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The Hanging Captain by Henry Wade

The Hanging Captain by Henry Wade

Author:Henry Wade [Wade, Henry]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781471918469
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Published: 2016-05-13T22:00:00+00:00


XV. TIME OF DEATH

IN the meantime, a minor crisis had arisen in Hylam. Sir Hulbert Lemuel, the Home Office analyst, having announced his intention of coming down in the afternoon to do the second post-mortem, had, after the manner of indispensables, turned up in the morning—by the same train as had brought Mr. Halfcastle to Hylam. Finding neither Chief Constable, nor Superintendent, nor Scotland Yard Inspector to meet him, he saw fit to be crotchety, but when the Coroner—who fortunately was found and brought along at the double—offered to send for them, he replied that they had their work to do, that he did not in the least require their presence, and that he could say all he had to say to Sergeant Gable, who was doing his best to represent his absent chiefs.

While all this fussing was going on, Dr. Tanwort was anxiously waiting at the mortuary for the snubbing that he felt sure he was going to get. And which he certainly would have got had not Mr. Lovejoy exercised his privilege as a coroner and come along to watch the event. Nothing would induce Sir Hulbert to be rude to a colleague in front of a layman, so Tanwort, to his intense surprise and delight, found himself being treated with courteous consideration and so gradually recovered his usual spirits.

Having the body stripped of all covering, Sir Hulbert began a minute examination of every inch of the surface, from the skull to the toe-nails. He paid particular attention to the extremities into which the blood had flowed while the body was hanging, because in those parts the post-mortem staining was deepest and it was by no means easy with the naked eye to distinguish between staining and bruise. In one or two places Sir Hulbert asked Dr. Tanwort to remove a section of flesh, which he then examined under a microscope; in each case it was clear that the blood was not extravasated but was only bloody fluid issuing from the cut ends of the tissues—blood which was readily washed away, even in its present congealed state, by a gentle stream of water. There was no bruise, nor any cut, other than the ligature mark and the bruising on the inner side of the lips to which Sir James Hamsted had drawn attention and which had probably been caused by the pressure employed in smotheration.

Although there was no bruise or cut on the body, however, there was one mark on the back, over the right hip, which did interest the analyst. It was a rectangular depression, about three inches square, deepest below where the tissues were thicker and becoming less marked above where the flesh thinned over the bone.

“There’s been some pressure there,” said Sir Hulbert; “sufficient to press the flesh down but not enough to bruise it. Done after death, of course.”

“How can you tell that, if I may ask, Sir Hulbert?” said Mr. Lovejoy, inspecting the place with interest.

“If it had been done before death the



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