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her. Her fear of her interrogator had to some ex-

107



THE ARGYLE CASE

tent disappeared. She did not mind him nearly
so much as she feared. His face was kind, his man-
ner courteous and considerate. In fact, she rather
admired this handsome detective, about whom she
already knew so well by reputation. She wondered
vaguely if all detectives were so good-looking and
had such an amiable smile.

"Tell me," he went on, "you went to your room
rather early that night about nine-thirty?"

"Yes."

"Leaving Mr. Argyle and his son alone here?"

"Yes."

"You heard the son go?"

"Yes."

"You saw him go?"

She hesitated, and he repeated:

"You saw him go?"

"Yes."

"You were looking down from the upper hall?"

She started violently and looked at him in blank
astonishment. How could he know that?

"Yes," she stammered.

"Why didn't you speak to him?" he demanded.

"I didn't want him to see me."

"Why not?"

"I don't know. It was just instinctive. I
thought afterward that I should have spoken to
him."

"What did you do after he had gone?"

"I went back to my room and to bed."

"Went right to sleep?"

"Well after a while"

"And heard nothing more?"

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THE ARGYLE CASE

"No."

The detective was silent for a few moments. Then,
suddenly, he demanded:

"Why couldn't Bruce have stayed here that night
instead of going away in a storm like that?"

Not realizing the importance of her answer, she
replied, involuntarily:

"Why, it didn't begin to rain until long after
midnight."

"Then you heard it rain?" he asked, quickly.

"Oh yes yes," she stammered, with some con-
fusion.

Taking quick mental note of her embarrassment,
he stood looking at her in silence. All at once she
turned, and her eyes encountered his steady gaze.
Rising from his seat, the detective approached her.
Kindly he said:

"Miss Masuret, I can't help you unless you trust
me. What woke you up ?"

She did not answer for a moment. Finally, with
reluctance, she faltered:

"I heard a door close."

"Yes?"

"It seemed later than it really was, and I was a
little alarmed. I got up and opened my door."

"You heard voices?"

"Yes."

"Mr.'Argyle's?"

"Yes."

" Did you know who was with him ? . . . Answer
me." Again she was silent. Then, as he repeated
the question, she replied, hysterically:

"No no I don't know!"

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THE ARGYLE CASE

Rising quickly, she went over to the window and
stood gazing into the street, her face averted. He
followed her.

"Did you hear anything that sounded like a
struggle?" he went on.

"No they had closed the door."

"But you did hear angry voices, didn't you?" he
persisted, when she did not answer.

"Yes," she replied, reluctantly.

He looked steadily at her, trying to read in her
face what was passing in her mind.

"And you thought that Bruce and his father
were quarreling?"

She turned round and held out her hand appeal-
ingly. Hastily she exclaimed:

"No no not that! Afterward, when I saw
what had happened, I knew it couldn't have been
Bruce. You won't attach any importance to it,
will you? I had no real reason for thinking it was
he."

He nodded.

"And you concealed this because you were afraid
that it was Bruce?"

"I was afraid that some one might think it was
he."

" Did you hear any one go away ?"

"I heard the door bang. But I didn't go down
I was so unhappy

"You heard nothing more? So you went to
sleep?"

She shook her head as she answered sadly:

"The rain kept me awake for a long time."

Kayton was about to put another question when

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THE ARGYLE CASE

suddenly Joe entered the room with several inky
papers in his hands. Closing the door carefully
behind him, he advanced toward his employer.

"Gov'nor!"

The detective turned to the young girl. Apolo-
getically, he said:

"One moment, Miss Masuret." As she rose with
a sigh of relief and walked over to the fireplace he
whispered quickly to his assistant: "Did you get
them all, Joe?"

Handing over the prints, the youth answered:

"Yes, sir, all but Breaking off abruptly, he
looked significantly at Mary.

Kayton took the impressions and glanced over
them. Then, looking up suddenly, he turned to the
young girl.

"Miss Masuret, did you know that you were to
be Mr. Argyle's sole heir under the will?"

She was still at the fireplace, standing with one
hand resting on the mantel, lost in thought, and
apparently forgetful that any one else was in the
room. She started as she heard the question, and a
faint flush spread over her face. But she turned
and faced her interrogator boldly as she replied:

"Yes."

"Did you speak of it to any one?"

"Mr. Argyle asked me not to."

"Did you know that Mr. Argyle contemplated
rechanging his will a few hours before his death?"

Again she met his steady gaze as she replied,
firmly :

"Yes I had been urging him to do it."

Kayton bowed.

in



THE ARGYLE CASE

"That's all," he smiled. Then, as if changing
the subject, he took up the finger-print impressions
and added, carelessly: "We have here the finger-
prints of all the women of the family who were in the
house that night except yours, and we'd like yours."

"Mine?" she exclaimed, opening wide her eyes in
surprise.

"Yes. They are needed for identification pur-
poses. There are no two alike in the world," he
answered, quickly.

"What do I do?" she asked, with a timid smile.

Taking one of the pieces of prepared paper, the
detective placed it on the desk. Amiably he said:

"Just lay your fingers flatly on this blank piece
of paper and press on it."

She laughed nervously.

"I can't hold my hands steady."

"That doesn't matter."

She made the print with the flat of her hand as
directed; and, this done, he slipped before her an-
other piece of the paper.

"Now your thumbs, please."

When she had made an impression to his satis-
faction, he passed the papers to his assistant.

"See if you can bring these out, Joe."

Quickly the young man brushed the impressions
with lampblack, bringing out the finger and hand
prints with startling clearness. Mary, greatly in-
terested, watched him curiously. When she saw her
hand reproduced so accurately in black, she started.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, apprehensively.

"What is it?" demanded Kayton, looking at her
with a smile,

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THE ARGYLE CASE

"It's so gruesome! Can I go?"

"Yes. That's all for the present, thank you."

He bowed politely as she left the room. Directly
the door was closed behind her he ran over to the
table.

"Quick, Joe!" he exclaimed.

The assistant watched the door while Kayton
quickly compared with the magnifying-glass the
table finger-prints with the impressions made of
the young girl's hands. His assistant waited breath-
lessly for the result.

"Is it the girl?" he gasped.

"No!" exclaimed Kayton, jubilantly.

Joe stared. Had the chief suddenly taken leave
of his senses ? Here they were breaking their heads
trying to fit people's hands to the table impression,
and Kayton actually seemed pleased when they
didn't fit. Shaking his head, he held out another
of the prints he had taken, saying, laconically:

"Mrs. Wyatt?"

Kayton examined it closely.

"No," he answered, less joyfully.

"The cook," said Joe, handing out another.

"No."

"Kitty?"

"No."

"Miss Thornton?"

Kayton shook his head. None of the women they
had in view had made the finger - impressions.
Positively he said:

"No. The woman who was in the room that
night came from the outside. We've got to find her,
Joe, wherever she is."

"3



THE ARGYLE CASE

The assistant threw up his hands in despair.

"Gee! That's a big order!"

Outside was heard the sound of voices. Foot-
steps were approaching. Kayton went quickly to
the door. As he passed his assistant he whispered:

"When I leave the room, come with me. I want
to get Hurley out of the way."

Opening the door and thrusting his head into the
hall, he called out:

"You may come in now."



CHAPTER X

BRUCE entered, followed by Miss Masuret and
Mr. Hurley. The young man gave the detec-
tive a quick, keen look, and from him his glance
went to Mary, as if trying to tell from the expression
of their faces what had taken place between them.
But before he could ask any questions Kayton turned
to the lawyer. With apparent cordiality he said:

"Mr. Hurley, I'd like to have a little chat with
you if you don't object. Do you mind going up to
the billiard-room? I'll join you there immediately."

The lawyer bowed and went toward the door.

"By all means, Mr. Kayton. I'll go right up."

"Yes go up. I'm coming."

The lawyer went out, and Kayton, making a move-
ment as if he intended following him, partially
closed the door behind him. But, unseen either
by Bruce or Mary, he suddenly retraced his steps
and, concealing himself behind a screen, stood lis-
tening.

Utterly unconscious of the fact that they were
overheard, Mary went quickly to the young man.
Her arms outstretched, she cried in distress:

"Oh, Bruce, I've so much wanted to speak to you
ever since "

The young man looked at her in surprise.

"Why, what is it, Mary?"

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THE ARGYLE CASE

Her bosom heaving, almost breathless from fear
and anxiety, the young girl faltered :

"The detective made me tell "

Bruce stared at her in amazement.

"Made you tell made you tell what?"

For a moment she said nothing, but looked at
him in silence, hardly daring to give expression to
the dreadful thoughts that were on her mind. Sud-
denly she burst out:

"Oh, Bruce! Can't you prove that you didn't
come back here that night! Can't you establish an
alibi?"

He still stared at her, not understanding.

"Mary, I don't know what you mean."

Almost hysterical, she went on:

" I was awake I heard your father go to the door.
Oh! I meant never to tell any one; but he made
me I don't know how! Can't you prove that it
wasn't you?"

The blood rushed to the young man's face, then
receded, leaving him deathly pale. Ah! Now he
understood. Mary, too, believed him guilty of
this horrible crime. Seizing hold of her arm al-
most roughly, his voice tense and broken, he ex-
claimed :

"Mary, what are you saying? That you heard
father let me in?"

"Oh, Bruce, I thought I heard your voice I
thought I heard you quarreling."

He looked at her in silence for a few moments.
His lips worked spasmodically, as if he were trying
to control himself, before speaking. Finally he said,
bitterly :

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THE ARGYLE CASE

"What have you been thinking? That I came
back here and quarreled with my father and and
How could you think such a thing?"

She extended her arms appealingly.

"Oh, I didn't think it was on purpose, Bruce!
Indeed I didn't!"

"What did you think?" he demanded.

"He was always so so violent when he got
angry at you I thought he did something made
an attack on you, and you had to defend yourself.
Of course, I knew it was an accident, Bruce
Don't look like that, Bruce!"

His face grew whiter, his mouth quivered with the
emotion he could not control. The sense of wrong
done him was overwhelming, and aroused within
him such intensity of indignation that he could not
trust himself to speak. At last, with an effort, he
demanded, hoarsely:

"Have you believed all this time that I killed my
father?"

"I tell you, Bruce, I thought it was an accident.
I didn't blame you."

"An accident! Why, if such a thing had hap-
pened, wouldn't I have called you roused the house
got help? How could you think such a thing?
Mary, do you think so now?"

She held out her arms to him. Thank God, he
was innocent! Her face, radiant now that all
doubts were removed, her voice trembling with
emotion, she exclaimed:

"No no not you, Bruce! You couldn't have
done that!"

The sudden revulsion of feeling was almost too

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THE ARGYLE CASE

much for her. She stumbled and collapsed on a
chair.

But the young man, now thoroughly aroused,
bitterly indignant at the injustice of these suspicions,
was not so easily pacified. Heedless of her distress,
he exclaimed, sarcastically:

"You do you do, eh?"

Kayton had heard enough. Emerging from be-
hind the screen and slamming the door as if he had
re-entered the room, he came toward them. Bruce
motioned to him to approach. Bitterly he said:

"Just in time, Mr. Kayton! At last we've got
hold of something worth while giving to the papers.
Miss Masuret heard me come back. . . . That ought
to satisfy the yellow press. That ought to clear her!
I did not come back, but give it out just the same
I can stand it! Give it out!"

He snatched up his hat and cane and made for the
door. Mary tried to stop him, but before she could
reach him, he rushed out of the room.

"Bruce! Bruce!" she cried after him, in great
distress.

She staggered toward Kayton.

"Help us, do help us!" she cried, imploringly.
"Don't say he came back here! I was wrong I'm
sure I was. He says he didn't come please don't
tell any one! What have I done? Oh, what have
I done?"

The detective placed his hands firmly on the young
girl's shoulders. Quietly but kindly he said:

"You've done just the right thing. All will be
well. I begin to see daylight. I want you to pull
yourself together. I'm going to need you. I'm

118



THE ARGYLE CASE

counting on you. We need you. Will you help
me?"

"Oh I can't I can't"

"Yes, you can; you're just the right sort of a girl.
You want to clear him, don't you? As much as he
wants to clear you ? "

"Yes^oh yes I"

He patted her on the back reassuringly.

"Well, then, it's all right. You go to your room
and pull yourself together, and I'll let you know
when I need you."

He turned from her as if the matter were closed.
She drew a half-sobbing breath, looked at him from
under her drooping, swollen eyelids, then turned and
went slowly in the direction of the door. He looked
after her curiously for a moment, then he called
after her:

"Miss Masuret!"

She stopped and slowly turned round. He ap-
proached her, and for a few moments they looked into
each other's eyes in silence. Finally, he broke the
spell. Kindly, he said:

"Just a moment. I want you to promise me that
you won't worry any more. I can't say yet who's
responsible for all this, but I do know that neither
you nor Bruce had anything to do with it."

Her face flushed with pleasure. Quickly she
exclaimed :

"You do! Oh thank you, Mr. Kay ton!"

"Yes, I am convinced of it, and if I never do
anything else as long as I live, I'm going to clear this
mystery up for your sake. I want you to believe
that. Do you think you can trust me?"

119



THE ARGYLE CASE

She looked at him earnestly. Frankness and sin-
cerity were reflected in every line of her pale, earnest-
looking face. The detective, watching her in silence,
thought he had seldom seen a more attractive-looking
girl. Fervently she exclaimed :

"Yes oh yes I'm so thankful to you. . . ."

She tried to say more, but, overcome with emotion,
hurriedly left the room.

Kayton made no further attempt to stop her.
After her departure he stood still, lost in thought.

Everything was clear as daylight now. Both
Bruce and Mary were innocent. No inmate of the
house had committed the murder. The midnight
assassin was not a burglar or any ordinary criminal.
It was some one with whom Mr. Argyle was well
acquainted, some one he knew well enough to invite
to his house at such a late hour as one o'clock in the
morning. It might be some one with whom he had
business dealings and who considered himself wronged.
The person had come to the house to demand an
explanation or redress, and a heated argument had
followed. Miss Masuret was sure she heard voices
raised in angry dispute. No doubt they quarreled,
and the stranger, losing self-control, killed his host.
Certainly it was as plausible a theory as any other.
Who was the stranger? That was the next thing to
find out. The strong presumption was that it was
the same person whose telephone message earlier
in the evening had so perturbed the banker. The
first step was to consult the telephone records and
find out who called the Argyle residence about that
time. Then, all at once, another idea flashed across
the detective's active brain. Was the brand new

1 20



THE ARGYLE CASE

one-hundred-dollar bill a clue? Could there be any
connection between that banknote and the murder?
Was the note genuine? If it was a counterfeit, a
great deal might be at once explained. If the old
man, for some inexplicable reason, had had any
dealings with counterfeiters, dangerous and des-
perate men who would stop at nothing, the solution
of the mystery would be at hand. The first step
was to get Washington on the wire and tell them
to rush a Secret Service agent to New York.

The detective was still buried in deep thought
when Joe entered for instructions.

"Have you got anything yet, gov'nor, that I can
work on ? "

Aroused from his reverie, Kayton's manner under-
went an abrupt change. Turning quickly to his
assistant, he said:

"Yes call up Chief Flynn!"

The young man stared in astonishment.

"Washington!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, Washington," retorted the chief, sharply.
"Did you think the Secret Service has moved?
6400 Main."

Trained to obey without question, the young man
without further comment went to the telephone and
unhooked the receiver. As he did so, Kayton held
out his hand.

"Give me that magnifying-glass, Joe."

Drawing the glass from his pocket, and handing
it to his employer, the young man turned to the
telephone.

"Hello, Central. Give me long distance."

As he waited for the connection, he wondered
9 121



THE ARGYLE CASE

what was in the wind. What could Washington have
to do with this case? Finally his curiosity got the
better of him.

"What's up, gov'nor?" he asked.

Kayton took from his pocket the banknote he had
found in the desk and studied it carefully through
the glass. Slowly he replied:

"I've got a hunch there's something queer about
this bill."

The telephone rang. Joe spoke quickly into the
transmitter:

"Hello, long distance! I want Washington, 640x3
Main." Turning to his chief, he said, "You know it's
funny to me one of those cops didn't pinch that
hundred-dollar bill?"

Kayton chuckled as he replied, grimly:

"Joe, a man's mouth is responsible for a good deal
of damage if he doesn't use his brain. You've got
that New York habit of knocking the police force."

Embarrassed at the rebuke, the young man ex-
claimed, in some confusion:

"What's that, gov'nor?"

"Suppose there are a few grafters among our ten
thousand policemen whose fault is it? Yours and
mine, Joe, for putting the political grafters over
them; and I'll tell you something else, Joe, while
we're on this subject: there are a lot of tough guys
here in New York, but there are- damned few who
want to start anything single-handed with a New
York cop, and don't you forget it."

Joe grinned.

" I guess you're right. I never looked at it in that
light."

122



THE ARGYLE CASE

"No, and a lot of other people never looked at it
like that, but it goes just the same."

Still seated at the telephone, Joe began speaking
to Washington:

"Hello! Is the chief in? Mr. Kayton wants to
speak to him." Turning to his employer, he said,
hastily: "Here he is, gov'nor."

Kayton hurried over and took his place at the
transmitter. Before speaking he turned to his
assistant:

"Quick, Joe, cover the doors!"

The young man at once locked the door leading
to the hall and hurried out the other way. Kayton
began talking into the telephone.

"Is this Mr. Flynn? Hello, Chief. ... Oh, hard at
work." Lowering his voice, he went on: "Have you
had any report of a counterfeit hundred-dollar gold
certificate -9737? E a, b, c, d, e, 973 don't
you get it ? Well, I can't speak any louder . . . you
understand. That's it. Series of 1907 yes. You
haven't? Well, I have one here that I thought
might be bad. No; but it looks a little light. If
it's counterfeit, it's the best one I've ever seen.
No; they must have bleached to get the paper. The
head's a corker. . . . Very well, I'll turn it over to
the New York office.- No. It's a murder case. Well
thank you very much. Good-by, Mr. Flynn."

Hanging up the receiver, he rose from the desk and
called out:

"Come in, Joe!"

The assistant reappeared on the threshold. As he
entered he turned and spoke to some one in the
outside hall :

123



THE ARGYLE CASE

"You can come in now, Mr. Hurley."

Kayton, meantime, quickly slipped the hundred-
dollar bill back into the envelope, which he put in his
pocket. The next instant Mr. Hurley came in, fol-
lowed by Joe.

Aggressive and with his usual self-important air,
the lawyer entered jauntily, swinging his cane and
glancing keenly from one to the other. Watching
the detective's face closely, he asked:

"Well, how are we getting along with the mystery,
Mr. Kayton?"

The detective shrugged his shoulders.

"My dear Mr. Hurley, there's no such thing as a
mystery, if you use a little common sense. You know
in a case of this sort you're confronted by a long line
of facts, and you hammer away till you break through
somewhere. By the by, Mr. Hurley, when you first
met Mr. Argyle How did you meet him ? "

The lawyer smiled broadly.

"Well, now, Mr. Kayton, I'll tell you about that.
I had a Western proposition in which I wanted to
interest him, and I went to his office, and he proved
to be a very approachable man. I laid the matter
before him in the usual way. He took it up, investi-
gated it, found it was what I said it was, and we got
together on it. I suppose that gave him confidence
in me. Anything else I can do?"

"No, thank you," said Kayton, dryly.

The lawyer turned to go. Carelessly he said:

"Well, call me up in the morning, if I can be of
any help."

"I won't be here to-morrow," replied the detective,
dryly. "I'll be in Pittsburgh

124



THE ARGYLE CASE

The lawyer opened his eyes. With mock sympa-
thy he asked:

"Have you got to go to Pittsburg?"

The detective shrugged his shoulders.

"Do you think I'd go if I didn't have to? Some
of my operatives have just rounded up a case there,
and I've got to see the man and pull him across.
I expect to take the night train back, however."

The lawyer proceeded to the door. When he
reached it he halted and stood for a moment in the
doorway, looking back. With a chuckle, he said :

"I'll see you the day after to-morrow, then."

Kayton smiled grimly.

"Yes yes do. Good morning."

The visitor disappeared, and Kayton began putting
on his coat. Turning to his assistant, he pointed
significantly in the direction the attorney had taken.

"Trail him, Joe!" he said, in a whisper.

"What?" exclaimed the young man, staring at his
chief in astonishment. Kayton did not stop to ex-
plain. He merely repeated, laconically:

"Follow Hurley!"

"Hurley!" gasped the assistant.

The detective nodded. Shrewdly he said:

"When a man says, ' Well, now, I'll tell you about
that,' it's one safe bet he's lying. Trail him!"

Joe made a wild dash for the door, but, catching in
his chief's eyes an expression of disapproval, sud-
denly checked himself and went out quietly.

Kayton waited for a few moments after his subordi-
nate's departure, then carelessly picked up his hat
and gloves and followed him out.



CHAPTER XI

THE announcement that America's famous detec-
tive had been retained to probe the Argyle mur-
der caused public interest in this cause celebre to run
higher than ever. The latest developments were
followed with breathless attention, the newspapers
devoted columns to the affair, featuring sensational
details, publishing pictures more or less accurate of
the Argyle house and room where the body was
discovered, giving portraits of Mary Masuret and
Bruce Argyle, printing interviews with friends, ser-
vants, policemen, detectives, or whoever was in a
position to throw the slightest light on this extra-
ordinary case, which, owing to the prominence of the
victim, made it one of the most sensational murders
in the dark annals of local crime.

Public opinion by this time had completely ex-
onerated both the son and the adopted daughter
from being in any way involved in the tragedy.
Bruce's straightforward, manly attitude, his genuine
grief over his father's death, and consistent, honor-
able behavior throughout had gained him the respect
of all, while any suspicion which the libelous, heart-
less innuendos of scandalous yellow newspapers had
directed toward Miss Masuret had been completely
dispelled by Kayton himself, who, in an interview
conspicuously featured, declared most positively that

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THE ARGYLE CASE

he was personally convinced of the girl's innocence


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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 7 of 14)