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over, magnifying-glass in hand, to see if there were
any marks. Shaking his head, he said:

"Nothing there try over here. Looks like a cold
trail. Hello! Here's something!"

Examining closely with the glass the upper end
of the table, he exclaimed:

"A woman has been holding on here with both
her hands."

"It might have been Miss Masuret," whispered

"She was sitting down. It's very plain. Here
are her eight finger-prints. Get busy, Joe! See if
you can get the thumbs under the edge there."

"All right, governor."

Quickly the assistant went to work to secure the
finger-prints, arranging a pocket camera to take
photographs when the powder had brought out the
marks on the table with sufficient clearness. He
was still busy at work, while his superior was ex-
amining the furniture at the other end of the room,
when suddenly the library door opened and Mrs.
Wyatt entered.

Considerably nettled that the detectives should
have proceeded with the investigation without even
taking the trouble to consult her, the housekeeper



was not in the most amiable mood. Surveying the
detective from head to foot, she said, haughtily:

"Mr. Kay ton, I presume?"

"Yes," he replied, laconically.

Tossing up her head, she went on:

"I suppose you know who I am?"

He looked at her inquiringly, but without dis-
playing any great interest.

Piqued, she said, grandly:

"I'm Mrs. Wyatt."

He nodded carelessly.

"Oh yes. Good morning, Mrs. Wyatt."

She was nonplussed for the moment, not know-
ing whether to be angry or not. Finally she said,
with a forced smile:

"I trust you found everything as you wanted it?"

"Oh yes," he replied, laconically.

"Do you need anything else?"

"No, thank you."

"Is there anything I can do?"

He thought for a moment.


With an affected smirk meant to be amiable, she

"Mr. Bruce ought to be here soon. He said he'd
come right back, and it's almost eleven now. Is
there anything you want to ask me?"

"Yes, there is."

He nodded gravely, fixing his eyes on her in a
manner that frightened her. Startled, she ex-

"I wasn't here when it happened, you know! I
mean to say, I don't know any more about it than


you do; but I suppose you know a great deal. Oh,
I'm so disappointed. You don't look at all like a

He smiled, and, coming down to where she was
standing, offered her a chair.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you. Some of us try
to look like gentlemen. Won't you be seated,
Mrs. Wyatt? When did Mr. Argyle adopt Miss

"Mary? Why, I don't know. She was just a
little thing. I don't believe she was more than six,
but I really don't know much about it. I mean to
say, I wasn't there. It was in San Francisco, you
know. Mr. Argyle and Mr. Masuret were the dear-
est friends."

"What was Mr. Masuret's first name?"

"I think it was James. Yes, I know it was. It
was James."

"What became of her mother?"

"Oh, she died there."

"In San Francisco?"

"Yes. I really don't know much about her.
Her maiden name was Marsh Nellie Marsh."

"Nellie Marsh, eh?" exclaimed Kayton, in a tone
that caused Joe to look up. At a gesture from his
employer the young man took out a memorandum
and made a hasty note of the name.

Mrs. Wyatt smiled amiably as she went on gush-

"That's all I can tell you. I really don't know
how I remember that. As I said, I've never heard
much about the mother, except that there was some
scandal about her."



Kayton looked up quickly.

"Scandal ? In what way ? "

"I really can't say. Mr. Argyle never could be
persuaded to talk about her. It was entirely on
account of Mr. Masuret that he became interested
in Mary."


"Oh yes entirely."

The detective was silent for a moment; then
abruptly he asked :

"How long have you lived here?"

"Oh, many, many years

"As long as that?" he smiled.

Hastily checking herself, she stammered in some
confusion :

"I mean to say it must be sixteen ever since my
husband died. I'm a widow do you know what I
mean? I'm a very old friend of the family, and
when Mr. Argyle adopted Mary he felt that he
must have a woman in the house."

Kayton bowed as if he was in complete sympathy
with the idea. Suddenly he demanded:

"Tell me, Mrs. Wyatt, how were the relations
between Mr. Argyle and his son?"

Forgetting for the moment who she was speaking
to, she exclaimed :

"Now, doctor I beg your pardon."

" Beg the doctor's," he smiled.

She laughed lightly as she rattled on.

"I mean to say, Mr. Kayton that's something

I don't like to talk about. It was the only thing we

had to make us unhappy. Do you know what I

mean? Bruce and his father never seemed to agree

6 73


about anything. Why, the last time they quarreled
he cut him off and left everything to Mary. We
didn't any of us know it till yesterday. It's too bad
to have Bruce left without anything. He's an artist,
you know, and of course artists can't make anything
with their art. I mean to say, if they don't have
money they never get anywhere, unless they're
famous or something, and that doesn't happen very
often do you know what I mean? That night,
Mary tells us, there had been a reconciliation. It's
too bad it came too late to have him fix over his will.
Mr. Hurley says he executed it the very night he
was killed."

"Mr. Hurley?" exclaimed the detective.

"Yes; Mr. Hurley's his lawyer."

"Oh yes, yes, of course."

Again Mr. Kayton took a mental note. Mr.
Hurley saw the banker the very evening he was
murdered and had a talk with him about drawing up
a new will. He knew this man Hurley by name.
His reputation was not of the best, but perhaps he
would be able to throw some light on the old man's
attitude toward his son and the feelings of Bruce
toward his father. Decidedly, Mr. Hurley was
worth an interview.

Mrs. Wyatt, gratified at last that she had suc-
ceeded in saying something that seemed to interest
the detective, continued:

"Mr. Hurley will be here himself presently. I
telephoned him and told him that Bruce and the
executors had put the case in your hands, and that
you were here. You know things were getting terri-
ble. The newspapers why, they don't seem to care



at all what they say do you know what I mean?
Mary's prostrated. Why, they might as well accuse
me of murder as Mary! Of course, I'm positive it
was burglars do you know what I mean?"

The detective rose and paced the floor. With a
shade of impatience in his voice he said :

"Yes, yes; I'd like to see Miss Masuret."

Taking the hint, Mrs. Wyatt moved nervously
toward the door. As she reached it she turned
and said:

"Oh well I don't know I mean to say if you
want to, I suppose you must. I'll go right to her

Turning on her heel, she tripped out of the room
as lightly as she had come in.


VTEVER-FAIL KAYTON rubbed his hands with
* i satisfaction. So far, so good. Everything was
going as well as he could wish. He had examined
several of the servants to whom suspicion might
attach, and was thoroughly convinced of their in-
nocence. The process of elimination had begun.
He had learned at least two things that might
lead to important clues: one was that Miss Masuret
did not go to bed on the night of the murder; the
other that Mr. Hurley, the lawyer, had an inter-
view with the banker that evening and consulted
him about changing his will. Still another find,
and perhaps the most important, were the prints
of a woman's hands on the table in the room where
the murder took place. Who was that woman ? If
he could only find that woman who was in the
room and saw the old man murdered, he would be
very close to the murderer.

Going over to his assistant, who was still busy
getting the prints from the table, he said hastily:

"Joe, when youVe finished, go and get the finger-
prints of all the women who were in the house the
night of the murder. Don't miss anybody."

"Very well, gov'nor."

As he spoke Mr. Finley re-entered the room, fol-
lowed by the footman.



"Here is Topp, sir," said the butler, deferen-

The detective looked the man quickly over from
head to foot. Satisfied with his scrutiny, he turned
to his assistant and said quietly:

"Get his prints, Joe." Then, turning suddenly on
the trembling lackey, he demanded sharply:

"Now, my man tell the truth how did you come
to be mixed up in this murder?"

The little cockney turned pale. He knew it
they were going to charge him with killing his
master. Panic-stricken, he exclaimed:

"S' 'elp me Gawd, I 'ad no 'and in it!"

Kayton smiled grimly. Shrugging his shoulders,
he replied, skeptically:

"That remains to be seen. Come out with it.
What were you doing that night?"

Topp looked at his interlocutor aghast.

"Me, sir? I'm a man of hearly hours an' quiet
'abits. I 'ad read my hevenin' paiper an' was in
me bed by 'alf past ten." H

"Did you hear anything in the night?"

The man shook his head.

"Naw. I go to bed to sleep. It's not me plaice
to be listenin' an' spyin'."

The detective shrugged his shoulders. Sarcasti-
cally he said:

"You're one of those very heavy sleepers, I sup-

"No, sir. I'm a very light sleeper. You kin
wake me with a whisper."

"How did it happen, then, that you slept all
through a murder?" demanded Kayton, sternly.



"I didn't saiy I slept through a murder," was the
shrewd answer.

"You say you didn't hear anything. What did
you do?"

"I 'ad an uneasy night, and at three in the morn-
in' I got up an' opened me window."

"Did you notice anything unusual?"

"I can't saiy that it was unusual," replied the
man, cautiously.

"No? What was it?"

The footman hesitated.

"It's not my plaice

The little cockney was keeping something back.
That was very evident. Sharply the detective ex-
claimed :

"Come! No beating about the bush! It will be
all the worse for you. What was it?"

Mr. Finley also had noticed the footman's hesi-
tation. Giving his subordinate a prod in the ribs,
he whispered:

"What's the matter with ye, man? Out with it."

But Topp still hesitated. He did know some-
thing, but had he not always been taught that
silence is golden? He might only get into trouble
if he told what he had seen. Finally, with reluct-
ance, he said:

"I saw a light."

Kayton looked up quickly.

"Where?" he demanded.

The footman made no answer, but turned appeal-
ingly to the butler, as if for protection. He got
little sympathy in that quarter. Eying him stern-
ly, Mr. Finley said:



"Go on! Don't be so foolish. Out with it! Tell
the officer all you know."

Topp gave vent to a deep sigh. Hesitatingly he

"Well, sir, since you will 'ave it, it was in the room
below me."

Quickly the detective turned to the butler.

"What room is that, Finley?"

It was the butler's turn now to hesitate. He had
been a faithful servant in the Argyle home for over
a quarter of a century. It was hard that after all
these years he should be asked to testify against
one who had always been kind to him. Reluctantly
he answered:

"Why, sir, that's Miss Mary's room; but "

"Miss Masuret's room!" exclaimed Kayton, in
surprise. Turning quickly to the footman, he went
on: "What did you do?"

"I went back to bed, an' I was there when they
waikened me."

The detective made a gesture of dismissal.

"That's all for the present. You may go."

The footman hastily left the room; and Kayton,
turning to the butler, said, quietly:

"Now, get the maid Kitty."

Mr. Finley went toward the door to summon the
girl. Before he reached it he halted and turned
round. There was an anxious expression on his
face as he said, hesitatingly:

"I might say, sir, I think it would be nothin*
unusual for Miss Mary to have a light in her room."

Kayton made no reply; and the butler, with a
sigh, went to the door and called the girl in.



As Kitty entered, frightened and apprehensive like
all the other servants, he said, in a tragic undertone
which did not tend to reassure her:

"You're wanted by the detective, girl."

"What for?" she asked, with a shiver.

Kayton, who was getting tired of all this cross-
examination, dropped into a chair. Without even
glancing in the direction of the maid, he turned to the
butler and said, curtly:

"Bring the cook in also."

Mr. Finley shrugged his shoulders, and an amused
expression came over his face. It was really funny
to see these detectives thinking they could order a
cook around as if she were any ordinary person.
What did the cook care for detectives? Tactfully
he said:

"Ye'll be wastin' yer time there, sir. Mrs. Beau-
regard, the cook, is the only intelligent member of
the household that sleeps below- stairs, an' she's
been pestered by the police till she's got a bit fussy."

"Never mind; I'll have to see her," said Kayton,

Mr. Finley shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well, sir, I'll bring her I'll bring her, only
don't blame me if she's a bit cantankerous."

He went out, closing the door of the library behind
him. Kayton looked at the maid, who smiled bash-
fully. She had never seen a detective before, and
had no idea they were so good-looking. Modulating .
his voice, he said, kindly:

"Come here, my girl. So you're Kitty, are you?"

She advanced shyly toward him. Timidly, and
with a slight courtesy, she answered:



"Yes, sir."

"Did you hear anything the night of the murder?"

There was a moment's hesitation as she replied :

"N-no, sir."

"Nothing whatever?" he persisted.

"The rain " she stammered.

"What time was it?" he asked abruptly.

She gave him a furtive look as if wondering how
much she could tell with safety.

"A quarter past one."

"You got up and lit the gas to look at the clock?"

The girl stared at him in amazement, frightened
that he knew so much. Quickly she answered:

"No, sir. I got up because I'd I'd left a window
open down-stairs."

"Did you go down to close it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you pass Miss Masuret's room?"

Again she hesitated.


"Was there a light under the door?"

"Yes, sir," she replied, reluctantly, and avoiding
the detective's steady gaze.

"Did you speak to Miss Masuret?"

"Yes, sir. Her maid had gone away for the night,
and I thought perhaps I could do something for her."

"Was she ill?"

"She had a headache."

"She said so?"

"Yes, sir. She said she had a headache and
couldn't sleep."

"Did you do anything for her?"

The girl hesitated a moment before she answered:



"No, sir."

"Didn't you go into her room?"

The maid shook her head.

"No, sir; she wouldn't let me."

"Why not?"

"She said she'd be all right."

Kayton looked at her keenly. All this was dam-
aging evidence of the highest importance. Changing
abruptly the line of questioning, he demanded sud-

"Did you come down to this floor?"

"No; I went right back to bed."

Before the detective could ask anything further
there was a commotion outside the library door, and
a shrill, angry voice was heard exclaiming:

"Gawd sakes! I'd like to see the man, detective
or no detective, as thinks he can boss me!"

The next moment there bounced into the room a
burly negress of the typical Southern-mammy type.
She had a fat, kindly face, and her woolly hair was
partially gray. Uncorseted, her enormous bust stood
forth in vast folds of wabbly fat, and her fat, per-
spiring face shone like a freshly polished stove.
Evidently just from the kitchen, she was neverthe-
less neatly dressed in blue calico, with a large check-
ered apron and a white handkerchief tied round her
head. She appeared to be laboring under great
mental excitement, for directly she caught sight of
Joe she turned to Mr. Finley, who had followed in a
vain attempt to quiet her, and demanded:

"Is dis de man?"

The butler shook his head and pointed to the chief.

"No; this is Mr. Kayton."



Not in the least awed, the negress advanced ag-
gressively toward the detective.

"Ah, you ah de gen'l'man as wants to see me?"

Kayton, an amused expression on his face, looked
the new-comer over for a moment and then turned
to Kitty.

"That's all. You can go."

Overjoyed to get away, the maid beat a hasty
retreat, and the detective turned to the negress:

"Ah! You are Mrs. Beauregard. Yes; I want
to see you."

She did not wait to hear what he had to see her
about, but at once burst forth explosively:

"Yes, I am, suh; an' I's heah to say I don* wan*
to see you! I's seen 'nuff o' you detectionaries, and
I obshave ebry ebry time anything bad occuhs in
dis yere wohld, yo' allus try to put it on to us colored

He allowed her free rein, amused at her angry
gestures. When finally she stopped for want of
breath he asked, quietly:

" How long have you lived here, Mrs. Beauregard ?"

"How long has I libed heah? Lawd o' love, I
allus libed heah. I libed heah since Miss Mary was
a HT child. Why man, I libed heah mos' a hunded
yeahs." Indignantly she added: "What business 's
it on yohs how long I libed heah ? "

He laughed good-humoredly.

"Well, if you've lived here as long as that you
must have been deeply attached to Mr. Argyle."

She stared at her interrogator for a moment, as if
not quite understanding the drift of the question.
Then, as if suspecting a trap, she burst out:



"Don* yo' put no scandal on me! I wa'n' no moh
'tached to Mr. Argyle dan Mr. Argyle war 'tached to
me. Dere wa'n't nobody else in dis yeah town could
cook fob him!'*

Kay ton merely smiled as he went on, calmly:

"And I suppose you were just as attached to Miss

Again flaring up, she exclaimed, angrily:

"Don' yo' figgah you kin make me say nuffin'
'gainst Miss Mary. Come 'round yeah tryin' to
wohk up mo' lies against dat chil' fo' de newspapehs.
Yo yo don't get no help from me!"

Kayton laughed as he said, mockingly:

"I don't suppose you would know anything about
anything, anyway."

Incensed that he should take her for an ignoramus,
she fell easily into the trap. Wrathfully she replied :

"I I I don' know nuffin', eh? I don' know
nuffin', eh ? I I know 'nuff to know she didn't done

The detective quickly altered his tactics. There
had been enough fooling. It was time to attend to
business. Going closer to the negress and looking
her straight in the face, he said, sternly:

"Young Mr. Argyle has engaged me to find out
the truth. If you know anything that will help to
clear Miss Masuret, you had better tell it."

Somewhat intimidated by his commanding tone,
the negress looked helplessly at the butler.

"Is dis yeah man lyin' to me?" she faltered.

Mr. Finley shrugged his shoulders as he replied,

"There's tricks in all trades^ Mrs. Beauregard, but



I'm thinkin' the truth can't hurt Miss Mary so
whativver ye know ye'd best tell to him."

"Come, come!" repeated Kay ton. "What do you

The negress shifted uneasily about on her enor-
mous flat feet and rolled up the whites of her eyes as
she replied:

"I know Miss Mary hadn' nuffin' to do wit' that
yeah 'sassination, 'cause she was on d' uppeh flo' all
de time."

"How do you know that?" demanded the detective,

'"Cause I done see her dere."

"Where were you?"

"I was crawlin* up dem kitchen staihs, an' dehe
was a light up dehe, an' I look up an' I see her."

"What brought you up-stairs?"

"Well, suh, I was wakened up by a pow'ful row
in de middle o' dat yeah night. 'Peahed like some-
body must 'ave fell down dem yeah staihs. I was
scahed corpse-cold, an' I wait dehe, an' listen an'
listen an' I don' heah nuffin' mo'. Den I reckon
I bettah 'vestigate dat commotion. An' I done
did it."

"Did you speak to Miss Masuret?"

"No, suh; I wasn't speakin'; I was jes' lookin'.
'Peahs like I couldn't get mah breaf in time to speak
'fore Miss Mary went back inteh her room an' shut
de do'. Den I calc'late I mus 've dreamed some o'
dat yehe noise, so I goes back to bed, an' didn't heah
nuffin' mo' till mohnin'. An' if you'll excuse me,
Mistah Policeman, I'd like to go back to my bakin'.
Yo' all 'peahs to fohget dat folks has got to eat,"



Kayton laughed and turned on his heel.

"All right, general; go back to your commissariat."

The woman stared at him in blank amazement.

"What's dat what's dat you call me?"

"All right, Mrs. Beauregard. If I want you again
I'll send for you.'*

She shook her head defiantly.

"Yo' don' see no moh o' dis yeah colored lady.
Come roun' heah askin' me all dese fool questions
I get so so mingled I don' know what I is. I hopes
to de Lawd yo' all clear out o' dis yeah house, an'
leave dis yeah fambly in peace."

At the door she turned round as if about to deliver
another broadside, but the butler gave her a push,
and she disappeared. After she had gone Kayton
hastily scribbled a few notes in his memorandum-
book and then turned to the butler. Quietly he said :

"Finley, I want to see Miss Masuret."

The old servant started, and a look of genuine
distress came over his face.

"Miss Mary, sir? Is it really necessary. . . .
Couldn't ye leave her alone, sir?"

Kayton stamped the floor impatiently. Per-
emptorily he said:

"No; go at once and tell her that I want to see

"Very well, sir," replied the man, resignedly. "I
will call Miss Masuret."

Without another word the butler left the room,
closing the door carefully behind him.


WHEN the door had closed on the butler Kay-
ton turned to his assistant with a grim smile
on his otherwise impassive face.

"Nothing so far, Joe."

"No, sir. I guess it's going to be no cinch."

Kayton did not answer, but, dropping into a chair
near the fireplace, sat staring silently at the blazing
logs on the hearth as if trying to read in the glowing
embers the solution of the Argyle mystery. So far
so good, but all he had learned amounted to practi-
cally nothing. He was really no further advanced
than when he began this wearisome cross-examining
of dull-witted menials. Evidently, none of the
servants were implicated. Each had told a straight-
forward story, and there was no good reason for
doubting any one's word. It was tiring, nerve-rack-
ing work having to pump answers out of the fools,
yet it must be done. Experience had taught him
that no witness is too humble or unimportant not to
be of some value. While innocent themselves, they
often unconsciously furnished a clue when trying to
shield the real culprits.

For example, the statements made by the footman,
the maid, and the cook were all highly damaging to
Miss Masuret. There seemed to be no question that
she was up and dressed in the middle of the night



about the time when the crime was committed; and
in the morning, when informed of the tragedy, her
manner was nervous and agitated. In her case, too,
there was a strong motive. She was chief beneficiary
under a will which had just been executed. It was
to her interest to get the old man out of the way
before he had a chance to regret his action and
remake his will. But was it credible that a young
woman delicately nurtured, charming and amiable
as every one declared her to be, would attempt such
a deed ? Was she present in the room while another,
an accomplice, did the old man to death? Were
those finger-prints on the polished surface of the
table her finger-prints ? All this must be cleared up.
Then there was the son. There was also a motive
in his case. He knew of the new will disinheriting
him. He knew exactly when it was to be executed.
Had he come to the house with the idea of killing
his father before he could sign it? The butler said
he saw the youth go away, and long after his departure
the old man was alive; but were they sure that Bruce
did not return at a late hour and get into the house
unobserved? He had a latch-key. Nothing would
have been easier. Then there was Mr. Hurley, the
family lawyer. He was one of the last to see the
banker alive. What had passed between him and his
aged client? All these threads must be closely fol-
lowed up. But he must go slowly. There was
nothing to be gained in acting hastily. He would
not even attempt to put direct questions to either
Miss Masuret or Bruce. A better plan was to let
them think he did not even suspect them and to
watch them closely. Meantime, he would get hold



of Hurley and learn from him just what the relations
between the murdered man and his son and adopted

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 5 of 14)