“He died just as we came up,” answered Bryce. “That movement we saw was the last effort—involuntary, of course. Look here, Varner!—you’ll have to get help. You’d better fetch some of the cathedral people—some of the vergers. No!” he broke off suddenly, as the low strains of an organ came from within the great building. “They’re just beginning the morning service—of course, it’s ten o’clock. Never mind them—go straight to the police. Bring them back—I’ll stay here.”
The mason turned off towards the gateway of the Close, and while the strains of the organ grew louder, Bryce bent over the dead man, wondering what had really happened. Thrown from an open doorway in the clerestory over St. Wrytha’s Stair?—it seemed almost impossible! But a sudden thought struck him: supposing two men, wishing to talk in privacy unobserved, had gone up into the clerestory of the Cathedral—as they easily could, by more than one door, by more than one stair—and supposing they had quarrelled, and one of them had flung or pushed the other through the door above—what then? And on the heels of that thought hurried another—this man, now lying dead, had come to the surgery, seeking Ransford, and had subsequently gone away, presumably in search of him, and Bryce himself had just seen Ransford, obviously agitated and pale of cheek, leaving the west porch; what did it all mean? what was the apparently obvious inference to be drawn? Here was the stranger dead—and Varner was ready to swear that he had seen him thrown, flung violently, through the door forty feet above. That was—murder! Then—who was the murderer?
Bryce looked carefully and narrowly around him. Now that Varner had gone away, there was not a human being in sight, nor anywhere near, so far as he knew. On one side of him and the dead man rose the grey walls of nave and transept; on the other, the cypresses and yews rising amongst the old tombs and monuments. Assuring himself that no one was near, no eye watching, he slipped his hand into the inner breast pocket of the dead man’s smart morning coat. Such a man must carry papers—papers would reveal something. And Bryce wanted to know anything—anything that would give information and let him into whatever secret there might be between this unlucky stranger and Ransford.
But the breast pocket was empty; there was no pocket-book there; there were no papers there. Nor were there any papers elsewhere in the other pockets which he hastily searched: there was not even a card with a name on it. But he found a purse, full of money—banknotes, gold, silver—and in one of its compartments a scrap of paper folded curiously, after the fashion of the cocked-hat missives of another age in which envelopes had not been invented. Bryce hurriedly unfolded this, and after one glance at its contents, made haste to secrete it in his own pocket. He had only just done this and put back the purse when he heard Varner’s voice, and a second later the voice of Inspector Mitchington, a well-known police official. And at that Bryce sprang to his feet, and when the mason and his companions emerged from the bushes was standing looking thoughtfully at the dead man. He turned to Mitchington with a shake of the head.