IN THE TOILS
It was with a heavy heart that Lois made her way slowly toward the house. She felt that many changes would take place before she would again see Jasper. Not for an instant did she consider him guilty of murdering old David. But she was well aware that others would think differently, and would be only too ready to condemn Jasper upon the slightest evidence. An idea suddenly flashed into her mind, which caused her heart to beat quicker. Some one was guilty of the murder, and that person must be found, whoever and wherever he was. Was there not something that she could do? she asked herself. Jasper must be saved, and who else would take such a real heart interest in the matter as herself? She knew that a woman was not expected to undertake work of such a nature. But Lois Sinclair had very little respect for social customs if they stood in the way of duty.
During the day she had thought much about the murder and had tried to unravel the mystery connected with it. Who was there in the place likely to commit such a cowardly deed, and what would be his motive? Old David had not an enemy, as far as she knew, and he had injured no one. It was necessary for her to probe deeper still, and as she neared the house her mind brooded over this question. She chided herself that she had not asked Jasper’s opinion. Perhaps he had some suspicion, for even upon the slightest clue important results might depend.
Lois had reached the steps leading to the verandah when she happened to stop and look down toward the river. As she did so, she started, for there near the shore, with his easel before him, was Sydney Bramshaw. Had she known of the stormy scene which had taken place between him and Jasper about an hour before she would have been more surprised to see him where he was. He was seated facing the house, and thus could observe all that took place about the building. If he saw Lois he gave no sign of recognition, but seemed to be entirely occupied with his work.
The sight of this man had a remarkable effect upon Lois. She had seen him but little of late, and to behold him now when she was thinking so much about the murder was most startling. She entered the house as if nothing unusual were agitating her mind. But with the door closed behind her, she hurried upstairs, where she found Margaret sitting in her room engaged upon some fancy-work. It was a bright sunny room, and the girl sitting there by the open window presented a beautiful picture of peace and youthful charm.
“What is the matter, dear?” she asked, pausing in her work, as she noted the troubled expression upon Lois’ face.
“Look,” and Lois pointed toward the river, “there he is near the shore.”
“Well, what of it?” Margaret enquired with a smile. “One would think that you had never seen a man before.”