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summoned Topp, the footman, to help him. But
Topp, a thin, clean-shaven cockney, and always a
miserable coward, did not relish the job of going so
near the scene of the crime, and it required con-
siderable pushing and prodding from Mr. Finley, who



brought up the rear, to make him enter the room.
The butler, with a pleasing sense of his own im-
portance, dragged the reluctant Topp behind him.
Sharply he said:

"Ye're to draw the curtains an' air the room,
d'ye hear?"

The shivering footman cast a terrified glance
around the dark room. Still lagging behind, he
asked, fearfully :

"Do I do it alone, Mr. Finley? Or do I 'ave

The butler looked at his subordinate with the
utmost contempt.

"What ails ye, Topp?"

The man snickered nervously.

"The same thing that's hailin' you, maybe."
Again drawing back, he exclaimed, defiantly : " I hain't
goin' alone into the bloomin' tomb."

Mr. Finley shrugged his shoulders, and his face
took on a distressed expression, as it always did
when his subordinates showed any disposition to
question his authority. He did not feel any too
comfortable himself, but took care not to show it.
Evidently, in this case he himself would have to set
a good example. Stroking his side whiskers to gain
courage, he pushed the footman aside and scornfully
he said:

"Aw, ye're worse than the wimmin! What's to
hurt ye here ? Come on wit' ye."

Making a brave plunge into the room, he went
directly toward the large bay-window with the
object of throwing up the shades. Topp, his eyes
still averted, followed, treading gingerly on tiptoe.


It was so dark that it was only with the greatest
difficulty that the butler found his way. Suddenly
he stumbled over a chair, which went crashing to the
ground. The terrified Topp gave a little scream.

"What's that?" he exclaimed, his hair on end.

"It's only a chair."

Topp breathed more freely. Apologetically he

"I hain't the sort of bloke who sticks at a thing;
but I don't fancy a room where 'errors 'ave 'ap-

The butler rolled up the whites of his eyes. Piously
he exclaimed:

"Mister Argyle was as good a master as ivver lived.
Why sh'u'd ye be afeard o' the placejwhere he died ?"

The footman made a grimace.

; "E may 'ave been a good man, Mr. Finley but
'e died an unnatural death."

Arrived at the recess, the butler lost no further
time in argument, but threw open the windows, let-
ting in a flood of light. Losing patience with the
footman's cowardice, he said, sharply:

"Ye may be called upon to do worse things than
open the windies on the scene of a murder God
willin' "

As he spoke the door from the hall opened, and
Bruce entered. The footman did not see who it
was. He only heard the sound of footsteps, and,
convinced that the dead man had come back to life,
he started back in horror.

"That's 'im!" he exclaimed, and before the in-
dignant Mr. Finley could stop him he bolted for
the door and dashed out.



Bruce looked after the footman with surprise.
Turning to the butler, he asked:

"What's the matter with the fellow?"

Mr. Finley shrugged his shoulders.

"It's his nerves, sir. He's got a fear o' the

He began to pick up the fallen chairs; but Bruce,
who was glancing uncomfortably round the room,
quickly stopped him with a gesture.

"Don't touch anything until Mr. Kayton comes."

"The detective, sir?"

"Yes, the detective."

Having satisfied himself that everything had been
left as it should be, the young man went back to the
door and spoke to some one waiting outside in the

"Are you there, Nan?"

"Yes," came the rejoinder.

"Will you come in here, please?"

In the doorway appeared an attractive, fashion-
ably dressed young woman who paused apprehen-
sively on the threshold, as if afraid to advance
farther. Was she maid or matron? It was im-
possible to guess at first glance. About twenty
years old, she was petite and dainty, one of those
women who know how to dress in good taste on a
slender income, and who look well no matter what
they have on. Halting near the door, she peered
timorously around. In an awe-stricken whisper she

"What are you doing in here, Bruce?"

"Mr. Kayton has just 'phoned me to see that
nothing is touched in this room until he comes."



"What time will the detective be here, sir?" in-
quired the butler, respectfully.

The young man took out his watch.

"Any time now," he replied.

The butler hurriedly went out to make ready for
the expected caller, and the young woman, taking
courage, advanced farther into the room. In a
hushed, frightened voice she asked:

"More detectives coming?"

"Yes; I have engaged Asche Kay ton. He takes
charge this morning."

"Do you think he can do anything at this late

The young man shrugged his shoulders.

"Do anything? He's the cleverest detective in
the country. If he can't, nobody can. If only we'd
sent for him at first we wouldn't have had the thing
all muddled up the way it is now with suspicion
on Mary and me and everybody else."

The young woman shook her head. Dubiously
she said:

"Bruce, I don't believe they'll ever find out who
killed your father. It will remain one of those
mysteries that are never solved."

The son made no reply. This horror had come
upon them all so suddenly that he had not yet had
time to think. All he knew was that many things
needed explanation. Certainly, robbery had not
been the motive, because nothing had been touched;
and if it was not robbery, what was the incentive ?
Who was most interested in his father's death?
People had begun to whisper things. All kinds of
damaging, libelous, outrageous rumors were circu-



lating and finding credence in the newspapers.
Even he, the dead man's son, was not above sus-
picion. He felt that. People looked distrustfully
at him in the street. He heard whispers as he
passed. Conscious of his own innocence, he did not
care. He could stand the slanderous gossip. He
would be at hand whenever they wanted him. But
that poor girl, his foster-sister! It was horrible to
think that her name, too, had been dragged in.
Slowly he answered:

"If Kayton finds out enough to clear Mary, that's
all I ask."

The young wife approached him and laid a hand
gently on his shoulder. Sympathetically she ex-
claimed :

"Oh, Bruce dear, nobody believes Mary or you
had anything to do with it!"

"Nobody that knows us, of course! But what
about the people that read the newspapers and don't
know us? How is Mary?"

Nan hesitated a moment before she answered.

"She's so strange, Bruce. She hasn't said a thing
about your father since I came. She simply won't
speak of it.'*

"That's not surprising. Mary never talks about
the things that are way down deep with her."

"And your father liked her for that, didn't he?"

The young man nodded.

"Yes, he could quarrel with me, but he couldn't
ever get a rise out of Mary. She'd just simply keep
quiet and get her own way with him. He never
forgave me for refusing to marry her, but he never
quarreled with her for refusing me."



Nan smiled.

"I'm glad she refused," she said, gently.

Bruce put his arm around her.

"She understood about you, Nan, from the first
and she was doing everything she could to help us
with him. But you know how obstinate he was!"
Bitterly he added: "Now he's dead we're not much
better than we were before. There's no doubt that
he executed the new will. Indeed, Mr. Hurley has
told me as much."

Lovingly, the young wife put her arms around
his neck.

"Don't worry, Bruce dear. I prefer it that way.
At least you'll know it isn't your money I care for,
but you yourself. You'll make your own money.
You'll be a success; I feel you will."

The young man embraced her in silence. They
were so engrossed that they did not notice the door
open and some one enter until they heard a discreet
cough behind them. Turning quickly, they saw
Mrs. Wyatt.

The housekeeper tripped lightly toward them.
Her manner gushing and fussy, she said, apolo-

"Excuse me. Good morning, Mr. Bruce. I
didn't know you were here. Finley tells me that
Mr. Kayton, the detective, is coming."

The young man nodded.

"Yes; I want you to give him all the assistance
in your power. Nothing must be touched here.
He has"

But she did not let him finish. In her explosive
fashion she burst out:

5 57


"I think you're perfectly right. I mean to say
those police detectives aren't getting anywhere. We
don't know any more than we did at first!"

"We soon will, though," replied Bruce, confidently.
"This man Kay ton is a perfect wonder. He'll find
some clue that all the police detectives have missed."
Turning to his wife, he added hastily: "I've got to go
now, Nan. The lawyers have sent for me. But
I'll be right back."

Kissing the young woman lightly on the cheek, he
hurried out of the room.

For a few moments after his departure the two
women sat and looked at each other without speak-
ing, Nan glad enough to be alone with her thoughts,
realizing painfully as she did that it was she who
had been the cause of the tragedy. But it was a
physical impossibility for Mrs. Wyatt to remain
quiet. The terrible crime had sobered her to some
extent, but her tongue could not be curbed for any
great length of time. Chafing under the long silence,
she could finally not stand it any longer. Suddenly
she burst out:

"This house has been my home for twenty years
ever since Mary was taken into the family but
it never will be again. I mean to say I never could
feel at home in a house where there'd been a murder.
I suppose I'm peculiar, but it doesn't make any
difference whether the room is opened or locked up,
I can't go by without feeling it. Do you know what
I mean? I suppose Mary '11 sell the place. Have
you heard her say anything about it?"

Not wishing to encourage the housekeeper to
discuss family matters, the young woman answered



only in monosyllables. Shaking her head she

"Oh no."

But the voluble Mrs. Wyatt was not to be put
off so easily.

"Well, what do you think of that will?"

"I think it is very unjust," replied Nan, decisively.

The housekeeper shook her head in sympathy.

"Yes, Mr. Argyle certainly was a very strange
man. I don't want to say anything disagreeable
about the dead, but it's hard to understand how a
man could cut his son off without a cent and leave
a fortune to a girl who's in no way related to him.

Nan shook her head. Confidently she said:

"I don't believe Mary will let that will stand."

The housekeeper shrugged her shoulders. Her
lips tightened, and her voice sounded harsh and
bitter as she said:

"I'd say that, too, if I didn't know human nature
as well as I do. Mary's a dear girl, but money
changes people."

"Not Mary," interrupted Nan, warmly.

"I mean to say, take a perfectly fair-minded
person, like Mary, generous to a fault, and you never
can tell what money will bring out in them do you
know what I mean?"

Before the young wife could answer there was a
knock at the door and the butler entered. With an
air of offended dignity, he said, pompously:

"Mrs. Wyatt, that detective has come."

The housekeeper rose, an expression of annoyance
on her face. More detectives? For the last forty-
eight hours the house had been overrun with them.



Really, they got on a woman's nerves with all their
impudent questions. What good were the police?
They were no closer to the murderer than they were
at first, and this man Asche Kayton would probably
be just as stupid as all the rest. Still, if the family
wished it, it must be done. Resignedly she said:

"Mr. Kayton oh well I suppose you'd better
bring him right in here, Finley."

"Very well, ma'am," snapped the butler, viciously.

He retired, and Nan went hastily toward the door.

"Hadn't we better go?" she said.

The housekeeper nodded, and also rose.

"Yes yes. I don't want to see him. I mean to
say I've seen detectives enough during the past
forty-eight hours to last me for the rest of my life.
They're such horrid, inquisitive people. You know
what I mean."

The two women hastily left the room, closing the
door behind them. A minute later the butler re-
entered, followed by Mr. Kayton and Joe.


THE detective's first step was to go to the win-
dows and throw up all the blinds. Then he
stood still, in contemplative silence, his experienced
eye going carefully over every detail of the room,
noting the position of each piece of bric-a-brac and

Joe, meantime, approached Mr. Finley, who stood
by, an expression of offended dignity on his sleek
face, resenting this invasion of the premises and
meddling by men who were not even regular police
officers, but outsiders who did it only for money.
As if there was any chance of success with such a
low, mercenary class of people as that!

"I suppose the police and detectives from head-
quarters have mauled everything about? Or is this
the way the furniture was found?" asked Joe,

The butler eyed the speaker scornfully, taking him
in from head to foot. Haughtily he replied:

"Nothing was disturbed on this side. Every-
thing was as you see it." Pointing to the right, he
added: "But on this side everything was helter-
skelter just as it is now."

Joe gave his chief a questioning glance.

"I wonder how that happened?"

The butler chuckled. He had his opinion of



these so-called detectives. Sarcastically he re-
torted :

"If you knew that and had your supper, you could
go to bed."

The assistant smiled grimly. Turning to the but-
ler, he asked, dryly:

"You're Irish, ain't you?"

Kayton, who had been watching them with some
amusement, laughed outright. Approvingly he ex-
claimed :

"Joe, you're a great detective!" Addressing Mr.
Finley, he added: "Tell me, my man, has anything
been touched here since the night of the murder?"

Offended at the shocking familiarity with which
he was addressed, the butler shook his head

"I can't tell you," he replied, sullenly.

Kayton looked at the man searchingly. Was he
hiding anything? Did he know more than he was
willing to admit? He would soon find out. One
of his favorite methods was a process of elimination.
Each member of the household was under suspicion
and subject to cross-examination until he was satis-
fied that he or she had nothing to do with the case.
Sharply he said:

"The body was lying on this side of the room?"

"That's as maybe," replied Finley, doggedly.

Joe nudged him in the ribs. Warningly he said:

"Say, you'd better open up. You may get the
chair in this case yourself yet."

The butler glared at the interrupter. Thorough-
ly aroused and reckless of what he said, he retorted,
savagely :



"I'll will you me wits, then. You'll be needin'

Kayton drew his assistant aside.

"I'll fix him," he whispered. "What's his name?"


The chief leisurely removed his coat, as if about to
get busy. Then, turning to his aid, he said, carelessly :

"Joe, go and bring Mr. Finley in here. He's the
man to help us."

"That's Mr. Finley," replied the assistant, point-
ing to the butler.

Kayton turned to the butler as if greatly sur-

"Are you Mr. Finley?"

"I am," answered the butler, drawing himself up.

The detective laughed. Good-humoredly he ex-

"Why didn't you tell us that at first? I am well
aware of your confidential relations with the house-
hold and your late master, Mr. Finley. The family
has always spoken in the highest terms of you. I
need your help. You're in a position to be of great
assistance to us."

Flattered more by the detective's manner than his
actual words, the butler's bosom swelled with pride.
More affably he said:

"Well, sir, I'll tell you one thing I want to be
right candid. I don't take much stock in detec-

Kayton nodded approval.

"You're quite right," he laughed. "They're a
bad lot." Quickly he added: "What have you got
against them in particular?"



The butler frowned. Indignantly he said:

"Men with so little intelligence as to try and put
suspicion on such a young girl as Miss Mary as
innocent and harmless a young woman as ever
lived. I've no patience with such scoundrels.
They'll get no assistance from me in that kind of
work, or from any other honest man."

Kayton nodded.

"You're quite right, Mr. Finley. The innocent
must be cleared and the guilty brought to justice.
That's why we're here. Now tell us the facts as
you know them. You found the body?"

The butler shook his head.

"Yes sir that is, I missed the master. I
knocked at his door in the usual way, but he did
not answer. I was alarmed and opened the door,
thinking he was ill or something. When I saw the
bed hadn't been slept in I was still more alarmed.
No sign of the master. I went to Miss Mary and
told her"

Kayton interrupted him.

"Oh, you told Miss Masuret?"

"Yes, sir."

"What time was it?"

"About eight o'clock, sir."

"Was Miss Masuret up?"

"Yes sir. She came to the door fully dressed."

"Fully dressed."

"Yes, sir."

"Was it usual for Miss Masuret to be dressed so

"No, sir. I've never known her to be up so early



"What did she say?"

"She was very nervous. Her face was white, and
she was all agitated. I thought she was ill."

Kayton paused and made quick mental notes.
The adopted daughter, chief beneficiary under the
will, was agitated on being informed of the murder.
That was only natural. But she was fully dressed
at a very unusual hour of the morning. This cer-
tainly would bear investigating further. Turning
again to the butler, he went on:

"Oh, you found her so pale and agitated that you
thought she was ill, and she was completely dressed
at eight o'clock in the morning?"

"Yes, sir."

"Had her bed been slept in?"

"I did not notice, sir."

"What did she say?"

"She didn't know what to say. I went down-
stairs and was just wondering what to do when
suddenly the man, Andy, ran into me. 'He's dead!'
he cried. ' 'Stark dead on the floor in there!' 'Who's
dead?' says I. 'Mr. Argyle,' says he

"Who's Andy?" demanded Kayton.

"Dan Scully's boy."

"How long has he been here?"

"Time out of mind nearly as long as myself."

"What does he do?"

"He makes himself useful where I tell him to.
He's a simple soul."

"Send for him," commanded Kayton, sharply.
While Finley was ringing the bell he inquired: "Who
else was in the house?"

"Myself; Miss Mary; the girl, Kitty; Topp, the



footman; and the cook. Mrs. Wyatt was away;
Mr. Bruce, Mr. Argyle's son, was here for dinner
that night, but went away early."

Kayton looked up quickly.

"Did you see him go?" he demanded.

"I did not. By eleven o'clock I made fast for the
night with Mr. Argyle sittin' in here and Miss
Mary in her room up-stairs."

Before the detective could put further questions
the door opened and the housemaid entered the room
in answer to the bell. Addressing the butler, she

"Did you ring for me?"

"Yes, Kitty. Bring Andy here."

"Yes, sirX

She left the room, and Finley turned to the de-
tective. Shaking his head sagely, he said:

" How them that did it got in, that's the thing for
you to learn, sir. But when they had done it, they
went out the hall through the front door, for in
the morning I found the small chain off and the bolt
drawn, and let me tell you this, sir there's nothin'
but wickedness in this doubt of Miss Mary."

While he was speaking a shock of red hair was
thrust inside the door as if the owner were afraid to
let more of himself be seen. But with a peremptory
gesture the butler motioned him to advance.

"Andy, come here!"

The youth entered, dragging his unwilling feet
along with a timid, frightened shuffle. He was tall,
ungainly, and loose-limbed, and had on a blue-denim
workman's blouse. His face and hands were grimy,
his mouth wide open in a grimace of terror. His eyes,



dilated with fear, were fixed on the detective.
Spurred by more threatening gestures from Mr.
Finley, he advanced slowly into the room, uncon-
sciously making an effort to conceal his tatters and
improve his appearance. Suddenly he came to a
halt and waited. Kayton, who had been watching
the lad narrowly, carefully noting every fleeting
change of expression, turned to Finley, but his eyes
were still fixed on the shivering lad as he asked:

"Andy came first to you?"

The butler nodded.

" He did, and it was I that told Miss Mary. When
we found he was dead she got Mr. Bruce here
straightaway and the doctors, and they the police,
and from that it began trouble without end. Re-
porters, photographers "

Kayton turned abruptly to the trembling boy.

"Andy, did you hear anything in the night?"

Paralyzed by fright, the lad gave no answer.
Kayton repeated the question.

"Andy, did you hear anything in the night?"

Looking up in an awe-stricken way, he shook his
head. Slowly he stammered:

"No no."

"Trust him to hear anything," laughed the butler,

His eyes still riveted on the youth, Kayton de-

"What time did you go to bed?"

Fidgeting about with his feet, Andy looked help-
lessly at Mr. Finley, who finally had pity on him and
came to the rescue.

" Bless you, sir he don't know. He don't live by



the clock. He goes to bed by habit and gets up by

Kayton made another careful survey around the
room, and then turned to the butler.

"Is the furniture as it is now pretty much as you
found it?"

Andy, shaking like an aspen leaf and anxious to
escape, nervously took hold of the butler by the arm.
Shaking him off, Mr. Finley exclaimed, impatiently :

"Go along with you!" Answering the detective's
question, he said: "Yes, sir; all wheeled about every
which way. Nothin's as it should be. He made a
hard fight to defend himself God help us! before
they put death on him."

"Where was the body?"

The butler pointed to where Joe was standing.

"There, where your man is." Indicating another
corner, he added: "And the pistol was yonder."

"Was he lying on his back?"

The butler nodded.

"On his back, to one side, with the table-cloth
clutched in his hand." Turning to the still trembling
helper, he said: "Andy, lay yourself down there and
show the officer. Go on! Go on!"

Frightened out of his wits, yet still more afraid to
disobey, the lad started to get down on the floor when
suddenly he sprang up again with a grimace.

"Not me," he cried; "there's bad luck in it!"

Kayton made an impatient gesture of dismissal.
He had seen enough to convince him they were only
wasting time examining such a witness as that.

"Never mind," he said; "you can go now.
That's all for the present."



The youth did not need telling twice. With a
skip and a hop he was out of the room.

Kayton now went to the table, and, taking up one
end of the cloth, he said:

"You say this cloth was dragged from the table?"

"About half-way, sir and some books on top of

"When was this cover put back?"

"That's hard to say, sir."

"It may be very important."

The butler scratched his head, as if trying to re-
freshen his memory. Hesitatingly he said:

"Well, I remember I was straightening up the
room when one of the doctors came in. He stopped
me till the coroner should come; but I had already
put back the cloth and those three books."

"Has it been touched since?"

"It has not not so much as dusted."

Kayton nodded approval. Then, consulting a
little memorandum which he carried in the palm
of his hand, he said:

"I want to see the footman, Mr. Finley."

The butler shrugged his shoulders.

"He'll be unwillin' to come, sir."

Kayton looked at him sternly. Firmly and de-
cisively he said:

"Finley, I want to see the footman."

"Very good, sir."

The butler went out with alacrity and closed the
door behind him. Directly he had disappeared
Kayton made a quick gesture to his assistant.

"Come, Joe; let's see if we've got anything on the



Hurrying to the table, they carefully lifted off the

"Be careful of that cloth!" warned the chief.
"Have you got your powder?"

Joe nodded, and, taking a tube of powder, sprinkled
it carefully all over the top of the table. When the
surface was completely covered Kay ton stooped and
blew the powder all off. Then, quickly, he leaned

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 4 of 14)