Kirby put the envelope in his pocket and went out to get some luncheon.
“I’ll call it a mornin’,” he told himself with a smile.
KIRBY INVITES HIMSELF TO A RIDE
The Twin Buttes man had said he would call it a morning, but he carried with him to the restaurant the problem that had become the pivot of all his waking thoughts. He had an appointment to meet a man for lunch, and he found his guest waiting for him inside the door.
The restaurant was an inconspicuous one on a side street. Kirby had chosen it for that reason. The man who stepped into the booth with him and sat down on the opposite seat was Hudson, the clerk whom James had accused of losing the sheets of paper with the Japanese writing.
“I’ve got it at last,” he said as soon as he was alone. “Thought he never would go out and leave the key to the private drawer inside the safe. But he left the key in the lock—for just five minutes—while Miss Harriman came to see him about something this morning. He walked out with her to the elevator. I ducked into his office. There was the key in the drawer, and in the drawer, right at the bottom under some papers, I found what I wanted.”
He handed to Kirby the sheets of paper found in the living-room of the apartment where Horikawa had been found dead.
The cattleman looked them over and put them in his pocket. “Thought he wouldn’t destroy them. He daren’t. There might come a time when the translation of this writing would save his life. He couldn’t tell what the Jap had written, but there might be a twist to it favorable to him. At the same time he daren’t give it out and let any one translate it. So he’d keep it handy where nobody could get at it but himself.”
“I reckon that just about evens the score between me and Mr. James Cunningham,” the clerk said vindictively. “He bawled me out before a whole roomful of people when he knew all the time I hadn’t lost the papers. I stood it, because right then I had to. But I’ve dug up a better job and start in on it Monday. He’s been claiming he was so anxious to get these sheets back to you. Well, I hope he’s satisfied now.”
“He had no right to keep ’em. They weren’t his. I’ll have ’em translated, then turn the sheets over to the police if they have any bearing on the case. Of course they may be just a private letter or something of that sort.”
The clerk went on to defend himself for what he had done. Cunningham had treated him outrageously. Besides, they weren’t his papers. He had no business to hold back evidence in a murder case because it did not suit him to have it made public. Didn’t Mr. Lane think he had done right in taking the papers from the safe when he had a chance?