James nodded, reflectively. “Maybe something in what you say. Orientals strike me as being kind of unhuman, if you know what I mean. Maybe they have the red Indian habit of torture in Japan.”
“Never heard of it if they have, but I’ve got a kinda notion—picked it up in my readin’—that Asiatics will go a long way to square a grudge. If this Horikawa had anything against Uncle James he might have planned this revenge an’ taken the two thousand dollars to help his getaway.”
“Yes, he might.”
“Anyhow, I’ve made up my mind to one thing. You can ’most always get the truth when you go after it good an’ hard. I’m goin’ to find out who did this thing an’ why.”
James Cunningham looked into his cousin’s face. A strong man himself, he recognized strength in another. Into the blue-gray eyes of the man from Twin Buttes had come a cold steely temper that transformed the gay, boyish face. The oil broker knew Lane had no love for his uncle. His resolution was probably based on a desire to clear his own name.
“I’m with you in that,” he said quietly, and his own dark eyes were hard as jade. “We’ll work this out together if you say so, Kirby.”
The younger man nodded. “Suits me fine.” His face softened. “You mentioned three leads. Most men would have said four. On the face of it, of the evidence at hand, the guilty man is sittin’ right here talkin’ with you. You know that the dead man an’ I had a bitter feelin’ against each other. You know there was a new cause of trouble between us, an’ that I told you I was goin’ to get justice out of him one way or another. I’m the only man known to have been in his rooms last night. Accordin’ to the Hulls I must ‘a’ been there when he was killed. Then, as a final proof of my guilt, I slide out by the fire escape to get away without bein’ seen. I’ll say the one big lead points straight to Kirby Lane.”
“Yes, but there’s such a thing as character,” James answered. “It’s written in your face that you couldn’t have done it. That’s why the jury said a person unknown.”
“Yes, but the jury didn’t know what you knew, that I had a fresh cause of quarrel with Uncle James. Do you believe me absolutely? Don’t you waver at all?”
“I don’t think you had any more to do with it than I had myself,” answered the older cousin instantly, with conviction.
Kirby gave him his hand impulsively. “You’ll sure do to ride the river with, James.”
A GLOVE AND THE HAND IN IT
As Rose saw the hand of the law closing in on Kirby, she felt as though an ironic fate were laughing in impish glee at this horrible climax of her woe. He had sacrificed a pot of gold and his ambition to be the champion rough rider of the world in order to keep her out of trouble. Instead of that he had himself plunged into it head first.