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newed good humor he exclaimed:

"Threats between two such friends as you and
me, Mr. Argyle! That would be ridiculous. Well,
don't let us talk of money matters now. Think
it over and see what you can do. Meantime
I'll go back to the office and have the new will
drawn up. I'll see you again to-morrow night.

The millionaire nodded carelessly.

"Good-by. You can bring me the will to sign;



but if I were you I'd look elsewhere for funds for

The lawyer laughed. As he reached the door he
again turned round and said:

"Think it over, Mr. Argyle; think it over. I'll
see you to-morrow night."

- '


PRACTICAL, up-to-date methods have shat-
* tered many old - time traditions and brought
about astonishing modifications in the manner of
doing business in all kinds of industrial enterprises;
but nowhere has the change been more apparent,
more startling than in the personality and working
system of the modern detective. The days of
Lecocq, Gaboriau, Gorin, and other world-famous
thief-catchers are past. No longer does the sleuth
resort to the clumsy expedient of dyeing his hair,
wearing fierce-looking whiskers, and assuming other
elaborate disguises in order to shadow an unsuspect-
ing quarry. All the picturesqueness, all the romance
of the detective business has gone forever. The
successful detective of to-day is essentially a shrewd,
hard-headed business man. His success is the result
of sound judgment, hard work, and, above all, a
special aptitude for his calling. In investigating
criminal cases he uses the same systematic, practical,
common-sense methods as are found in the manage-
ment of any important commercial house.

Another shock awaits the visitor when curiosity
or necessity takes him to the headquarters of the
progressive, up-to-date detective. Instead of a
small, dimly lighted room, such as his vivid imagina-
tion has conjured up, with mysterious doors, sinister,



dusty-looking archives, and green-baize desk heaped
high with dockets of sensational cases, he beholds
spacious, comfortably furnished offices, no different
from any other, with telephones ringing, a number of
neat-looking female stenographers busy typewriting,
clerks going in and out amid all the bustle and
activity of the average place of business.

Asche Kayton, the famous detective, occupied al-
most an entire floor on the top of one of Broadway's
newest sky-scrapers. It was a big place and cost a
pretty rental; but it was none too big to handle the
extraordinary amount of business done by this world-
famed sleuth, whose name was a terror to criminals
and a household word in every home in the country.
The files alone of newspaper clippings and portraits
a veritable rogues* gallery necessitated floor
space equal to three large rooms. In the large outer
reception-hall clients awaited their turn to consult
the detective, and off this was a smaller office marked
"Private," where the chief saw his callers. Other
offices were for the use of the clerical staff and

The general furnishings did not differ in any
marked degree from other business offices of the
same size. About the only thing that might suggest
to the visitor the nature of the business done were
a number of frames on the walls containing finger-
prints carefully labeled and dated, and copies of
police handbills giving descriptions of criminals

If the offices were always busy, and the clerks and
operatives kept going at high pressure, there was
little wonder at it, Every one who had a knotty



problem to unravel, a difficult clue to follow, a mys-
tery to solve, brought it to Asche Kay ton. "Never-
Fail Kay ton " people called him, and it was a reputa-
tion that had been built up gradually during over
twenty years of continued success, mostly in the
employ of the Secret Service of the United States.
The son of a tradesman, Kayton was trained for a
mercantile career, but he had little taste for business,
showing greater preference for police work. Soon
he became intensely interested in the detection of
crime. When only twenty years of age he made a
close study of detective methods, and, convinced
that they were all wrong and obsolete, devised a
system of his own, the efficacy of which he soon found
an opportunity to put to a practical test. He was
successful in a number of difficult cases which had
completely baffled the local police, and before long
every one was talking about Kayton's wonderful
skill in tracking criminals and solving mysterious
murder cases. The government heard of his success
and offered him inducements to join the Secret Ser-
vice. In this new position he made a brilliant rec-
ord. For years his skill and ingenuity were pitted
against the cleverest and most dangerous counter-
feiters and forgers in the country. He proved him-
self more than a match for them all, tracking them
from city to city, upsetting their most carefully laid
plans, and finally landing them behind prison bars.
He made possible the prosecution of the graft scan-
dals in New York City; he ferreted out the truth
about the land frauds in Florida and Michigan; he
waged a merciless war on all police corruptionists,
railroad thieves, and bribe-taking legislators. When



the entire country was horrified by the dynamite
outrages, Asche Kayton went on the trail of the
dynamiters, and did- not rest until he had captured
them all and secured their conviction.

In personal appearance no one could possibly sug-
gest a detective less. A man still in the early forties,
curly-haired and muscular, jovial and good-humored,
he looked more like a genial and prosperous business
man than a professional detector of crime. There
was always a good-natured expression on his face,
and his manner was easy and friendly. He liked to
chat and exchange jokes with whoever he met, yet
the close observer did not fail to notice something
hard and unyielding in those mild, gray eyes, now
twinkling with fun. The lines about the mouth
were firm and determined, and every now and then
there came into his face the expression of a man who
never lets up and cannot be shaken off once he has
hit what he thinks the right trail.

His life had often been in danger; but he laughed
at all threats, believing that every criminal is at
heart a coward. He did not know what the word
fear meant, yet for all that he did not fail to take
due precautions. He was always armed with a re-
volver, and he kept a good lookout. He was never
off his guard, and he had the unusual gift of being
able to size up a man from the distance. The only
way to have killed him would have been to attack
him from the rear.

When complimented on his success and questioned
about his system, he replied that it was very simple.
"The practice of my profession," he said, "like the
practice of law or medicine, is the practice of com-



mon sense. The detective's success is the result of
straight thinking, good judgment, hard work, and
an aptitude for the business. There are no mys-
teries every criminal leaves a trail behind him. It
is the detective's ability to see and follow traces so
slight that others do not perceive that counts for
much in his success. The average clever criminal
is overtrained. In trying to avoid detection, he be-
comes abnormally cautious, and so betrays himself.
In one of the land-fraud investigations I found one
of the men lying. By every apparent indication the
statement was truthful. I felt he was lying. He
overtrained himself he told a little too much. The
next day I told him just where he lied, and the whole
truth came out. The detective, to be a success in
his profession, must not recognize any obstacles.
If you come to a stone wall there must be a way
around. Frame up a situation that will get you
around or over." Once, after Asche Kayton had
succeeded in making an important arrest, a news-
paper printed his portrait with the heading: "THE
MAN WHO NEVER FAILED." The underworld
laughed in derision, but only for a time. The crooks
soon learned to respect and fear this remarkable
man who held the astonishing record of never
having failed in any case that he had undertaken.
This morning the Kayton offices were busier than
usual. The typewriting machines were rattling
along at full speed, several telephone-bells were
ringing simultaneously, there was a perfect pande-
monium of slamming doors and voices. A young
clean-shaven man, of slight physique, but with an
unusually intelligent face and alert eye, entered



quickly from Mr. Kayton's room, the glass door of
which was marked "Private," and addressed a
heavily built man who was seated at one of the
desks, glancing over some papers.

"Seen anything of the chief yet, Nash?"

The man looked up.

"Not yet, Joe. I'm waiting to give him my dope
on that Wilkinson diamond job. It's a cuckoo, take it
from me as fishy a yarn as ever I was handed out."

Dressed in a faded blue - serge suit with tan
waistcoat, striped shirt, yellow buttoned shoes, a
Masonic watch-fob dangling from his pocket, and a
huge paste diamond in a tan-colored tie, the speaker
looked the typical cheap drummer. No one, at a
casual glance, would have taken him for one of the
most highly trained, shrewdest sleuths on Kayton's
staff. This style of get-up commonplace and vul-
gar w r as part of Kayton's system. He considered
the old style of costume for detectives obsolete and
all wrong. He insisted that if his men wore heavy
shoes, a black tie, and sombrero hat they could be
spotted a mile away, while if they dressed like an
every-day street loafer they passed unnoticed in the

Joe grinned. With an air of superiority he
chuckled :

"Say, weren't you onto that bunch? Directly I
heard of the robbery, I knew it was phony. The
old woman's a bridge fiend, and has lost heavily on
the ponies. The only way she could raise money
was to sell her diamonds, and make a holler. Why
didn't you ask me?"

Nash shook his mustache ruefully.
4 41


"You think you're smart, don't you? I guess
you'd still be out fine-combing the pawn-shops if the
chief hadn't put you wise. He worked it out all
right. Say, ain't he a wonder?"

Joe's eyes twinkled, and an expressive whistle
escaped from between his thin lips as he exclaimed
enthusiastically :

"Is he? Well, I guess. He's the slickest thing
you ever saw. I sometimes w r onder-if he's human.
Nash, I do believe that Kayton can see through a
brick wall and read what people think even when
they refuse to open their mouths. I pity any crook
once Kayton gets on his trail. He might as well
make up his mind at once to take his medicine like
a man."

Joe Manning was nothing if not enthusiastic.
Although the youngest sleuth on Kayton's staff, he
had earned quick promotion, displaying such nerve
and sagacity in all emergencies that the chief finally
awarded him the supreme prize for merit making
him his personal assistant. This meant not only
more salary a consideration Joe cared little about
but the one thing the young man most craved for.
It became his duty to be in constant attendance on
his employer. When Kayton himself went out on
a case, Joe always accompanied him; when the chief
had office work to transact the faithful Joe mounted
guard at a desk close by, and one might as well have
tried to break into the Bank of England as get to
Asche Kayton, until Joe gave permission.

"What's keeping him this morning?" growled
Nash, chafing at being kept indoors on such a fine



"Search me!" rejoined Joe, carelessly. Turning
to another man who at that moment entered the
office, he called out: "Say, Leishman, did the chief
expect to be late this morning?"

Augustus Leishman, manager of the Kayton office,
might well have been mistaken for a clergyman, so
clean-shaven and benevolent -looking was he in
appearance. A man of about fifty, he was bald,
lean-cheeked, thin-lipped, and wore a low collar and
black string tie. He was suave and discreet to a
degree, and these two qualities, indispensable in a
man of his position, had, in fact, won him his present
position. He smiled blandly as he replied:

"No, Mr. Kayton said nothing to me. I suppose
he'll be here any minute."

The words were hardly out of his mouth when the
gate in the outside corridor slammed loudly. The
next instant the office door was thrown open and a
tall, energetic-looking man entered like a whirlwind.
It was Asche Kayton, the world's most famous

Nodding good-humoredly to his waiting subordi-
nates, the chief crossed the outer office with a stride
and, pushing open the door marked " Private," went
in, closely followed by Joe.

The room where Kayton received his clients was
large and well lighted. It had two doors : one leading
to the office of Mr. Leishman, the manager, the other
giving access to the outer office and the hall. Near
this latter door was a small desk used by Joe, not
necessarily for real work, but it sometimes suited
Kayton's purpose to have a witness present when
talking with visitors; and his assistant, while pre-


tending to be very busy at his little desk in the corner,
never failed to keep his ears open. The chief's
desk, in the center of the room, looked businesslike.
It was covered with papers and letter-files, and wire
baskets heaped high with opened letters and tele-
grams. Two telephones, one long-distance, the
other for the office, were within reach, and a system
of electric push-buttons communicated with the
operatives and every other department. In case of
trouble with some cantankerous individual Kayton
only had to push a button to get immediate help.
Conspicuous among the general litter on the desk,
and significant of the nature of the business done by
the office, were a pair of steel handcuffs, while over
Joe's desk were several framed finger-prints.

"Good morning, sir," smiled the assistant.

"Morning, Joe. How goes it?"

The young man grinned.

"We were beginning to worry about you, Chief.
One never knows what you're up against. Since
those dynamiters threatened your life we're really
scared. Nash has the report on the Wilkinson
diamond case for you."

Kayton chuckled.

"Wilkinson case! Why do we want to be wasting
our talent on such child's play as that? We'll soon
be after bigger game, Joe."

There was something in the chief's voice that made
the young man look up quickly. Kayton's mouth
twitched and his eyes sparkled as they always did
when something exciting was at hand. It always
reminded Joe of the quivering of a high-bred horse
about to start upon a race, only in this case the



horse was a detective and the prey a criminal trying
to evade justice. Something very important had
happened, that was evident. Nothing less could
have disturbed his superior's equanimity.

"Yes, sir?" he said, discreetly.

It was a tradition in Kayton's office that no one
should ask a direct question.

The chief flung himself down in his swivel-chair
at the desk and glanced hurriedly over the pile of
telegrams. For a moment there was complete
silence broken only by the ticking of the clock and
the distant cries from the street of newspaper venders
hoarsely calling "Extra!"

Kayton suddenly pricked up his ears.

"Joe," he exclaimed, "do you hear that?"

The young man listened. Skeptically he replied:
"You mean the 'extra' they're calling? Usual
fake, I wager."

Kayton shook his head.

"Not this time, Joe. Where have you been these
two days ? The papers have been full of it. There's
been a big murder. It has made a tremendous sen-
sation in this town."

Joe looked up, an interested expression on his

"A murder, sir? I hadn't heard of it. I've
been out of town for a week. What murder?"

"Old man Argyle. He was found strangled and
shot to death in his library!"

"You don't mean John Argyle, the banker?"

Kayton nodded.

"Yes, I do. He was killed at three o'clock Friday


Joe gave an expressive whistle.

"That's a corker, all right! Robbery?"

"No; not a thing was touched, although the room
was full of valuables. That's the queer part of it.
Looks like a family affair, which makes it all the more
sensational. The police, as usual, are all at sea.
No arrests have been made, although the scent's
forty-eight hours old."

"Any one in the family under suspicion? What
was the motive?"

Kayton sat with compressed lips, thinking hard.

"That's just it. First, find the motive. In this
case there are two. I'm not officially connected with
the case, but I've found out that much. Two per-
sons gained a distinct advantage in the case of the
old gentleman's death. One was his son Bruce, with
whom he recently had a violent quarrel, and whom
he disinherited. The other was his adopted daughter
Mary Masuret, recently made sole beneficiary under
a new will "

"You suspect the girl?"

Kayton shook his head.

"The old man put up a stiff fight. There is evi-
dence of a desperate struggle. A slender, delicate
girl could hardly have done it."

"Then the son

"He is more likely."

"Perhaps a servant

Kayton made no answer. Taking a cigar from
a box at his elbow, he lit it deliberately. After a few
puffs he turned to his assistant and said, good-

"Say, Joe, we should worry? It's up to Police



Headquarters. Let them hustle. These things in-
terest me, because it's in my line of business, but
really it's none of my funeral."

The younger man shook his head sagely.

"Not yet, maybe, but it soon will be. The police
will do nothing, and they'll come to you."

As he spoke the telephone - bell rang. Kayton
picked the receiver up from his desk and put it to
his ear.

"Hello. Yes, this is Mr. Kayton Asche Kayton
yes. Mr. Bruce Argyle oh yes! Police done
nothing. I'm not surprised. Could I take up the
case? Yes I suppose I could. Let me see, what's
your address? Very well, I'll be right over. Oh,
by the way, Mr. Argyle, will you please see that
nothing is disturbed in the room till I come. Yes
that's the idea. It's my way of doing business.
I'll be right over. Good-by."

The chief put down the receiver and turned to
Joe with a look of triumph.

"What did I tell you? The police are pin-heads.
They've done nothing. The son wants me to take
it. Maybe a clever bluff on his part. Anyhow,
here goes!" Rising from his seat, he exclaimed:
"Come, Joe, get your hat and bring your finger-
print layout along. It's up to us to solve the biggest
murder case on record !"


THE blow had fallen upon the Argyle home with
the force and suddenness of a thunderbolt, and
the servants and other members of the household
were still under the first shock of terror and con-
sternation. Without warning, grim tragedy had
stalked through the house. The inmates had gone
as usual peacefully to bed, only to be confronted
the following morning with a scene of horror.

It was Mr. Finley, the butler, who first missed
his master, and a half-witted boy named Andy,
who helped in the kitchen, who discovered him lying
dead in the library. Mr. Finley, who spoke with
a slight Irish brogue and wore the long mutton-
chop whiskers which tradition demands of every
self - respecting majordomo, had been in Mr. Ar-
gyle's service for over thirty years. He was now
nearly sixty, but carried himself with dignity, as
became a domestic who had served only in the best
houses. He was a trusted retainer even when Bruce
was born, and as the years rolled by he had diplo-
matically made himself so indispensable to his aged
employer that his position in the household was
more that of a friend than a servant. Conscious of
his own importance, he had bitterly resented the
addition of Mrs. Wyatt to the family circle, yet con-
ceded that the adoption of a daughter called for



special services, feminine in kind, which he himself
was incompetent to perform. He had grown fond
of Miss Mary, who had a way of winning her way
in every one's affections, but his relations with the
housekeeper were always painfully strained. Fights
occurred almost every day, and if there was a lull in
the hostilities the most that could be said was that
each side had called a temporary truce. Jealous
of all authority save that of his master, Mr. Fin-
ley assumed airs of the greatest importance, and
bullied the under - servants until they were more
afraid of him than of Mr. Argyle.

The discovery of the midnight tragedy came upon
the butler as a crushing, overwhelming blow, first
because he had lost a good and liberal master, sec-
ondly because it wounded his vanity that such a
dreadful crime should have been possible with him
close at hand to prevent it. It was his custom to
knock at his master's door every morning at eight
o'clock. He did so as usual that morning, but got
no reply. He knocked again and, still receiving no
response, feared that Mr. Argyle might be ill, and
decided to enter. To his surprise, he found the room
empty and the bed intact, showing that it had not
been slept in. Anxiety gave way quickly to genuine
alarm. Not knowing what to think or do, he pro-
ceeded to do the very thing he should not have done.
He hurried to Miss Mary's room and said he feared
something serious had happened to his master. The
young lady turned pale he recalled that distinctly
afterward and it seemed to him that her voice
trembled when she told him that he had better go
and look through the house. Not for a moment



expecting to find what awaited him if he had he
would never have gone he went down-stairs and
was suddenly startled by being confronted by Andy,
who, his face white as chalk, his hair disheveled, and
eyes protruding, gasped:

"Quick in there he's dead!"

Not realizing for the moment what the lad was
saying, but with a vague feeling of uneasiness, he
groped his way into the darkened library and, more
by force of habit than anything else, threw open one
of the shutters of the big bay-window. This done,
he was stepping back when his foot caught in some-
thing lying on the floor, and he nearly stumbled.
He glanced down and fell back in fright. There on
his back, fully dressed, but his hair disheveled, his
clothes in disorder, his face livid, tongue protruding,
was his master. All 'about were chairs and bric-a-
brac overturned, rugs disarranged as if there had
been a brief, desperate struggle.

The terrified butler did not stop to investigate
further, but ran breathlessly back to Miss Mary's
room to tell her what he had seen. Never would he
forget the expression on the young girl's face. If she
herself had committed the deed, she could not have
looked more agitated. Her face went white as
death. He thought she was going to faint. "In the
library!" she exclaimed. How did she know it was
the library? He had not said so. He noticed, too,
that her eyes were red and swollen from weeping,
that she was fully dressed, and that her bed, too, was
undisturbed. He remembered all these details very
clearly afterward, and, realizing they might prove
damaging to his young mistress, tried to forget them,



but the police have such a way of asking questions
that it's very difficult to hide anything.

It was absurd, of course, to think that a young
girl had anything to do with it. What motive could
she possibly have? Mr. Argyle had always been
kind to her, no matter what he had been to his son
and his servants. Could it be Andy himself or that
footman they discharged a month ago, when they
discovered he had a prison record? Certainly he
was a good-for-nothing rascal and capable of any-
thing. Yet it could not be he, for his motive would
have been robbery, and apparently nothing had
been touched. Even the big diamond ring on the
dead man's finger had not been taken. Was it Mr.
Bruce? He did not love his father any too much.
Many an angry scene between them had nearly
ended in blows. But Mr. Bruce could easily prove
an alibi. Had not he himself let his young master
out at ten o'clock ? Mr. Argyle was still alive long
after that.

Of all murder cases one ever heard this certainly
was the most mysterious. No wonder the police
and detectives were entirely at sea. Meantime
nothing must be touched in the library. Those
were the orders of Mr. Kayton, the celebrated de-
tective, who now had charge of the case. Kayton
or no Kayton, they must air the room and let a
little daylight in; so with a lordly gesture Mr. Finley

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 3 of 14)