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Joe winked at his chief, a piece of familiarity he
only permitted himself to do at most important and
critical moments.

"Then it was a nibble?" he cried, triumphantly.

Kayton nodded. With a grim smile he replied:

"No, Joe a bite. He swallowed it hook, line,
and sinker."

The assistant, a broad grin on his face, went out of
the office just as Mr. Leishman came in. The
manager had in his hand some papers which he held
out to the chief.

"Mr. Argyle and Mrs. Wyatt are waiting to see
you, gov'nor."

"Show them right in."

The manager went out to summon the visitors.
As he disappeared, the telephone-bell rang. Kayton
picked up the receiver, and after listening a moment
replied with some impatience:

"Who? . . . Well, no. Tell him I can't see
him. Ask him to come to-morrow morning. No I
won't see him!"

He hung up the receiver just as Bruce and Mrs.
Wyatt entered from the outer office. Putting down
his cigar, he rose and said, politely:

"Good morning!"

"Good morning, Mr. Kayton," said Bruce, cor-



"Good morning, Mrs. Wyatt. Won't you be

They sat down, and the detective looked from one
to the other, wondering what had brought them.
Bruce soon enlightened him.

"Mr. Kayton, Mrs. Wyatt has remembered some-
thing my father said that she thinks might be a real
clue for you to work on."

The housekeeper, fussy and voluble as ever,
leaned heavily on the chief's desk at the risk of
spilling many of the papers.

"Yes, I don't know what brought it into my mind."

Nervously, almost unconsciously she moved the
telephone which stood between her and Kayton.
Instantly the detective seized it and put it back.
She noticed his annoyance and, murmuring an
apology, continued:

"I was eating breakfast drinking my coffee
when suddenly it came to me. I mean to say, I
recalled distinctly a conversation that we had once
at the table when he was reading the morning paper.
I couldn't repeat his words exactly, but whatever he
said was suggested by a case in the paper. Do you
know what I mean ? "

"But you told me " interrupted Bruce.

Kayton put out a hand.

"Just a moment, Mr. Argyle." Turning to the
housekeeper, he asked: "Do you remember what
the case was in the paper?"

She shook her head dubiously.

"Well, I can't say positively. I mean to say, I
don't know. But what he said was that he had gone
into something



"Of what sort?"

"Well, that he was speculating or investing and
he wished he hadn't. And what I felt at the time
was I distinctly remember it that he was in
danger "

"Of what?" demanded Kayton.

"That he was in danger of of being taken ad-
vantage of

Bruce made an impatient exclamation.

"Why, you told me somebody was trying to black-
mail him!"

She shook her head helplessly.

"I know. But I've been thinking it all over, and
it's much more clear to me. Do you know what I
mean ?"

"Then you don't think it was a blackmailing case
in the paper?" interrupted Kayton.

The housekeeper smirked.

"Well, I don't know. I think it was Mr. Bruce
who put that in my mind."

"You don't recall the date of the paper?"

She shook her head.

"No; but it must have been before I went away,
because it was his death that brought me back, you

Kayton nodded.

"I see. Thank you very much, Mrs. Wyatt.
It's quite possible that a man in Mr. Argyle's posi-
tion should have thought himself liable to be taken
advantage of."

Mrs. Wyatt beamed.

"I was sure you'd see something in it. I'll be
so glad if I've thought of it in time to help. I


mean to say, it seems as if we'd never find out the

Kayton rose in self-defense, and she rattled on.

"I don't mean to hurry you, Mr. Kayton." With
a gesture of despair the detective sank back in his
seat, and she continued: "But here are the papers
again this morning, trying to show now that Bruce
did it, and that's just as awful as to say that Mary
did it. And, by the way, I want to know what that
N. M. 'Personal' meant? They told me to ask you."

"Well, Mrs. Wyatt, that's simply an attempt to
reach an old employee named Nathan Mills."

"Oh, I thought perhaps I thought it meant "

Bruce now came to the rescue. Breaking in, he

"You've got an appointment, Mrs. Wyatt."

Again Kayton rose as if the interview were ended.
Bruce moved toward the door, followed reluctantly
by the housekeeper. Before she had gone half-way,
however, Mrs. Wyatt turned round. Explosively
she burst forth again:

"After eleven o'clock! Good gracious! What will
my dressmaker say? I'm so sorry, Mr. Kayton.
One has to keep appointments on time with a dress-
maker just like doctors and dentists, and I suppose
it's the same way with detectives. They keep you
waiting hours, but that doesn't matter because,
you see, you pay them. Do you know what I
mean ?"

Bruce bustled her unceremoniously toward the
door. Hastily he said:

"I'll go down to the taxi with you."

"Good-by," said Kayton, with a smile.



His irony and Bruce's impatience did not escape
the housekeeper. Again halting, she exclaimed,

"I know you both think I'm talking too much;
but when I have anything to say I have to say it
my own way. I shouldn't have said anything if
you hadn't asked me to now don't hurry me!
I'm not going without saying good-by to Mr.

Afraid she would come back, the detective has-
tened forward.

"Good-by, Mrs. Wyatt."

"Good-by!" she said, frigidly, with offended dig-

She went out grandly, followed by Bruce. They
had no sooner disappeared than Leishman appeared.

"Gov'nor, will you please sign these papers?"
Indicating the room at the back with a nod, he added,
quickly: "Miss Masuret is here."

"All right," said Kayton, closing his cabinet.

Hastening to the door, he opened it and called out:

"Come in, Miss Masuret. I'm delighted to see
you. How are you to-day?"


IT was no longer with fear and trembling that
Mary Masuret came into the presence of the
world-famous detective. She felt rather that she
was coming to see a friend. During all the dark,
agonizing days of doubt and suspicion, when every
one's hand seemed raised against her, Mr. Kayton
alone had shown her kindness and consideration.
Instead of an implacable enemy she had found in
him a champion. Quickly convinced of her inno-
cence, he had taken prompt and effective steps to
silence once for all the cruel, baseless rumors that
had circulated about her, and he had threatened
with legal proceedings any newspaper which printed
anything further reflecting upon her character.
For this and other services rendered at such a critical
time the young girl could not but feel deeply grate-
ful. Indeed, it was more than gratitude that she
owed him. She felt that she would be hopelessly in
his debt all her life.

Kayton smilingly held out his hand as the young
girl came in, making no effort to conceal the fact
that he was glad to see her. She took it shyly, and
for a moment they stood, hands clasped, without
speaking. Finally, breaking the silence which had
begun to embarrass her, he repeated:

"How are you this morning?"



Her voice was slightly constrained and manner
nervous as she answered, in a low voice:

"Very well, thank you."

She advanced farther into the room, and he
pointed to a seat near his desk. But she did not
sit down, and for a few moments he also stood,
watching her closely.

"Did you have any trouble getting down here?"

She smiled wearily as she answered:

"The reporters were in front of the house, so I
came out the servants' entrance on the side street.
And I didn't wear mourning I was afraid it would
attract attention." Changing her tone abruptly and
turning to face him, she added, quickly: "Mr. Kay-
ton, didn't you promise me that you wouldn't make
public what I said about Bruce coming back that

He smiled.

"No, I didn't promise you, but I didn't make it

She clasped her hands with delight. Impulsively
she cried:

"Oh, I'm so glad because I trusted you be-
lieved in you! Then it must have been Bruce."

She sank into the chair close to the desk and
looked up at him with eyes in which there shone a
soft light of gratitude for all he was doing for her.
He looked at her in silent admiration for a moment,
and then he said:

"Yes, I suppose he gave it out himself. Miss
Masuret, if anything comes up again, or if I do
anything that you don't understand, please don't
lose faith in me. There may be several things about


this case that I'll never be able to explain to you.
It's bad enough for you to have been dragged into
it, and I want to save you all the annoyance I can."

Again she clasped her hands ecstatically.

"Oh, you're so good to me! I don't know what
I'd do without you!"

He laughed as he retorted, quickly:

"Please don't try to do without me!"

He had leaned forward as he said it, and there was
a look in his eyes and an earnestness in his voice that
made the girl's cheeks burn. She drew away slightly
embarrassed, and the detective, noticing it, pulled
himself up with a jerk. Amiably he went on:

"To me the pleasantest part of our work is the
fact that we are usually able to help some one in
trouble. We're different from police detectives.
They're paid by society to punish the criminal. We
are retained by the victims of the criminals for their
protection. They are punishing the strong; we are
protecting the weak."

She looked at him with a new interest. Quickly
she said:

"Oh, I didn't realize that! You love your work,
don't you ? "

"Love it! Indeed I do! We are like doctors or
surgeons. We go from case to case, or from opera-
tion to operation, helping the unfortunate and
fighting the disease of crime." With a mischievous
sigh he added: "And as in the case of the doctors
when our patients are well, and they've paid us
they soon forget us."

She made a quick motion of protest with her hand,
and almost involuntarily exclaimed:



"Oh, I shall never forget you!"

Again he leaned forward and looked at her ear-
nestly. In a low tone he murmured:

"I wish "

But what he was about to say remained unfinished,
for at that moment the office door was swung open
and Joe entered unceremoniously.


"Well?" snapped Kay ton, annoyed at the inter-

The assistant made an eager, expressive gesture.

"The woman from Tolworthy's is here."

Kayton started. His manner underwent a quick
change. Once more he was the detective, eager to
seize and follow every possible clue in pursuit of his
quarry. This new caller was too important to be
allowed to get away. Hastily, he whispered:

"Just a minute, Joe. Take Miss Masuret into
Leishman's office and have her wait there while I
see the woman." Turning to the young girl, he
added: "Miss Masuret, this may be very important.
Please don't go until I see you again."

She rose docilely and, following the assistant, passed
out intd the office at the back. Kayton watched her
until she disappeared, and then with a sigh he closed
the door and went back to his desk. He wondered
vaguely why he was so reluctant to have her leave
the office, if only for a few minutes. He felt singu-
larly happy when talking to her and looking into her
innocent, soulful eyes. He was asking himself why
he had never married, and if such a girl, had he
met her sooner, might have tempted him. Then
suddenly he pulled himself up with a jerk. When

11 153


there was serious business to be done he never
allowed his mind to dwell on sentiment. Quickly he
plunged again into the midst of the work on hand,
and when Joe re-entered he found his employer busy
preparing the stage-setting for the little comedy he
was about to enact with the lady from Tolworthy's.

"Get that deep ink-well, Joe."

Rummaging about, the assistant finally found
what was required and brought it to the desk.
Kayton nodded approval.

"Where are the prepared blotters?" he whispered.

"Second drawer, I think."

Kayton opened the drawer and found some.

"Here we are!" he chuckled. Placing them on
the desk by the side of the ink-well, he added :

"All ready, Joe!"

The young man started to leave the room. Kayton
halted him.

"See that we're not disturbed. Don't let any one
come in until I ring this bell. Then answer it

Seating himself at the desk, Kayton assumed the
appearance of being very preoccupied signing letters.
A moment later Joe re-entered ushering in a visitor.

"This way, please."

A woman of about forty entered and, after one
quick, searching glance at the detective, stood still,
looking curiously about her. She was plainly, even
shabbily dressed, but she had a grand air, and her
dignified bearing and the sad, melancholy expression
on her wan face suggested that she had known better

Seeing that the detective did not look up or pay


any attention to her, she advanced timidly toward
the desk. Joe pointed to a chair.

"Take a seat, madam. Mr. Kay ton will be dis-
engaged in just a moment.'*

"Thank you."

She sat down, and Joe went out, closing the door.

For a few moments there was a deep silence,
broken only by the ticking of the office clock and the
scratching of the detective's pen as he went on with
the signing of his letters. The visitor moved about
uneasily on her chair. Presently, without looking up,
Kay ton said:

"You've been referred to me by He paused
a moment to again sign his name and added: "Mead
& Tolworthy?"

The visitor turned slightly toward him. Quietly
she said:

"Yes I answered their advertisement."

Still pretending to be busy, the detective went on:

"You have some information concerning the per-
son advertised for?"


He looked up for the first time since she entered,
and for a moment he was startled: her likeness to
Mary was extraordinary. Fixing her with a steady
gaze, he said, quickly:

"Then you must know the name those initials
N. M. stand for. We took that means of avoiding
publicity. You're not a newspaper woman?"

She shook her head as she answered quietly:

"No I am Nellie Marsh."

He bowed politely.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. Then, resuming work on his


correspondence as if not greatly surprised or im-
pressed, he went on: "I suppose you have some proof
of your identity besides your mere knowledge of the

5 "

name r

She took out a card and, rising, went over to the
desk and handed it to him.

"My present name is Martin Mrs. Martin."

Kayton took the bit of pasteboard and read it.
Dubiously he asked:

"East Green Street? Not a very desirable neigh-
borhood. Is that your present address?"

She nodded.

"Yes; I rent furnished rooms. It is very quiet
there and cheap."

Again he looked at her keenly.

"Furnished rooms?"


"Well, Mrs. Martin," he said, carelessly, "Mr.
Argyle has left a considerable sum of money to
Nellie Marsh for reasons that you doubtless know; so
we have taken this rather unusual way of getting
in touch with you. Did you expect to be a bene-
ficiary under the will?"

She hesitated a moment before replying. Then
quietly she said:

"The legacy has been left to me because of an
obligation on Mr. Argyle's part to my dead husband,
who assisted him at a time when he greatly needed
money. There are personal reasons why I don't
care to make myself known to the family, and if I
can receive this money without any inconvenient
curiosity, I should be very glad to have it,"

He nodded.



"That can be arranged. All we need is a proof of
identity. Have you received money from Mr.
Argyle before?"

"Yes for a good many years."

"Did you sign receipts?"

"No. . . ."

"Did you ever write to Mr. Argyle?"

Again she hesitated before answering:

"Not recently."

"I ask because it may save a great deal of red
tape if we could establish the identity by signature.
Otherwise, I suppose you will have to obtain a copy
of your birth certificate, make affidavits, and procure
witnesses to satisfy the executors and the Probate

The visitor shifted uneasily about on her chair.

"Wouldn't that involve a good deal of expense?"
she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I suppose it would yes. Do you think your
signature might be found among his papers?"

"Why, yes; my indorsement of checks if he kept

In a manner quite cool and unconcerned, Kayton
rose from his seat and politely invited her to come
behind the desk and take his place. With assumed
carelessness, he said:

"Well, then, if you'll leave your signature with
me I'll turn it over to the lawyers."

"Thank you," she smiled.

Not suspecting the trap, the visitor removed her
glove and, going behind the desk, took the de-
tective's seat, while Kayton stood by, apparently


with great politeness, and placed a piece of paper
for her to write on. Suddenly he dipped a pen deep
into the ink-well, and then, as quickly, and as
though absent-mindedly, placed the wet pen in her
fingers. She took the preferred pen without look-
ing, and, finding it was wet and had inked her hand,
dropped it with a little exclamation of dismay,
holding up her blackened hand with consternation.
Instantly Kayton bent over her shoulder, and care-
fully dried her hand on the specially prepared blot-
ter, securing a good impression.

"Oh, I beg your pardon!" he exclaimed. "Don't
get it on your glove. Let me. I always forget about
that ink-well. Try this pen."

Handing her another pen, he passed behind her
and threw the inked blotter into the waste-paper
basket, after which he resumed his first position
near her. Dipping the new pen gingerly into the
ink-well, she wrote out her name. Again he bowed

"Thank you. That '11 be all."

Rising from the chair, the visitor turned to go.

"You have my address. I'll hear from you?"

Meantime Kayton had picked up the caller's
visiting-card and stood reading it.

"Yes," he replied. Then, as if an idea had sud-
denly struck him, he added: "Just a moment, Mrs.
Martin." She stopped short, and he went on:
"I'm in a very peculiar position, and it has just oc-
curred to me here you might help me."


"I suppose you've followed the newspaper reports
of Mr. Argyle's death and our investigation?"



"Yes closely."

It did not escape his well-trained eye that she gave
an almost imperceptible start at the mention of
the murder. Not letting her see that he noticed it,
he continued:

"Then you have seen that suspicion has been di-
rected against his adopted daughter?"

Moving farther toward the door, her head averted
so he could not see her face, she replied:

"Yes it seemed to me very cruel."

He nodded as he went on emphatically:

"Exactly. Miss Masuret must be protected from
the daily annoyance of reporters and photographers.
The poor girl's on the point of breaking down. You
know even an innocent woman will do and say
things to implicate herself if she's tried beyond the
limit of her strength."

The visitor gave a little gasp and staggered to a

"Yes yes of course," she said, sympathetically.

Watching her closely, Kay ton continued:

"She is so watched that it is impossible for us to
get her away anywhere without its being known, and
yet it is necessary for our purposes to make the real
criminal confident that we are off the trail. To be
frank with you, we suspect a former member of the

"Indeed?" she said, guardedly, but in a tone that
suggested she was anxious to learn more.

Kayton was silent for a moment. Then he went

"We want Miss Masuret to disappear, and to dis-
appear so completely that not even a member of



her own household will suspect that we have any-
thing to do with it. Any flight by train would be
instantly found out. It must be secret and sensa-
tional. Her closest friends must be in a state of the
greatest alarm. Do you follow me?"

"Yes yes but "

Without waiting to hear her objections, he went

"Well, then you must see yourself, Mrs. Martin,
that you are in just the right position to help us.
Your relations with the family are absolutely un-
known. I am sure I could trust to your discretion.
No one connected with her would ever connect her
with you, and you can receive her without explana-
tion to any one as a total stranger into one of your
furnished rooms."

She shook her head as, with averted face, she
replied :

"Mr. Kayton, that's something I wouldn't like
to undertake."

"Why not?" he asked, sharply. "Your house is
respectable, isn't it?"

Again she hesitated.

"Why, yes"

"All I ask is secrecy," he went on.

There was an expression of genuine distress on
her face as she replied:

"The responsibility would be so besides, as I
told you, I am not known to any members of the
family, and I don't wish to be. There are reasons
it doesn't seem necessary to go into them "

"Not at all," he interrupted, quickly. "I will
simply introduce you to Miss Masuret as some one



connected with this office whom I have chosen for
this purpose."

"But you hardly know me I might not be the
right sort of person at all," she objected.

He smiled encouragingly.

"I have been studying you. I'm a fair judge of
character; I know I can trust you."

She wrung her hands, as if at a loss what to say,
unwilling to do what he asked, yet afraid to refuse.

"But, Mr. Kayton " she stammered.

He interrupted her.

"Even if you had not this sense of gratitude to
Mr. Argyle, which I'm sure you must feel, I know I
can rely on your sympathy as a woman for a poor
girl in a very desperate plight."

A silence followed, during which the detective
and his visitor looked fixedly at each other, each
trying to read the other's thoughts.

Did this man, this detective, know when he made
this strange request that she could not refuse, that
her instinct as a mother urged her to go at once to
Mary and clasp the poor child to her bosom? Alas,
that happiness she could never know again! The
past was forever buried ! The girl must never know
that her mother was still living. Yet, if her ano-
nymity could be preserved, why should she not pro-
tect her to the extent of her power? It could do no
harm. Her associates could not grudge her that
little happiness, and certainly Friederick would deny
her nothing. Growing impatient at the delay,
Kayton asked, coldly:

"Well, what is your decision?"

Still wavering, undecided, she looked at him for



a moment in silence. Then all at once, as if she
had made up her mind that it would be dangerous
to refuse anything to this man, from whom thick
walls and bolts and bars had no secrets, she asked,

"When do you want her to come?"

"Now!" he replied, firmly.

"Now right away?" she echoed, in dismay.

Kayton rose from his desk and pressed an electric-
bell button.

"She is here, waiting to see me."

"Here she's here?" exclaimed Mrs. Martin, with
emotion. Rising quickly, she asked: "I am to see

He pretended not to notice her agitation, and his
face was turned from her as he answered, carelessly:

"Yes. I would like her to go home with you
now. Fll see her first and explain everything."

At that moment the door of the outer office opened,
and Joe appeared in answer to the bell. Kayton
pointed to his caller.

"Joe, give Mrs. Martin a chair in the inner office,
make her very comfortable, and see that she is not

"Yes, sir."

Mrs. Martin followed the assistant out, and the
door closed behind them. Immediately his visitor
had disappeared, Kayton opened a drawer in his
desk and took out the photographic print of the
finger-impressions on the table in the Argyle library.
Then, picking from the waste-paper basket, where he
had thrown it, the blotter marked with the im-
pression of his visitor's hands, he hastily compared



the two. He was thus engaged when his assistant

"Be careful of that woman, Joe," he said, warn-

"Is it Miss Masuret's mother?" demanded the
young man, eagerly.

"Can't you see the family likeness in the face?"

Advancing on tiptoe to the desk, the young man
inquired :

"Did you get her finger-prints?"

"Did I?" laughed Kay ton, studying the two with
a magnifying-glass.

"Are they mates?"

Suddenly the chief gave a joyful exclamation.

"Good God! Look, Joe!"

The assistant gave one look, and then uttered a
stifled whoop of triumph.


Without waiting to see or hear more he jumped

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Online LibraryArthur HornblowThe Argyle case → online text (page 9 of 14)