The cattleman waited, crouched behind an out-jutting pillar in the wall of the entrance. Every minute he expected to see a furtive figure sneak past him into the street. His hopes were disappointed. It was nearly midnight when two men, talking cheerfully of the last gusher in, the Buckburnett field, emerged from the stairway and passed into the street. They were tenants who had stayed late to do some unfinished business.
There was a drug-store in the building, cornering on two streets. Kirby stepped into it and asked a question of the clerk at the prescription desk.
“Is there more than one entrance to the Denmark Building?”
“No, sir.” The clerk corrected himself. “Well, there’s another way out. The Producers & Developers Shale and Oil Company have a suite of offices that run into the Rockford Building. They’ve built an alley to connect between the two buildings. It’s on the fifth floor.”
“Is it open? Could a man get out of the Denmark Building now by way of the Rockford entrance?”
“Easiest in the world. All he’d have to do would be to cross the alley bridge, go down the Rockford stairs, and walk into the street.”
Kirby wasted no more time. He knew that the man who had tried to murder him had long since made good his getaway by means of the fifth-story bridge between the buildings.
As he walked back to the hotel where he was stopping his eyes and ears were busy. He took no dark-alley chances, but headed for the bright lights of the main streets where he would be safe from any possibility of a second ambush.
His brain was as busy as his eyes. Who had planned this attempt on his life and so nearly carried it to success? Of one thing he was sure. The assassin who had flung the shots at him down the narrow stairway of the Denmark was the one who had murdered his uncle. The motive for the ambuscade was fear. Kirby was too hot on the trail that might send him to the gallows. The man had decided to play safe by following the old theory that dead men tell no tales.
JACK TAKES OFF HIS COAT
Afterward, when Kirby Lane looked back upon the weeks spent in Denver trying to clear up the mysteries which surrounded the whole affair of his uncle’s death, it seemed to him that he had been at times incredibly stupid. Nowhere did this accent itself so much as in that part of the tangle which related to Esther McLean.
From time to time Kirby saw Cole. He was in and out of town. Most of his time was spent running down faint trails which spun themselves out and became lost in the hills. The champion rough rider was indomitably resolute in his intention of finding her. There were times when Rose began to fear that her little sister was lost to her for always. But Sanborn never shared this feeling.
“You wait. I’ll find her,” he promised. “An’ if I can lay my hands on the man that’s done her a meanness, I’ll certainly give them hospital sharks a job patchin’ him up.” His gentle eyes had frozen, and the cold, hard light in them was almost deadly.