He leaned suddenly forward, facing the shrinking Cavendish and bringing
his hand down hard upon the desk.
"Do you perceive now what this will means? Do you realise where such
testimony would place you? Under the law, providing he died without a
will, you were the sole heir to the property of Frederick Cavendish.
It was widely known you were not on friendly terms. The evening of his
death you quarrelled openly in a public restaurant. Later, in a spirit
of friendship, I called you up and said he had made a will practically
disinheriting you. Between that time and the next morning he is
murdered in his own apartments, his safe rifled, and yet, the only
paper missing is this will, to the existence of which I can testify.
If suspicion is once cast upon you, how can you clear yourself? Can
you prove that you were in your own apartments, asleep in your own bed
from one o'clock until eight? Answer that."
Cavendish tried, but although his lips moved, they gave utterance to no
sound. He could but stare into those eyes confronting him. Enright
scarcely gave him opportunity.
"So, the words won't come. I thought not. Now listen. I am not that
kind of a man and I have kept still. No living person - not even my
partner - has been informed of what has occurred. The witnesses, I am
sure, do not know the nature of the paper they signed. I am a lawyer;
I realise fully the relations I hold to my client, but in this
particular case I contend that my duty as a man is of more importance
than any professional ethics. Frederick Cavendish had this will
executed in a moment of anger and devised his estate to a number of
charities. I personally believe he was not in normal mind and that the
will did not really reflect his purpose. He had no thought of
immediate death, but merely desired to teach you a lesson. He proposed
to disappear - or at least, that is my theory - in order that he might
test you on a slender income. I am able to look upon the whole matter
from this standpoint, and base my conduct accordingly. No doubt this
will enable us to arrive at a perfectly satisfactory understanding."
The lawyer's voice had fallen, all the threat gone, and the younger man
straightened in his chair.
"You mean you will maintain silence as to the will?"
"Absolutely; as a client your interests will always be my first
concern. Of course I shall expect to represent you in a legal capacity
in settling up the estate, and consequently feel it only just that the
compensation for such services shall be mutually agreed upon. In this
case there are many interests to guard. Knowing, as I do, all the
essential facts, I am naturally better prepared to conserve your
interests than any stranger. I hope you appreciate this."
"And your fee?"
"Reasonable, very reasonable, when you consider the service I am doing
you, and the fact that my professional reputation might so easily be
involved and the sums to be distributed, which amount to more than a
million dollars. My silence, my permitting the estate to go to
settlement, and my legal services combined, ought to be held as rather
valuable - at, let us say, a hundred thousand. Yes, a hundred thousand;
I hardly think that is unfair."
Cavendish leaped to his feet, his hand gripping his cane.
"You damned black - - "
"Wait!" and Enright arose also. "Not so loud, please; your voice might
be heard in the outer office. Besides it might be well for you to be
careful of your language. I said my services would cost you a hundred
thousand dollars. Take the proposition or leave it, Mr. John
Cavendish. Perhaps, with a moment's thought, the sum asked may not
"But - but," the other stammered, all courage leaving him, "I haven't
"Of course not," the threat on Enright's face changing to a smile.
"But the prospects that you will have are unusually good. I am quite
willing to speculate on your fortunes. A memoranda for legal services
due one year from date - such as I have already drawn up - and bearing
your signature, will be quite satisfactory. Glance over the items,
please; yes, sit here at the table. Now, if you will sign that there
will be no further cause for you to feel any uneasiness - this line,
Cavendish grasped the penholder in his fingers, and signed. It was the
act of a man dazed, half stupefied, unable to control his actions.
With trembling hand, and white face, he sat staring at the paper,
scarcely comprehending its real meaning. In a way it was a confession
of guilt, an acknowledgment of his fear of exposure, yet he felt
utterly incapable of resistance. Enright unlocked the door, and
projected his head outside, comprehending clearly that the proper time
to strike was while the iron was hot.
Calling Miss Healey, one of his stenographers, he made her an official
witness to the document and the signature of John Cavendish.
Not until ten minutes later when he was on the street did it occur to
John Cavendish that the carbon copy of the will, together with the
rough notes in his cousin's handwriting, still remained in Enright's
possession. Vainly he tried to force himself to return and demand
them, but his nerve failed, and he shuffled away hopelessly in the
CHAPTER IV: A BREATH OF SUSPICION
As Francois Valois trudged along the night streets toward his rooming
house his heart was plunged in sorrow and suspicion. To be discharged
from a comfortable position for no apparent reason when one
contemplated no sweet alliance was bad enough, but to be discharged
when one planned marriage to so charming a creature as Josette La Baum
was nothing short of a blow. Josette herself had admitted that and
promptly turned Francois's hazards as to young Cavendish's motives into
smouldering suspicion, which he dared not voice. Now, as he paused
before a delicatessen window realising that unless he soon obtained
another position its dainties would be denied him, these same
suspicions assailed him again.
Disheartened, he turned from the pane and was about to move away, when
he came face to face with a trim young woman in a smart blue serge.
"Oh, hello!" she cried pleasantly, bringing up short. Then seeing the
puzzled look upon the valet's face, she said: "Don't you remember me?
I'm Miss Donovan of the _Star_. I came up to the apartments the
morning of the Cavendish murder with one of the boys."
Valois smiled warmly; men usually did for Miss Donovan. "I remember,"
he said dolorously.
The girl sensed some underlying sorrow in his voice and with
professional skill learned the cause within a minute. Then, because
she believed that there might be more to be told, and because she was
big-hearted and interested in every one's troubles, she urged him to
accompany her to a near-by restaurant and pour out his heart while she
supped. Lonely and disheartened, Valois accepted gladly and within
half an hour they were seated at a tiny table in an Italian cafÃ©.
"About your discharge?" she queried after a time.
"I was not even asked to accompany Mr. Frederick's body," he burst out,
"even though I had been with him a year. So I stayed in the apartment
to straighten things, expecting to be retained in John Cavendish's
service. I even did the work in his apartments, but when he returned
and saw me there he seemed to lose his temper, wanted to know why I was
hanging around, and ordered me out of the place."
"The ingrate!" exclaimed the girl, laying a warm, consoling hand on the
other's arm. "You're sure he wasn't drinking?"
"I don't think so, miss. Just the sight of me seemed to drive him mad.
Flung money at me, he did, told me to get out, that he never wanted to
see me again. Since then I have tried for three weeks to find work,
but it has been useless."
While she gave him a word of sympathy, Miss Donovan was busily
thinking. She remembered Willis's remark in the apartments, "Are you
sure of the dead man's identity? His face is badly mutilated, you
know"; and her alert mind sensed a possibility of a newspaper story
back of young Cavendish's unwarranted and strange act. How far could
she question the man before her? That she had established herself in
his good grace she was sure, and to be direct with him she decided
would be the best course to adopt.
"Mr. Valois," she said kindly, "would you mind if I asked you a
question or two more?"
"No," the man returned.
"All right. First, what sort of a man was your master?"
Valois answered almost with reverence:
"A nice, quiet gentleman. A man that liked outdoors and outdoor
sports. He almost never drank, and then only with quiet men like
himself that he met at various clubs. Best of all, he liked to spend
his evenings at home reading."
"Not much like his cousin John," she ventured with narrowing eyes.
"No, ma'am, God be praised! There's a young fool for you, miss, crazy
for the women and his drinking. Brought up to spend money, but not to
"I understand that he was dependent upon Frederick Cavendish."
"He was, miss," Valois said disgustedly, "for every cent. He could
never get enough of it, either, although Mr. Frederick gave him a
"Did they ever quarrel?"
"I never heard them. But I do know there was no love lost between
them, and I know that young John was always broke."
"Girls cost lots on Broadway," Miss Donovan suggested, "and they keep
men up late, too."
Valois laughed lightly. "John only came home to sleep occasionally,"
he said; "and as for the women - one of them called on him the day after
Mr. Frederick was killed. I was in the hall, and saw her go straight
to his door - like she had been there before. A swell dresser, miss, if
I ever saw one. One of those tall blondes with a reddish tinge in her
hair. He likes that kind."
Miss Donovan started imperceptibly. This was interesting; a woman in
John Cavendish's apartment the day after his cousin's murder! But who
was she? There were a million carrot-blondes in Manhattan. Still, the
woman must have had some distinguishing mark; her hat, perhaps, or her
"Did the woman wear any diamonds?" she asked.
"No diamonds," Valois returned; "a ruby, though. A ruby set in a big
platinum ring. I saw her hand upon the knob."
Miss Donovan's blood raced fast. She knew that woman. It was Celeste
La Rue! She remembered her because of a press-agent story that had
once been written about the ring, and from what Miss Donovan knew of
Miss La Rue, she did not ordinarily seek men; therefore there must have
been a grave reason for her presence in John Cavendish's apartments
immediately after she learned of Frederick's death.
Had his untimely end disarranged some plan of these two? What was the
reason she had come in person instead of telephoning? Had her
mysterious visit anything to do with the death of the elder Cavendish?
A thousand speculations entered Miss Donovan's mind.
"How long was she in the apartment?" she demanded sharply.
"Fifteen or twenty minutes, miss - until after the hall-man came back.
I had to help lay out the body, and could not remain there any longer."
"Have you told any one else what you have told me?"
"Only Josette. She's my _fiancÃ©e_. Miss La Baum is her last name."
"You told her nothing further that did not come out at the inquest?"
"Maybe I did, miss," he admitted nervously. "She questioned me about
losing my job, and her questions brought things into my mind that I
might never have thought of otherwise. And at last I came to believe
that it wasn't Mr. Frederick who was dead at all."
The valet's last remark was crashing in its effect.
Miss Donovan's eyes dilated with eagerness and amazement.
"Not Frederick Cavendish! Mr. Valois, tell me - why?"
The other's voice fell to a whisper.
"Frederick Cavendish, miss," he said hollowly, "had a scar on his
chest - from football, he once told me - and the man we laid out, well,
of course his body was a bit burned, but he appeared to have no scar at
"You know that?" demanded the girl, frightened by the import of the
"Yes, miss. The assistant in the undertaking rooms said so, too.
Doubting my own mind, I asked him. The man we laid out had no scar on
Miss Donovan sprang suddenly to her feet.
"Mr. Valois," she said breathlessly, "you come and tell that story to
my city editor, and he'll see that you get a job - and a real one. You
and I have started something, Mr. Valois."
And, tossing money to cover the bill on the table, she took Valois's
arm, and with him in tow hurried through the restaurant to the city
streets on one of which was the _Star_ office, where Farriss, the city
editor, daily damned the doings of the world.
That night when Farriss had heard the evidence his metallic eyes
snapped with an unusual light. Farriss, for once, was enthusiastic.
"A great lead! By God, it is! Now to prove it, Stella" - Farriss
always resorted to first names - "you drop everything else and go to
this, learn what you can, spend money if you have to. I'll drag Willis
off police, and you work with him. And damn me, if you two spend
money, you've got to get results! I'll give you a week - when you've
got something, come back!"
CHAPTER V: ON THE TRACK OF A CRIME
In the city room of the _Star_, Farriss, the city editor, sat back in
his swivel chair smoking a farewell pipe preparatory to going home.
The final edition had been put to bed, the wires were quiet, and as he
sat there Farriss was thinking of plunging "muskies" in Maine streams.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a clatter of footsteps, and,
slapping his feet to the floor, he turned to confront Willis and Miss
"Great God!" he started, at their appearance at so late an hour.
Miss Donovan smiled at him. "No; great luck!"
"Better than that, Mr. Farriss," echoed Willis. "We've got something;
and we dug all week to get it."
"But it cost us real money - enough to make the business office moan, I
expect, too," Miss Donovan added.
"Well, for Pete's sake, shoot!" demanded Farriss. "Cavendish, I
The two nodded. Their eyes were alight with enthusiasm.
"In the first place," said the girl, with grave emphasis, "Frederick
Cavendish did not die intestate as supposed. He left a will."
Farriss blinked. "By God!" he exclaimed. "That's interesting. There
was no evidence of that before."
"I got that from the servants of the College Club," Willis interposed.
"The will was drawn the night before the murder. And the man that drew
it was Patrick Enright of Enright and Dougherty. Cavendish took away a
copy of it in his pocket. And, Mr. Farriss, I got something else,
too - Enright and young John Cavendish are in communication further. I
saw him leaving Enright's office all excited. Following my hunch, I
cultivated Miss Healey, Enright's stenographer, and learned that the
two had an altercation and that it was evidently over some document."
Farriss was interested.
"Enright's in this deep," he muttered thoughtfully, "but how?
Well - what else?"
Stella Donovan began speaking now:
"I fixed it with Chambers, the manager of the Fairmount, to get Josette
La Baum - she's Valois's _fiancÃ©e_, you remember - into the hotel as a
maid. Josette 'soaped the keyhole' of the drawers in John Cavendish's
rooms there. I had a key made from the soap impression, and from the
contents of the correspondence we found I learned that Celeste La Rue,
the blonde of the Revue, had got some kind of hold on him. It isn't
love, either; it's something stronger. He jumps when she holds the
"La Rue's mixed up in this deeply, too," Willis cut in. "Neither one
of us could shadow her without uncovering ourselves, so we hired an
International operative. They cost ten dollars a day - and expenses.
What he learned was this - that while she was playing with young
Cavendish and seeing him almost daily, the lovely Celeste was also in
communication with - guess who!"
"Enright?" Farriss ventured.
"Exactly - Enright," he concluded, lighting his half-smoked cigarette.
"Well," the city editor tapped his desk; "you two have done pretty
well, so far. You've got considerable dope. Now, what do you make of
He bent an inquiring gaze on both the girl and the youth.
"You do the talking, Jerry," Miss Donovan begged Willis; "I'm very
Willis was only too eager; Willis was young, enthusiastic,
reliable - three reasons why the _Star_ kept him.
"It may be a dream," he said, smiling, "but here is the way I stack it
up. The night after he quarrelled with John, Frederick Cavendish
called in Enright and made a will, presumably, cutting John off with
"Immediately after Frederick's departure, Enright calls Carbon's CafÃ©
and talks to John Cavendish, who had been dining there with Celeste La
"It is reasonable to suppose that he told him of the will. Less than
five hours afterward Frederick Cavendish is found dead in his
apartments. Again it is reasonable to suppose that he was croaked by
John Cavendish, who wanted to destroy the will so that he could claim
"These Broadway boys need money when they travel with chorines.
Anyhow, the dead man is buried, and John starts spending money like
water. One month later he receives a letter - Josette patched the
pieces together - asking him to call at Enright's office.
"What happened there is probably this: Young Cavendish was informed of
the existence of the will, and it was offered to him at a price which
he couldn't afford to pay - just then.
"Perhaps he was frightened into signing a promise to pay as soon as he
came into the estate - tricked by Enright. Enright, as soon as he heard
no will had been found in Frederick's effects, may have figured that
perhaps John killed him, or even if he did not, that, nevertheless, he
could use circumstances to extract money from the youngster, who, even
if innocent, would fear the trial and notoriety that would follow if
Enright publicly disclosed the existence of that will.
"John Cavendish may be innocent, or he may be guilty, but one thing is
certain - he's being badgered to death by two people, from what little
we know. One of them is the La Rue woman; the other is Enright.
"Now I wonder - Mr. Farriss, doesn't it occur to you that they may be
working together like the woman and the man in the Skittles case last
year? You remember then they got a youngster in their power and nearly
trimmed him down to his eye-teeth!"
Farriss sat reflecting deeply, chewing the stem of his dead pipe.
"There's something going on - that's as plain as a red banner-head.
You've got a peach of a start, so far, and done good pussyfooting - you,
too, Stella - but there's one thing that conflicts with your
hypothesis - - "
The two leaned forward.
"Valois's statement that he was almost positive that the dead man was
not Cavendish," the city editor snapped.
"I now believe Valois is mistaken, in view of developments," said
Willis with finality. "So does Stella - Miss Donovan, I mean. Remember
the body was charred across the face and chest - and Valois was excited."
Farriss was silent a moment.
"Stick to it a while longer," he rapped out; "and get La Rue and
Cavendish together at their meeting-place, if you can discover it."
"We can!" interjected Willis. "That's something I learned less than an
hour ago. It's Steinway's CafÃ©, the place where the police picked up
Frisco Danny and Mad Mike Meighan two years ago. I followed them, but
could not get near enough to hear what they said."
"Then hop to it," Farriss rejoined. "Stick around there until you get
something deeper. As for me - I'm going home. It's two o'clock."
CHAPTER VI: AT STEINWAY'S
It was the second night after Farriss had given them his instructions
that Miss Donovan and Willis, sitting in the last darkened booth in
Steinway's CafÃ©, were rewarded for their vigil. The booth they
occupied was selected for the reason that it immediately joined that
into which Willis had but three days before seen Cavendish and the La
Rue woman enter, and now as they sat toying with their food, their eyes
commanding the entire room, they saw a woman swing into the cafÃ©
entrance and enter the booth directly ahead of them.
"La Rue!" whispered Willis to Miss Donovan.
Ten minutes later a young man entered the cafÃ©, swept it quickly with
his eyes, then made directly for the enclosure occupied by his
inamorata. The man was Cavendish.
In the booth behind. Miss Donovan and Willis were all attention, their
ears strained to catch the wisps of conversation that eddied over the
"Pray for the orchestra to stop playing," whispered Miss Donovan, and,
strangely enough, as she uttered the words the violins obeyed, leaving
the room comparatively quiet in which it was not impossible to catch
stray sentences of the subdued conversation.
"Well, I'm here." It was John's voice, an ill-humoured voice, too.
"But this is the last time, Celeste. These meetings are dangerous."
"Yes - when you talk so loud." Her soft voice scarcely reached the
listeners. "But this time there was a good reason." She laughed.
"You didn't think it was love, did you, deary?"
"Oh, cut that out!" disgustedly. "I have been foolish enough to
satisfy even your vanity. You want more money, I suppose."
"Well, of course," her voice hardening. "Naturally I feel that I
should share in your good fortune. But the amount I want now, and must
have to-night - to-night, John Cavendish - is not altogether for myself.
I've heard from the West."
"My God! Has he been located?"
"Yes, and is safe for the present. Here, read this telegram. It's not
very clear, but Beaton wants money and asks me to bring it."
"You? Why does he need you?"
"Lack of nerve, I guess; he's out of his element in that country. If
it was the Bowery he'd do this sort of job better. Anyhow, I'm going,
and I want a roll. We can't either of us afford to lie down now."
Cavendish half smothered an oath.
"Money," he ejaculated fiercely. "That is all I hear. Enright has
held me up something fierce, and you never let me alone. Suppose I say
I haven't got it."
"Why, then, I'd laugh at you, that's ail. You may not love me any
more, my dear, but surely you have no occasion to consider me a fool.
I endeavour to keep posted on what the court is doing in our case; I am
naturally interested, you know. You were at the Commercial National
Bank this afternoon."
"How the devil did you know that?"
"I play my cards safe," she laughed mirthlessly. "I could even tell
you the size of your check, and that the money is still on your person.
You intended to place it in a safe-deposit box and keep it hidden for
your own use."
"You hellion, you!" Cavendish's voice rose high, then later Miss
Donovan heard him say more softly: "How much do you want?"
"Ten thousand. I'm willing enough to split fifty-fifty. This Colorado
job is getting to be expensive, deary. I wouldn't dare draw on you
through the banks."
Miss Donovan had only time to nudge Willis enthusiastically before she
overheard the next plea.
"Celeste, are you trimming me again?"
"Don't be a fool!" came back in subdued tones. "Do you think that
telegram is a fake? My Gawd - that is what I want money for! Moreover,
I should think you would be tickled, Johnnie boy, to get me out of
town - and the price is so low."
In the back booth Willis muttered:
"God, things are going great." Then he bent his ear to sedulous
attention and again he could hear the voice of Cavendish.
"You've got to tell me what you're going to do with the money," it said.
The La Rue woman's answer could not be heard; evidently it was a
whispered one, and therefore of utmost importance. Came a pause, a
clink of glasses, and then a few straggling words filtered over the
"Isn't that the best way?" Celeste La Rue's voice was easily
recognisable. "Of course it will be a - well, a mere accident, and no
"But if the man should talk!"
"Forget it! Ned Beaton is an oyster. Besides, I've got the screws on
him. Come on, Johnnie boy, don't be a fool. We are in this game and
must play it out. It has been safe enough so far, and I know what I am
doing now. You've got too much at stake to haggle over a few thousand,
when the money has come to you as easily as this has. Why, if I'd
breathe a word of what I know in this town - - "
"For God's sake, not so loud!"
"Bah! No one here is paying any attention to us. Enright is the only