“Shibo, why did you hide from the police that Mr. Hull was in my uncle’s rooms the night he was killed?”
The janitor shot one slant, startled glance at Kirby before the mask of impassivity wiped out expression from his eyes.
“You know heap lot about everything. You busy busy all like honey-bee. Me, I just janitor—mind own business.”
“I wonder, now.” Kirby’s level gaze took the man in carefully. Was he as simple as he wanted to appear?
“No talk when not have anything to tell.” Shibo moved the sprinkler to another part of the lawn.
Kirby followed him. He had a capacity for patience.
“Did Mr. Hull ask you not to tell about him?”
Shibo said nothing, but he said it with indignant eloquence.
“Did he give you money not to tell? I don’t want to go to the police with this if I can help it, Shibo. Better come through to me.”
“You go police an’ say I know who make Mr. Cunningham dead?”
“If I have to.”
The janitor had no more remarks to make. He lapsed into an angry, stubborn silence. For nearly half an hour Kirby stayed by his side. The cattleman asked questions. He suggested that, of course, the police would soon find out the facts after he went to them. He even went beyond his brief and implied that shortly Shibo would be occupying a barred cell.
But the man from the Orient contributed no more to the talk.
THE MASK OF THE RED BANDANNA
It had come by special delivery, an ill-written little note scrawled on cheap ruled paper torn from a tablet.
If you want to know who killed Cuningham i can tell you. Meet me at the Denmark Bilding, room 419, at eleven tonight. Come alone.
One who knows.
Kirby studied the invitation carefully. Was it genuine? Or was it a plant? He was no handwriting expert, but he had a feeling that it was a disguised script. There is an inimitable looseness of design in the chirography of an illiterate person. He did not find here the awkwardness of the inexpert; rather the elaborate imitation of an amateur ignoramus. Yet he was not sure. He could give no definite reason for this fancy.
And in the end he tossed it overboard. He would keep the appointment and see what came of it. Moreover, he would keep it alone—except for a friend hanging under the left arm at his side. Kirby had brought no revolver with him to Denver. Occasionally he carried one on the range to frighten coyotes and to kill rattlers. But he knew where he could borrow one, and he proceeded to do so.
Not that there was any danger in meeting the unknown correspondent. Kirby did not admit that for a moment. There are people so constituted that they revel in the mysterious. They wrap their most common actions in hints of reserve and weighty silence. Perhaps this man was one of them. There was no danger whatever. Nobody had any reason to wish him serious ill. Yet Kirby took a .45 with him when he set out for the Denmark Building. He did it because that strange sixth sense of his had warned him to do so.