Read CHAPTER III. “WHY?” of The Golf Course Mystery, free online book, by Chester K. Steele, on ReadCentral.com.

Through the silent house echoed the vibration of the electric bell, sounding unnecessarily loud, it seemed. The maid who answered took the caller’s card to Miss Mary Carwell, Viola’s aunt.

“He wants to see Miss Viola,” the servant reported. “Shall I tell her?”

“You had better, yes. She went to lie down, but she will want to see Captain Poland. Wait, I’ll tell her myself. Where is he?”

“In the library, ma am.

“Very well. I’ll see him.”

Mr. Carwell’s sister literally swept down the stairs, her black silk dress rustling somberly and importantly. She was a large woman, and her bearing and air were in keeping.

“It was very good of you to come,” she murmured, as she sank, with more rustling and shimmerings, into a chair, while the captain waited for her to be settled, like a boat at anchor, before he again took his place. “Viola will be down presently. I gave her a powder the doctor left for her, and she slept, I hope, since we were both awake nearly all of last night.”

“I should imagine so. The strain and shock must have been intense. But please don’t disturb her if she is resting. I merely called to see if I could do anything.”

“Thank you so much. We are waiting for the doctors’ report. It was necessary to have an autopsy, I understand?” she questioned.

“Yes. The law requires it in all cases of sudden and mysterious death.”

“Mysterious death, Captain Poland!”

Mary Carwell seemed to swell up like a fretful turkey.

“Well, by that I mean unexplained. Mr. Carwell dropped dead suddenly and from no apparent cause.”

“But it was heart disease or apoplexy of course! What else could it be?”

“It must have been one or the other of those, Miss Carwell, I am sure,” the captain murmured sympathetically. “But the law requires that such a fact be established to the satisfaction of the county physician.”

“And who is he?”

“Dr. Rowland.”

“Will there be a coroner’s inquest, such as I have read about? I couldn’t hear anything like that.”

“It is not at all necessary, Miss Carwell,” went on the captain. “The law of New Jersey does not demand that in cases of sudden and unexplained death, unless the county physician is not satisfied with his investigation. In that matter New Jersey differs from some of the other states. The county physician will make an autopsy to determine the cause of death. If he is satisfied that it was from natural causes he gives a certificate to that effect, and that ends the matter.”

“Oh, then it will be very simple.”

“Yes, I imagine so. Dr. Rowland will state that your brother came to his death from heart disease, or from apoplexy, or whatever it was, and then you may proceed with the funeral arrangements. I shall be glad to help you in any way I can.”

“It is very kind of you. This has been so terrible so sudden and unexpected. It has perfectly unnerved both poor Viola and myself, and we are the only ones to look after matters.”

“Then, let me help,” urged Captain Poland. “I shall only be too glad. The members of the golf club, too, will do all in their power. We had a meeting this morning and passed resolutions of sympathy. I have also called a meeting of our yacht club, of which your brother was a member. We will take suitable action.”

“Thank you. And when do you think we may expect the certificate from Dr. Rowland?”

“Very soon. He is performing the autopsy now, at the club. Dr. Lambert and Dr. Baird are with him. It was thought best to have it there, rather than at the undertaking rooms.”

“I shall be glad when matters can proceed as they ought to proceed. This publicity is very distasteful to me.”

“I can readily believe that, Miss Carwell. And now, if you will ask Miss Viola if I may be of any service to her, I shall

“Before I call her, there is one matter I wish to ask you about,” said Mr. Carwell’s sister. “You are familiar with business, I know. I was going to ask Mr. Bartlett, as this seemed more in his line, but perhaps you can advise me.”

“I shall do my best, Miss Carwell. What is it?”

“One of the clerks came from my brother’s office this morning with a note from the bank. It seems that Horace borrowed a large sum for some business transaction, and put up as collateral certain bonds. He often does that, as I have heard him mention here time and again to Mr. Blossom, when they sat in consultation in the library.

“But now it appears, according to the note from the bank, that more securities are needed. There has been a depreciation, or something I am not familiar with the terms. At any rate the bank sends word that it wants more bonds. I was wondering what I had better do. Of course I have securities in my own private box that I might send, but

“Why didn’t Mr. Blossom attend to this?” asked Captain Poland, a bit sharply, it would have seemed to a casual listener. “That was his place. He knows all about Mr. Carwell’s affairs.”

“I asked the clerk from the office why Mr. Blossom did you ever hear such an absurd name as he has? LeGrand Blossom I asked the clerk why the matter was not attended to,” went on Miss Carwell, “and he said Mr. Blossom must have forgotten it.”

“Rather odd,” commented the captain. “However, I’ll look after it for you. If necessary, I’ll loan the bank enough additional securities as collateral to cover the loan. Don’t let it disturb you, Miss Carwell. It is merely a small detail of business that often crops up. Securities in these days so often fluctuate that banks are forced to call for more, and different ones, to cover loans secured by them. I’ll attend to the matter for you.”

“Thank you so much. And now I believe I may safely call Viola. She would not forgive me if she knew you had been here and she had not seen you to thank you for your care of her yesterday.”

“Oh, that was nothing. I was very glad

Captain Poland was interrupted by a ring at the door.

“Perhaps that is a message from the doctors now,” suggested Miss Carwell.

“It is Dr. Lambert himself,” announced the captain, looking from a window that gave a view of the front porch. “Dr. Baird is with him. They must have completed the autopsy. Shall I see them for you?”

“Please do. And please tell me at once that everything is all right, and that we may proceed with the funeral arrangements,” begged the sister of the dead man.

“I will do so, Miss Carwell.”

Captain Poland, anticipating the maid, went into the hall and himself opened the door for the medical men.

“Oh! I’m glad you’re here!” exclaimed the rather gruff voice of Dr. Lambert. “Yes, I’m glad you’re here.”

The captain was on the point of asking why, when Dr. Lambert motioned to him to step into a little reception room off the main hall. Somewhat wonderingly, Captain Poland obeyed, and when the door had closed, shutting him in with the two doctors, he turned to the older physician and asked:

“Is anything the matter?”

“Well, we have completed the autopsy,” said Dr. Lambert.

“That’s good. Then you are ready to sign a certificate, or at least get Dr. Rowland to, so that we can proceed with the arrangements. Miss Mary Carwell is anxious to have

“Well, I suppose the funeral will have to be held,” said Dr. Lambert slowly. “That can’t be held up very long, even if it was worse than it is.”

“Worse than it is! What do you mean?” cried Captain Poland sharply. “Is there any suspicion

“There is more than suspicion, my dear sir,” went on Dr. Lambert, as he sank into a chair as though very, very tired. “There is, I regret to say, certainty.”

“Certainty of what?”

“Certainty that my old friend, Horace Carwell, committed suicide!”

“Suicide!”

“By poisoning,” added Dr. Baird, who had been anxious to get in a word. “We found very plain evidences of it when we examined the stomach and viscera.”

“Poison!” cried Captain Poland. “A suicide? I don’t believe it! Why should Horace Carwell kill himself? He hadn’t a reason in the world for it! There must be some mistake! Why did he do it? Why? Why?”

And then suddenly he became strangely thoughtful.