“You’ve a hard day ahead of you,” he said, in his gentle, paternal way, “and you must be fortified as far as possible. I may seem harsh, Mrs, Embury, but I’m going to ask you to be as brave as you can, right now—at first—as I may say—and then, indulge in the luxury of tears later on. This sounds brutal, I daresay, but I’ve a reason, dear madam. There’s a mystery here. I don’t go so far as to say there’s anything wrong—but there’s a very mysterious death to be looked into, and as your physician and your friend, I want to advise—to urge you to keep up your strength for what may be a trying ordeal. In the first place, I apprehend an autopsy will be advisable, and I trust you will give your consent to that.”
“Oh, no!” cried Eunice, her face drawn with dismay, “not that!”
“Now, now, be reasonable, Mrs, Embury. I know you dislike the idea—most people do—but I think I shall have to insist upon it.”
“But you can’t do it, unless I agree, can you?” and Eunice looked at him sharply.
“No—but I’m sure you will agree.”
“I won’t! I never will! You shan’t touch Sanford! I won’t allow it.”
“She’s right!” declared Aunt Abby. “I can’t see, doctor, why it is necessary to have a postmortem. I don’t approve of such things. Surely you can, somehow discover what Mr. Embury died of—and if not, what matter? He’s dead, and nothing can change that! It doesn’t seem to me that we have to know—”
“Pardon me, Miss Ames, it is necessary that I should know the cause of the death. I cannot makea report until—”
“Well you can find out, I should think.”
“I never heard of a doctor who couldn’t determine the cause of a simple, natural death of one of his own patients!” Eunice’s glance was scathing and her tones full of scorn.
But the doctor realized the nervous tension she was under, and forbore to take offense, or to answer her sharply.
“Well, well, we’ll see about it,” he temporized. “I shall first call in Marsden, a colleague of mine, in consultation. I admit I’m at the end of my own knowledge. Tell me the details of last evening. Was Mr. Embury just as usual, so far as you noticed?”
“Of course he was,” said Eunice, biting the words off crisply. “He went to the Athletic Clubhe’s a candidate for the presidency—”
“I know—I know—”
“And I—I was at a party. On his way from the club he called for me and brought me home in our car. Then he went to bed almost at once-and so did I. That’s all.”
“You heard no sound from him whatever during the night?”
“As nearly as I can judge, he died about daybreak. But it is impossible to say positively as to that. Especially as I cannot find the immediate cause of death. You heard nothing during the night, Miss Ames?”
“I did and I didn’t,” was the strange reply.