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[See p. 165

















THERE" Facing p. 70










'1VTO sir, not a cent! I warned you that I'd have
1 ^ nothing to do with you if you disobeyed me.
In spite of all I said you have deliberately defied
me by marrying the girl. You must take the con-
sequences. I disown you. You'll never get a penny
of my money."

John Argyle, his face purple with rage, his white
hair and carefully trimmed whiskers bristling with
anger, paced up and down the library of his palatial
Fifth Avenue home, while a young man, barely in
his twenties, his face pale but with lines of deter-
mination about his smooth, sensitive mouth, stood
by and listened.

The winter afternoon was drawing to a close, and
the rays of the setting sun, streaming through the
stained-glass windows, bathed the artistic interior in
a glow of rich, warm color. It was a picturesque
room, tastefully furnished, with Pompeiian red the
dominant note. The walls were all lined with books,
the shelves and rest of the woodwork of black flem-
ish oak, and the chairs of the same wood, uphol-



stered in a red leather. Between the shelves, filled
with handsomely bound tomes, was a door which
led to the hall. On the other side the books ex-
tended as far as a deep bay, opposite which was a
large fireplace with dull-brass candelabra on the
mantel and huge pine logs throwing out a grateful
heat. In a cozy, well-lighted niche was a mag-
nificently carved teakwood table, with telephone
and nouveau art reading-lamp. On the opposite
side another table was covered with a fabric so
exquisite and costly that it might well have graced
the collection of some connoisseur. On it was a
confused litter of books, newspapers, and cigar-
boxes. Several large, comfortable arm-chairs were
scattered about, and on the floor one trod on a large,
richly woven silk rug of a shade to harmonize with
the general color scheme of the room. Conspicuous
over the door was a large framed portrait of John
Argyle. A truly beautiful room, conducive to rev-
erie or study; but to-day its only occupants were
too much excited to take particular heed of their

The situation was tense. A spark at any moment
might bring about an explosion. There was a dif-
ference of forty years and more between the two
men, and it needed only a glance to see that they
were father and son. When the elder had ceased
his choleric tirade and relapsed into a sulky silence,
interrupted only at intervals by a series of angry
snorts that sounded like petty explosions, the
younger man said, respectfully:

"I don't ask you for money. I merely asked for
what is mine. If I could get now some of the money



my grandfather left me, it would help me to get a
start in life. It is hard that I should have to wait
until I'm thirty. I don't suppose I'll ever be able
to earn enough with my art work. I intend to give
up my studio. I want to go into business. I have
an opportunity to buy a small interest in a Detroit
automobile plant. They offer me a salaried position
if I can furnish a little capital which will be amply
secured. I have investigated the thing, and I'm
anxious to get into it. I shall only be too glad to
get away from New York." Bitterly he added:
"Incidentally, it will relieve you of my unwelcome
presence in this house."

The elder man had continued pacing the floor like
an infuriated lion, apparently paying not the slight-
est attention to what his son was saying. The
young man's closing sentence, however, had the un-
fortunate effect of adding fresh fuel to the already
raging fire. Stopping short and turning quickly, he
shook his clenched fist in his son's face and thun-

"If you are no longer persona grata under this roof,
whose is the fault? You have no one to blame but
yourself. How have you repaid all I have done for
you? I gave you every advantage. You've had a
good education, a luxurious home, everything you
could wish for. What return did you make for all
this ? You have taken pleasure yes, sir, deliberate
pleasure, in thwarting me at every turn. I asked
only one thing you knew well that my heart was
set on it. It was the dearest, most cherished wish
of my life. For twenty years, while you and Mary
have been growing up side by side, it was my fondest



hope that you would one day marry. Instead of
sympathizing with these plans, you have deliberately
scorned them and set me at defiance by contracting
a secret marriage."

Bruce shrugged his shoulders as he replied, calmly:
"You asked the impossible. You wanted me to
marry Mary, but it was too late even had I loved her.
My word was already given to another. Would you
have had me throw Nan unceremoniously overboard
just to further my own selfish ends? Besides, Mary
has never cared enough for me to marry me. We've
been brother and sister nothing more.. The idea of
anything else never entered my head or hers. She
has known all along how fond I am of Nan. When
you first suggested the matter Nan and I were al-
ready engaged. Surely you wouldn't have had your
son play the part of a welsher."

The argument was unanswerable, and Argyle, Sr.,
knew it, but all his life he had been accustomed to
make laws for others, never to have them laid down
for himself. What cared he about sentimental boy
and girl promises when his heart had been set on
seeing his only son marry the orphan of his old com-
rade, a girl he had adopted as his daughter? When
poor Masuret, deserted by his faithless wife, died
some fifteen years ago and left little Mary in his
care, he had promised him that one day she should
marry Bruce. That anything else could happen
had never entered his head. The idea that young
folks should take their future into their own hands
and arrange it to suit themselves was rank rebellion,
deserving of fitting punishment. Unable to find
words, he merely spluttered:



"Love fiddlesticks! That's all moonshine ! Mar-
riage is based on something more substantial. You'll
rue it. I'll teach you a lesson that you'll remember.
Had you behaved yourself you would have succeeded
me one day as head of Argyle & Co. Your con-
duct convinces me that you are not fit for any
position of responsibility and trust. A firm of the
importance of ours requires at its head a man of
tact, intelligence, and sound judgment. These
qualities you do not possess, and never will. You're
a fool to your own interests, and always will be. I'm
done with you. As you've made your bed, so you
can lie on it. I'll give you a small allowance to
keep you from starving, but that's all you'll get.
I'm going to telephone to my lawyer right now.
Mr. Hurley will come here to-day and draw up a new
will leaving everything to Mary."

All his life Mr. Argyle had acted on impulse. He
always attributed his success to the fact that once
he made up his mind he stuck to it, right or wrong.
Crossing quickly to the desk, he picked up the re-

"Give me John 3486." While waiting for the
number he glared at the young man, as if expecting
him to make some protest; but Bruce, although
a shade paler, remained calm.

"Very well, sir," he said, "you know best. No
doubt Mary will make better use of it than I. I'm
sorry I've offended you. I did not do it to annoy
you, although you seem to think so. That is absurd.
I married Nan because I loved her. Mary never
cared for me in that way."

"Sentimental rubbish!" grunted the merchant,



who in his forty odd years of money-grubbing had
forgotten that romance and sentiment ruled the
world. "Mary's too sensible a girl not to have
accepted you, if you'd treated her right."

The telephone buzzed. The old gentleman turned
to the transmitter.

"Hello is that you, Hurley? This is Argyle
yes I'm here at the house. I'd like you to come
up to see me regarding a little business matter
about drawing a will. Yes a new one. Oh, any
time will suit me this evening or afternoon. All
right; make it this afternoon. I'll wait in for you.
Good-by." Turning again to the young man, he
went on testily: "Mary knew my wishes, and she
would have respected them. But she saw your in-
fatuation for that girl, and could do nothing '

The young man shook his head.

"You are mistaken, father. You think you can
manage affairs of the heart as you are accustomed to
manage affairs of finance. It can't be done, and
bigger men than you have failed. I don't blame
you for getting angry at me." Bitterly he added:
"We never got along any too well you are never
satisfied, always expecting the impossible. This has
never been a home to me since poor mother died.
I'll be glad to get away."

Argyle, Sr., eyed his son narrowly and distrust-
fully. They had never been friends. By nature
cold and reserved, his attitude to his son had been
that of a stern, exacting master who must be obeyed
implicitly, no matter how preposterous the command.
By nature a martinet and strict disciplinarian, im-
patient, intolerant of argument, accustomed to rule



and to be obeyed without question, he had resented
his son's independence of spirit, and interpreted it
rightly or wrongly as wilful defiance of his wishes and
orders. There were times when he had wished
things might be otherwise, when he could have
clasped his son to his bosom and taken pride in
planning out his future, but this last disobedience
he could not forgive. It was unpardonable. It had
completely shattered the one illusion he had left.
If a shred of emotion had been excited in his breast
at the mention of his dead wife, he managed to con-
ceal it. His voice was hard and unyielding as ever
as he asked:

"Where are you going?"

"I told you out West."

"You have no means."

"No that's why I came to you."

The old man shook his head.

"No, sir not a cent. I couldn't if I would. That
money is tied up until you reach the age of thirty.
You are now only twenty-four. For six years to
come you must either be satisfied to live under this
roof or earn a living outside."

The boy's face flushed. With spirit he replied:

"Then I'll go out and earn it. I don't know at
what. Like most rich men's sons, I'm not good for
much. I don't know how to work, because I was
never taught. But I'll get along somehow. I'll do
anything as long as it's decent."

For a moment the old gentleman looked at his
son, and there was a look in his face as if he rather
admired the boy's pluck. He made a gesture as if
about to take him to his arms. But if he felt any


such inclination the mood quickly passed. The boy
had deliberately disobeyed him, made a mesalliance.
He was hurt in his pride. That he could never for-
give. Coldly he replied:

"You must get along as best you can I shall
never forgive you."

The young man turned to go.

"Very well if I go to the devil it will be on
your conscience. You're very hard and unjust, and
in your heart you know it."

The old man bounded. Wrathfully he retorted:

"I know nothing of the kind. You alone are to
blame. You've wilfully disobeyed me in this case,
as in many others. You have never done anything
I wanted you to. And now you've disgraced me by
marrying a girl without social position and of whose
people we know nothing a disgraceful, degrading
marriage I call it, and of which one day you yourself
will be heartily ashamed."

Until now the young man's attitude had been
deferential, his manner that of a son who, no matter
how he may differ with his father, feels in duty bound
to listen respectfully to all he has to say. But when
his parent so forgot himself as to attack the honor
of the girl he loved, no filial consideration could longer
restrain him. His face flushing with indignation, he
burst out hotly:

"That's a lie! My wife is as good as we are,
every bit! Her folks may not have as much money
as you have, but at least what they have they came
by honestly, which is more than some of us can say.
Is your money all as clean as it might be?"

The question came direct and with all the force


of a blow. To Argyle, Sr., it struck home like a
thrust. He tried to answer, but his voice failed him.
Speechless with rage, he could only gasp in his efforts
to utter the words of wrath that would not come.
Who better than he knew that his record would hard-
ly bear inspection?

John Argyle had always been a firm believer in
the dictum: "Get money honestly if you can, but
get it." Having found the task of accumulating a
fortune honestly a difficult job, he changed his tactics
and got rich as best he could. Starting life as a
promoter, he picked up considerable money in shady
real-estate deals. Branching out, he financed under-
takings of various sorts, and was soon reputed very
wealthy, and looked up to as one of the prominent
men of the community. Later, he bought several
thousand acres of cheap farm-land near a prosperous
town and cleverly engineered a land boom. He
bought a street-railway and bribed the city au-
thorities to allow him to extend the lines where he
would most profit by them, so that he had controlled
even the natural growth of the city for his own advan-
tages. Yet while he had succeeded in escaping any-
thing more serious than popular condemnation for his
part in corrupting the city government and looting
the street-railway, the firm of John Argyle, Private
Bankers, was considered one of the most prosperous
and substantial financial institutions in the city.
There were times, however, like the present when
he was brutally reminded of the source of his money,
and it never failed to infuriate him.

The banker's face became purple. The rush of
blood to his head made his veins stand out like whip-

2 9


cord. He tried to speak, but the words stuck in
his throat. Speechless, his mouth trying to splutter
words that he could not articulate, he advanced
threateningly on his rebellious offspring. At last,
with an effort, he regained his speech. Wrathfully
he exploded:

"Don't dare give me the lie, sir don't dare give
me the lie! Or I'll have you booted out of the house
by my butler. Don't let me have any of your in-
solence. I've had about enough from you to-day.
Get out of here get out, I say!"

His face livid, scarcely able to articulate from pent-
up, ungovernable, unreasoning passion, he advanced
toward his son, his hand clenched in threatening
gesture, when suddenly the door opened and a young
girl appeared on the threshold.


FOR a moment she stood irresolute, as if uncer-
tain whether to enter the room, afraid that she
might be intruding on some private tete-a-tete. She
did not seem surprised to find the two men quarrel-
ing; but a look of distress came over her face as her
quick glance went from father to son, and she
noticed the elder man's angry demeanor. Some-
what ashamed that his ward should witness his ex-
hibition of temper, Mr. Argyle said, hastily:

"Come in, Mary dear. Are you looking for me?"
For the time being the tempest was over. Bruce
gave the new-comer a nod of welcome and shrugged
his shoulders significantly while Mr. Argyle, now
that his favorite had appeared on the scene, changed
his mood completely. The hard, stern features re-
laxed; his face broke into a smile. At a glance it
was easy to see that this young girl, comparatively
a stranger in his household, had done what his own
flesh and blood had never succeeded in doing. She
had won her way into the heart of this eccentric,
querulous old man.

It had not been an easy task, but Mary Masuret
was no ordinary girl. Fair and slender, she barely
looked her twenty years, although the serious,
thoughtful expression of her face in repose made her
at times appear older. Regular, almost classic fea-



tures, soulful, innocent-looking eyes, and a sensitive
mouth, delicately chiseled, imparted a spiritual look
to her face. She was not one of those modern, so-
phisticated women whose voluptuous charms and
easy morals seldom fail to attract men. Rather was
she one of those old-fashioned, timid, shrinking natures
who, by a strange contradiction, make a strong appeal
even with men who have few illusions left regarding
the romantic side of life.

So long had she been an inmate of John Argyle's
home that she had almost forgotten that she had
known any other. Only on rare occasions when her
adopted father alluded to the tragedy of her child-
hood did she realize that she was not really of his
blood. It was a sad story, and one that she pre-
ferred to forget. Mr. Argyle and her father had
been friends from boyhood. Unlike most men's
early friendships that die out as each goes his way
in life, this friendship had lasted. It was, indeed,
the one redeeming feature in the life of John Argyle,
a hard and not too scrupulous business man, that
he had always felt a warm place in his heart for the
old friend who had shared with him the uncer-
tainties and trials of his early manhood. The Civil
War broke out, and both were drafted to the same
regiment, which saw real fighting at Vicksburg and
Shenandoah. Together they shared the hardships
and dangers of the long campaign until on the con-
clusion of peace each resumed mercantile pursuits
with varying success. Argyle married and pros-
pered. Masuret also made a venture in the matri-
monial market, but with less success. His wife,
after giving birth to a daughter, left him, to run away



with another man; and Masuret, deserted, died an
embittered, miserable man. On his death-bed he
sent for Argyle and confided to his old comrade his
little daughter. That was how Mary became a
member of the Argyle household.

The banker advanced toward the young girl and,
taking her hand in his, patted it caressingly:

"Do you want me, dear?" he asked.

"Yes, dad. I've been looking for you everywhere.
I heard your voices in here. There's a man down-
stairs. I don't know who it is. He wouldn't give
his name. He said he knew you were at home and
insisted on seeing you."

Argyle, Sr., looked puzzled. Who could it be?
He never transacted business away from his office,
and he had always discouraged strangers calling. In
fact, it was seldom that he was home at this time of

"It isn't Mr. Hurley, is it? He could hardly have
gotten up so quickly."

Mary shook her head.

"Oh no. I know Mr. Hurley. This man is a
stranger. I never saw him before."

The banker frowned. Going quickly toward the
door, with an expression on his face as much as to
say that he would make quick work of the intruder,
he said:

"I'll go and see what he wants. If Mr. Hurley
comes let him wait for me in here."

The next moment the library doors had closed be-
hind the master of the house, and the young couple
were alone.

When she was sure that the old gentleman was



out of earshot the young girl turned eagerly to
Bruce. Anxiously she asked:

"What's the matter?"

The young man shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, the usual thing. We can't agree, and never
could. This constant quarreling must stop. It's
getting on my nerves. I'm going away "

"Going away?"

"Yes, going away

"Why? What's happened?"

For a moment Bruce made no answer. How
could he tell this girl, the companion of the happiest
days of his boyhood, that she was the innocent cause
of his being disinherited ? Yet know she must, some
day. If he did not tell her, others would. Finally
he blurted out:

"He's furious because of my marriage to Nan, and
he's about to make a new will leaving everything to

The young girl flushed and then turned pale. It
made her happy that her future was assured, yet it
pained her to think that another had been robbed
of what she was to enjoy. Gently she said :

"I don't want what is rightly yours, Bruce, and I
shall tell your father so."

The youth shrugged his shoulders.

"It would do no good. Once he has made up his
mind, all the forces this side of hell could not per-
suade him to change it."

"But surely matters are not so bad as that. In
time he'll forget and you'll both be friends again."

The young man shook his head. Bitterly he re-
plied :


"No, Mary. This is the very end. I'm going
away, and I sincerely hope I shall never see him
again. I'm sorry to leave you, of course, but Nan
and I have our own lives to live. I cannot remain
here and retain my self-respect. I shall come to the
house once more possibly to-night to again insist
on his giving me some of the money he has in trust
for me. That will be the very last time I shall see
him on earth. Even if he were willing to acknowl-
edge my wife and be to me what a father should be
to his son, it would make no difference in my opin-
ion of him. I can never forget how he has treated
me all these years. The very sight of him fills me
with repulsion. I hate him! I detest him!"

"Hush, Bruce dear. You must not talk that way.
After all, he is your father. He

Fiercely the young man interrupted her:

"No, he's not. I deny it. It's impossible that
such a man as that is responsible for my being. We
haven't a single thought, a single impulse in common.
He hasn't a decent instinct. He is well aware that
I know where he got all his money. That's why
he hates me. It's all tainted. I don't want any of
it. I'm heartily ashamed of him, and always have
been. Many a time I've wished he were dead.
Sometimes I have felt like strangling him myself :

The young girl raised her hand in quick protest.


He gave a hollow laugh.

"Oh, don't be afraid. I've no desire to go to the
electric chair yet."

The young girl was silent. Her mind was all
confused by the news of this unexpected windfall.



Much as ?he regretted this rupture between father
and son, ^he could not help realizing what the old
man's decision meant to her. It seemed too good
to be true that she, the poor, friendless orphan, was
to inherit the wealth of John Argyle. Presently she

"Are you sure about his changing the will? I
knew I was mentioned for a certain sum, but that I
should get all seems incredible."

The youth nodded. Bitterly he replied:

"It's sure enough. He telephoned Mr. Hurley
just now. The lawyer may be here any minute.
He said he'd come right up. Hurley's just the right
kind for the governor. If ever there was a rascal
who deserved the hangman's noose, it's certainly

The girl nodded.

"I never liked Mr. Hurley myself. There's some-
thing sleek and crafty about him. Do you think he
will draw the new will to-day?"

"Oh, they may draft it to-day; but then it has
to be properly drawn up. I don't suppose it will be
ready for signature before to-morrow night, and
when my father once signs it that is the end. He is
very dogged and obstinate. He'll never change it."

The young girl shook her head protestingly.
Starting forward and grasping the young man's
hand, she exclaimed, warmly:

"No, Bruce I will not permit it. No matter
what your father does I will see to it that your rights
are protected. What do you care whether you in-
herit by will or receive it from me? Do you think
for a moment that I could enjoy his money, knowing



I had deprived you of it? No matter what your
father's will says, you will get it just the same."

Making a quick bound forward, Bruce clasped her
in his strong arms, and his voice trembled with emo-
tion as he said:

"I knew you'd say that, Mary. You always were
a brick. But I refuse absolutely. I cannot, I
will not accept your sacrifice. I don't want his
money. I won't touch a penny of it. Money that's
inherited seldom brings good luck, anyhow. It's
ruined many a good man. It sha'n't ruin me. I'll
go out into the world and make my own money, and

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 1 of 14)