Read CHAPTER XIII. CAPTAIN POLAND CONFESSES of The Golf Course Mystery, free online book, by Chester K. Steele, on ReadCentral.com.

When LeGrand Blossom had taken his departure, carrying with him the books and papers, he left behind two very disconsolate persons.

“It’s terrible!” exclaimed Mr. Carwell’s sister. “To think that poor Horace could be so careless! I knew his sporting life would bring trouble, but I never dreamed of this.”

“We must face it, terrible as it is,” said Viola. “Nothing would matter if he if he were only left to us. I’m sure he never meant to spend so much money. It was just because he didn’t think.”

“That always was a fault of his,” sighed Miss Mary, “even when a boy. It’s terrible!”

“It’s terrible to have him gone and to think of the terrible way he was taken,” sighed Viola. “But any one is likely to lose money.”

She no more approved of many of her late father’s sporting proclivities than did her aunt, and there were many rather startling stories and rumors that came to Viola as mere whispers to which she turned a deaf ear. Since her mother’s death her father had, it was common knowledge, associated with a fast set, and he had been seen in company with persons of both sexes who were rather notorious for their excesses.

“Well, Mr. Blossom will do the best he can, I suppose,” said Miss Carwell, with rather an intimation that the head clerk’s best would be very bad indeed.

“I’m sure he will,” assented Viola. “He knows all the details of poor father’s affairs, and he alone can straighten them out. Oh, if we had only known of this before, we might have stopped it.”

“But your father was always very close about his matters,” said his sister. “He resented even your mother knowing how much money he made, and how. I think she felt that, too, for she liked to have a share in all he did. He was kindness itself to her, but she wanted more than that. She wanted to have a part in his success, and he kept her out or she felt that he did. Well, I’m sure I hope all mistakes are straightened out in Heaven. It’s certain they aren’t here.”

Viola pondered rather long and deeply on what LeGrand Blossom had told her. She made it a point to go for a drive the next afternoon with Jean Forette in the small car, taking a maid with her on a pretense of doing some shopping. And Viola closely observed the conduct of the chauffeur.

On her return, the girl could not help admitting that the Frenchman was all a careful car driver should be. He had shown skill and foresight in guiding the car through the summer-crowded traffic of Lakeside, and had been cheerful and polite.

“I am sorry you are going to leave us, Jean,” she said, when he had brought her back to The Haven.

“I, too, am regretful,” he said in his careful English. “But your father had other ideas, and I I am really afraid of that big new car. It is not a machine, mademoiselle, it is pardon it is a devil! It will be the death of some one yet. I could never drive it.”

“But if we sold that car, Jean, as we are going to do

“I could not stay, Miss Viola. I have a new place, and to that I go in two weeks. I am sorry, for I liked it here, though Oh, well, of what use?” and he shrugged his shoulders.

“Was there something you did not like? Did my father not treat you well?” asked Viola quickly.

“Oh, as to that, mademoiselle, I should not speak. I liked your father. We, at times, did have difference; as who has not? But he was a friend to me. What would you have? I am sorry!” And he touched his hat and drove around to the garage.

As Viola was about to enter the house she chanced to look down the street and saw Minnie Webb approaching. She looked so thoroughly downcast that Viola was surprised.

“Hello, Minnie!” she exclaimed pleasantly. “Anything new or startling?”

“Nothing,” was the somewhat listless reply. “Is there anything new here?” and Minnie Webb’s face showed a momentary interest.

“I can’t say that there is,” returned Viola. She paused for a moment. “Won’t you come in?”

“I don’t think so-not to-day,” stammered the other girl. And then as she looked at Viola her face began to flush. “I I don’t feel very well. I have a terrible headache. I think I’ll go home and lie down,” and she hurried on without another word.

“There is certainly something wrong with Minnie,” speculated Viola, as she looked after her friend. “I wonder if it is on account of LeGrand Blossom.”

She did not know how much Minnie Webb was in love with the man who had been her father’s confidential clerk and who was now in charge of Mr. Carwell’s business affairs, and, not knowing this, she could, of course, not realize under what a strain Minnie was now living with so many suspicions against Blossom.

Divesting herself of her street dress for a more simple gown, Viola inquired of the maid whether Colonel Ashley was in the house. When informed that he had gone fishing with Shag, the girl, with a little gesture of impatience, took her seat near a window to look over some mail that had come during her absence.

As she glanced up after reading a belated letter of sympathy she saw, alighting from his car which had stopped in front of The Haven, Captain Gerry Poland. He caught sight of her, and waved his hand.

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Viola. “If he hadn’t seen me I could have said I was not at home, but now

She heard his ring at the door and resigned herself to meeting him, but if the captain had not been so much in love with Viola Carwell he could not have helped noticing her rather cold greeting.

“I called,” he said, “to see if there was anything more I could do for you or for your aunt. I saw Blossom, and he says he is working over the books. I’ve had a good deal of experience in helping settle up estates that were involved. I mean ” he added hastily “where no will was left, and, my dear Viola, if I could be of any assistance

“Thank you,” broke in Viola rather coldly, “I don’t know that there is anything you can do. It is very kind of you, but Mr. Blossom has charge and

“Oh, of course I realize that,” went on Captain Poland quickly. “But I thought there might be something.”

“There is nothing,” and now the yachtsman could not help noticing the coldness in Viola’s voice. He seemed to nerve himself for an effort as he said:

“Viola” he paused a moment before adding “why can’t we be friends? You were decent enough to me some days ago, and now Have I done anything said anything? I want to be friends with you. I want to be

He took a step nearer her, but she drew back.

“Please don’t think, Captain Poland, that I am not appreciative of what you have done for me,” the girl said quickly. “But Oh, I really don’t know what to think. It has all been so terrible.”

“Indeed it has,” said the captain, in a low voice. “But I would like to help.”

“Then perhaps you can!” suddenly exclaimed Viola, and there was a new note in her voice. “Have you been to see Harry Bartlett in in jail?” and she faltered over that word.

“No, I have not,” said the captain, and there was a sharp tone in his answer. “I understood no one was allowed to see him.”

“That is true enough,” agreed Viola. “They wouldn’t let me see him, and I wanted to so much. I presume you know how he comes to be in prison.”

“It isn’t exactly a prison.”

“To him it is-and to me,” she said. “But you know how he comes to be there?”

“Yes. I was present at the inquest. By the way, they are to resume it this week, I heard. The chemists have finished their analyses and are ready to testify.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

“Yes. But, speaking of Harry poor chap it’s terrible, of course, but he may be able to clear himself.”

“Clear himself, Captain Poland? What do you mean?” and indignant Viola faced her caller.

“Oh, well, I mean ” He seemed in some confusion.

“I want to know something,” went on Viola. “Did you bring it to the attention of the coroner or the prosecutor that Harry Bartlett saw my father just before-before his death, and quarreled with him? Did you tell that, Captain Poland?”

Viola Carwell was like a stem accuser now.

“Did you?” she demanded again.

“I did,” answered Captain Poland, not, however, without an effort. “I felt that it was my duty to do so. I merely offered it as a suggestion, however, to one of the prosecutor’s detectives. I didn’t think it would lead to anything. I happened to hear your father and Harry having some words-about what I couldn’t catch-and I thought it no more than right that all the facts should be brought out in court. I made no secret about it. I did not send word anonymously to the coroner, as I might have done. He knew the source of the information, and he could have called me to the stand had he so desired.”

“Would you have told the same story on the stand?”

“I would. It was the truth.”

“Even if it sent him sent Harry to jail?”

“I would yes. I felt it was my duty, and

“Oh-duty!”

Viola made a gesture of impatience.

“So-you-you told, Captain Poland! That is enough! Please don’t try to see me again.”

“Viola!” he pleaded. “Please listen

“I mean it!” she said, sternly. “Go! I never want to see you again! Oh, to do such a thing!”

The captain, nonplussed for a moment, lingered, as though to appeal from the decision. Then, without a word, he turned sharply on his heel and left the room.

Viola sank on a sofa, and gave way to her emotion.

“It can’t be true! It can’t!” she sobbed. “I won’t believe it. It must not be true! Oh, how can I prove otherwise? But I will! I must! Harry never did that horrible thing, and I will prove it!

“Why should Captain Poland try to throw suspicion on him? It isn’t right. He had no need to tell the detective that! I must see Colonel Ashley at once and tell him what I think. Oh, Captain Poland, if I

Viola twisted in her slender hands a sofa cushion, and then threw it violently from her.

“I’ll see Colonel Ashley at once!” she decided.

Inquiry of a maid disclosed the fact that the colonel was still fishing, and from Patrick, the gardener, she learned that he had gone to try his luck at a spot in the river at the end of the golf course where Patrick himself had hooked more than one fish.

“I’ll follow him there,” said Viola. “I suppose he won’t want to be interrupted while he’s fishing, but I can’t help it! I must talk to some one tell somebody what I think.”

She donned a walking skirt and stout shoes, for the way to the river was rough, and set out. On the way she thought of many things, and chiefly of the man pacing his lonely walk back and forth behind windows that had steel bars on them.

Viola became aware of some one walking toward her as she neared the bend of the river whither Patrick had directed her, and a second glance told her it was the faithful Shag.

He bowed with a funny little jerk and took off his cap.

“Is the colonel there?” and she indicated what seemed to be an ideal fishing place among the willows.

“He was, Miss Viola, but he done gone now.”

“Gone? Where? Do you mean back to the house?”

“No’m. He done gone t’ N’York.”

“New York?”

“Yes’m. On de afternoon train. He say he may be back t’night, an’ mebby not ’twell mornin’.”

“But New York-and so suddenly! Why did he go, Shag?”

“I don’t know all de ‘ticklers, Miss Viola, but I heah him say he got t’ git a book on poisons.”

“A book on poisons?” and Viola started.

“Yes’m. He done want one fo’ de case he’s wukin’ on, an’ he can’t git none at de library, so he go to N’York after one. I’se bringin’ back his tackle. De fish didn’t bite nohow, so he went away, de colonel did.”

“Oh!”

Viola stood irresolute a moment, and then turned back toward the house, Shag walking beside her.