What was it the man knew? Was it possible he could have killed Cunningham himself and be trying to throw the blame of it on Hull? Was that why he was afraid to come out in the open with what testimony he had? Kirby could not forget the bitter hatred of Cunningham the farmer cherished. That hatred extended to Hull. What a sweet revenge to kill one enemy and let the other one hang for the crime!
A detail jumped to his mind. Olson had picked up a stone and thrown it to the rock pile—with his left hand.
“BURNIN’ A hole in my pocket”
Cole Sanborn passed through the Welcome Arch at the station carrying an imitation-leather suitcase. He did not take a car, but walked up Seventeenth Avenue as far as the Markham Hotel. Here he registered, left his luggage, and made some inquiries over the telephone.
Thirty minutes later he was shaking hands with Kirby Lane.
“You dawg-goned old hellamile, what you mean comin’ down here an’ gettin’ throwed in the calaboose?” he demanded, thumping his friend on the shoulder with a heavy brown fist.
“I’m sure enough glad to see you, Mr. Champeen-of-the-World,” Kirby answered, falling into the easy vernacular of the outdoor country. “Come to the big town to spend that thousand dollars you won the other day?”
“Y’betcha; it’s burnin’ a hole in my pocket. Say, you blamed ol’ horntoad, howcome you not to stay for the finals? Folks was plumb disappointed we didn’t ride it off.”
“Tell you about that later. How long you figurin’ to stay in Denver, Cole?”
“I dunno. A week, mebbe. Fellow at the Empress wants me to go on that circuit an’ do stunts, but I don’t reckon I will. Claims he’s got a trained bronc I can show on.”
“Me, I’m gonna be busy as a dog with fleas,” said Kirby. “I got to find out who killed my uncle. Suspicion rests on me, on a man named Hull, on the Jap servant, an’ on Wild Rose.”
“On Wild Rose!” exclaimed Cole, in surprise. “Have they gone crazy?”
“The police haven’t got to her yet, old-timer. But their suspicions will be headed that way right soon if I don’t get busy. She thinks her evidence will clear me. It won’t. It’ll add a motive for me to have killed him. The detectives will figure out we did it together, Rose an’ me.”
“Hell’s bells! Ain’t they got no sense a-tall?”
Kirby looked at his watch. “I’m headed right now for the apartment where my uncle was killed. Gonna look the ground over. Wanta come along?”
“Surest thing you know. I’m in this to a fare-you-well. Go ahead. I’ll take yore dust.”
The lithe, long-bodied man from Basin, Wyoming, clumped along in his high-heeled boots beside his friend. Both of them were splendid examples of physical manhood. The sun tan was on their faces, the ripple of health in their blood. But there was this difference between them, that while it was written on every inch of Sanborn that he lived astride a cow-pony, Kirby might have been an irrigation engineer or a mining man from the hills. He had neither the bow legs nor the ungraceful roll of the man who rides most of his waking hours. His clothes were well made and he knew how to carry them.