“Listen, Rose. You know better than that. I told you he was my uncle because you’d find it out if I’m goin’ to help you. He’s no friend of mine, but I know him. He’s strong. You can’t drive him by threats.”
The elevator slid down and stopped. The door of it opened.
“Will you stand aside, sir?” Rose demanded. “I won’t have anything to do with any of that villain’s family. Don’t ever speak to me again.”
She stepped into the car. The door clanged shut. Kirby was left standing alone.
With the aid of a tiny looking-glass a young woman was powdering her nose. Lane interrupted her to ask if he might see Mr. Cunningham.
“Name, please?” she parroted pertly, and pressed a button in the switchboard before her.
Presently she reached for the powder-puff again. “Says to come right in. Door ‘t end o’ the hall.”
Kirby entered. A man sat at a desk telephoning. He was smooth-shaven and rather heavy-set, a year or two beyond thirty, with thinning hair on the top of his head. His eyes in repose were hard and chill. From the conversation his visitor gathered that he was a captain in the Red Cross drive that was on.
As he hung up the receiver the man rose, brisk and smiling, hand outstretched. “Glad to meet you, Cousin Kirby. When did you reach town? And how long are you going to stay?”
“Got in hour an’ a half ago. How are you, James?”
“Busy, but not too busy to meet old friends. Let me see. I haven’t seen you since you were ten years old, have I?”
“I was about twelve. It was when my father moved to Wyoming.”
“Well, I’m glad to see you. Where you staying? Eat lunch with me to-morrow, can’t you? I’ll try to get Jack too.”
“Suits me fine,” agreed Kirby.
“Anything I can do for you in the meantime?”
“Yes. I want to see Uncle James.”
There was a film of wariness in the eyes of the oil broker as he looked at the straight, clean-built young cattleman. He knew that the strong face, brown as Wyoming, expressed a pungent personality back of which was dynamic force. What did Lane want with his uncle? They had quarreled. His cousin knew that. Did young Lane expect him to back his side of the quarrel? Or did he want to win back favor with James Cunningham, Senior, millionaire?
Kirby smiled. He guessed what the other was thinking. “I don’t want to interfere in your friendship with him. All I need is his address and a little information. I’ve come to have another row with him, I reckon.”
The interest in Cunningham’s eyes quickened. He laughed. “Aren’t you in bad enough already with Uncle? Why another quarrel?”
“This isn’t on my own account. There’s a girl in his office—”