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12. CHAPTER XII: On the Watch (continued)
"Do let me hear the story!" says my Lady.
"Whatever you desire, my dear. But, I must say--"
"No, you mustn't say! Go on, Mr. Tulkinghorn."
Sir Leicester's gallantry concedes the point, though he still feels that to bring this sort of squalor among the upper classes is really--really--
"I was about to say," resumes the lawyer with undisturbed calmness, "that whether he had died by his own hand or not, it was beyond my power to tell you. I should amend that phrase, however, by saying that he had unquestionably died of his own act, though whether by his own deliberate intention or by mischance can never certainly be known. The coroner's jury found that he took the poison accidentally."
"And what kind of man," my Lady asks, "was this deplorable creature?"
"Very difficult to say," returns the lawyer, shaking his bead. "He had lived so wretchedly and was so neglected, with his gipsy colour and his wild black hair and beard, that I should have considered him the commonest of the common. The surgeon had a notion that he had once been something better, both in appearance and condition."
"What did they call the wretched being?"
"They called him what he had called himself, but no one knew his name."
"Not even any one who had attended on him?"
"No one had attended on him. He was found dead. In fact, I found him."
"Without any clue to anything more?"
"Without any; there was," says the lawyer meditatively, "an old portmanteau, but-- No, there were no papers."
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