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and that all such gossip and rumors were cruel
slander. In fact, so eloquent a champion did Kayton
show himself that his office associates, who had al-
ways regarded him as a cynical old bachelor, dead
to all sentiment, looked at each other and whistled

Yet some one had killed John Argyle. There could
be no question about that, and the fact that robbery
had not been the motive only made the mystery the
more baffling. There were many who owed the old
millionaire a grudge for his sharp practice, but there
is a wide difference between disliking a man and
killing him. Yet it was certain that the unknown
person who had secretly visited him late on the night
of the murder might have some strong reason for
wishing the banker out of the way.

Kayton, whose instinct rarely failed him, was now
more than ever convinced that he had hit a trail in
the new one-hundred-dollar banknote. The more
he examined the bill, the more he believed it to be
spurious. When the Secret Service agent arrived he
would be able to tell in a moment. If the bill were
false, it was quite within the possibilities that the
dead man knew it, that he had threatened the
counterfeiters, and the latter, in fear of exposure,
had not hesitated to kill him. It was, of course,
only a theory at best, but since the one-hundred-
dollar note had been found in the dead man's desk,
it was worth looking into. On the other hand,
what possible dealings could a wealthy man like John
Argyle have with a band of crooks ? It was certainly
most puzzling.



For several days following the examination of the
Argyle servants the Kayton offices fairly sizzled with
activity. Detectives came and went; wires and
telephones were kept hot in every direction. Every
resource at the command of the most efficient de-
tective bureau on earth was put in motion to appre-
hend the slayer of John Argyle.

Kayton himself remained most of the time at his
desk directing the campaign. The more he studied
the case, the more convinced did he become that at
least one person intimately connected with the
Argyle household would bear watching. He had not
liked the man's manner from the outset. He was
tricky and catlike. Certainly Mr. Hurley would
bear watching.

The chief never reached his office before ten o'clock,
and this morning he was later than usual. It caused
no comment among his staff, for it was Kayton's
custom to stop off at places on the way down-town
in order to make investigations on his own account.
In very important cases he never relied entirely on
others; he accepted only what his own eyes could see.
That was why he was often kept out himself.

Detective Nash was impatiently awaiting his
arrival, while Manager Leishman, looking more
clerical and benevolent than ever, kept him company.
Nash, for want of something better to do, took from
a cardboard box on Kayton's desk a new pair of
handcuffs, the bright steel of which shone like pol-
ished silver in the morning sunlight.

"Where'd we get these?" he growled.

Leishman smiled grimly.

"Oh, that's the latest thing in handcuffs they've



sent us. You see press this to open them. Now
brush against your man. Be sure you strike his
wrist and they snap on him this way. You see it
gives three sizes, too. If that were a woman, it
would close right down to the third one. And this
knuckle in the middle that's so they can't get any
leverage on it."

Nash chuckled.

"Well, that's the prettiest thing I've seen in a long
time! Gov'nor get in yet?"

Replacing the handcuffs in the box, the manager

"Not yet we expect him every minute."

Nash lit a cigar. Comically he said:

"I'll have to get a string to my hat. We'll all be
living in a high wind again to-day." Pointing to a
voluminous manuscript lying on the chief's desk, he
asked: "What's all that?"

"Cortwright's report on the Argyle case on the

"Do you expect him to read all that?"

"No; he won't read it, but he'll know what's
in it."

Suddenly the telephone - bell rang. Leishman
took off the receiver, while Nash sauntered over to
the window.

"Hello. Where are you now? Well! Where's
that? What have you done ? Oh, you locked them
both up. I didn't think they had a jail there.
You'd better put a couple of men to see they don't
rob the jailer. Hurry on and clean it up. We've
got a case here for you an awful foxy fellow. He
tests himself every time he takes a street-car. So



crooked he couldn't lie straight in bed, and he looks
under it before he gets in. No, he's an old bachelor."

Leishman hung up the receiver with a grin, and
as he did so the office door swung open and in walked
Kayton, bag in hand.

"Hello, boys!"

"Good morning, gov'nor!" said Nash, cheerily.

"Good morning, Chief," bowed the more punctili-
ous Mr. Leishman.

Nash grinned at his superior.

"Well, how's Pittsburg, gov'nor?"

Kayton quickly put his finger to his lips in warn-
ing and went straight to his desk. Taking a re-
volver from his pocket, he first slipped it into a
drawer. Then, looking up, he replied:

"How's Pittsburg? 'Ssh! We got the whole
bunch. One weak-knee came through, and all the
rest tumbled."

" Do you think you'll get convictions ?" demanded

Kayton laughed.

"Convictions? If they sat on their own juries
they couldn't help themselves out of jail now."

"All grafting, gov'nor?" asked Nash.

Dropping into his seat, the chief answered:

"Yes, and what makes me sore is, they went
around four-flushing about how they were going to
shoot me, and the newspaper-boys played it up till
those damned insurance companies canceled every
accident policy I had."

Nash chuckled.

"Couldn't you sue them on that?"

"Sue who?" demanded Kayton, affecting surprise^



"The newspapers."

Kayton burst into a laugh.

"Sue a newspaper! Wake up!"

Hanging his employer's coat on a hook, Nash left
the office, while Kayton turned to Leishman and
pointed to the pile of papers on his desk.

"Is there anything here I ought to see?"

The manager shook his head.

"No, I've attended to them." Pointing to a pile
of letters and telegrams on the desk, he added:
"There's your other mail."

Seated at his desk, Kayton started to look over
his correspondence. Picking up a telegram, he
exclaimed :

"If this fellow doesn't quit sending telegrams he'll
spoil everything. Wire him we'll let him know
when we've got something to tell him. Sign it
David Tuttle. Is Sam out there?"


"Send him in."

Leishman went to the door and called into the
outer office.


This done, the manager left the room. Mean-
time, Kayton turned to the report and glanced
through it rapidly. While thus engaged a man
about forty years of age, of husky build and fresh
complexion, entered the office. Advancing to the
desk, he said, cordially:

"Good morning, gov'nor."

Kayton nodded.

"Good morning, Sam. Tell me about this Ar-
gyle report."


"Well, we've run out all the inside servants and
the cook and the chauffeur. Nothing wrong there
at all. We've found the policeman that was on
the beat. He has nothing. We looked up some of
the discharged servants a coachman. Nothing in

"Did you look up Mrs. Wyatt?"

"Yes, sir. Nothing there nothing but a gabby
old woman."

Kayton chuckled. Mimicking the housekeeper,
he laughed: "Yes, I know what you mean. I know
what you mean." Becoming serious again, he took
up a telegram and said: "I see you couldn't locate
that telephone call?"

"No, sir."

The chief made a gesture of dismissal.

"All right. That's all. Send Joe in here."

The man went out, and Kayton turned with re-
doubled vigor to the accumulation of work on his
desk. There were letters and telegraphic reports
from his operatives all over the country, telling of
clues followed up, suspected people shadowed, in-
tricate, puzzling details of a dozen different cases
that would be absolutely incomprehensible to any
intelligence not specially trained for such work.
To a man of Kayton's mental capacity it was all
the merest child's play. As quick as he scanned
one despatch he smashed it on a hook and picked
up another, his alert brain grasping immediately
the relative importance of each message, able to
seize instantly what was practical and of immediate
value from what was merely theoretical. Like most
successful men, Kayton never wasted time; he was



never idle for a moment. Full of tremendous
energy, he could attend to a dozen matters at once,
and when he was once at his desk things fairly
hummed. He was still busy perusing rapidly one
telegram after another when Joe entered in obedi-
ence to the summons. The young man looked tired,
and had a bad scratch across his face covered with
sticking-plaster. His employer looked at him in

"Hello, Joe!" he exclaimed, cordially. "Marked
for identification?"

Advancing to the desk, the assistant put his hand
to his cheek. Ruefully he said:

"Picked that up trailing Hurley. A wise cop got
after me, and I fell down a fire-escape."

"How about Hurley?" demanded his chief,

Joe shook his head.

"Nothing doing. Haven't been able to line him
up with anything. We take him out in the morn-
ing and trail him around all day from one office to
another. He don't go to court. Nothing busy in
his office but the telephone. We take him home
and put him to bed at night do everything but
hear him say his prayers."

Kay ton laughed. Good-humoredly he said:

"Well, don't lose him. Did you attend to that
fake 'Personal' about Nellie Marsh Miss Masuret's
mother about the fake legacy?"

The young man nodded.

"It's planted in this morning's Herald, and if
Nellie Marsh sees it we'll get her."

"Sure you got it right?" asked Kayton, anxiously.


For answer the assistant picked up a copy of the
New York Herald and proceeded to look for the ad-
vertisement. Quickly he said:

"I think so."

"Read it to me."

At last the young man found what he was looking
for, and, coming closer, he read aloud:

"Information wanted regarding 'N. M.,' benefi-
ciary , Argyle estate. Address Mead y Tolworthy,
St. Paul Building."

Kayton smiled grimly.

"Did the papers bite?"

"Well, yesterday's Telegram played it up. Their
men beat it to Tolworthy's, and when they couldn't
find out anything they chucked in some more mys-
tery about a new murder clue and a missing heir
to the Argyle estate."

The chief chuckled.

"Well, if she doesn't see the 'Personal,' that ought
to reach her."

As he spoke the bell of the desk telephone rang
sharply. Kayton pulled the apparatus to him and,
after listening a moment, spoke into it:

"Mr. Hurley? Oh ask him to come in." Hastily
hanging up the receiver, he turned to his assistant.
"Here, Joe, take these telegrams they're all mixed
up with half a dozen aliases for each counterfeiter.
Pick out the information and make a sort of record
of past performances sit over there at the desk
and keep an ear this way on Hurley."

Taking off his coat and hat, the young man hung
them up. This done, he took the bunch of tele-
grams from the chief's desk over to the corner of



the room, where he had his own desk, and sat there
looking them over. While he was thus occupied the
door of the outer office was pushed open and Mr.
Hurley appeared.

The lawyer gave a swift, keen glance round the
office to see who was there; then, removing his hat
with more politeness than he usually showed, he
advanced to the desk and said:

"I just wanted to speak to you for a moment,
Mr. Kayton."

The detective looked up and gave the visitor a
cool nod. Carelessly he answered:

"Glad to see you any time, Mr. Hurley. I ex-
pect to get a good deal of assistance from you."

The lawyer laughed nervously.

"I dont know about that; but, of course, I'll be
glad to do anything I can."

The detective held out a box of cigars.



The lawyer took a seat and, lighting a cigar,
crossed his legs comfortably. After a few puffs in
silence, he said:

"By the way, in line with your theory, that it
was an old servant who was blackmailing, it occurred
to me that they used to have a coachman who may
have had a grievance because the chauffeur sup-
planted him."

Kayton looked up quickly.

"Do you remember his name, Mr. Hurley?"

"No; but I suppose the family would have it."

"Thanks. I'll look him up."

Another silence followed, during which both men



puffed away quietly at their cigars. Every now and
then the detective gave his visitor a swift, sideways
glance, as if trying to read what was really passing
in the lawyer's mind.

What was the real motive of this visit ? Certainly
not to talk about coachmen with grievances. No;
it was impossible to give Mr. Hurley credit for such
unselfishness. He would hardly have taken the
trouble to call merely to tell him that. The real
object of his visit probably was to learn something
of more immediate concern to himself.

Suddenly Mr. Hurley broke the silence. Casual-
ly he remarked:

"I saw the Mead & Tolworthy 'Personal' in the
Herald yesterday, and thought it might be a new
clue; but they say not. Thev referred me to

Pretending to be busy with his papers, Kay ton
for a moment made no answer. Then, after a
pause, he said, unconcernedly:

"Yes, they consulted me. In Mr. Argyle's will
drawn up by old Mr. Tolworthy there was a legacy
to a Miss Nellie Marsh the present firm has no
knowledge of any Nellie Marsh. That information
evidently died with old Mr. Tolworthy and Mr.
Argyle. They asked me to find her, thinking there
might be some scandal."

The lawyer listened eagerly.

"Yes yes "

"And for that reason I used only the initials
N. M. Did you ever hear Mr. Argyle refer to a
Miss Marsh?"

Mr. Hurley sat back in his chair, and in his ex-



asperating self-important manner replied, senten-

"Well, now, I'll tell you about that. When we
were discussing the new will we didn't get to the
lesser legatees."

The detective shook his head.

"It's too large a sum to have been simply a be-
quest to an old servant. It runs up in the thou-

"Well, in that case the person will doubtless be
expecting to be remembered by Mr. Argyle, and
show up."

He rose, as if the conversation had taken a turn
that no longer interested him. The detective
watched him for a moment in silence, and then he
said, carelessly:

"Oh yes, the whole thing may be perfectly inno-
cent; but to avoid anything unpleasant for the family
the lawyers thought they'd better be on the safe
side. You understand, Mr. Hurley, this is strictly

"Oh, of course, of course certainly."

At that moment the telephone-bell rang. Kayton
picked up the receiver. After listening, he said:

"Ask him to wait a minute!"

The lawyer made a move in the direction of the

"Well, I won't take up any more of your time."

"Going so soon? Come in again, Mr. Hurley."

" Thank you, I will. I shall be interested to hear
if there are any new developments in the case."

"I'll keep you posted," smiled the detective,
politely, as he saw his caller to the door.
10 137


A> the sound of the lawyer's footsteps died away
the detective turned to his assistant. Trium-
phantly he exclaimed: "Looks like a nibble, Joe."

"It certainly does," grinned the youth.

Again the telephone-bell rang sharply. Kayton
unhooked the receiver, and after listening a second
said, cordially:

"Ask Mr. Colt to come in."

Outside in the outer office a big, hearty voice was
heard saying:

"All right, Leish, I'll go right in."

The door was thrown open, and there entered a
big, thick-set man with a breezy manner. He was
well fed and well-salaried looking, like most govern-
ment employees.

"Hello, you old plutocrat!" was his cordial greet-
ing, as he caught sight of the detective.

"Hello, Colt," laughed Kayton.

The new-comer turned about and glanced curious-
ly round the room.

"You've got an office like a bloated Senator,
haven't you? What you tryin' to do to us with
that hundred-dollar bill?"

Kayton looked up eagerly.

"Well," he demanded, "is it phony?"



The Secret Service officer drew the note from his
pocket and nodded.

"Yes; but it's a dandy! It's better than the real.
You've got the luck of a drunken Indian."

"That's what they all call it," smiled Kay ton.

"You go out on a measly murder case and stub
your toe on a thing like this! Let me tell you
it's a bomb under the Treasury. We've wired
Washington, and they've got a scare out all over the
country. If you turn up the man who made that
the Republicans '11 elect you President."

Kay ton laughed heartily as he retorted:

"The Republicans will have a hell of a time
electing anybody President."

"I never have any luck like that," grumbled Colt,
handing him back the note.

Kayton's eyes twinkled mischievously.

"You're not Irish," he laughed.

"Yes, I am too; but it was so mild it didn't

Taking a box of his choicest cigars from their
hiding-place in a lower drawer, the detective held
it out.

"Smoke, Colt?"


The agent took a cigar.

"Have any others turned up?" demanded Kayton,
his mind full of the business on hand.

Colt lit his cigar leisurely. Laconically he an-
swered :

"No, but the country may soon be crawling
with 'em."

Putting the cigar-box down on the table, Kayton


went over to the window and stood carefully inspect-
ing the note.

"How do you suppose they ever put it together?"
he asked.

The agent shrugged his shoulders.

"It's a photographic process that's a cinch. No
hand ever touched that plate. Look at the lathe-

Colt settled himself down comfortably in his chair.
The day was young, and Kayton's cigars were ex-
cellent. There was no reason why he should hurry
away. He would stop and talk awhile. Taking
off his hat, he absent-mindedly placed it on his host's
desk, much to the horror of Kayton, who, resenting
the sacrilege, immediately handed it back to him.
The agent took it without offense and unconsciously
replaced it on his head. Still thinking of the counter-
feit, he went on:

"And look at the ink."

"Perfect!" exclaimed Kayton. "How'd you ever
get on to it?"

"Why, some of these silk fibers struck me as off
color." Explosively, he went on: "Say, this sort of
thing is going to knock the currency into a cocked
hat. Pretty soon you won't be able to take money
from a man unless he gives you a Masonic grip
with it. And you mean to tell me that you found
that bill in a millionaire's desk?"

Kayton smiled.

"It seems impossible, but I did."

The agent shook his head.

"It seems incredible that a man in Argyle's
position should mix himself up with a gang of



criminals who'd blackmail him for the rest of his

"I know. Talk about mysteries, Colt! This is
the only real mystery I ever met."

"Have you got any clue?"

"Well, I'm playing a long shot." Holding out the
banknote, he added: "Couldn't any of you experts
down at the office give a wild guess whose work
this was?"

The agent shook his head thoughtfully.

"No. There isn't a counterfeiter on the books
could do it. The man who got that up has been
quietly experimenting for years."

Kayton turned to his assistant.

"Let me have that list, Joe."

Opening a drawer in the archives, the young man
took out a paper containing the names of well-known
criminals already convicted for counterfeiting. Kay-
ton glanced it over.

"How about Brockton?" he said, musingly.

Colt shook his head.

"H'm he hasn't been out long enough."

"Could old man Rich have done it?"

Tipping back in his chair, Colt carelessly flicked
off his cigar-ash, which fell to the highly polished
floor. To Joe, who had been watching his free
and easy behavior with growing disapproval ever
since he came in, this was the last straw. Rising
with a scowl and coming forward, he kicked away
the ash and then returned indignantly to his seat,
quite unnoticed by the agent, whose mind was
intent on Kayton's suggestion. Colt shook his



"Oh no; he's too feeble. It may be a new-comer
in the business."

Laying the list down on the desk, Kayton passed
his hand over his brow. Thoughtfully he said:

"I've got a hunch that it's one of that 'Frisco gang
that was rounded up about fifteen years ago."

Colt looked up in surprise.

"Who do you mean?"

Instead of replying, Kayton made a gesture to his

"Joe, get me those wires from 'Frisco." The young
man handed him two telegrams, and he went on:

"There's a 'Frisco woman in the background of
the Argyle case. She was supposed to be dead. I
wired for information and found she'd been sent to
prison with a gang of counterfeiters. Here it is

Holding up one telegram, he read aloud:

' e Nellie Marsh sentenced to St. Quentin for three
years about time of reported death. Implicated with
Webster gang counterfeiters.' ' Holding up the other,
he again read: "' N. M. left state, expiration of sen-
tence. No further record here.' ' Looking up, Kay-
ton went on: "Now you remember, Colt, that the
man who made the plate for that Webster gang
was Kreisler Friederick Kreisler. He did some
pretty crafty work, and he hasn't been heard from

The agent started bolt upright in his chair.

"That's so!" he exclaimed. "Gee! That counter-
feit note hooked up with Argyle, and Argyle with
the woman, and the woman with the Webster gang
makes a noise like a lockstep!"

"Don't it?" chuckled the detective.



"I should say it does!"

In his excitement he again flecked off his cigar-
ash, but this time catching sight of Joe, who was still
watching him, he hastily covered the ashes with his
foot and glanced apprehensively in the direction of the
assistant's desk. With a subdued chuckle he said:

"I swear you've certainly got the luck!"

"I haven't got the woman or the man," replied
Kayton, grimly.

The agent laughed.

"Oh, you'll wake up to-morrow and find 'em
scratchin' at the door."

Before Kayton could reply the door of the outer
office opened, and Leishman entered with an opened
telegram, which he handed to his superior. Quickly
Kayton glanced it over.

"A wire from Washington. The chief '11 be here
at two o'clock."

Colt rose. With a laugh he said:

"I'll bet he's bringing a bad case of St. Vitus'
dance with him. Got the whole Secret Service on
the thing now. I'm off."

" Don't go, Colt," said Kayton, with a good-natured

Colt grinned.

"Oh, you discourage me! Things come so damned
easy to you."

Stooping quickly, he grabbed a handful of cigars
from the box on the desk and, putting them in his
pocket, walked out of the office laughing loudly,
while Kayton, eying the dilapidated cigar-box with
dismay, hastened to hide it away before another raid
could be made on it.


Joe looked after the retreating agent with scorn.
Contemptuously he said:

"He's got a lazy man's grouch, gov'nor. He
seems to think everything you do is luck."

Kayton smiled.

"Good luck's like lightning, Joe. It strikes the
man who keeps out in the rain."

"I guess you draw it, gov'nor, because you're
some live wire."

The chief picked up the telephone receiver. With
a gesture of good-natured impatience he exclaimed :

"Cut that, Joe. No bouquets. Get me Mead
& Tolworthy." As he hung up, he turned to his
assistant and said:

"Joe, we've got all the rocks flying with that

The youth chuckled.

"Yes; I was just thinking that murder was hard
on the Argyles, but it was a great thing for the

The telephone-bell rang. Kayton spoke into the

"Yes hello Mr. Tolworthy? This is Kayton.
Have you heard anything from our 'N. M.' 'Per-
sonal'? Yes, Hurley was in to see me. Oh! . . .
When did she call you up? Just now? Oh did you
think she was a reporter? Did you refer her to me?
Well, that was right. . . . No, she hasn't shown up
yet. . . . I'm much obliged to you, Mr. Tolworthy."
Hanging up and turning to his assistant, he said :

"Joe, tell the outer office that if any woman comes
from Mead & Tolworthy I want to see her right



The young man looked up. Eagerly he asked :

" 'N. M.' heard from, gov'nor?"

"Well, some woman called up Mead & Tol-
worthy a few minutes ago."

"Oh, just after Hurley left?"

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 8 of 14)