“Well, sir, and what conclusion have you arrived at?” he inquired. The tone was not supercilious; but it certainly had a touch of kindly condescension that reminded me of a pompous examiner who had put me through it when I was a nervous youth undergoing the first professional in Edinburgh.
“Homicidal melancholia,” I said, and not at all as I would have said it to an examiner.
His eyebrows went up.
“Really – as bad as that? Why not ephemeral mania?”
“Because, for one thing, ephemeral mania does not begin with sleep, as his did.”
“Is that certain? At all events it ends in deep sleep, and he may be sleeping somewhere now. Still” – he waved a hand – “I’ll have to consider that possibility. By the way, have you – er—envisaged the probability of its being a case of senile dementia? He was an old man, you know.”
“There was no evidence of childish degeneration when I saw him. His will-power was strong and his physical condition good."
“And you do not consider that points to some other form of mania?”
“No, he slept for hours on end.”
“He certainly did,” Carey intervened. “All the testimony we’ve had confirms that; but is it important? You’ve twice mentioned sleep.”
Whether or no this intrusion was meant for remonstrance by the weary Chief Constable I cannot tell, but Sullivant turned on him.
“It is of decisive importance – a maniac is entirely sleepless,” he almost snapped back.
From: John Ferguson, Death Comes To Perigord (Chapter IV: The Gilt Tennis Ball). London and Glasgow, William Collins and Sons Co., Ltd., 1931.