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A Book of Remarkable Criminals by Irving

Pigache bled the patient and applied twenty leeches


When

Jean arrived his master complained to him of feeling very ill. Jean said that he hoped he would be well enough to go back to Paris the following day, to which Auguste replied, "I don't think so. But if I am lucky enough to get away to-morrow, I shall leave fifty francs for the poor here." About eleven o'clock that night Castaing, in Jean's presence, gave the sick man a spoonful of the draught prescribed by Dr. Pigache. Four or five minutes later Auguste was seized with terrible convulsions, followed by unconsciousness. Dr. Pigache was sent for. He found Ballet lying on his back unconscious, his throat strained, his mouth shut and his eyes fixed; the pulse was weak, his body covered with cold sweat; and every now and then he was seized with strong convulsions. The doctor asked Castaing the cause of the sudden change in Ballet's condition. Castaing replied that it had commenced shortly after he had taken a spoonful of the draught which the doctor had prescribed for him. Dr. Pigache bled the patient and applied twenty leeches. He returned about six; Ballet was sinking, and Castaing appeared to be greatly upset. He told the doctor what an unhappy coincidence it was that he should have been present at the deathbeds of both Hippolyte and his brother Auguste; and that the position was the more distressing for him as he was the sole heir to Auguste's fortune. To M. Pelletan, a professor of medicine, who had been sent for to St. Cloud in the early hours of Sunday morning, Castaing appeared
to be in a state of great grief and agitation; he was shedding tears. Pelletan was from the first impressed by the suspicious nature of the case, and pointed out to Castaing the awkwardness of his situation as heir to the dying man. "You're right," replied Castaing, "my position is dreadful, horrible. In my great grief I had never thought of it till now, but now you make me see it clearly. Do you think there will be an investigation?" Pelletan answered that he should be compelled to ask for a post-mortem. "Ah! You will be doing me the greatest service," said Castaing, "I beg you to insist on a post-mortem. You will be acting as a second father to me in doing so." The parish priest was sent for to administer extreme unction to the dying man. To the parish clerk who accompanied the priest Castaing said, "I am losing a friend of my childhood," and both priest and clerk went away greatly edified by the sincere sorrow and pious demeanour of the young doctor. About mid-day on Sunday, June 1, Auguste Ballet died.

During the afternoon Castaing left the hotel for some hours, and that same afternoon a young man about twenty-five years of age, short and fair, left a letter at the house of Malassis. The letter was from Castaing and said, "My dear friend, Ballet has just died, but do nothing before to-morrow, Monday. I will see you and tell you, yes or no, whether it is time to act. I expect that his brother-in-law, M. Martignon, whose face is pock-marked and who carries a decoration, will call and see you. I have said that I did not know what dispositions Ballet may have made, but that before his death he had told me to give you two little keys which I am going to deliver to you myself to-morrow, Monday. I have not said that we are cousins, but only that I had seen you once or twice at Ballet's, with whom you were friendly. So say nothing till I have seen you, but whatever you do, don't say you are a relative of mine." When he returned to the hotel Castaing found Martignon, Lebret, and one or two friends of Auguste already assembled. It was only that morning that Martignon had received from Castaing any intimation of his brother-in-law's critical condition. From the first Castaing was regarded with suspicion; the nature of the illness, the secrecy maintained about it by Castaing, the coincidence of some of the circumstances with those of the death of Hippolyte, all combined to excite suspicion. Asked if Auguste had left a will Castaing said no; but the next day he admitted its existence, and said that it was in the hands of Malassis.


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