“Some one killum plenty dead,” he said evenly.
“Quite plenty,” Kirby agreed, watching his imperturbable Oriental face.
The cattleman admitted to himself that what he did not know about Japanese habits of mind would fill a great many books.
JAMES LOSES HIS TEMPER
Cole grinned whimsically at his friend.
“Do we light out now or wait for the cops?” he asked.
“We wait. They’d probably find out, anyhow, that we’d been here.”
Five minutes later a patrol wagon clanged up to the Paradox. A sergeant of police and two plainclothes men took the elevator. The sergeant, heading the party, stopped in the doorway of the apartment and let a hard, hostile eye travel up and down Lane’s six feet.
“Oh, it’s you,” he said suspiciously.
Kirby smiled. “That’s right, officer. We’ve met before, haven’t we?”
They had. The sergeant was the man who had arrested him at the coroner’s inquest. It had annoyed him that the authorities had later released the prisoner on bond.
“Have you touched the body or moved anything since you came?” the sergeant demanded.
“No, sir, to both questions, except the telephone when I used it to reach headquarters.”
The officer made no answer. He and the detectives went into the bedroom, examined the dead valet’s position and clothes, made a tour of the rooms, and came back to Lane.
“Who’s your friend?” asked the sergeant superciliously.
“His name is Cole Sanborn.”
“The champion bronco buster?”
The sergeant looked at Sanborn with increased respect. His eyes went back to Kirby sullenly.
“What you doing here?”
“We were in my uncle’s apartment lookin’ things over. We stepped out on the fire escape an’ happened to notice this window here was open a little. It just came over me that mebbe we might discover some evidence here. So I got in by the window, saw the body of the Jap, an’ called my friend.”
“Some one hire you to hunt up evidence?” the officer wanted to know with heavy sarcasm.
“I hired myself. My good name is involved. I’m goin’ to see the murderer is brought to justice.”
“You are, eh?”
“Well, I’ll say you could find him if anybody could.”
“You’re entitled to your opinion, sergeant, just as I am to mine, but before we’re through with this case you’ll have to admit you’ve been wrong.”
Lane turned to his friend. “We’ll go now, Cole, if you’re ready.”
The sergeant glared at this cool customer who refused to be appalled at the position in which he stood. He had half a mind to arrest the man again on the spot, but he was not sure enough of his ground. Not very long since he had missed a promotion by being overzealous. He did not want to make the same mistake twice.