The doctor sat back.
Fairly straightforward, he said, thinking quickly.
A case of mortis portalis tackulatum with complications.
What's that mean? said Chidder
In layman's terms, the doctor sniffed,
he's dead as a doornail.
What are the complications?
The doctor looked shifty.
He's still breathing, he said.
Look, his pulse is nearly humming and he's got a temperature
you could fry eggs on. He hesitated, aware that this was probably
too straightforward and easily understood; medicine was a new art
on the Disc, and wasn't going to get anywhere if people could
Pyrocerebrum ouerf culinaire, he said, after working
it out in his head.
Well, what can you do about it? said Arthur.
Nothing. He's dead. All medical tests prove it. So, er...bury
him, keep him nice and cool, and tell him to come and see me next week.
In daylight, for preference.
But he's still breathing!
These are just reflex actions that might easily confuse
the layman, said the doctor airily.
Chidder sighed. He suspected that the Guild, who after all had and unrivalled experience of sharp knives and complex organic compounds, was much better at elementary diagnostic than were the doctors. The Guild might kill people, but at least it didn't expect them to be grateful for it.
Teppic opened his eyes
I must go home, he said
Dead, is he? said Chidder.
The doctor was a credit to his profession.
It's not unusual
for corpse to make distressing noises after death, he said
which can upset relatives and --
Teppic sat bolt right.
Also, muscular spasms in the stiffening body can in
certain circumstances-- the doctor began, but his heart
wasn't in it any more. The idea occured to him.
It's a rare and mysterious ailment, he said,
which is going aroudn a lot at a moment. It's caused by
a - a - by something so small it can't be deteceted in
any way whatsoever, he finished, with a self-congratulatory
smile on his face. It was a good one, he had to admit. He'd have
to remember it.