The Mystery of Orcival
Dr. Gendron had just finished his sad task in the billiard-room. He had taken off his long
coat, and pulled up his shirt-sleeves above his elbows. His instruments lay on a table near
him; he had covered the body with a long white sheet. Night had come, and a large lamp,
with a crystal globe, lighted up the gloomy scene. The doctor, leaning over a water-basin,
was washing his hands, when the old justice of the peace and the detective entered.
"Ah, it's you, Plantat," said the doctor in a suppressed tone; "where is Monsieur Domini?"
The doctor did not take the trouble to repress a vexed motion.
"I must speak with him, though," said he, "it's absolutely necessary - and the sooner the
better; for perhaps I am wrong - I may be mistaken - "
M. Lecoq and M. Plantat approached him, having carefully closed the door. The doctor
was paler than the corpse which lay under the sheet. His usually calm features betrayed
great distress. This change could not have been caused by the task in which he had been
engaged. Of course it was a painful one; but M. Gendron was one of those experienced
practitioners who have felt the pulse of every human misery, and whose disgust had
become torpid by the most hideous spectacles. He must have discovered something
"I am going to ask you what you asked me a while ago," said M. Plantat. "Are you ill or
M. Gendron shook his head sorrowfully, and answered, slowly and emphatically:
"I will answer you, as you did me; 'tis nothing, I am already better."
Then these two, equally profound, turned away their heads, as if fearing to exchange their
ideas; they doubted lest their looks should betray them.
M. Lecoq advanced and spoke.
"I believe I know the cause of the doctor's emotion. He has just discovered that Madame
de Tremorel was killed by a single blow, and that the assassins afterward set themselves
to disfiguring the body, when it was nearly cold."
The doctor's eyes fastened on the detective, with a stupefied expression.
"How could you divine that?" he asked.