26. The Parting
The doorbell buzzed.
"That's the detective," said Dr. Surtaine to Hal. "Stay here."
He wormed himself painfully into an overcoat which concealed his scarified shoulder,
and went out. In a few moments he and the officer reappeared. The latter glanced at the
"Heart disease, you say?" he asked.
"Yes: valvular lesion."
"Better 'phone the coroner's office, eh?"
"Not necessary. I can give a certificate. The coroner will be all right," said Dr. Surtaine,
with an assurance derived from the fact that a year before he had given that functionary
five hundred dollars for not finding morphine in the stomach of a baby who had been
dosed to death on the "Sure Soother" powders.
"That goes," agreed the detective. "What undertaker?"
"Any. And, Murtha, while you're at the 'phone, call up the 'Clarion' office and tell
McGuire Ellis to come up here on the jump, will you?"
Left to themselves, with the body between them, father and son fell into a silence, instinct
with the dread of estranging speech. Hal made the first effort.
"Your shoulder?" he said.
"Nothing," declared the Doctor. "Later on will do for that." He brooded for a time. "You
can trust Ellis, can you?"
"It's the newspapers we have to look out for. Everything else is easy."
He conducted the detective, who had finished telephoning, into the library, set out drinks
and cigars for him and returned. Nothing further was said until Ellis arrived. The
associate editor's face, as he looked from the dead girl to Hal, was both sorrowful and
stern. But he was there to act; not to judge or comment. He consulted his watch.
"Eleven forty-five," he said. "Better give out the story to-night."