The command was hissed rather than spoken. But I had no intention of going before I had done my job, and as soothingly as possible told him so. For now I felt sure that Le Marinel must have good reason for sending me the urgent message I had received, though to me it looked as if I might have been more usefully employed in examining into his mental rather than physical condition. And examine him I did, in spite of all his expostulations. His heart was certainly in a flutter; but that might be set down to his anger just as much to any cardiac weakness, for in other respects he was, for his age, in surprisingly sound condition. He seemed, in fact, to be, with ordinary care, good enough for many years to come, and I could not see why I had been so urgently pressed by Le Marinel to go out that night. The thought had puzzled me even before I left Perigord.
Once I had done with the man I took up the candle from the bed side table with that little flurry of irritation a doctor is apt to experience in such cases. Short of accident, many a much younger man would go before de Quettville. The flutter at his heart was nothing. He probably smoked too much. All these Channel Islanders smoked too much: tobacco was so cheap for them. And my irritation over the needless call was certainly not lessened by contact with such an ill-mannered patient. He had sunk back the moment I finished, and now reclined with closed eyes, his sharp nose and white night-cap silhouetted grotesquely in black against the bed curtain, the long beard showing like a waterfall. But he was not asleep. As I watched him with disfavor an eyelid fluttered and he waved a hand toward the door.