“What’s so?” demanded Bryce. “What is it that’s true?”
Mitchington bent closer over the table.
“Dr. Ransford was fetched to Collishaw’s cottage at six o’clock this morning!” he said. “It seems that Collishaw’s wife has been in a poor way about her health of late, and Dr. Ransford has attended her, off and on. She had some sort of a seizure this morning—early—and Ransford was sent for. He was there some little time—and I’ve heard some queer things.”
“What sort of queer things?” demanded Bryce. “Don’t be afraid of speaking out, man!—there’s no one to hear but myself.”
“Well, things that look suspicious, on the face of it,” continued Mitchington, who was obviously much upset. “As you’ll acknowledge when you hear them. I got my information from the next-door neighbour, Mrs. Batts. Mrs. Batts says that when Ransford—who’d been fetched by Mrs. Batts’s eldest lad—came to Collishaw’s house, Collishaw was putting up his dinner to take to his work—”
“What on earth made Mrs. Batts tell you that?” interrupted Bryce.
“Oh, well, to tell you the truth, I put a few questions to her as to what went on while Ransford was in the house,” answered Mitchington. “When I’d once found that he had been there, you know, I naturally wanted to know all I could.”
“Well?” asked Bryce.
“Collishaw, I say, was putting up his dinner to take to his work,” continued Mitchington. “Mrs. Batts was doing a thing or two about the house. Ransford went upstairs to see Mrs. Collishaw. After a while he came down and said he would have to remain a little. Collishaw went up to speak to his wife before going out. And then Ransford asked Mrs. Batts for something—I forget what—some small matter which the Collishaw’s hadn’t got and she had, and she went next door to fetch it. Therefore—do you see?—Ransford was left alone with—Collishaw’s tin bottle!”
Bryce, who had been listening attentively, looked steadily at the inspector.
“You’re suspecting Ransford already!” he said.
Mitchington shook his head.
“What’s it look like?” he answered, almost appealingly. “I put it to you, now!—what does it look like? Here’s this man been poisoned without a doubt—I’m certain of it. And—there were those rumours—it’s idle to deny that they centred in Ransford. And—this morning Ransford had the chance!”
“That’s arguing that Ransford purposely carried a dose of poison to put into Collishaw’s tin bottle!” said Bryce half-sneeringly. “Not very probable, you know, Mitchington.”
Mitchington spread out his hands.
“Well, there it is!” he said. “As I say, there’s no denying the suspicious look of it. If I were only certain that those rumours about what Collishaw hinted he could say had got to Ransford’s ears!—why, then—”
“What’s being done about that post-mortem?” asked Bryce.