“Had you ever had any trouble with your uncle?” Johns asked him.
“You may decline to answer if you wish,” the coroner told the witness.
Young Cunningham hesitated. “No-o. What do you mean by trouble?”
“Had he ever threatened to cut you out of his will?”
“Yes,” came the answer, a bit sulkily.
“Why—if you care to tell?”
“He thought I was extravagant and wild—wanted me to buckle down to business more.”
“What is your business?”
“I’m with a bond house—McCabe, Foster & Clinton.”
“During the past few months have you had any difference of opinion with your uncle?”
“That’s my business,” flared the witness. Then, just as swiftly as his irritation had come it vanished. He remembered that his uncle’s passionate voice had risen high. No doubt people in the next apartments had heard him. It would be better to make a frank admission. “But I don’t mind answering. I have.”
“The last time I went to his rooms—two days before his death.”
Significant looks passed from one to another of the spectators.
“What was the subject of the quarrel?”
“I didn’t say we had quarreled,” was the sullen answer.
“Differed, then. My question was, what about?”
“I decline to say.”
“I think that is all, Mr. Cunningham.”
The wrinkled little juryman leaned forward and piped his question again. “Was your uncle engaged to be married at the time of his death?”
The startled eyes of Jack Cunningham leaped to the little man. There was in them dismay, almost panic. Then, swiftly, he recovered and drawled insolently, “I try to mind my own business. Do you?”
The coroner asserted himself. “Here, here, none of that! Order in this court, if you please, gentlemen.” He bustled in his manner, turning to the attorney. “Through with Mr. Cunningham, Johns? If so, we’ll push on.”
“Quite.” The prosecuting attorney consulted a list in front of him. “Cass Hull next.”
Hull came puffing to the stand. He was a porpoise of a man. His eyes dodged about the room in dread. It was as though he were looking for a way of escape.
“That’s the man”
“Real estate, mostly farm lands.”
“Did you know James Cunningham, the deceased?” asked Johns.
“Yes. Worked with him on the Dry Valley proposition, an irrigation project.”
“Ever have any trouble with him?”
“No, sir—not to say trouble.” Hull was already perspiring profusely. He dragged a red bandanna from his pocket and mopped the roll of fat that swelled over his collar. “I—we had a—an argument about a settlement—nothin’ serious.”