It seems to me likely,” replied Maitland slowly, “to develop into the darkest mystery I have ever known.”
“Hum!” replied the Examiner. “Has the body been moved or the disposition of its members altered?”
“Not since I arrived,” replied Officer Barker.
“And before?” queried Dr. Ferris, turning to Maitland.
“Everything is absolutely intact. I have made a few notes and measurements, but I have disturbed nothing,” replied Maitland.
“Good,” said the Examiner. “May I see those notes before I go? You were on that Parker case and you have, you know, something of a reputation for thoroughness. Perhaps you may have noted something that would escape me.”
“The notes, Doctor, are at your service,” George replied.