The Mystery of Orcival
Robelot must have had rare presence of mind and courage to kill himself in that obscure
closet, without making enough noise to arouse the attention of those in the library. He
had wound a string tightly around his neck, and had used a piece of pencil as a twister,
and so had strangled himself. He did not, however, betray the hideous look which the
popular belief attributes to those who have died by strangulation. His face was pale, his
eyes and mouth half open, and he had the appearance of one who has gradually and
without much pain lost his consciousness by congestion of the brain.
"Perhaps he is not quite dead yet," said the doctor. He quickly pulled out his case of
instruments and knelt beside the motionless body.
This incident seemed to annoy M. Lecoq very much; just as everything was, as he said,
"running on wheels," his principal witness, whom he had caught at the peril of his life,
had escaped him. M. Plantat, on the contrary, seemed tolerably well satisfied, as if the
death of Robelot furthered projects which he was secretly nourishing, and fulfilled his
secret hopes. Besides, it little mattered if the object was to oppose M. Domini's theories
and induce him to change his opinion. This corpse had more eloquence in it than the most
explicit of confessions.
The doctor, seeing the uselessness of his pains, got up.
"It's all over," said he. "The asphyxia was accomplished in a very few moments."
The bone-setter's body was carefully laid on the floor in the library.
"There is nothing more to be done," said M. Plantat, "but to carry him home; we will
follow on so as to seal up his effects, which perhaps contain important papers. Run to the
mairie," he added, turning to his servant, "and get a litter and two stout men."
Dr. Gendron's presence being no longer necessary, he promised M. Plantat to rejoin him
at Robelot's, and started off to inquire after M. Courtois's condition.
Louis lost no time, and soon reappeared followed, not by two, but ten men. The body was
placed on a litter and carried away. Robelot occupied a little house of three rooms, where
he lived by himself; one of the rooms served as a shop, and was full of plants, dried
herbs, grain, and other articles appertaining to his vocation as an herbist. He slept in the
back room, which was better furnished than most country rooms. His body was placed
upon the bed. Among the men who had brought it was the "drummer of the town," who
was at the same time the grave-digger. This man, expert in everything pertaining to
funerals, gave all the necessary instructions on the present occasion, himself taking part
in the lugubrious task.