She gasped, her fear-filled eyes fastened on him. Her hand moved blindly to the side of the door for support.
A FULL MORNING
But only for an instant. A faint color dribbled back into her yellow cheeks. He could almost see courage flowing again into her veins.
“That’s a lie,” she said flatly.
“I don’t expect you to take my word. Hull is in front of the house here under guard. Come an’ see if you doubt it.”
She took him promptly at his suggestion. One look at her husband’s fat, huddled figure and stricken face was enough.
“You chicken-hearted louse,” she spat at him scornfully.
“They had evidence. A man saw us,” he pleaded.
“This man.” His trembling hand indicated Olson. “He was standin’ on the fire escape acrost the alley.”
She had nothing to say. The wind had died out of the sails of her anger.
“We’re not goin’ to arrest Hull yet—not technically,” Kirby explained to her. “I’m arrangin’ to hire a private detective to be with him all the time. He’ll keep him in sight from mornin’ till night. Is that satisfactory, Hull? Or do you prefer to be arrested?”
The wretched man murmured that he would leave it to Lane.
“Good. Then that’s the way it’ll be.” Kirby turned to the woman. “Mrs. Hull, I want to ask you a few questions. If you’ll kindly walk into the house, please.”
She moved beside him. The shock of the surprise still palsied her will.
In the main her story corroborated that of Hull. She was not quite sure when she had heard the shot in its relation to the trips of the elevator up and down. The door was closed at the time. They had heard it while standing at the window. Her impression was that the sound had come after James Cunningham had ascended to the floor above.
Kirby put one question to the woman innocently that sent the color washing out of her cheeks.
“Which of you went back upstairs to untie my uncle after you had run away in a fright?”
“N-neither of us,” she answered, teeth chattering from sheer funk.
“I understood Mr. Hull to say—”
“He never said that. Y-you must be mistaken.”
“Mebbeso. You didn’t go back, then?”
The monosyllable “No” came quavering from her yellow throat.
“I don’t want you to feel that I’m here to take an advantage of you, Mrs. Hull,” Kirby said. “A good many have been suspected of these murders. Your husband is one of these suspects. I’m another. I mean to find out who killed Cunningham an’ Horikawa. I think I know already. In my judgment your husband didn’t do it. If he did, so much the worse for him. No innocent person has anything to fear from me. But this is the point I’m makin’ now. If you like I’ll leave a statement here signed by me to the effect that neither you nor your husband has confessed killing James Cunningham. It might make your mind a little easier to have it.”