The cattleman stood convicted at the bar of his own judgment. His cousins had been magnanimous to Esther and Rose, more so than he had been to Miss Harriman. Yet, even while he confessed fault, he felt uneasily that there was a justification he could not quite lay hold of and put into words.
“I’m sorry you feel that way, James. Perhaps I was wrong. But you want to remember that I wasn’t askin’ about what she knew with any idea of makin’ it public or tellin’ the police. I meant to keep it under my own hat to help run down a cold-blooded murderer.”
“You can’t want to run him down any more than we do—and in that ‘we’ I include Jack and Miss Harriman as well as myself,” the older man answered gravely. “But I’m sure you’re entirely wrong. Miss Harriman knows nothing about it. If she had she would have confided in us.”
“Perhaps she has confided in Jack.”
“Don’t you think that obsession of yours is rather—well, unlikely, to put it mildly? Analyze it and you’ll find you haven’t a single substantial fact to base it on.”
This was true. Yet Kirby’s opinion was not changed. He still believed that Jack and Miss Harriman had been in his uncle’s rooms just before Wild Rose had been there.
He returned to the subject of the bond. It seemed to him best, he said, in view of Jack’s feeling, to get other bondsmen. He hoped James would not interpret this to mean that he felt less friendly toward him.
His cousin bowed, rather formally. “Just as you please. Would you like the matter arranged this afternoon?”
Lane looked at his watch. “I haven’t heard from my new bondsmen yet. Besides, I want to go to Golden. Would to-morrow morning suit you?”
“I dare say.” James stifled a yawn. “Did you say you were going to Golden?”
“Yes. Some one gave me a tip. I don’t know what there’s in it, but I thought I’d have a look at the marriage-license registry.”
Cunningham flashed a startled glance at him that asked a peremptory question. “Probably waste of time. I’ve been in the oil business too long to pay any attention to tips.”
“Expect you’re right, but I’ll trot out there, anyhow. Never can tell.”
“What do you expect to find among the marriage licenses?”
“Haven’t the slightest idea. I’ll tell you tomorrow what I do find.”
James made one dry, ironic comment. “I rather think you have too much imagination for sleuthing. You let your wild fancies gallop away with you. If I were you I’d go back to bronco busting.”
Kirby laughed. “Dare say you’re right. I’ll take your advice after we get the man we’re after.”
REVEREND NICODEMUS RANKIN FORGETS AND REMEMBERS
By appointment Kirby met Rose at Graham & Osborne’s for luncheon. She was waiting in the tower room for him.