“I’m liable to tell him a whole lot,” the detective answered with heavy irony. “I’m figurin’ on runnin’ down this murderer myself if any one asks you.”
“Wish you luck,” Kirby said with perfect gravity.
A RIDE IN A TAXI
Kirby was quite right when he said that Hull would go with them. He was on his way downtown when the taxi caught him at Fourteenth and Welton. The cattleman jumped out from the machine and touched the fat man on the arm as he was waddling past.
“We want you, Hull,” he said.
A shadow of fear flitted over the shallow eyes of the land agent, but he attempted at once to bluster. “Who wants me? Whadjawant me for?”
“I want you—in that cab. The man who saw you in my uncle’s room the night he was killed is with me. You can either come with us now an’ talk this thing over quietly or I’ll hang on to you an’ call for a policeman. It’s up to you. Either way is agreeable to me.”
Beads of perspiration broke out on the fat man’s forehead. He dragged from his left hip pocket the familiar bandanna handkerchief. With it he dabbed softly at his mottled face. There was a faint, a very faint, note of defiance in his voice as he answered.
“I dunno as I’ve got any call to go with you. I wasn’t in Cunningham’s rooms. You can’t touch me—can’t prove a thing on me.”
“It won’t cost you anything to make sure of that,” Kirby suggested in his low, even tones. “I’m payin’ for the ride.”
“If you got anything to say to me, right here’s a good place to onload it.”
The man’s will was wobbling. The cattleman could see that.
“Can’t talk here, with a hundred people passin’. What’s the matter, man? What are you afraid of? We’re not goin’ to hit you over the head with the butt of a six-shooter.”
Hull flung at him a look of startled terror. What did he mean? Or was there anything significant in the last sentence? Was it just a shot in the dark?
“I’ll go on back to the Paradox. If you want to see me, why, there’s as good a place as any.”
“We’re choosin’ the place, Hull, not you. You’ll either step into that cab or into a patrol wagon.”
Their eyes met and fought. The shallow, protuberant ones wavered. “Oh, well, it ain’t worth chewin’ the rag over. I reckon I’ll go with you.”
He stepped into the cab. At sight of Olson he showed both dismay and surprise. He had heard of the threats the Dry Valley man had been making. Was he starting on a journey the end of which would be summary vengeance? A glance at Lane’s face reassured him. This young fellow would be no accomplice at murder. Yet the chill at his heart told him he was in for serious trouble.
He tried to placate Olson with a smile and made a motion to offer his hand. The Scandinavian glared at him.