MoboReader > Horror > The Red Seal

   Chapter 14 PAY CASH

The Red Seal By Natalie Sumner Lincoln Characters: 9316

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:06


It was the rush hour at the Metropolis Trust Company and the busy paying teller counted out silver and gold and treasury notes of varying denominations with the mechanical precision and exactness which experience gives. Suddenly his hand stopped midway toward the money drawer, his attention arrested by the signature on a check. A swift glance upward showed him a girl's face at the grille of the window. There was an instant's pause, then she addressed him.

"Do hurry, Mr. McDonald; father is waiting for me."

"Pardon me, Miss McIntyre." He stamped the check and laid it to one side, "how do you want the money?"

"Oh, I forgot." She glanced at a memorandum on the back of an envelope. "Mrs. Brewster wishes ten tens, five twenties, and ten ones. Thank you, good afternoon," and counting over the money she thrust it inside her bag and hurried away.

She had been gone a bare five minutes when Kent reached the window and pushed several checks toward the teller.

"Is Mr. Clymer in his office, McDonald?" he asked, placing the bank notes given, him in his wallet.

"I'm not sure." The teller glanced around at the clock; the hands stood at ten minutes of three. "It's pretty near closing time, Kent; still, he may be there."

"I'll go and see," and with a nod of farewell Kent turned on his heel and walked off in the direction of the office of the bank president. On reaching there he saw, through the glass partition of the door, Clymer seated in earnest conclave with two men.

Happening to glance up Clymer recognized Kent and beckoned to him to come inside. "You know Taylor," he said by way of introduction. "And this is Mr. Harding of New York-Mr. Kent," he turned around in his swivel chair to face the three men. "Draw up a chair, Kent; we were just going over to see you.

"Yes?" Kent looked inquiringly at the bank president, the gravity of his manner betokened serious tidings. "What is it, Mr. Clymer?"

Clymer did not reply at once. "It's this," he said finally, with blunt directness. "Your partner, Philip Rochester, appears to be a bankrupt. Harding and Taylor came in here to attach his private bank account to cover indebtedness to their business firms."

An exclamation broke from Kent. "Impossible!" he gasped.

"I would have said the same this morning," declared Clymer. "But on investigation I find that Rochester has over-drawn his account here for a large amount and borrowed heavily. The further I look into his financial affairs the more involved I find them."

"But"-Kent was white-lipped. "I know for an absolute fact that Rochester was paid some exceedingly large fees last week, totaling over fifty thousand dollars."

"He has never deposited such a sum, or anywhere like that amount in this bank either last week or this," stated Clymer, running his eyes down a bank statement which, with several pass books, lay on his desk.

"Does he carry accounts at other banks?" inquired Harding.

"Not that I can discover," responded Taylor. "I have been to every national and private banking house in Washington, but all deny having him as a depositor. Did Rochester ever bank out of town, Kent?"

"Not to my knowledge." Kent drew out a bank book. "Here is the firm's balance, Mr. Clymer; we bank here, you know."

"Yes." Clymer's look of anxiety deepened.

"Did you see McDonald as you came in?"

"Yes, he cashed some checks for me."

"Your personal checks?"

"Yes." Kent looked questioningly at Clymer. "What do you mean?"

"Only this; that all moneys deposited here in the firm name of Rochester and Kent have been drawn out."

"That's not possible!" Kent started up.

"Checks on that account must bear both Rochester's signature and mine."

"Checks bearing both signatures have been presented for the total sum deposited to your credit," stated Clymer and he picked up four canceled checks. "See for yourself."

Kent stared at the checks in dumbfounded silence; then carrying them to the light he examined them with minute care before bringing them back to the bank president.

"This is the first I have heard of these transactions," he said.

"You mean-"

"That the signatures are clever forgeries." His statement was heard with gravity. Taylor exchanged a meaning look with the New Yorker.

"You mean your signature is a forgery," he suggested. "Rochester had a peculiar gift of penmanship."

Kent sprang up. "Do you accuse Philip Rochester of signing these checks and inserting my name to them?"

"I do," calmly. "I am not familiar with your signature, Kent, but that Rochester wrote the body of those four checks and put his own signature at the bottom I wi

ll swear to in any court of law. To make them valid he had to add your name."

"But, d-mn it, man!" Kent stared in bewilderment at his three companions. "Rochester was honorable and straight-forward-"

"And addicted to drink," put in Harding. "But not a forger," retorted Kent firmly. Harding's only rejoinder was a skeptical smile as he turned to address Clymer.

"So Rochester not only has taken his own money, but withdrawn that belonging to the firm of Rochester and Kent without the knowledge of his junior partner; it looks black, Mr. Clymer," he remarked. "Especially when taken in consideration with his other involved financial transactions."

"Where will we find Rochester, Kent?" asked Taylor, before the bank president could answer the New Yorker.

Kent paused in indecision. What reply could he make without further involving Rochester in trouble? He had not the faintest idea where Rochester was, but to state that he was missing could not but add to the belief that he had made away with all the money he could lay his hands on. The noon edition of the Times had hinted at Rochester's disappearance but had stated they could not get the statement confirmed from Police Headquarters; obviously Harding and Taylor had not seen the newspaper.

Was it just to the men before him to keep them in the dark? If their claims were true, and Kent never doubted that they were, they had already lost money through Rochester's extraordinary behavior. Kent turned sick at the thought of his own loss-his savings swept away. Would Barbara wait for him-was it fair to ask her?

Taylor broke the prolonged silence.

"I met Detective Ferguson on my way here," he stated. "He told me that the police were looking for Rochester."

"What?" Harding looked up, startled. "Why didn't you inform me of that?"

"Well, I thought we'd better hear from Mr. Clymer the true state of Rochester's finances," responded Taylor. "I never anticipated such facts as he has given us."

"But if you knew the police were after Rochester-" objected Harding.

Clymer broke into the conversation; there was a heavy frown on his usually placid countenance. "I judged from Detective Ferguson's confidences to us, Kent, at the Club de Vingt that he was wanted by the police in connection with the Turnbull tragedy, but the facts brought out through Harding's action to attach Rochester's bank account, puts a different construction on Rochester's disappearance."

"What had Rochester to do with Jimmie Turnbull?" questioned Harding, before Kent could answer Clymer.

"They lived together," he replied shortly.

"And one dies and the other disappears," Harding whistled dolefully. "Wasn't Mr. Turnbull an official of this bank, Mr. Clymer?"

"Yes, our cashier."

"Were his affairs involved?"

"Not in the least," Clymer spoke with emphasis. "A most honorable fellow, Jimmie Turnbull; his murder was a shocking affair."

"Have the police found any motive for the crime, Kent?" asked Taylor.

"I believe not."

Harding, who had been ruminating in silence, leaned forward, his expression alight with a sudden idea.

"Could it be that Turnbull found out that Rochester was passing forged checks, and Rochester insured his silence by poisoning him?" he asked.

Clymer and Kent exchanged glances, as Kent's thoughts reverted to the forged letter presented by Turnbull to the bank's treasurer, whereby he had been given McIntyre's valuable negotiable securities. Could it be that Rochester had written the letter, given it to his room-mate, Turnbull, and the latter, thinking it genuine, had secured the McIntyre securities and handed them over to Rochester? The idea took Kent's breath away; and yet, the more he contemplated it, the more feasible it appeared.

"What's the date on those checks?" demanded Kent.

"Tuesday of this week-the day Jimmie Turnbull died." Clymer turned them over. "They are drawn payable to cash, and bear no endorsement, which shows Rochester must have presented them himself."

Harding and Taylor glanced significantly at each other, but neither spoke. Suddenly Kent pushed back his chair and rose without ceremony.

"Don't go, Kent." Clymer took up some papers. "There's a matter-"

"It will keep." Kent's mouth was set and determined. "I give you my word of honor that all Rochester's honest debts will be paid by the firm if necessary; I will obligate myself to that extent," he paused. "As for you fellows," turning to Harding and Taylor who had also risen. "Give me twenty-four hours-"

"What for?" they chorused.

"To locate Philip Rochester," and waiting for no answer Kent bolted out of the office.

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