Kirby snatched his eyes from the grim spectacle and looked round the room. It was evidently a private den to which the owner of the apartment retired. There were facilities for smoking and for drinking, a lounge which showed marks of wear, and a writing-desk in one corner.
This desk held the young man’s gaze. It was open. Papers lay scattered everywhere and its contents had been rifled and flung on the floor. Some one, in a desperate hurry, had searched every pigeon-hole.
The window of the room was open. Perhaps it had been thrown up to let out the fumes of the chloroform. Kirby stepped to it and looked down. The fire escape ran past it to the stories above and below.
The young cattleman had seen more than once the tragedies of the range. He had heard the bark of guns and had looked down on quiet dead men but a minute before full of lusty life. But these had been victims of warfare in the open, usually of sudden passions that had flared and struck. This was different. It was murder, deliberate, cold-blooded, atrocious. The man had been tied up, made helpless, and done to death without mercy. There was a note of the abnormal, of the unhuman, about the affair. Whoever had killed James Cunningham deserved the extreme penalty of the law.
He was a man who no doubt had made many enemies. Always he had demanded his pound of flesh and got it. Some one had waited patiently for his hour and exacted a fearful vengeance for whatever wrong he had suffered.
Kirby decided that he must call the police at once. No time ought to be lost in starting to run down the murderer. He stepped into the living-room to the telephone, lifted the receiver from the hook, and—stood staring down at a glove lying on the table.
As he looked at it the blood washed out of his face. He had a sensation as though his heart had been plunged into cracked ice. For he recognized the glove on the table, knew who its owner was.
It was a small riding-gauntlet with a device of a rose embroidered on the wrist. He would have known that glove among a thousand.
He had seen it, a few hours since, on the hand of Wild Rose.
BY MEANS OF THE FIRE ESCAPE
Kirby Lane stood with fascinated eyes looking down at the glove, muscles and brain alike paralyzed. The receiver was in his hand, close to his ear.
A voice from the other end of the wire drifted to him. “Number, please.”
Automatically he hung the receiver on the hook. Dazed though he was, the rough rider knew that the police were the last people in the world he wanted to see just now.