“That’s all you saw?”
Again the almost imperceptible hesitation. Then, “That’s all,” the Dry Valley rancher said sullenly.
“What kind of a gun was it?” Kirby asked.
“Too far away. Couldn’t be sure.”
“Big as a.45?”
“Couldn’t ‘a’ been. The evidence was that it was done with an automatic.”
“The evidence was that the wound in the head was probably made by a bullet from an automatic. We’re talkin’ now about the blow on the head.”
“What are you drivin’ at?” the rancher asked, scowling. “He wouldn’t bring two different kinds of gun with him. That’s a cinch.”
“No; but we haven’t proved yet he fired the shot you heard later. The chances are all that he did, but legally we have no evidence that somebody else didn’t do it.”
“I guess a jury would be satisfied he fired it all right.”
“Probably. It looks bad for Hull. Don’t you think you ought to go to the police with your story? Then we can have Hull arrested. They’ll give him the third degree. My opinion is he’ll break down under it and confess.”
Olson consented with obvious reluctance, but he made a condition precedent to his acceptance. “Le’ ’s see Hull first, just you ‘n’ me. I ain’t strong for the police. We’ll go to them when we’ve got an open an’ shut case.”
Kirby considered. This story didn’t wholly fit the facts as he knew them. For instance, there was no explanation in it of how the room where Cunningham was found murdered had become saturated with the odor of chloroform. Nor was it in character that Hull should risk firing a gun, the sound of which might bring detection on him, while his victim lay helpless before him. Another blow or two on the skull would have served his purpose noiselessly. The cattleman knew from his observation of this case that the authorities had a way of muddling things. Perhaps it would be better to wait until the difficulties had been smoothed out before going to them.
“That suits me,” he said. “We’ll tackle Hull when his wife isn’t with him. He goes downtown every day about ten o’clock. We’ll pick him up in a taxi, run him out into the country somewhere, an’ put him over the jumps. The sooner the quicker. How about to-morrow morning?”
“Suits me, too. But will he go with us?”
“He’ll go with us,” Kirby said quietly.
LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT
From ten thousand bulbs the moving-picture houses of Curtis Street were flinging a glow upon the packed sidewalks when Kirby came out of the hotel and started uptown.
He walked to the Wyndham, entered, and slipped up the stairs of the rooming-house unnoticed. From the third story he ascended by a ladder to the flat roof. He knew exactly what he had come to investigate. From one of the windows of the fourth floor at the Paradox he had noticed the clothes-line which stretched across the Wyndham roof from one corner to another. He went straight to one of the posts which supported the rope. He made a careful study of this, then walked to the other upright support and examined the knots which held the line fast here.