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daughter were. It might also be a good idea to go
through the old man's bureau drawers. Possibly
they might contain some clue.

Jumping up, he went over to the big desk to
examine the contents of the pigeonholes, while Joe,
on the other side of the room, picked up the debris
scattered all over the floor and arranged everything
systematically on the window-seat.

Suddenly Kay ton stooped down and exclaimed:

"Hello! Here's a cigar-band!" Examining it
closely, he added: "I wonder what brand the old man

Joe pointed to the cigar-boxes on the desk.

"I guess those were his."

Quickly Kayton opened one of the boxes and,
taking out a cigar, compared the bands. Shaking
his head, he said:

"They're not alike. It may have been an old
cigar the old man had in his pocket. It may also
have been on the cigar of the man who killed him.
In any case, it's worth keeping."

Slipping it into his waistcoat pocket, he went on
with the work of ransacking the pigeonholes. For
a few minutes nothing was said, both men working
hard, when all at once Kayton uttered an exclama-
tion of surprise. He had been examining the con-
tents of several of the envelopes he found in one of
the inner drawers of the desk when suddenly he
came across a brand-new hundred-dollar bill."

"Well, that's damned funny!"

"What?" said Joe, looking up.

7 89


"Here's a new hundred-dollar bill in an envelope."

"In the desk?"

"Yes, and the drawer looks as if it had been
pretty well searched, too."

Joe nodded.

"Yes; the police probably went through them all.
Queer about the bill. The old man must have in-
tended mailing it to somebody."

Kay ton shook his head as if puzzled.

"That's hardly likely."

"I wonder why he didn't."

Kayton laughed outright. Mockingly he ex-
claimed :

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

The young man pointed to the debris he had

"I've got all this stuff laid out, governor."

The chief nodded approvingly.

"Better start with the finger-prints now, Joe.
Get all the servants both hands."

As he spoke the library door opened and the
butler appeared. Kayton hastily put the one-
hundred - dollar banknote in an envelope, which
he thrust in his pocket. Looking up, he asked,
carelessly :

"What is it, Finley?"

"Mr. Hurley's here, sir."

"Is Miss Masuret coming?"

"I've not had time to see, sir. I'm going to her

Kayton made an impatient gesture. Sharply he



"Don't delay any longer. Meantime ask Mr.
Hurley to come in."

The butler went out, and directly his back was
turned Kayton hurried over to where his assistant
was still at work.

"Joe, go and send a telegram to our office in San
Francisco. Put it in cipher. Make it read like

The assistant produced from his pocket a pencil
and pad and started to write what his chief dictated.

"Look up Mrs. James Masuret maiden name
Nellie Marsh: Got that, Joe?"

"Yes, sir."

"'Died in 'Frisco." Correcting himself, he said:
"You'd better make that San Francisco, Joe.
They're very peevish about that out there. 'Died
in San Francisco about twenty years ago.' Get that
off at once, Joe."

As he spoke he extinguished the lamp on the

"Is she the girl's mother?" demanded the young

"Yes. I want to know all I can about that scan-
dal. I believe this thing happened through the girl
some way or other."

Before Joe could question any further the door
opened, and Mr. Hurley entered.

The lawyer was carefully dressed as usual, with a
flower in the buttonhole of his long frock-coat, an
elaborate tie with an expensive pin, and white
gaiters. No one could mistake his profession. He
had about him that self-confident, aggressive manner
usually associated with attorneys. He did not wait


for introductions, but advanced, hand outstretched,
with great cordiality.

"Good morning, Mr. Kay ton. I'm Mr. Hurley,
Mr. Argyle's lawyer. I'm awfully glad to meet
you heard a lot- about you and all that sort of
thing. I'm mighty glad that you've come in on
the case. That police bunch are awful duffers. I
don't doubt you'll clear the mystery up for us."

He spoke with deliberation and affectation, as if
always endeavoring to impress the world with his
importance. His voice had a harsh, unpleasant
quality, and he had a trick of interlarding his sen-
tences with a forced, nervous, and boisterous laugh,
not unlike the neighing of a horse.

"Well, I hope so, Mr. Hurley," replied the de-
tective, dryly.

The lawyer shook his head.

"It means time and a good deal of work, though.
There are so many ways the thing might have oc-

"As, for instance pardon me!"

Joe, his work finished, had started to leave the
room quietly. Kayton, excusing himself, went
quickly forward and intercepted his assistant.

"Joe, telephone to the office that I'll not be there
till twelve-thirty."

"Very well, gov'nor."

The assistant went out, leaving the two men to-
gether. Kayton apologized for the interruption.

"You were saying, Mr. Hurley "

"I was saying there are so many ways the thing
might have possibly occurred." Drawing a cigar-
case from his pocket, he held it out, "Smoke?"



"No, thank you."

The lawyer turned his back a moment to get a
match from the table, and, like a flash, Kayton
stooped and picked up the cigar-band which Hurley
had thrown from his own cigar. Then, taking from
his pocket the one he found on his entrance, he
quickly compared the two. But the clue, if it was
one, seemed valueless. There was not the slightest
similarity. Evidently, the murderer did not smoke
the same cigar as Mr. Hurley.

Languidly, the lawyer dropped into an arm-chair
and, leisurely crossing his knees, puffed away in si-
lence. He appeared quite unconscious of his sur-
roundings, but it did not escape Kayton's notice
that each time he unexpectedly looked up the
lawyer's small, ferrety eyes were watching him.
His elbow resting on the arm of the chair, and a
hand supporting his bulging brow, the attorney pro-
ceeded to theorize on the subject of the murder.

"For instance, let us suppose that the murderer
obtained entry by the connivance of one of the ser-
vants. Possibly one of them carelessly lost a key,
or perhaps he gained an entrance in some way that
the investigation hasn't yet disclosed. The in-
truder is discovered by Mr. Argyle, who threatens
him with a revolver, and a fatal struggle ensues."

From his chair facing the attorney Kayton lis-
tened attentively. When his vis a vis stopped speak-
ing, he asked, quietly:

"How does your theory account for the fact that
throughout this struggle a struggle in which several
blows were struck, judging by the marks on the face
and chest of the dead man how does your theory



account for the fact that Mr. Argyle made no out-

"His cries may not have been heard?"

"Very true."

"Of course, the strong argument against the bur-
glar theory is that nothing was stolen, although, as
a matter of fact, that is a poor argument. The
burglar might have been frightened away."

"You're convinced, then, that it was a burglar, and
not some intimate who killed him?" said Kay ton,

For a moment the lawyer seemed nonplussed.
He hesitated in an embarrassed kind of way, but
laughed it off boisterously as he replied :

"Well er er no, I was simply airing that idea.
As to the suggestion that it might have been some
one of his household, some member of his family,
that is, of course, absurd. There is an entire lack
of motive, or, rather, a large discrepancy between
the nature of the crime and the character of the
only person who might have a motive."

The detective rose and paced the floor.

"Miss Masuret, for instance?" he said, quietly.

"Oh, it couldn't be Miss Masuret!" replied the
lawyer, also rising. "It's quite preposterous to
imagine for a moment that a girl like Miss Masuret
could be involved in such an affair. Besides, how
was she to know that if he died at that particular
moment she would be sole heir under the will?"

"Was the fact that he was about to make a new
will secret?"

The lawyer did not answer for a moment, but
looked closely at the detective's face, trying to pene-



crate his inscrutable mask. Dropping again into a
seat, he said, in his exasperating, self-important way :

"Well, now, Mr. Kay ton, I'll tell you about that.
My client had an idea that is not uncommon among
millionaires. He had an almost morbid apprehen-
sion of having his heirs waiting to inherit his estate.
In the last few days of his life, when he contem-
plated reinstating his son in his favor, he was par-
ticularly insistent on secrecy."

" Did the son know that he had been disinherited ?"

"I doubt it. When I mentioned to a reporter
yesterday that Mr. Argyle had made a new will at
the time of his death it never for a moment occurred
to me that it might harm Miss Masuret. But when
newspapers come to construe motives

Kay ton interrupted him. Abruptly he asked:

"You drew up the new will?"

"Well, now, Mr. Kay ton, I'll tell you about that.
The old man was greatly incensed against his son
because of the latter's marriage, and he sent for me
to draw a new will."

"Did you draw up the old one?"

"No, that was before my time. That was drawn
up by Mead & Tolworthy."

Before the questioning could go any further, the
library door opened, and Bruce entered quickly, a
newspaper in his hand. His face was flushed with
anger and his manner greatly excited. Nodding to
the detective, he said:

"Good morning, Mr. Kayton."

"Good morning, Mr. Argyle."

"I'm awfully sorry I'm late."

Kayton smiled amicably.



"Oh, that's all right."

Not stopping to say more, the young man went
straight up to his father's lawyer. Wrathfully he
burst out:

"Look here, Hurley! Why did you go and give
out that stuff to the newspapers, about father's
changing his will, and starting them up with all this
rot about Mary ? Why, the papers this morning are
full of the damnedest libels. Look at this: ' Argyle
Murder Motive. Report that the Dead Millionaire
Had Changed His Will. If He Had Lived, Miss
Masuret Would Not Have Been Sole Heir.' That's
unspeakable! If Mary sees it '

The attorney shrugged his shoulders. Loftily
he replied:

"Why pay any attention to that sort of thing?
You ought to be used to the methods of sensational
journalism by this time."

"That's nothing to do with it. The information
came from you, and a lawyer should keep such
things from scandal-mongers, not furnish them with
ammunition. It was bad enough when they in-
sinuated that some of father's stock-market victims
came and killed him, or maybe some fellow wanted to
marry Mary for her money and had to get him out
of the way; but, Hurley, you've given them just
what they wanted to build on!"

The lawyer bit his lip.

"I'm very sorry, but I didn't think we had any-
thing to conceal. You can't hide much from the
newspapers. If we are going to get at the truth of
this matter we need to be open and honest. Isn't
that so, Mr. Kay ton?"



Kayton bowed politely.

"Why, of course, Mr. Hurley."

The lawyer resumed his seat and went on with his
cigar while the detective turned to the dead man's

"You understand, Mr. Argyle, that you are now
the head of the family, and the responsibility for
the success or failure of this investigation will rest
largely with you. I'll have to ask for your co-
operation in everything, and I'll expect that you'll
consult with me before you make any move or ex-
press any opinion or do anything that has a bearing
on this case."

Bruce nodded.

"Certainly; I understand that, Mr. Kayton."

"Mr. Argyle, you were the last person known to
be with your father the night of the murder."

"Yes, that's true I was. I had dinner here
with Mary and him."

"Was that unusual?"

"Well, you know, I suppose, that father and I
didn't get along any too well together. I broke
away about a year ago when he objected to my
marrying. My foster-sister, Miss Masuret, has
been trying ever since to bring us together. That
night my father was more amiable, and we three had
a splendid time. She was as happy as could be
about it -because father and I were on good terms
again. She went to her room early and left us here
to have a talk."

"Did your father seem worried about anything?"

"He had a telephone call that disturbed him a
good deal while I was here."



"What time was that?"

"Why, about nine o'clock."

"Did he receive it himself?**

"Yes; he was called on his private wire right

"What did he say?"

"I don't remember, except that he kept saying
'No* very emphatically. I concluded that it was
something connected with his business affairs. After-
ward he seemed preoccupied and worried. I thought
he wanted to be alone so he could think it over, so
I left soon after."

Changing abruptly the line of questions, the de-
tective asked:

"Where did you sleep that night?"

"In my studio, where I live.**

"How did you get there? a taxi?"

"No; I walked.'*

"Walked, eh? Were you caught in the rain?'*

"I didn't know it rained.'*

"Did any one see you go into your studio?'*

"Not that I know of.**

"Any one drop in on you after you got home?"


"Is there any one in any of the surrounding apart-
ments that could have seen you or your light?"

"Well, you know I just have the rear of a top floor
in an old Twenty-third Street house with a skylight."

Again the detective asked, sharply:

"Didn't you hear the rain on your skylight?"

"I tell you I didn't know it rained. I go to bed
early and get up as soon as there's light enough to



The detective was about to ask another question
when suddenly Mr. Hurley, who had been an eager
listener, broke in:

" Do you see anything significant in that telephone

Kayton paid no attention to the interruption, but
went on:

"Then you don't know of any way in which we
can corroborate your statement that you left here
about ten o'clock and spent the rest of the night in
your studio?"

The young man shook his head.

"No no, I don't."

"Nobody saw you, you think nobody saw you
leave here?"

For a moment the youth hesitated. Kayton
noticed it, and quickly repeated the question, this
time more authoritatively.

"Nobody saw you leave here?"

"No no "

"You didn't see Finley?"

"No," he replied, quickly, "I didn't see Finley
at all."

Kayton smiled encouragingly. More amiably he

"Mr. Argyle, I'm sorry it's necessary to question
you so closely, but if you're not going to give me your
confidence it would be better for me to drop the case
right here."

"Well I"

"As a matter of fact, who was it that you thought
you saw?"

"Well, I don't want to say that I saw any one."



"You understand that it might be very important
that some one should have seen you the last person
known to have been with your father the night of the
murder leave this house?"

The young man looked harassed. It was evident
that this line of questioning was worrying him.
Wiping the perspiration from his forehead and
clearing his throat, he stammered, huskily:

"Well, I saw"

"What did you see?"

"I thought as I was going out that I saw somebody
looking over the bannister-rail."

"What made you look up at the bannister-

"I suppose I must have heard something."

Quick as a flash, the detective demanded:

"Was it Miss Masuret?"

Eagerly, he scrutinized the young man's face as he

"It might have been one of the maids."

"Why didn't you speak to her?"

"I wasn't sure, and she drew back." Turning to
the lawyer, he exclaimed, anxiously: "Look here,
Hurley! Don't for God's sake give this to the papers.
Goodness knows what they'd make of it! They'd
have Mary up there, just waiting to

Going to the mantelpiece, Bruce stood for a
moment glaring at the scandalous sheet which, in
its frantic efforts to secure circulation at any cost,
did not hesitate to try and fasten on an innocent
girl the crime of parricide. Crushing the paper up
in his hands, he threw it on the floor and stood
with his head resting despondently on the mantel.



Kayton, who had watched him in silence, now ap-
proached him. Soothingly he said:

"That's nothing, my dear fellow; don't mind what
they say. The truth will come out sure as the sun
will rise to-morrow. The thing that strikes me
as most significant in all this is the telephone

Mr. Hurley looked up quickly.

"What do you see significant in that?" he de-

"It is very simple," said the detective. "The
person who called him up must have known his
private telephone number. That would indicate
some one who was familiar with the house. And the
fact that he was disturbed by the message but said
nothing of it might argue that it was some one
known to him who was in a position to annoy him
possibly some old servant with whom he had confi-
dential relations." Turning to the lawyer, he asked:
"Had he any business enemies that you know of,
Mr. Hurley?"

The lawyer shifted uneasily about in his chair.
Puffing at his cigar furiously, he said:

"Well, I'll tell you about that you understand, of
course, that I've only recently been associated with
Mr. Argyle, and he didn't consult me about every-
thing, but naturally a man of his many interests
must have enemies."

Bruce turned to Kayton and held out his hand.
Cordially he said:

"I leave everything to you. You may not be able
to find out who did this. We'll be satisfied if you
only prove that Mary did not."



Kayton smiled, and there was a kindly expression
about his mouth as he replied:

"The best way to prove who didn't kill your father
is to prove who did kill him."

As he spoke the library door opened, and Mary
appeared in obedience to the detective's summons.


MARY MASURET had no serious claim to classic
beauty, but this morning in her simple, white
negligee she looked extremely girlish and attractive.
She was deathly white, and, judging by the dark cir-
cles under her eyes and look of distress on her face,
she was under the strain of great mental anxiety.

"Miss Masuret, I presume," said Kayton, his eyes
resting with considerable interest on this young girl
whose name had been so prominent in the case.

Certainly she did not look very dangerous. He
thought he had seldom seen a more wholesome or
more sympathetic face. It was impossible that such
a sweet girl as that should have committed or con-
nived at murder. With a courteous bow he added:

"I shall try not to inconvenience you more than
is absolutely necessary."

She bowed without looking up or taking the trouble
to see what kind of person this detective might be.
She did not care who he was. The terrible events of
the last few days had dulled her sensibilities, left her
as if dazed. All she knew was that she must undergo
another painful ordeal of futile questioning. Unable
to find the slayer of her benefactor, the police had
retaliated by putting her under all sorts of humili-
ating examinations, and had not stopped even at
hinting at dreadful suggestions that perhaps it was



Bruce or even herself who had killed the aged
millionaire. Not that she feared these veiled accusa-
tions. Her own conscience was serene. And as to
Bruce, it was unthinkable that he could have done
such a thing. She hoped this new police officer or
detective, or whatever he might be, would have some
compassion and not inflict on her more torture than
was absolutely necessary.

"I am Mr. Kay ton," explained the detective.
"I'm here to try to clear up the murder."

Again the young girl bowed without looking up.
In a low tone she murmured:

"Yes I know."

Bruce, who had noticed her deathly pallor, came
quickly forward. Anxiously he exclaimed:

"Mary, you oughtn't to be down here. You look
awfully ill. It's too much for you. Please go up-
stairs again."

Kayton put out an authoritative hand. In a tone
that did not admit of argument, he said:

"I sent for Miss Masuret."

The young man bridled up. Who was this de-
tective that he should dare dictate to him in his own
house? Curtly he said:

"You don't understand, Mr. Kayton. It's too
much to ask Miss Masuret to come down here. It's
too harrowing. It's the first time the room has been
opened since "

Mary shook her head.

"No, no, Bruce," she interrupted. "I don't mind.
It's all right now please."

Turning calmly to the young man, Kayton said



"I wish to speak with Miss Masuret alone, if you
don't mind."

Bruce shook his head vigorously. Emphatically,
he exclaimed:

"I'm not going to have her put through any third

Kay ton stepped forward. Firmly he said:

"Just a moment, Mr. Argyle. Before we go any
further with this investigation I want you to under-
stand I am in charge of it."

The youth was still unconvinced and inclined to
argue further, when Mr. Hurley came up and

"This is nonsense, Bruce. Mr. Kay ton has got to
question Miss Masuret if he's going to be of any
help to her or to us. Come alone with me."

The young man turned on his heel. Shrugging
his shoulders, he said:

"I suppose it's necessary, but I hate to have her
go through all this. Make it as short as you can."

With a smile at his foster-sister, he took his hat
and, accompanied by the lawyer, left the room.

When they were alone Kayton pointed to a chair.
Politely he said:

"Please be seated, Miss Masuret."

She sat down, and the detective went to the door
to see that it was properly closed, so that they could
not be interrupted, and then came and took a seat
near her. After a pause, during which she sat
trembling for him to begin, he said:

"Miss Masuret, I can understand that this affair
has been a great shock to you. You feel the loss
of Mr. Argyle probably more than anybody. I

8 105


needn't tell you that I sympathize with you thor-
oughly, and I don't want to do or ask anything
that will distress you. But a murder has been com-
mitted, and if I'm going to clear up everything and
remove the suspicions that have been aroused I
must have the co-operation of everybody in the
house and especially you."

The young girl nodded.

"Yes, yes," she faltered; "I want to do anything
I can."

"Thank you. Where were you born?"

"In San Francisco."

"Do you remember your mother?"

"No. I don't remember either my father or my
mother very well. I was too young when they

"You have no relatives?"

"None that I ever heard of."

"There is no one who would inherit this money
from you, or have any other reason for wishing you
to get it?"

"Oh no "

"Did Mr. Argyle ever object to your intimacy
with any friends?"

"Why, our life was so retired I met hardly any

"No man who wished to marry you?"

"Oh no. Mr. Argyle wanted Bruce to marry
me; but we couldn't that was impossible we
were like brother and sister."

"Then you have no reasons for suspecting any

"Oh no no!"



Trembling violently, she suddenly broke into a
fit of hysterical sobbing, and in an effort to overcome
it, she rose hastily to her feet. Kayton rose simul-
taneously and confronted her. Looking at her fixedly
he demanded:

"What is it what is the matter?"

She shuddered.

"I don't know I don't seem to be able to control
myself any longer."

"Wait wait a moment," he said, kindly.

"It's horrible," she sobbed; "it's all so horrible!
It's worse down here. I can't help thinking of him
on the floor there "

"Won't you try to put it out of your mind? I
want to help you."

She struggled to control her emotion, but the
effort was beyond her power. Tearfully she said:

"Yes, I know that. I haven't been like this be-
fore. I haven't talked about it to any one I
couldn't. I've tried to keep from reading the pa-
pers but I had to. I read them all, and they've
been getting worse about me every day, until it
seemed as if the whole city How is it possible
that they can say such horrible things?" Looking
up at him fearfully, she asked: "Shall I have to go
through a trial?"

He smiled reassuringly.

"Not if we can prevent it."

She smiled gratefully, and from that moment it
seemed to her that a bond of sympathy and friend-
ship had been established between them. This man,
this stranger, spoke kindly and promised to protect

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 6 of 14)