Copyright
Arthur Hornblow.

The Argyle case online

. (page 13 of 14)
Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 13 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Kayton rose to his feet.

"And if I am?"

Advancing toward him, she said, defiantly:

"Whatever you do to me, you do to her! She's
my daughter, and I'll claim her."

He shrugged his shoulders as he exclaimed :

"You're a rotten pair!"

She returned to the attack.

"I've kept out of her life until now, but from now
on she'll get what I get!"

Incensed beyond his customary self-control, Kay-
ton shook his fist in the woman's face. Furiously he
cried :

"You can't drag her down so low that I won't drag
her up again. She's accused of this murder, and the
only way I can clear her is by showing you up."

Infuriated, Kreisler once more drew his revolver
and covered the detective.

"Damn you!" he exclaimed, his finger on the
trigger.

Kayton did not flinch. Advancing boldly, al-
though each instant might lay him a corpse on the
floor, he said, defiantly:

"Go on shoot, and your wife goes to the chair
for it!" Overawed, realizing that it was no use
adding the crime of murder to the other charges
against him, Kreisler lowered his pistol, and Kayton
went on: "My boys will kill you and your gang here

219



THE ARGYLE CASE

like rats in a trap ! This house is surrounded ! There's
a detectaphone at that window! My men hear every
word we say! I've only to whisper an order to have
it obeyed. The moment you threatened to kill me
they started to raid the house." As he spoke the
electric buzzer sounded violently. Kayton gave a
cry of triumph. "There they are! There! There!"

Outside there was the sound of crashing glass and
wood, followed by loud voices. The raiding party
had effected an entrance and were already on the way
up-stairs to the rescue. Quickly, Kreisler rushed to
the door and looked out. What he saw convinced
him that the game was up. Returning quickly into
the room, he put his revolver to his head. Mrs.
Martin with a terrible cry rushed forward to stop
him, but too late.

"It has cpme!" he cried, in despair.

He pulled the trigger. There was a loud report,
the sound of a body falling heavily; and when the
smoke cleared away the leader of the counterfeiters
was seen lying on the floor, blood trickling from a
small wound in the side of his head. With a despair-
ing cry, her arms outstretched, Mrs. Martin threw
herself over the dead body.

"Friederick! Friederick!"

Kayton, at the couch, held Mary in his arms,
reviving her with brandy. The electric buzzer
crackled and spit furiously. The voices outside came
nearer. All at once, the detectives, headed by Joe,
burst in. While the others halted to stoop over the
dead counterfeiter, the assistant rushed over to his
chief.

"Did we get here in time, sir?"

22Q



THE ARGYLE CASE

Kayton smiled grimly as he pointed to Kreisler.

" He has saved the government the expense of a
trial. Now all we've got to do is to find the man who
killed Argyle. I think he's not far off. Call a cab,
and we'll take Miss Masuret home."



CHAPTER XXI

NEW-YORKERS love nothing so well as a sensa-
tion. If, while partaking of their coffee and
eggs, their favorite newspaper fails to furnish a
thrilling story of something that has broken loose
overnight, they feel that the day has begun badly
and that life is humdrum and without interest.
When, therefore, on the morning following the
Kreisler raid, the papers came out with such big scare-
heads as "Counterfeiters Caught!" "Kayton and
Secret Service Men Seize Millions in Spurious
Money" there was a rush for special editions that
nearly swept the venders off their feet.

The Kayton offices opened earlier than usual that
day. Leishman, the manager, and some of the
others got down -town shortly after daybreak, all
eager to learn the latest details and to be on hand if
wanted. Every one wore a smile, and there was an
air of suppressed excitement all through the place
from manager down to the office-boy. Intensely
loyal to their chief, proud of his achievements, each
employee felt he had a personal share in the added
prestige which Kayton's success had given to the firm.

It was only 7.30 and barely light. Kayton had
not yet reached the office, but Leishman and Nash
were in his room, busy scanning the papers and
chuckling as they read.

222



THE ARGYLE CASE

"Say, this is immense! Listen," exclaimed the
latter, as he read from an editorial. ' ' In capturing
this man Kreisler, whose skill has for years been a
menace to every financial institution, Mr. Kayton has
rendered to the government a signal service for which it
should show itself duly grateful.' '

"Fine! Fine!" cried Leishman. "First thing you
know, the Congress will pension the boss for life."

"Some class to this office, eh?" grinned Nash.

' ' Currency Fraud of the Century Frustrated! ' '
read Leishman.

"Great! great!" cried Nash.

At that moment Cortwright came in, also holding
out a newspaper. Eagerly pointing to it, he read
aloud :

"'Raid by Kayton. Sixteen Men Taken Pris-
oners!' '

Leishman threw up his hands.

"Hold on hold on! One at a time, please."

" Leader of the Gang Commits Suicide!' ' read
out Nash.

Putting the paper aside, the sleuth crossed over to
the sofa and threw himself down. Leishman turned
to Cortwright:

"Now, what have you got in your paper?"

The detective grinned as he read aloud :

'"Raid by Kayton. Sixteen Men Taken Prisoners
in a Counterfeiting Raid. Leader of the Gang Corn-
mits Suicide!"

Leishman rubbed his hands with satisfaction.

"And some people pretend they don't care what
the papers say. I bet the boss is all swelled up this
morning."

223



THE ARGYLE CASE

"He ought to be," grinned Nash.

Running his eye rapidly over the columns devoted
to the affair, Leishman asked:

"Any mention of Miss Masuret?"

"Not a word so far."

"That's bully!"

Cortwright held up a page containing a picture
of the dead counterfeiter.

"This picture of Kreisler looks like a personal
thrust at you, Nash."

The detective grinned.

"Oh! You think every handsome man looks
like me," he said, modestly.

The minutes ticked by. It was getting lighter
every minute. Going to the window, Leishman
threw up the shades and turned off the lights, leaving
only one on the chief's desk.

"Who's this young squirt?" demanded Cort-
wright, pointing to a portrait of Simmie, the pick-
pocket, in one of the newspapers.

Nash hastened to explain.

"That's Gage, the dip. He went back for his
rings and got pinched."

"Well, he's wearin' bracelets now," chuckled
Cortwright.

"I wonder how much phony money they had
tucked away in that trunk?"

"They're still counting it down at the federal
office."

Nash rubbed his hands with glee.

"Well, the governor's busted a money trust,
all right!"

"Did any of them get away?" demanded Leish-
224



THE ARGYLE CASE

man, sorry now that he had not been there to see
the fun.

"Yes; one."

"Oh, that's too bad!"

"But the coroner got him," said Nash, grimly.

"Oh, that's great!"

At that moment quick steps were heard in the
outer office. The next instant the door was pushed
open and Kayton appeared. The men greeted the
chief with a cheer. Leishman went up and shook
hands.

"Thanks, boys!" smiled Kayton. "Sam, you
and Nash had better get your breakfast."

"How about you, gov'nor?" demanded Cort-
wright.

"I'll wait," smiled Kayton.

Nash, drowsy with sleep, made his way toward
the door. With a chuckle he said:

"I'd like to have mine served in bed."

The chief grinned.

"Nash, you're not happy unless you have two
nights in bed every week."

When the two men had gone, Kayton turned to
his manager.

" Has the stenographer got the rest of this detecta-
phone report out yet?"

"I'll see, sir."

As Leishman went out to inquire, he bumped into
Joe, who entered jauntily, eating an apple. Kayton
looked up and gave his assistant an amiable nod.
He could not forget that if the raid had been success-
ful he owed much to the loyalty and intelligence of
his lieutenant.

225



"Good morning, Joe."

"Good morning, gov'nor." With a significant grin
the young man added, quickly: "Hurley's all right.
He's down at his office."

Kayton looked up quickly.

"Down at his office at a quarter past seven!
What's the matter?"

The young man came up to the desk and stood
there eating his apple. With that familiarity born
of consciousness of duty well done and dangers
shared in common, he grinned and said:

"He got up with the chickens."

Kay ton grinned.

"Nervous, eh? Say, Joe, when you've quite
finished your breakfast, I'd like to have a report of
this case."

Noticing the sarcasm, the youth quickly apolo-
gized.

"I beg your pardon, gov'nor."

The detective smiled good-humoredly. Pointing
to the apple, he said:

"Joe, one of those got a man into an awful lot
of trouble once."

The young man nodded.

"Yes, I know, gov'nor; but I'm not married."

Kayton laughed, and then, his thoughts full of
the case on hand, he hastened to change the con-
versation.

"Did you get anything on Hurley?"

The assistant laughed.

"Oh, gee! He got up all right and ordered a big
breakfast. Then he saw the paper, and couldn't
eat a bite. He hiked back to his room and packed

226



THE ARGYLE CASE

his little bag. Then he read the papers again and
unpacked it. We went down on the Subway with
him, and he passed his station, and we thought he
was going to beat it; but I guess he was so worried
he forgot. He's waiting in his office now with his
ear to the ground."

Kayton rubbed his hands with satisfaction.
Seizing hold of the telephone, he said :

"Let's start a little rumble for him, Joe." Speak-
ing into the transmitter, he said, "Get me Hurley."

As he looked up, while waiting for the connection,
Leishman entered with a report.

"Here are the rest of the detectaphone notes," he
said.

He went out again, and Kayton, his ear still glued
to the 'phone, glanced over the memoranda. He
grinned at something he read and, covering the
receiver with his hand, looked up and said with a
chuckle :

"Say, Joe, Hurley's got me sized up all right.
According to him, I'm a pinhead!"

The assistant grinned.

"He has a great sense of humor, gov'nor. He
laughed so hard last night that he nearly split the
detectaphone."

At that instant the telephone-bell rang. Quickly
the detective turned to the transmitter.

"Hello, Mr. Hurley! I've got some good news
for you. I think I've obtained a clue to the Argyle
case. Drop in and see me this morning, can you?
Yes I'd like to consult you. Well, it's too con-
fidential for the 'phone. All right, thanks. Good-
by."

227



THE ARGYLE CASE

"Will he come?" asked Joe, eagerly.

Kay ton looked up and laughed.

"Would you?"

"Gee! I wouldn't know what to do!"

"That's what's the matter with Hurley. Joe,
go to the hotel. Get Miss Masuret, and without
attracting any attention bring her down here."

"All right, gov'nor."

The chief looked curiously at his assistant.
Kindly he said:
, "Have you had any sleep?"

The young man shrugged his shoulders.

"Naw I don't want any."

As the assistant went out Leishman entered, hold-
ing in his hand a stack of opened telegrams. Taking
one off the top, he held it out to his superior.

"This is important, governor. Our office wants
you in Chicago right away on that Frazer case."

But Kayton, interested only in the detectaphone
report, did not care how important any other busi-
ness might be. Carelessly he said:

"They've got to wait a minute. Bring me that
Nellie Marsh signature."

"It's in the desk here, sir."

Going to the desk drawer, he took out a sheet of
paper and, returning, handed it to his employer.
Taking it, Kayton said:

"Look here! I want you to type in above the
name there, you see as if it were the final page
of her confession the usual thing before a notary
public, and have two of the boys sign down there,
and put in a couple of wafers. Make it 'Page 12
N. M. statement."

228



THE ARGYLE CASE

"Yes, sir." Then, as if an afterthought, he said:
"Mr. Colt is here."

"Who?"

"Mr. Colt."

Kayton's first instinct was to put away the box of
cigars. He had not forgotten the raid which the
federal inspector had made on them on the occasion
of his last visit.

"Oh, send him right in," he said.

Leishman went out, closing the door, and Kayton
picked up the telephone receiver. Speaking to a
clerk in the outer office, he asked:

"Has Joe gone yet?" There was a brief pause,
during which the ubiquitous assistant was being
summoned to the wire, and then Kayton said: "Oh,
Joe, get a compartment on the Twentieth Century
for Chicago to-day. Two tickets. Yes, pack your
bag. No it's that Frazer case."

As he hung up the receiver there was the sound
of a heavy tread in the passage outside. The next
instant the door opened and Colt appeared.

The federal officer advanced, hand outstretched,
his broad, fat face wreathed in smiles. This latest
feat of Kayton's certainly capped the climax. It
was as clever a bit of detective work as the Secret
Service had ever known. Accepting modestly the
congratulations, Kayton shook hands.

"What's the matter now, Billikens?" he smiled.

"Well, I told you so."

"You talk like a man's wife. Predicted it, eh?
You're in the wrong department, Colt. You ought
to be with the Weather Bureau."

"How the devil did you do it?"
229



THE ARGYLE CASE

"Why, I had a witness that I wanted under
cover, so I put her in a lodging-house, and it
turned out to be the place where the counterfeiters
were."

The big fellow shrugged his shoulders incredu-
lously.

"Oh, pickles, pickles, Kay ton! I believe in your
luck, but I don't believe even you could draw a
straight flush to one card."

The chief smiled.

"Well, I may have stacked a little for it."

"I'll bet you did."

" Have you brought Mrs. Martin ?"

Colt nodded.

"What's left of her. Say, there's the sort of
thing that stumps me a swindling old crook like
Kreisler can mesmerize a woman like that! Why,
she's a queen! She's acting now as if she hadn't
a thing left in her but her breath because that old
con has put himself out of trouble. I never have
any luck like that. I've never been able to get a
woman to live with me, let alone die with me.
Say, you old bloodhound, where are the plates?"

Kayton looked up quickly.

"Whose Kreisler's?"

"Yes."

" Don't think he used any. He had a new method."

"Think so?"

"That's my theory."

"What was it?"

"Don't know yet."

Colt shook his head. Somewhat discouraged, he
said:

230



THE ARGYLE CASE

"If that's the case, the government's still the
goat. That whole crowd may know the process."

"No my idea is it was between Kreisler and his
wife."

"Well, son, you'll never get her combination.
She's got a mouth that's burglar-proof."

"Think so, Colt?"

"Have you found out how old Argyle was such
a damned fool as to mix up with these people?"

"That stumped me for a long time, but I think
I've got the explanation."

"What is it?"

"Well, I've always found that whenever you run
into an abnormal mystery there's always an abnormal
cause for it. In this case it was probably insanity."

"Do you think Argyle was bug?"

"That's the line I'm working on. He doesn't
seem to have shown any signs of it except in his
quarrels with his son, and he was queer about his
will."

Turning away and taking up the telephone,
Kay ton spoke into the instrument:

"Leishman, send in Mrs. Martin."

Colt got up and moved to one side, pulling him-
self together and standing with a smile waiting for
the counterfeiter's wife to come in. Kayton looked
at him in an amused kind of way. Waving him
away, he said:

"Good-by, Colt; good-by!"

The inspector looked at him in surprise.

"Good-by?" he echoed, in dismay.

"Fade away, fade away!" said Kayton, waving
him to be gone.

231



THE ARGYLE CASE

Reluctantly, Colt went toward the door. Turn-
ing round, he grumbled :

"I'd like to bet you she won't squeal."

"All right; go home and break open the baby's
bank and bet."

"Nix on that baby's bank!" laughed the officer.



CHAPTER XXII

"T^vRESSED in somber black, her drawn, pinched
1 ' features partly concealed by a veil which only
served to intensify her extreme pallor, her eyes
swollen from constant weeping, Mrs. Martin ad-
vanced slowly into the room, a grim figure of stalking
tragedy.

She made no sign of recognition, but, going up to
the desk, stood there motionless, waiting for the
detective to speak. To her this man, who had
robbed her of everything she held dear on earth,
represented the enemy. There was murder now in
her heart as, with sullen hatred, she silently watched
him through her tears. What did he want more with
her? Why this ceaseless persecution? Was it not
enough that her husband was dead and she con-
demned to go on living a life of utter loneliness and
despair? How she hated them all these detectives
who took professional pride in hunting down their
prey! If only she had a weapon in her hand! Quickly
she would use it, reckless of the consequences. But
what could she do alone ? Weakened, unstrung from
long fasting and a sleepless night, she staggered to
a chair for support, and for a few moments nothing
was said. They merely stared steadily at each
other, each well aware that what was to come would

16 233



THE ARGYLE CASE

be a duel of wits. Finally, unable to control herself
any longer, she burst out:

"God, I wish I'd let him kill you!"

Kayton shrugged his shoulders. Carelessly glanc-
ing over the papers on his desk, he replied, calmly:

"What good would that have done? If I hadn't
caught him, some one else would. You were both
playing a game that you couldn't win. You knew it.
You said so; you told him yourself that every prison
in the world was waiting for him."

"He's dead he's dead!" she sobbed, sinking into
a chair near the desk.

He watched her in silence, his heart full of sympa-
thy and pity for this woman who suffered so cruelly.
Kindly he said:

"There was nothing else for him to do but kill
himself. Why, he killed himself when he went into
this. The government would never have let him out.
He'd have been buried alive."

Almost beside herself, hardly conscious of what she
was doing, she made wild, extravagant gestures with
her arms. Distractedly, she cried:

"Oh, let me alone let me alone!"

"I would if I could," he replied. "I've had to
make you a good deal of trouble; now I'd like to give
you a little help if I can. You haven't any one to
advise you, have you?"

She looked up at him, her face plainly showing her
distrust. Cautiously she said:

"You fooled me once "

"I'd fool you again, if I had to and could. But
as far as I'm concerned this case closed with the
arrests. I want to help you."

234



THE ARGYLE CASE

She shook her head despondently.

"I don't want any help."

"I want to do what I can," he went on. "It's not
necessary for you to go to prison. You have some-
thing to offer the government in exchange for clem-
ency. If your husband left any plates, or any
formula, or any record of his method, it will save
you if you can turn them up."

"I won't tell you a thing!" she said, determinedly.

Kayton looked at her fixedly. If that was her
attitude, he must try different tactics. Changing
his manner, he said firmly:

"Fm not asking you I'm telling you. If you
refuse to give up those plates, the government will
put you where you can't use them."

"I don't care. I don't care what you do!" she
cried, defiantly.

"If there aren't any plates, haven't you any
records of his process that you could give up to save
yourself?"

"I don't know anything about his process, and
I wish to God he'd never known anything about
it!"

"If that's true, there's no need of your going to
prison as a counterfeiter. You're practically inno-
cent. You can go on the stand as State's witness,
and by your testimony that these other men know
nothing of your husband's process you can save
them from long terms.

She nodded wearily.

"Yes, yes, I can do that."

Having turned the conversation round to the
point where he wanted it, he said quickly:

235



THE ARGYLE CASE

"You can do exactly the same thing in the Argyle
case."

Sensing a trap, she rose to her feet and clutched
wildly at the table with her two hands. Excitedly
she cried:

"Why do you say that? Why do you pretend I
know anything about that?"

The detective also rose. Bending forward and
fixing her with his steady gaze, he said, slowly and
emphatically:

"Because, after Mr. Argyle fell, dragging off the
table-cloth, you were leaning forward holding on to
the table with both hands, as you are doing now."

Realizing the full significance of his words, she
drew back in terror.

"What!" she exclaimed.

Quickly he drew the hand-prints from the drawer.

"These are the finger-marks you left on the table
that night. These are identical with the ones you
left here on my blotter. This is jury proof of com-
plicity '

Overcome at this revelation, she fell back gasping.
Hoarsely she exclaimed:

"I had nothing to do with it nothing!"

He shrugged his shoulders as he retorted:

"To prove that you will have to confess who did."

Bounding forward like some infuriated animal
trapped into an admission, she cried, wildly:

"You can do what you like! I don't care! I don't
care! It doesn't matter!"

"It matters to an innocent girl," he replied, quietly.
"Your daughter's life is ruined unless we can clear
her from this charge of murder."

236



THE ARGYLE CASE

Leaning forward over his desk, she cried, in a
hysterical manner:

"Her life's ruined if you drag me into this case!
You can't you can't do it without uncovering
everything everything! You won't do it! If you
love her you can't do it! Would you marry the
daughter of a woman disgraced?"

For a moment Kayton hesitated, but only for a
moment. Raising his head, he replied, emphatically :

"I'd marry your daughter out of hell if she'd come

i "
to me!

Almost hysterical, Mrs. Martin sobbed:

"And if she's anything like her mother she'd go to
hell for you if she loved you!"

"And yet you refuse to do anything for her?"

"I don't want her to know me; I don't want to
know her. I'm dead as far as she is concerned."

"If you go on the stand as State's witness, your
past can be absolutely protected. Your daughter
need never know."

"You don't need me to clear her! You know she
didn't do it. You know it was some one else. Leave
me alone! Leave me alone! Find him yourself!"

"Who? Hurley?" asked the detective, quietly.

He watched her narrowly to judge of the effect of
the name, but she remained impassive. Shaking her
head, she said:

'. "I didn't say it. I didn't say it. I haven't told
you a thing."

At that moment Joe entered from the outer office.
Kayton looked up quickly:

"Is she here?"

"Yes, gov'nor."

237



THE ARGYLE CASE

"Bring her in."

The assistant went out, and Mrs. Martin turned to
the detective. Supplicatingly she cried:

"Who is it? Mary? Oh, let me out of here! I
don't want to see her! I won't stay here!"

Before he could reply the door opened and Mary
appeared. She had heard Mrs. Martin's appeal, and
the grieved accents of the woman's voice had gone
right to the young girl's heart. Sympathetically she
said:

"Please don't go yet. I wanted to see you again.
I'm so sorry."

Mrs. Martin turned away. Shaking her head, she
said, bitterly:

"No, no! I don't want any sympathy. I "

Kayton spoke up.

"Miss Masuret, I'm trying to persuade Mrs.
Martin to tell me who killed Mr. Argyle to clear
you."

"He knows he knows!" cried Mrs. Martin,
wildly.

"Yes, I know. But I can't prove it. I can't clear
her, and you can."

The young girl took the older woman's hand.

"Why won't you? To help us?"

Shrinking from the contact, Mrs. Martin cried,
hysterically :

"No, no! He trapped me into betraying them all
through you! I've lost everything through you
all I had! I hadn't anything but him. They've
killed him they've killed him they've killed me!
I don't care what happens now. I won't do anything
for any of you I won't I won't I won't!"

238



THE ARGYLE CASE

Looking back and making a last gesture of defiance,
she turned and left the office.

The door had not yet closed behind her before
Kayton sprang to the 'phone and gave the command:

"Leishman, hold Mrs. Martin."

Mary sighed as he laid down the receiver.

"Oh, poor woman! I wish I could do something
for her!"

Kayton smiled.

"Don't worry. She'll be all right."

"You won't send her to prison?"

"No, no; I'm only trying to get a statement from
her to clear the case up. We must have it to prove
her innocence and yours."

"I wish I could help her!"


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13

Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 13 of 14)