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Gilbert Parker
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about The Judgment House.

“Show Mr. Mappin in,” he said.

CHAPTER XXV

WHEREIN THE LOST IS FOUND

In a moment the great surgeon was seated, looking reflectively round him.  Soon, however, he said brusquely, “I hope your friend Jigger is going on all right?”

“Yes, yes, thanks to you.”

“No, no, Mr. Stafford, thanks to you and Mrs. Byng chiefly.  It was care and nursing that did it.  If I could have hospitals like Glencader and hospital nurses like Mrs. Byng and Al’mah and yourself, I’d have few regrets at the end of the year.  That was an exciting time at Glencader.”

Stafford nodded, but said nothing.  Presently, after some reference to the disaster at the mine at Glencader and to Stafford’s and Byng’s bravery, Mr. Mappin said.  “I was shocked to hear of Mr. Fellowes’ death.  I was out of town when it happened—­a bad case at Leeds; but I returned early this morning.”  He paused, inquiringly but Ian said nothing, and he continued, “I have seen the body.”

“You were not at the inquest, I think,” Ian remarked, casually.

“No, I was not in time for that, but I got permission to view the body.”

“And the verdict—­you approve?”

“Heart failure—­yes.”  Mr. Mappin’s lip curled.  “Of course.  But he had no heart trouble.  His heart wasn’t even weak.  His life showed that.”

“His life showed—?” Ian’s eyebrows went up.

“He was very much in society, and there’s nothing more strenuous than that.  His heart was all right.  Something made it fail, and I have been considering what it was.”

“Are you suggesting that his death was not natural?”

“Quite artificial, quite artificial, I should say.”

Ian took a cigarette, and lighted it slowly.  “According to your theory, he must have committed suicide.  But how?  Not by an effort of the will, as they do in the East, I suppose?”

Mr. Mappin sat up stiffly in his chair.  “Do you remember my showing you all at Glencader a needle which had on its point enough poison to kill a man?”

“And leave no trace—­yes.”

“Do you remember that you all looked at it with interest, and that Mr. Fellowes examined it more attentively than any one else?”

“I remember.”

“Well, I was going to kill a collie with it next day.”

“A favourite collie grown old, rheumatic—­yes, I remember.”

“Well, the experiment failed.”

“The collie wasn’t killed by the poison?”

“No, not by the poison, Mr. Stafford.”

“So your theory didn’t work except on paper.”

“I think it worked, but not with the collie.”

There was a pause, while Stafford looked composedly at his visitor, and then he said:  “Why didn’t it work with the collie?”

“It never had its chance.”

“Some mistake, some hitch?”

“No mistake, no hitch; but the wrong needle.”

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