The Maze of Cadiz
‘The doctor who did the autopsy.’
‘He made absolutely no mention of any such thing in the report.’
‘Why should he? He was reporting on the cause of death, vice-consul. I certainly don’t think he was lying to me. He may just have been drawing attention to his own discretion and perhaps offering me some help as well.’
‘He also said that May’s boyfriend had been called up,’ said Cotton.
‘What is he suggesting?’
‘I don’t know. But it certainly removes the boy.’
Henderson frowned, mostly at Cotton. ‘I am not sure I take your meaning,’ he said primly.
Cotton shrugged. ‘I don’t know if there is one. I’m simply passing on the information.’
‘Because by hearing your comments I can better evaluate the information and get the report done and close down the office here.’ Cotton was aware that this was probably the first Henderson had heard of the office closure.
Henderson did not exactly look mollified but he tried. ‘Well, I imagine the doctor’s information is accurate. It’s not a thing to say lightly in this society, particularly when speaking of the dead.’
‘Well, I haven’t had the impression so far that May was much in the society here.’
Henderson stiffened. ‘Is that supposed to be clever?’ he said.
‘Certainly not,’ said Cotton. ‘It’s simple ignorance. Mr. Henderson, can you not give me some of the background? If you could speak clearly, I’d be grateful.’
Henderson considered this. ‘But I don’t like your kind of clarity,’ he said at last. ‘Whether it was an accident or there was a possibility of suicide, it has been called an accident. I don’t think we need unearth the motives.’
‘My instructions were to clear up and close the office.’
‘I, however, received no instructions,’ said Henderson. ‘May died in a foreign country. He didn’t die in a vacuum, you know. Quite apart from any other considerations, the local regulations stipulate that corpses must be buried within twenty-four hours of death. I think I can fairly say that I performed with dispatch and discretion under difficult circumstances. Having done that, I received the only instructions I have had from the embassy, to wit, to pay for the funeral expenses and to claim reimbursement from you on your arrival.’
‘Yes,’ said Cotton distractedly. He frowned. ‘What happened to the clothes May was wearing?’
‘For goodness’ sake, they were burnt! Have you any idea of the state they were in?’
‘You gave your authority for that?’
‘Yes,’ mumbled Henderson.
‘All right,’ said Cotton. ‘Do you think there is any possibility that May’s death was a suicide?’
‘I should have said I concur with the forensic doctor.’
‘Who says May was drowned.’